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Google search results for pre paid cards
As you do the final holiday check list many will still be in a quandary about currency - what is the best option? Take cash... where to exchange - in the UK before travelling or at the destination. Use your credit card... what will be the charges and will I get a good exchange rate from the bank. The third option often touted as the safest is using a pre-paid debit card.

Most of the banks offer pre-paid debit cards and if you do a search on the internet you will be inundated with different companies that offer them. But are they all they are cracked up to be?

You need to have an awful lot of patience to read through the pages of terms & conditions that apply - most of us are guilty of just ticking the box and assuming it is all correct and only find out that this is not the case when there is a problem! I for one never read through the T&C´s when booking airline seats on the internet yet tick the appropriate box stating that I have, otherwise you cannot continue with the booking.

Some of the pre-paid debit cards can have up to 21 separate charges which you only discover once money starts disappearing off your card and you contact the company asking why. One such shocker is an "Inactivity Fee" which can be up to 5 GBP per month which kicks in after 3 months. If you use the card only once per year for your anual holiday then you may find that from one year to the next you have 45 GBP less than you thought! Other things you need to look out for are charges levied to use the card, to load the card and even to cash the card in. Often there is a minimum load fee and a minimum amount required to be on the card. Also check whether there is a fee for withdrawing from an ATM whilst abroad - which is where you will be using the card in all likelihood.
Is cash king?

One very important point to remember is NEVER use the card as a deposit for your car hire or hotel room security. You will find the relevant amount is then blocked on your card and so will prevent you from using the funds until they are unblocked, which can take up to 30 days in some cases! That means that you will be back from your 2 week holiday in Benidorm before the funds are available again... pointless having the card in that case really.

However, be warned that many places in Benidorm do not take any debit or credit cards, especially the smaller establishment which is understandable. As an example, if you are serving a menu del dia for 8 euros then there is not much of a profit margin to start with. If on top of that the establishment has to pay a percentage to the card company then there is no profit left.

A pre-paid debit card is touted as the safest option - however one very important thing to remember is this. If you have it in your wallet and that is stolen or pick pocketed then you are "cashless" in the same way as if cash was taken. You will potentially still have no money for the rest of your holiday..... in my opinion take cash but only take out the amount you require each day - keep the rest in the hotel safe. Best denominations are the ones in the photo.... many will not take a 100 euro note and as for 200 or 500 euros, you will need to go to the bank.

So are pre paid debit cards a good deal ? Well for the issuers they are - as for the consumer ...

Comments  

0 #2 timbone 2012-07-02 09:34
Correction - it is 'Sheilas' at the covered market not Sandras - I knew it began with S lol
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0 #1 timbone 2012-07-02 01:01
When I come to Benidorm, I always make a conservative/ge nerous estimate of how much I will need. I bring it in sterling, and exchange at either the covered market (Toni's or Sandra's) or Euro exchange in the Tobacco shop. I don't change it all, and always end up returning to the UK with some sterling left over and some Euros for my next visit.
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