Protect your wallet abroad
A stolen or lost wallet can ruin even the most magical of holidays. So, before you head off on your travels, make sure you follow our top tips on keeping your money and cards safe.
1. Use a prepaid card
Cards such as the FairFX Currency Card or the Post Office Travel Money card can be pre-loaded with cash and used at cash points or in shops that accept Visa or MasterCard.
You can’t go overdrawn on prepaid cards and you – or a friend or relative you appoint – can top them up online and over the phone. Look out for deals that also provide competitive exchange rates, so you can fixed this when you load the card with a foreign currency.
It's fairly easy to get a pre-paid card, as no credit checks are done when you apply. They are ideal if you want to budget when abroad but can also be used in the UK and for shopping online.
However, bear in mind that prepaid card aren't necessarily free - there might be a charge for opening an account, putting money onto the card or withdrawing your cash.
2. Take some travellers’ cheques as a back-up
Although you’ll need to show ID in order to cash these, you can get them replaced if they’re lost or stolen.
3. Keep your eyes open
Don’t let your credit or debit card out of your sight when paying in a restaurant or shop. Not all countries have upgraded to chip and PIN, so you could be at risk if someone clones your card when you’re not looking.
4. Be prepared
Keep photocopies of all your important paperwork such as your travel insurance policy and passport, and leave copies with your family, as well as emailing the documents to yourself. Include a note of lost card helplines for your credit and debit cards so you can quickly stop the cards if they’re stolen.
5. Keep your bank informed
Tell your bank your plans before you go – otherwise it may block your account if it notices an unusual spending pattern. Also, check whether you can make your parents or partner an additional signatory on your account so they can speak to the bank in your absence.
A debit card that works in the same way as a pay-as-you-go mobile: you top it up with cash and then use it just as you would a normal debit/credit card. Although some are badged Visa and MasterCard, pre-paid cards are not a credit card; you can only spend what you load. Prepaid cards are aimed at people who might not traditionally hold bank accounts – children, teenagers, people with poor credit ratings, migrant workers, and benefit claimants – and there are no credit checks on the applicant.
The difference between two currencies; specifically how much one currency is worth relative to each other. For example, if £1 is worth $1.50, converting sterling to US dollars, the exchange rate is 1.5. Converting dollars to sterling at those levels, the exchange rate is 0.66, so $1 is worth 66p. There are a wide variety of factors that influence the exchange rate, such as a country’s interest rates, inflation, and the state of politics and the economy in that country.
Issued by a bank as part of a current account and, in a nutshell, serves as electronic cash. Unlike a credit or charge card, where you get an interest-free period before you have to settle the bill, the funds spent on a debit card are withdrawn immediately from your current account. Unless you’ve arranged an overdraft, if you don’t have the cash in the account, you can’t spend it.