Anyone used "pre-loaded" debit cards?

Mar 19th, 2012, 01:04 PM
  #1  
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Anyone used "pre-loaded" debit cards?

Couple of money-related Qs to toss out to the group----we're off to France for three weeks in May-June and are mulling how many payment options we need.

1. Even though Travelers' checks have gone the way of the dinosaur, I still have some AmEx cheques left and wondered about anyone's recent experience cashing them in Paris.

2. I am now the proud owner of an ATM card with a 4-digit PIN to back up my Visa credit card and am mulling the wisdom of adding what my credit union termed a "pre-loaded" debit card (to avoid the possibility that a stolen debit card might wipe out its linked checking account).

Anyone used them?

Apparently they can be used anywhere a Visa can, so I'm uncertain why I wouldn't just use my regular Visa credit card...

Last Qs: how true is it that many of the smaller businesses don't bother with a PIN for a regular debit card (which to me would seem to magnify the possibility of a checking account "drain" if it were stolen)?

Anyone think it's worth opening up a smaller "travel-only" checking account connected with a debit card but not linked to our main account?

Thanks for any input,
Diane
OregonMaiden is offline  
Mar 19th, 2012, 01:09 PM
  #2  
 
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I highly doubt anyone on this forum uses pre-loaded cards, as they are a complete rip-off.

Your regular Visa card is all you need.

Not sure what your concern is with the smaller businesses.

Opening up a second travel account with a separate card is a good idea.
StCirq is offline  
Mar 19th, 2012, 01:11 PM
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First, I don't know anyone having problems with a pre-loaded debit card, most people just don't buy them because they are very expensive, they have all kinds of fees added on plus a bad conversion rate.

Secondly, yes, I regularly cash TCs in Paris as I have some left over and I know where to get good rates (most people don't), so I usually do about once a trip for some cash. Amex checks are supposed to last forever, a bureau de change will surely take them. I have never in my life tried to use them in any country to pay any kind of merchant directly, I only exchange them for cash at a bureau de change/cambio, whatever it is called in a particular country. Don't go to a bank expecting to cash them. It isn't hard to see bureau de change in central Paris, although I use one in Montparnasse that has good rates (about 2-3 pct over interbank). I stay right around the corner from it so it is convenient for me, however. There are some places with decent rates on rue de Rivoli.

So there shouldn't be any problem exchanging them in a bit city, I wouldn't count on it in small places.
Christina is online now  
Mar 19th, 2012, 01:21 PM
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>Last Qs: how true is it that many of the smaller businesses don't bother with a PIN for a regular debit card (which to me would seem to magnify the possibility of a checking account "drain" if it were stolen)?

When my husband lost his wallet to a pickpocket in Madrid, the thief immediately made several purchases with his debit card where a PIN was not requested. Our bank just charged those transactions back to the merchants when we (immediately) reported the theft of the card. There was no loss from our account. You should discuss this with your bank.
MaineGG is offline  
Mar 19th, 2012, 01:36 PM
  #5  
 
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fyi this is the bureau de change I use in Paris, nice lady who works there (it's inside a travel agency) and good rates
http://www.bureaux-de-change.com/ann...de-change.html

as for your PIN question, I don't own or use a debit card and would suggest you use a credit card for purchases yourself, rather than a debit card.
Christina is online now  
Mar 19th, 2012, 01:47 PM
  #6  
 
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Christina - In many cases one's ATM card is also a debit card. We never use our debit card for anything other than ATM withdrawals. For a long time, we were able to get a card from our bank that was only for ATM use. Unfortunately, that came to an end a few years ago and if we want a card to use for ATMs, it must also serve as a debit card.
MaineGG is offline  
Mar 19th, 2012, 03:14 PM
  #7  
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Thanks to everyone. Looks like the pre-loaded debit card idea will bite the dust.

(In answer to St. Cirq regarding smaller businesses...I had heard that places like petrol stations were not in the habit of worrying about PINS, thus increasing the likelihood of fraud.)

Christina, thanks for the reassurance about travelers cheques.Bureaux de change will be the target.
Merci encore,
Diane
OregonMaiden is offline  
Mar 19th, 2012, 04:04 PM
  #8  
 
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Here are several other Parisian offices where you can exchange dollars for euros at approximately 2% to 3% which is about what many people are charged to use their ATMs or credit cards:

http://www.bureaudechange.fr/
http://www.ccopera.com/
http://www.fcochange.com/
Sarastro is offline  
Mar 19th, 2012, 04:55 PM
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The problem with petrol stations doesn't have anything to do with them being a small business (in many cases they are not), it's that they require chip and pin cards, which if you're American you likely don't have...and won't even be able to use your debit card at such places. Same with some toll booths. It's all an ever-changing landscape, however, and there are solutions to it, but I get by fine just using a Visa cc and my Visa debit card from my bank.
StCirq is offline  
Mar 19th, 2012, 07:17 PM
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I have yet to come across a fuel station that does not have an attendant during normal business hours (closed for lunch), and they always accepted a credit card without chip.
Michael is online now  

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