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How to choose a good travel debit card

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How to choose a good travel debit card

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With COVID-19 finally getting under control, who isn’t thinking of travelling in the upcoming months? After two years of staying at home, all the world wants to do is a great getaway far from home. Multiple questions loom over travellers currently, the most common being “How has travelling changed over the last two years? What are the things I need to keep in mind when I go abroad now?” Apart from the obvious changes in travel regulations, new ways of funding travel have also grown. With all that confusion around, it’s no surprise that there are a bunch of questions around travel looming all over. For years now, people have preferred cash over prepaid forex cards,  but hot debates are all around over which one is really better for you. 

Prepaid Cards vs Cash 

While cash is seen as the safer bet, cards are now being chosen for being more efficient. Most cards have a better exchange rate, and neo-banks like Fi also offer zero forex. Not only does going cashless help you financially, but it’s also easier to keep a tab on your cashless payments. Cash, of course, is the go-to option when you go to an unknown country. You might not find ATMs everywhere, and maybe vendors there wouldn’t be as digitally equipped as you are. But the bigger risk with cash lies in terms of losing it or in the case of it getting stolen. When your forex card is stolen, you have the option of immediately blocking it. You could also be able to track it down in some cases. With the worldwide increase of digital payment systems over the pandemic, cards are preferred by many, but with some emergency cash.

Should you travel with a debit card?

When it comes to choosing a type of card to travel with, it all depends on spending habits. If you’re someone who is confident of keeping a check of where you spend and can regulate your credit limit, credit cards might be the option for you. But for most people, credit cards seem like the riskier option. Having your money limited and in your control, as you spend, is ideal when you want to stick to your budget. Often, using both cards is preferred by people as it gives them control over their budget, as well as prepares them for any risk that might come their way. The regulations around losing a debit card, or it being stolen can differ across banks, so make sure to know about the worst-case scenarios when it comes to your card. 

How to choose the best debit card for travelling 

While the options are unlimited, the best way to narrow down what card will work for you depends on how well planned your trip is. If you’re going to multiple countries, you’ll need a card which supports different currencies. Similarly, you can’t choose a debit card before deciding on an overall budget. The easiest way is to speak to your bank about it, but be sure to explore more options. Have a close look at charges like cross country markups, replacement charges, inquiry charges and more. Lastly, research the conversion rates they offer, what help is offered in case of loss or theft before you make your decision.

Can debit cards be used for International Transactions?

International debit cards can be used for such transactions. Most Visa cards come with this ability, and if you’re confused about this, just speak to your bank. More often than not, they can activate international transactions on your debit card. 

Should your bank know when you travel abroad with your debit card?

Yes. It’s ideal to let your bank know in advance where and when you plan on travelling. It’s likely that the bank might think that sudden activity from a different country is suspicious, so it’s better to loop them in. You also need to cross-check to see if your PIN will work in a foreign country. It’s also better to discuss account limits, conversion rates, and emergency numbers beforehand. 

Is there any extra expense in getting a debit card?

Debit cards are usually given out when you make a bank account. So no, there aren’t extra charges you’d have in getting a debit card. Although, you might have to pay a maintenance or renewal fee after a year or so of using your debit card. If you’re thinking about a forex card though, markup charges, enquiry charges, and more might be applicable. 

What are the charges for using my debit card abroad?

Some of the charges you’re likely to face when using your debit card internationally are foreign currency conversion fees, foreign transaction charges, ATM withdrawal fees, over-limit fees and the like. Have a close discussion with your bank to know which ones might be applicable to you. 

What should I do if I lose my debit card or if it gets stolen?

In case of loss or theft of your card, the first step you should take is getting in touch with your bank and blocking your card. You could either do this by calling customer support or blocking it via the bank website yourself. Next, you need to figure out how to manage without a card abroad. Most card issuers are companies spread worldwide. Chances are, you can pick up an emergency card from the nearest branch of your card issuer. You wouldn’t need to worry about your card being misused as no activity on it will be allowed without informing you first. You can also apply for a reissue of a card which is lost or stolen. These usually come with a fee, but it isn’t too expensive. 

Bottom Line 

Travelling abroad is a once in a lifetime experience, and no one wants to stress over finances and cards when they’re out there for the joy of travelling. Before you get ready and fly away, have your bases covered. Decide on what you can do in case of emergencies, what forex plans are best for you, and so on. It’s also advisable to split debit with the people you’re travelling with. It’s also good to keep a small amount of emergency cash on you before you go ahead.

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