Gift/Travel Cards for Spain?

Dec 11th, 2013, 07:25 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 2
Gift/Travel Cards for Spain?

Hi - My parents are going to Spain (Valencia/Barcelona) for a couple of weeks and I wanted to give them a gift card/travel card for Christmas to use on their trip.

How can I purchase a Visa 'gift card' that can be used in Europe? I have only found them to be US only in the stores.

Any advice would be helpful.
jhughes321 is offline  
Dec 11th, 2013, 07:38 AM
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My recommendation is say no to gift cards. Unless you have found something else, cards I have looked at came with outrageous fees of all sorts. Read the fine prints especially on oversea usages. If I want to give something that does not take space in their luggage, I might get an international data roaming package for their cellphones.
greg is offline  
Dec 11th, 2013, 08:09 AM
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Any prepaid card will cost in fees as greg says, including the one yorkshire has linked to. BAD IDEA.

You would do better to simply give them cash or a cheque in a Christmas card with the suggestion that they deposit it in their bank account and spend it using their own credit cards when on their trip.

Tell them they are to think of it as 'Mad Money'. That is, when they look at something and think, 'we'd have to be mad to spend the money for that', that is when they are to spend the money (figuratively) that you gave them.
dulciusexasperis is offline  
Dec 11th, 2013, 12:01 PM
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The Op asked about gift cards or similar. Yorkshire linked to a card that would do the job, assuming that the OP comes from the USA?

Pre-paid cards do cost a little, maybe 5% comapred to the XE exchange rate, that no tourist gets anyway.

If the OP wants to give his parents say 500 bucks to spend, then the fees will likely be in the order of $30. It is like the cost of postage on a gift, not a really big deal.

Sure, some posters move bulk cash from the Cayman Islands to Europe, but I do not think that jhughes is coming from that sort of place.
Peter_S_Aus is offline  
Dec 12th, 2013, 05:13 AM
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Nope... I am in the US. Thanks for the input (none of us have really ventured outside of the US across to Europe yet).
jhughes321 is offline  
Dec 12th, 2013, 05:29 AM
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What about Barcelona Cards?
hetismij2 is offline  
Dec 12th, 2013, 05:42 AM
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Travel cards are a great idea. People are right in saying that your parents might get charged for withdrawals but all this means is you take out money for a few days every time.

I went to India two years ago and I don't know if you know but you cannot buy their currency outside of the country so I had to get a travel card which came pre-loaded with Rupees on it. It was kind of like this one:

Anyway during this holiday I had my card stolen. I am just grateful I wasn't in another country where I would have normally have just took my debit card as the situation could have been a lot worse due to them emptying my account. The thief did use the card to purchase items for themselves but luckily the only money they had access to was the money that was loaded on the card so there wasn't much damage done. Just for security reasons I know always get travel cards when I got on holiday for peace of mind.
ckelly10 is offline  
Dec 12th, 2013, 07:31 AM
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Tourists get ripped-off every day using their credit cards and of all possible cards to use, pre-paid cards are the worst.

Pre-paid cards are for people who cannot get a 'normal' credit card. While the advertising for them may make it sound otherwise, make no mistake, they cost you more money.

Common sense should tell anyone that if there is a cheaper way to handle money then it is better to use that method. Even $30 is $30.

So, Peter_S, if you want to throw your money away that is your concern but do not try to suggest that everyone else has to or should. Nor are you correct when you write, "maybe 5% comapred to the XE exchange rate, that no tourist gets anyway."

Lots of tourists get the Interbank Rate (XE is meaningless) plus 1%. For someone like the OP who says this is the first time for anyone in the family heading outside the USA I think it is important to get it RIGHT from the start.

Ckelly10, your pre-paid card will have cost you more than using your debit card would. As for 'emptying your account' if you had lost your debit card, you are simply showing a lack of knowledge of how things work.

How could they empty your account without your PIN number? It cannot be done. The pre-paid credit card that they used to make purchases only required them to sign your name! Your thinking is simply not logical at all. You would have been far better off with your debit card.

Comparing your pre-loaded card to a normal credit card where a thief could potentially also have purchased items by signing your name, your 'normal' credit card is covered for that. In your cardholder agreement it will show you that you are not liable for any unauthorized use of the card unless you have also let them steal your PIN number.

Nor should you have 'lost' money on the pre-paid card for the purchases the thief made ckelly10. That card should also have been covered against unauthorized use!!!

Whenever the topic of handling money comes up on a travel forum, all the same kind of mis-leading and incorrect responses are given.

If you are from the UK ckelly10, I suggest you look at this website:

That website has the best info for a traveller from the UK on how to handle their cards and is kept updated. You will see that if you used a Halifax Clarity credit card and a Norwich & Peterborough debit card, you would get a 'perfect' exchange rate with both. Perfect being the Interbank rate plus 1% that Visa/MC charges for use of their system. The rate Peter_S so definitively states as 'no tourist gets.'

If you scroll down to pre-paid cards you will see the current best in the UK is the FairFX card. Although it says no loading fees, note the part that says they use their OWN exchange rate. So you do not get the 'perfect' rate, you get a rate that they have added a percentage to and don't even know how much they ADD.

