Essentially this is the modern day version of a travellers cheque - it’s a way for you to carry money around with you safely while you explore the world. I’ve been using cash cards for years now, and everytime I go away for a long term trip and don’t feel comfortable taking a lot of cash with me. People always ask me about the benefits of them so I thought I’d write a short list of the pros below!
Cash Point Charges
Using your bog standard debit card at a foreign cash point generally builds up hefty charges, you won’t get the best exchange rate either from it meaning that you’re being charged to get cash out, charged for it to be exchanged and then not even given the best rate for that money. A cash card is made to help with those charges, meaning much smaller cash point costs and better exchange rates! You can get your cash out worry free and save some money at the same time!
From online to mobile apps, you can load money onto your cash card any time, anywhere if you have internet access. Even if you don’t I always make sure a family member or trusted friend has my details to whack some more money onto the card for me! This will come straight from your regular bank account, but is not linked. This is key as it prevents electronic theft. If they steal your identity or cash card details, all they can do is use the cash on the card and generally like a credit card you can get this back / claim on your insurance.
Not all your money at once
You can have £1000’s in reserve without using your entire backpack to hoard all the physical money around with you. For long trips, you know you’re going to be spending a lot over the course of the trip so this is the best way to allow for safe use of money over the course of a few months (or years!)
If you’re staying in one country for a long time, spending a few months exploring Australia and then a few months in New Zealand, you may want to consider a cash card in the local currency. This way you just load your money on in your home currency, and it automatically exchanges it. There are pros and cons to this but it’s easier to keep track of your finances in the currency you’re travelling in as you pay the exchange rate in advance and not on the day of use.
If you’re travelling around more than 2 countries, I would definitely recommend getting your cash card in your home currency. It means that you’re not carrying around a large number of cash cards with you but also that you’re not constantly having to guess how much you’ll spend in each place if only in one currency for a week or so. You pay the exchange rate on the day, and generally the cash cards give you a good exchange rate. For long term travel, it’s perfect in countries that don't deal in digital money and you're only options is to use cash from an ATM
Friends can Load it
If you have no access to the internet, as long as you can get a message out to friends or family who you trust, they can load it up for you. If you decided to seriously go off the grid they can also keep an eye on the funds and top it up if it gets below X amount. You may even find that family members add a little extra money from their accounts on there for you for a birthday or christmas if you’re away at the time!
Back Up Other Than Your Bank
If someone steals your debit card, they bank block it. This is great as it means the thief can’t use up more of your hard earned dollar however it does mean that you can’t access it too. The bank’s generally have a rule that they can only send a replacement card to your billing address at home… Pretty useless if you’re halfway around the world! With a travel money card you can take a backup with you in case this happens and store it separately to your main cash card. All you have to do if one is stolen is contact the company you purchased the card from and let them know to cancel the card that’s gone missing & activate the current card you have - easy peasy!
Your insurance will only cover a certain amount of cash in hand if you get mugged or robbed. Even if you’re carrying £1000, they generally won’t pay more than £100 if anything at all so you’re down on hard earned dollar with no way to get it back. Having a cash card means you can have that kind of money at your fingertips but have it safely stored aways.
If you need some recommendations on the best cash card for you, feel free to get in touch via my contact form! I’ve not used over 5 different companies for cash cards and know the best one to use for different styled trips.