Compare our best prepaid travel cards

Simplify your spending abroad with a prepaid travel card

Prepaid travel cards are easier to get than travel credit cards, offer more security than cash, and can offer great exchange rates.

Find a prepaid travel card

Compare multi-currency cards from leading providers.
Compare our best euro travel currency card deals.
Compare our best US dollar travel cards deals.
Pick up some cash for your trip too.
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Last updated
September 20th, 2023

What is a prepaid travel card?

prepaid travel card, also known as a 'travel money card', is a debit card that you preload with money and take on holiday. It's a good way to stick to your holiday budget and avoid carrying a lot of cash. 

Prepaid travel cards can be used at cashpoints, in shops and restaurants, or anywhere that accepts Mastercard or Visa debit or credit cards.

However, a prepaid travel card is not the same as a credit card for two key reasons:

  • You can only spend the amount you have put on the card; the pre-loaded limit prevents you overspending and getting into debt 

  • You can choose which currency to preload your travel money card with depending on where you're going, which often means you can secure a better exchange rate

Pick a card with fees that suit how you plan to use it, e.g. choose one with no withdrawal fees if you'll be withdrawing cash often while travelling.”

What are the different types of prepaid travel cards?

Multi-currency prepaid cards

Multi-currency prepaid cards

These can be loaded with several different currencies, making them ideal for both frequent travellers and those taking trips to multiple destinations. For example, you holiday in Europe but often visit the US on business, you could use a prepaid travel card to cover your everyday spending wherever you are by topping it up with say £600 then exchanging £200 into euros and £200 into US dollars. The different currencies will then be stored in separate “wallets”, allowing you to switch currencies when you like.

Sterling prepaid cards

Sterling prepaid cards

These can be used at home and abroad, making them even more flexible than the best travel cards offering multiple currencies. You don’t need to worry about setting up a wallet for the currency you want to use; the card provider simply converts your pounds to the required currency each time you make a purchase. However, this can make holiday budgeting harder and may increase your costs, depending on the charging structure.

Euro prepaid cards

Euro prepaid cards

As well as multi-currency cards, you can take out prepaid cards designed to hold a specific currency. This can work out excellently if you're trying to lock in a good rate now by loading your euro prepaid card, but if you then use the card to buy things in a country that isn't in the eurozone. That's because if you spend in a country that does not use the euro, it converts to the local currency each time you make a purchase, which can work out more expensive.

Prepaid US dollar cards

Prepaid US dollar cards

These keep your balance in dollars. If you spend in countries that use a different currency, the card will exchange your dollars to the local currency, and you might well be charged a fee. The currency exchange takes place as soon as you load your card. If the pound strengthens afterwards, you won’t be getting the best value for money, but it if weakens you'll do well.

What are the different types of prepaid travel cards?

Multi-currency prepaid cards

Multi-currency prepaid cards

These can be loaded with several different currencies, making them ideal for both frequent travellers and those taking trips to multiple destinations. For example, you holiday in Europe but often visit the US on business, you could use a prepaid travel card to cover your everyday spending wherever you are by topping it up with say £600 then exchanging £200 into euros and £200 into US dollars. The different currencies will then be stored in separate “wallets”, allowing you to switch currencies when you like.

Sterling prepaid cards

Sterling prepaid cards

These can be used at home and abroad, making them even more flexible than the best travel cards offering multiple currencies. You don’t need to worry about setting up a wallet for the currency you want to use; the card provider simply converts your pounds to the required currency each time you make a purchase. However, this can make holiday budgeting harder and may increase your costs, depending on the charging structure.

Euro prepaid cards

Euro prepaid cards

As well as multi-currency cards, you can take out prepaid cards designed to hold a specific currency. This can work out excellently if you're trying to lock in a good rate now by loading your euro prepaid card, but if you then use the card to buy things in a country that isn't in the eurozone. That's because if you spend in a country that does not use the euro, it converts to the local currency each time you make a purchase, which can work out more expensive.

Prepaid US dollar cards

Prepaid US dollar cards

These keep your balance in dollars. If you spend in countries that use a different currency, the card will exchange your dollars to the local currency, and you might well be charged a fee. The currency exchange takes place as soon as you load your card. If the pound strengthens afterwards, you won’t be getting the best value for money, but it if weakens you'll do well.

How to get a prepaid travel card

Getting a prepaid travel card is simple. Just follow these steps:

Compare cards

Use our table below to find prepaid travel card that offers the features you need with the lowest fees

Check your eligibility

Make sure you fit the eligibility criteria for your chosen travel money card and can provide the required proof of ID

Apply for the card

Click 'view deal' below and fill out the application form on the provider's website with your personal details

What are the eligibility requirements?

Anyone can get a prepaid travel card. There's no need to have a bank account, and no credit checks are required. Some providers have a minimum age of 18, but many will let you have a prepaid card from the age of 13 with parental consent. 

Sometimes parents like to use travel money cards to give their children a set amount of holiday money, and to help teach them about budgeting and financial responsibility. 

Pros and Cons

Pros

Safer than cash
Can be cancelled and replaced if lost or stolen
Make holiday budgeting easier
Prevent you going into debt
Accepted in most shops, restaurants, and bars around the world

Cons

Application fees
Monthly/annual account fees
Charges to load money
Fees to withdraw cash/make purchases
Fees on making purchases
Fees for not using your card ( in some cases)

What exchange rate do you get?

