A prepaid travel card is a card that you pre-load with money, and take away on holiday with you to spend on. It's a good way to avoid carrying a lot of cash.

It's not the same as a credit card so you don't have to worry about overspending and getting into debt. You can only spend the amount you've pre-loaded it with.

You can choose which currency you preload your prepaid travel card with depending on where you're going.

Prepaid travel cards can be used at cashpoints and in shops and restaurants. They all have the MasterCard or Visa logo on them and are accepted anywhere that accepts MasterCard or Visa debit or credit cards.

What are the benefits of a prepaid euro card or dollar card?

Prepaid travel cards offer lots of benefits. These include:

  • They're safer than carrying cash or leaving it in your hotel room or apartment

  • Your money's safe if your card's lost or stolen as your provider can cancel it, and you might be able to get it replaced quickly

  • They make budgeting easier as you can't run up debts like you could with a credit card

  • You know what exchange rate you're getting from the outset

  • They can sometimes be the cheapest option

  • They're hassle-free to use and accepted in most shops, restaurants and bars around the world.

Are there any downsides to prepaid cards to use abroad?

There can be, which is why it's important to find the best prepaid travel card you can.

Some come with lots of fees, so be sure to check the small print carefully. Fees to be aware of include:

  • Application fees

  • Monthly fees

  • Charges to load money

  • Fees to withdraw cash

  • Fees on spending

  • Fees for not using your card at all.

Keep in mind that these aren't credit cards. That means they're not covered by the Consumer Credit Act 1974, which protects purchases against a retailer going bust for faulty goods. They're also not protected under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

Plus, you can't use them absolutely everywhere. And you can't borrow money via one either.

But there are lots of benefits too, and the important thing is to find the best prepaid euro card or dollar card available.

How to choose a prepaid travel card

You can find the best prepaid travel card for your situation by using our comparison table.

To choose the right prepaid currency card for you, you'll need to check which ones offer the currency you need. Then you'll need to work out which of these prepaid travel cards are the cheapest to use abroad.

Here's everything you need to know about using prepaid cards abroad.

Which currencies does your prepaid holiday card need to hold?

When you choose a prepaid credit card for travel, you can get one that holds one currency, or that holds several different currencies.

Single currency prepaid travel cards

These prepaid cards for travel only let you preload one currency. For example, you might get a prepaid euro card or a prepaid dollar card, depending on where you're going.

Multi-currency pre-loaded travel cards

These pre-loaded travel cards can hold several different currencies.

If you're visiting a few different countries, taking one of these prepaid cards abroad could save you money.

how single and multi-currency prepaid foreign currency cards work.

Check the cost of your prepaid currency card

Once you've found the best prepaid travel cards for your needs - the ones that hold the right currencies - it's time to find the cheapest.

Compare prepaid travel cards using our comparison table above and find the best prepaid currency card available. You can compare the fees for:

  • Buying the card

  • Keeping your account open (paid monthly or annually)

  • Taking money out from a cash machine

  • Spending on the card

  • Adding money onto the card.


This will help you find the best prepaid travel card, UK wide, for use when travelling abroad.

Prepaid cards usually charge extra if you use them outside the UK. But the best prepaid travel card for Europe or wider international travel cards don't charge these fees.

Our comparison covers cards which are free to use outside the UK. If they're not free, the comparison table shows how much each card charges for foreign transactions and cash withdrawals.

When you're researching prepaid cards to use abroad choose a card with fees that suit how you plan to use it. For example, if you'll be withdrawing cash often while travelling, pick one of the prepaid foreign currency cards with no withdrawal fees.

Check the exchange rate on your prepaid travel money card

When you add money onto your international prepaid card, you'll pay an exchange rate.

For example, if your bank account is in pounds sterling and you're adding money to a prepaid euro card, you'll pay the pounds-to-euros exchange rate.

The best prepaid travel card will offer the lowest exchange rate.

Here's how exchange rates work on prepaid travel cards, and how much it can cost.

What are the alternatives to a prepaid travel card?

Sometimes even the best prepaid travel card might not be the right option for you.
There are several other ways to spend abroad.

For example, you might like to get a prepaid credit card for travel. These work just like a regular credit card, but don't charge big fees for using them abroad like many standard credit cards do.

Another alternative to a pre-loaded travel card is to take travel money. If you're taking foreign currency with you and have no back-up option, you'll need to budget very carefully. You'll need to make sure you still have money towards the end of your trip.

Lastly, you could take travellers' cheques. You buy these in the UK and convert them into foreign currency while you're abroad.

For people who travel, prepaid card use can often be preferable to these alternatives. A prepaid travel card is a sensible way to spend money on holiday because it doesn't let you get into debt. Also, if your card's lost or stolen, your provider can cancel it.

Here's how to work out the cheapest way to spend abroad.

Who would a prepaid travel card be good for?

A prepaid currency card can be a good option for people who are on a budget when they travel. Not only do you often get a better exchange rate, but you can't overspend.

Sometimes parents like to get them for their children's holiday money, as it can help teach them about budgets and responsibility. Teenagers can even apply for one themselves. There's no need to have a bank account and no credit checks are needed.

Can you top up a prepaid currency card while you're away?

Prepaid travel cards can sometimes be topped up while you're away by text, online or via an app, or even via your debit or credit card. You can sometimes do it by phone, too, but check how much the phone call is likely to cost.

Some prepaid travel cards even allow you to have your salary paid directly onto them, which is a guaranteed way to get a top up if it's pay day while you're away.

Will I have to remember a PIN?

Yes, most prepaid travel cards are chip and PIN. However, some are now contactless so you might not need to enter a PIN for smaller purchases.

Prepaid travel cards FAQs

Q

Can I use any prepaid card abroad?

A

Yes, they can be used worldwide. Travel prepaid cards are usually cheaper to use if they hold the currency you want to spend in.

Q

Can I withdraw cash abroad?

A

Yes, you can use a prepaid card in a cash machine outside the UK. But some cards come with fees for this.

Q

What currencies can my card hold?

A

All the cards on this comparison can hold a balance in a foreign currency. Some can be preloaded with multiple currencies.

Q

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

A

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

Q

Can I use my prepaid card in the UK?

A

They can be used to withdraw cash or buy things in the UK or online. You may pay fees or even an exchange rate if your card only holds another currency.

Q

Who sets the exchange rate?

A

This depends on the company that processes the transactions (Visa or MasterCard) and your card provider, who may take a cut too.

Q

Can I make international payments?

A

Yes, some providers let you send or receive money from abroad by logging into your online account, which works like internet banking.

About our prepaid cards comparison

Q

Who do we include in this comparison?

A

We include prepaid cards that can hold foreign currencies or sterling from our panel of providers. They are all from providers either directly regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority or providers that are partnered with a company regulated by the FCA. Here is more information about how our website works.

Q

How do we make money from our comparison?

A

We have commercial agreements with some of the companies in this comparison and get paid commission if we help you take out one of their products or services. Find out more here.
You do not pay any extra and the deal you get is not affected.