Six steps to getting a currency card

6 May 2011

1. Pre-paid debit cards

A number of foreign exchange providers offer pre-paid debit cards; you can compare these at and to see which ones are the cheapest in terms of fees.

In terms of exchange rates, it's a question of checking with individual providers. You also need to decide which currencies you will need. For example, if you only holiday in Europe it's not necessary to get a global currency card.
2. Contact details

To apply for a card, you'll need to fill in a few contact details online. You should then receive an email in the following few days confirming whether you've been approved or not. The card will then follow shortly after in the post.

3. Activate

Before you can load money onto your card you must activate it - again through the card provider's website. It will notify you of login details and how to set up a password.
4. Load card

There are three ways to load your card: online, over the phone or via text message.

But the first time you load money you must do it online. The money will be available from your card almost immediately and it will be possible to view your balance online.
5. If you lose your card...

If your card is lost or stolen you must contact the provider immediately - they should each have 24-hour helplines - and it will cancel your card. Depending on your location, you can order an emergency replacement card, but this comes with a high fee. Caxton charges £50, for example.
6. Transferring funds

Once back from holiday you can move money back into your bank account, although some card providers will charge a fee. Alternatively, leave the cash on the card until the next time you go abroad, but bear in mind that cards have expiry dates.

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