Exchange rates vary over time depending on what is happening in the wider economy. That means the exchange rate you get on a US dollar travel card today, for example, might not be the same as you get tomorrow or next week.

What prepaid cards offer is the ability to lock in today's rate to use later on. That could see you better off if the pound weakens, but might also mean you get a poor deal if the pound strengthens.

That offers is certainty - you'll know exactly how many dollars, euros, lira or whichever currency you load onto the card you have to spend on holiday.

Today’s best exchange rates

See how much foreign currency you can buy per pound sterling with the latest exchange rates below. These rates are automatically updated every 10 minutes. *Rates may be different for money transfers.
CurrencyExchange rate
Euros1.16
US Dollars1.26
Australian Dollars1.90
Turkish Lira38.37
UAE Dirham4.57

At what point is the currency exchanged with prepaid travel cards?

Some prepaid travel cards hold the balance in pounds sterling. These convert the required amount to the local currency every time you spend on them.

The exchange rate isn’t fixed, so you’ll only know how many pounds you have on the card - not what it will buy you while overseas.

But the cards in our comparison table convert your money when you add it onto the card. This means you know the exchange rate used and your card's exact balance before you go away.

Compare the rates before you choose a prepaid card. Although rates can change several times a day, some travel cards will be more competitive than others.

Using a card with competitive exchange rates will mean you get more local currency for your pound.

You also need to watch out for fees as well as withdrawal limits when choosing a card, as these can vary between providers.

What are the alternatives to prepaid travel cards?

Travel credit card

Travel credit card

A travel credit card works just like a regular credit card, with which you can make purchases by borrowing money. The main difference is that travel credit cards don't charge foreign transaction fees for spending abroad. 

Travel money

Travel money

For many people, cash is the most comfortable form of payment when travelling. It's hassle-free and universally accepted. But it’s riskier, as you'll lose out if it’s lost or stolen and you’ll need to budget carefully to ensure your foreign currency lasts the length of your trip. 

Travel debit card

Travel debit card

These days, there are plenty of specialist banks and providers that offer bank accounts that don't charge foreign transaction fees when used abroad. This offers you a chance to take advantage of the best exchange rates. And if it's your main current account, you won't have to worry about topping up your account before you go.

What are the alternatives to prepaid travel cards?

Travel credit card

Travel credit card

A travel credit card works just like a regular credit card, with which you can make purchases by borrowing money. The main difference is that travel credit cards don't charge foreign transaction fees for spending abroad. 

Travel money

Travel money

For many people, cash is the most comfortable form of payment when travelling. It's hassle-free and universally accepted. But it’s riskier, as you'll lose out if it’s lost or stolen and you’ll need to budget carefully to ensure your foreign currency lasts the length of your trip. 

Travel debit card

Travel debit card

These days, there are plenty of specialist banks and providers that offer bank accounts that don't charge foreign transaction fees when used abroad. This offers you a chance to take advantage of the best exchange rates. And if it's your main current account, you won't have to worry about topping up your account before you go.

What other costs or fees are there with prepaid travel cards?


As well as the exchange rate, you might have to pay several other charges on your prepaid travel card.

These could include:

  • A fee to buy the card

  • A monthly or annual fee for keeping the account open

  • Cash withdrawal fees

  • Transaction fees when you pay for anything on the card

  • Inactivity fees

  • Loading fees when you add money onto the card

Some cards also charge fees for withdrawing cash or making purchases inside the UK.

But some of the cards in this comparison do not charge fees in countries that use currencies loaded on the card - just make sure the right one is selected before spending on them.

Check carefully for fees before you pick one.

Read our full guide on how much it costs to use a travel prepaid card and how to choose one.

"With multi-currency cards, check you've selected the right currency before you arrive."

FAQs

How long does it take to get a prepaid travel card?

You can apply online and get a decision immediately. However, it can take up to two weeks before your card arrives in the post.

Can I use any prepaid card abroad?

Yes, you can use prepaid Visa or Mastercard cards in most destinations worldwide. Travel prepaid cards are usually cheaper to use overseas than a standard credit or debit card. 

Can I withdraw cash abroad?

Yes, you can use a travel money card in a cash machine outside the UK. Some cards charge fees for this, so always check if you want to use your prepaid travel card to make cash withdrawals.

What currencies can my card hold?

All the travel money cards in our comparison can hold a balance in popular currencies such as euros or dollars, while some support more than 50 different currencies.

Can I make international payments?

Yes, some providers let you send or receive money from abroad by logging into your online account, which works in the same way as standard internet banking.

Who sets the exchange rate?

This depends on the company that processes the transactions. Typically, it’s down to Visa or Mastercard, as well as your card provider, which may take an additional cut.

Can I use my prepaid card in the UK?

You can use prepaid cards to withdraw cash or buy things in the UK or online. However, you may pay fees or even an exchange rate if your card is loaded with a foreign currency.

Explore our prepaid card guides

Find out more about how prepaid cards work and whether they're right for you.
Should you get a prepaid card?
Should you get a prepaid card?
How to use a prepaid card
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How do travel prepaid cards work?
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About the author

Salman Haqqi
Salman Haqqi spent over a decade as a journalist reporting in several countries around the world. Now as a personal finance expert, he helps people make informed financial decisions.

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