Also note that you can only load the card in a specific currency. If you decided to load it in Euros for example what will happen is you will pay their exchange rate; you will pay an initial fee (sometimes waived); you will pay a flat fee per withdrawal/use (you seem to have realized only that fee existed on the card you used in India); and if you use the card somewhere for other than Euros, you will pay a second time at their own determined exchange rate (double dippiing) AND an additional 1.4% fee on top of that.

Pre-paid cards are for those who cannot get normal credit/debit cards (ie. students perhaps). Anyone else who uses them is at best naive.

Getting back to jhughes, if your parents or other members of your family are going to start travelling outside the USA then it is time to start learning about the best way to handle money when doing so.

Unfortunately, no direct equivalent of the moneysavingexpert website exists for the USA. You have to do the research yourself to find which are currently best. One of the problems is that things keep changing and so reading something that was written last year may no longer be the right advice. One site that does seem to keep their info updated for US credit cards is this one:

But it only covers credit cards. Fortunately, most US debit cards do not charge foreign loading fees so most are ok anyway.

You also need to know about 'chip and pin'. Many travellers from the USA where chip and pin cards are still rare, can get a rude surprise when they discover that you must have a chip and pin card in many instances when travelling.

For example, you rent a car, it's a Sunday morning, you leave your hotel, drive down the road and pull in to fill up with fuel. Surprise, surprise, there is no attendant on Sunday, you use you your card at the automated pumps but it requires a chip and pin card! No fuel for you!

So a traveller should have the BEST cards available to them, preferably with no exchange loading and they should be chip and pin cards.

So I'll say again jhughes. Give your parents cash and tell them to deposit it and use their existing cards to spend it when on their trip. That is the BEST way to do it.

If this is a one time, 2 week trip, it is not necessary to find the best cards for this one trip. But if this is the start of travel for them and/or your family then it will pay to find the best cards for the future. Yes, it might only cost you $30 or $40 dollars this time but over time and travels it adds up.
dulciusexasperis is offline  
Dec 12th, 2013, 08:08 AM
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Pre-paid cards are a rip-off in oh so many ways. Anyone who takes the time to research financial institutions can find a way to avoid paying anything more than 1% above interbank rate - often this means using a credit union.

ckelly10's post is wrong on so many levels. You can certainly get rupees in advance of travel, and ATM cards work just fine all over India.

Give the parents cash.
StCirq is online now  
Dec 12th, 2013, 10:07 AM
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Even if we postulate that fees are acceptable, these cards are difficult to use.

These are processed as debit cards. Transaction with merchants involving semi open-ended charges (where the final charge is not known at the time the card is presented) either do not accept debit cards or put so much credit block that blow past the balance.

Then you must understand what "extras" get tacked onto each transaction. Some cards have per transaction charges. The sales info try to hide these info until the very last minutes before you hit "buy" button. Then for international transaction there are exchange (and not so exchange) related percentage and fixed fees that the card issuers can decide to levy in their favor.

Then there is a difficulty at the POS. Based on dollar balance, you have to quickly compute the dollar equivalent of the Euro price tag and add all kinds of fees to decide if there is enough balance on the card. If not, then you either cannot use the card, to try to do a split tender. Not all stores care or know how to do a split tender. Even at stores that can do a split tender, the salesperson can get the charge distribution mixed up between different funding sources.

If you exceed the balance, some cards just denies the charge while others take advantage of this situation and add overage fees.

Then the final blow is how to clear the balance. If you kept the card inactive, they start charging inactive card fees. You have to find a way to clear these odd dollars left on the card. Of course, this is the design of these card to make it easy for people to just leave balance and let the card consume itself with inactive card fees.
greg is offline  
Dec 12th, 2013, 10:16 AM
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As I said several posts ago what about a Barcelona card if you want to give a card they can use on their holiday, rather than just cash.
hetismij2 is offline  
Dec 12th, 2013, 01:43 PM
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Well MAYBE if you explained what a Barcelona Card was instead of assuming anyone knows what it is, the OP could consider it hetismij2.

But since I do know what they are I will offer some comments so you don't feel left out.

First, like any 'city pass' they are for a specified period of time. Second, they are suitable IF you are likely to use public transportation frequently and visit a lot of museums.

Finally, since the maximum is a 5 day card at 55E ($75)then that would have to fit the maximum the OP wishes to give his parents for their trip.

Now, instead of thinking about why there is no response to your suggestion, try thinking about this. Is someone who is asking about a pre-loaded gift card from Visa likely to be thinking of something around $75?

From my point of view at least, $75 isn't even worth talking about. If I wanted to give my parents $500 to spend on their trip, what use is a $75 Barcelona Card to me?

Jhughes may come back and say a $75 card will fit nicely but if that is the case then I'll consider jhuges as having wasted my time asking for advice about a Visa card.
dulciusexasperis is offline  
Dec 12th, 2013, 02:44 PM
Join Date: Oct 2008
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Dulcie, make sure you take three compasses on your next trip.
Peter_S_Aus is offline  

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