Gone are the days when going on a trip meant having to carry around a wad of cash or travelers checks. Luckily, new technologies and products are making travel easier and cheaper than ever before.
Prepaid debit cards have grown increasingly popular in recent years, and people are using them for everything from better budgeting to securely receiving paychecks from employers. Many people have also discovered just how easy it is to travel with a prepaid card. These cards are not only convenient for frequent travelers; they also offer a host of benefits for people who only make the occasional trip.
Prepaid debit cards make your trip more convenient.
Decades ago, travelers were encouraged to purchase travelers checks prior to taking a trip, because they were viewed as safer and more secure than cash, and because they allowed travelers to avoid costly currency exchange fees. As ATMs and debit cards became more common, travelers checks basically became obsolete. Prepaid cards took the convenience a step further because these cards are not directly tied to a bank account. For travelers, the peace of mind offered by a prepaid debit card is unparalleled. Travelers can use their prepaid debit card like their traditional debit card or credit card, without the worry that their entire account may be compromised if they lose the card.
Prepaid cards allow travelers to complete a variety of transactions on a single card that is easy to carry around, unlike bulky cash or travelers checks. For example, prepaid debit cards can be used to book flights, rent cars, pay for in-flight purchases, and keep track of purchases. Best of all, because prepaid cards work exactly like credit cards, they are accepted at retailers all over the world and can immediately be cancelled if they are lost. In addition, many prepaid cards can be used internationally, and most automatically convert the amount on the card to the country’s local currency. However, always be sure to check with your issuer to ensure that this is true for your card.
A prepaid debit card is not a credit card, but it has similar features.
In the past, many airlines, hotels, and rental car agencies only accepted credit cards, and people who didn’t have a credit card were just out of luck when it came to making travel reservations. Bank-issued debit cards and prepaid cards changed all of that while still providing many of the same benefits as credit cards.
Prepaid debit cards look nearly identical to credit cards, yet they have a number of distinct advantages that make them the superior choice. For example, when using a prepaid debit card, the only money the user can spend is the money they loaded onto the card. Once that balance is depleted, the only way to spend more is to reload additional funds onto the card. This is one of the main attractions of prepaid debit cards—users don’t have to worry about overspending or being hit with costly overdraft fees. This can be particularly helpful for travelers, since it’s easy to make impulse purchases and overspend when on vacation.
In addition to looking similar to credit cards, prepaid debit cards are also accepted for a variety of travel purchases. For instance, many rental car companies accept prepaid debit cards, and the same goes for hotel chains. Most will require a deposit to hold the reservation, so it’s advisable to contact the rental car company or hotel directly to ensure that they accept prepaid debit cards. Deposit amounts can vary from a nominal fee to hundreds of dollars, so it’s best to be informed ahead of time. You may also want to visit the company’s website to read any terms and conditions that may apply to room or vehicle reservations made with a prepaid debit card. Each company should have a policy that addresses the use of a prepaid debit card in lieu of a credit card.
A lesser-known benefit of prepaid debit cards that is typically associated with traditional credit cards is purchase protection. Despite the fact that prepaid cards aren't traditional bank cards, they are usually backed by the same protection offered by major credit card issuers. Card protection features include, but are not limited to, fraud protection, balance restoration, and sometimes even travel insurance.
Though there are certainly caveats to keep in mind when using a prepaid card for travel, there are many benefits that make them an attractive choice. Many who travel often tend to use a variety of payment methods, which is a smart move that can allow them to be prepared for nearly any situation. Those who are in the planning stages of a trip should weigh all financial options and research the prepaid card policies at the destination.
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