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euro cash cards


rapidoman

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having semi retired we are hoping to spend more time in europe and would like others opinions on cash cards, i.e. which offer the best rates, are there any drawbacks etc, we are looking to get a euro card to use for fuel and toll fees mainly so as not to hand over a credit card to a machine in the hope of getting it back or finding we have been overcharged. All input good or bad appreciated.
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A couple of earlier threads

 

http://www.outandaboutlive.co.uk/forums/forums/thread-view.asp?tid=24762&posts=23

 

http://www.outandaboutlive.co.uk/forums/forums/thread-view.asp?tid=20490&posts=23

 

As you are interested mainly in using a pre-paid card for paying for fuel or paying motorway tolls, it would be helpful if forum members responding to your enquiry could confirm that any pre-paid card they recommend makes those payments without any problems. I've read a few on-line comments suggesting that some pre-paid cards are not accepted at motorway automated toll booths.

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rapidoman - 2012-01-17 1:14 PM

 

having semi retired we are hoping to spend more time in europe and would like others opinions on cash cards, i.e. which offer the best rates, are there any drawbacks etc, we are looking to get a euro card to use for fuel and toll fees mainly so as not to hand over a credit card to a machine in the hope of getting it back or finding we have been overcharged. All input good or bad appreciated.

 

Not an answer to question you asked but fail to see what you think the problem is using your own cards. Why would you not get one back or be overcharged on a pre loaded card, the very small risk is the same and you would probably be better of, certainly in the overcharge bit, with your own card as you stand more chance of getting you money back. These days we just use our debit card for all payments possible and take some cash with us, very rarely need to draw cash from machine. The rates we have always got using our normal cards are always competitive so have never seen the point in the pre loaded cards.

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Hi all,

 

I spend several months at a time travelling throughout Europe and I load up a Fair FX prepaid card which I use for various charges including ferries, petrol stations and shopping. I also take cash, a nationwide mastercard and debit card (all displaced at various 'special places' in the van). The only place I was embarrassed about the non acceptance of cards was in and around Bodensee; apparantly they are too wealthy to bother about dealing with credit cards of any type but you can still obtain cash, at a price, from the local hole in the wall. The advantage of using a pre-paid card is that if there is any fraud they can only get the amount that the card is loaded up to - not drain your bank account!

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I do the same, take several methods of getting funds or paying for items. We prefer to use cash where possible so go the the ATM and take out the max of €300 or €500. We have a euro bank account so it is relatively straightforward and the card is never rejected. That lasts us for nearly a week and we know better what we have spent it on, especially the little things that add up. I personally would not use a Debit card unless really stuck as this could be used to access your bank account and cleaned out before you have even noticed. Yes, i know banks claim they monitor transactions but it is easy enough to siphon off a grand here and there without raising alarms.

 

It appears that petrol stations are a common source of cards being cloned by unscrupulous employees. As a tourist you will not know until you are far away and then what?

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Based on our own experience, I would say you will be better off, in general, using a credit card for fuel, and not buying on motorways (at supermarkets wherever possible). Unless you are in a hurry, there is little point in using toll motorways, so little need to pay the tolls. We avoid tolls as far as possible, and when required, pay these by cash. However, those who prefer to pay by credit/debit card do not seem to encounter problems. Unless travelling long distances on toll roads the overall cost is not high, even in France.

 

We take as much cash as I think we are likely to need, and have debit cards to top up if necessary. Used at a bank, and taking the usual precautions against "skimming", I do not think drawing cash in this way presents any greater risk than in UK. However, we have only needed to top up cash once over the past 5 years, so certainly not a widely tested theory. :-)

 

Some places are less credit card friendly than others, but by shopping in supermarkets we have generally found the card is accepted, albeit one sometimes has first to provide identification (photocard driving licence has always been accepted to date). We use the credit card whenever possible, which is generally most of the time. Virtually all restaurants we have ever visited take cards, though I prefer to tip in cash.

 

We have a Nationwide account, and Nationwide credit cards, and find the card exchange rate generally approximates to the commercial rate, which is much better than the tourist rates, with no exchange fee for foreign purchases. You also benefit from the rate on the day, so fluctuations are averaged over the length of the trip, rather than being locked in from the outset as with cash. Any spare Euros, if bought at a poor rate, are spent before we get back, or are simply kept for the next trip.

 

Since cards are as vulnerable to theft as cash, be they debit, credit, or cash, and since the cash cards cost approximately as much, overall, to load as it costs to obtain cash, whereas they appeared attractive at first sight, I'm not convinced they offer much, if any, real advantage.

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  • 2 weeks later...
For several years now we have loaded a Thompson travel card with euros, taken cash and have also taken our debit cards for emergencies. We no longer bother with travellers cheques as banking hours in some European countries do not always fit into our schedules and queues are long and slow.
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rapidoman - 2012-01-17 1:14 PM

 

having semi retired we are hoping to spend more time in europe and would like others opinions on cash cards, i.e. which offer the best rates, are there any drawbacks etc, we are looking to get a euro card to use for fuel and toll fees mainly so as not to hand over a credit card to a machine in the hope of getting it back or finding we have been overcharged. All input good or bad appreciated.

 

Some years ago I had a credit card "confiscated" by a manned tollbooth in France. I had not used the card for several years so I phoned Barclaycard thinking that was the problem. They said "no we have not stopped the payment" so I understand what you mean, particularly as most booths are unmanned now.

 

I have a euro account but if funds are low I load a Post Office holiday card which I can use to top up the bank account without paying high fees. However, you cannot use this card at 24/24 petrol stations nor for tolls whether manned or not. It has to be used as a normal machine transaction or in an ATM.

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