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-   -   Anybody used a pre-paid Travelex foreign currency exchange card? (

samoca Mar 19th, 2009 10:52 AM

Anybody used a pre-paid Travelex foreign currency exchange card?
I just read about these in the last few days--concerned as I am about my 7 week upcoming trip to Italy and France where I've paid virtually nothing in advance--just booked with credit card numbers and they want cash payment when you get there (in Italy almost everywhere).

There are other cards like this in UK with better terms than Travelex, but AFAIK, only this one here in US. You can put up to maybe $10,000 (not sure of the top limit) and exchange them for euros at current rates--i.e., lock it in before dollar continues to slide further. There is a $10 one-time fee for the card and it does charge ATM fees (not sure how much--$2.00 or more) when you take the money out. Obvously there is also the initial currency transaction fee that they charge, which I think is much higher than you would get doing it in Euroland at $200 (or whatever) at a time from an ATM (esp. if you find a bank here like Schwab that does not charge currency exchange fees) --but with the Travelex card you've locked in today's rate. And it seems highly likely that the dollar is going to continue to slide.

I have about 4 hotels that I've booked (I'll be in Italy 6 weeks, France for 1) and only paid a small down payment on one of them. I'm getting freaked by the weakening dollar and trying to think of something I can do to lock in current rates. Of course I could take a big wad of euros around with me, but that's a tad risky, to say the least, carrying it around from hotel to hotel in Italy where thieves abound (or anywhere).

My other solution is to see if the hotels will allow me to pay in full now--that's also risky as I'm not leaving until April 22 and also there's a small chance the dollar could strengthen again (don't think so on this one)--it's a bet. Also I'd lose the miniscule amount of interest I'm earning on my money keeping it invested.

Did anybody do anything like this last year when the dollar was soooo weak?

RufusTFirefly Mar 19th, 2009 11:07 AM

I just checked the Travelex card. Their exchange rate with the mandatory delivery fee is over $1.52. Then you have to pay 1.75 euros (about $2.40 at today's rate) for each withdrawal. Current official exchange rate is around $1.38 with the 1% Visa/MC fee added.

The dollar would have to really nosedive to make it worthwhile. It could happen, but it's a gamble.

thursdaysd Mar 19th, 2009 11:29 AM

"with the 1% Visa/MC fee added." - if you get a Capital One credit card, there is NO added fee. Plus mine gives me 1% cash BACK!

janisj Mar 19th, 2009 11:37 AM

Use your ATM card to get cash where and as you need it. If you want to save money, DO NOT get a prepaid visa or travelex card. You'll be hit by fees out the wazoo!

The sudden rise in the € and £ is more to do w/ the actions taken by the Fed yesterday and the last week.. If any of the European central banks decide to do anything similar - the $ could easily go back up against those currencies. Or not. Playing the exchange rate is a fool's game. Quit freaking. Even if the € were to rise 5 more cents - that is only a bit over 3% increase . . . .

Christina Mar 19th, 2009 12:28 PM

I wouldn't ever buy one of those cards as their fees are so high, it doesn't make sense to me.

However, that is definitely not the only one. Visa has one, also. I think Amex has stopped issuing theirs, though, but they used to have one. Visa's is called Travelmoney.

nytraveler Mar 19th, 2009 05:49 PM

NO NO NO! This is just throwing money out the window. In addition to the very poor rate of exchange and the ridiculous usage fees, they are holding your money all this time - so they're getting interest on it rather than you.

This is just throwing money out the window.

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