A Quick Look at Prepaid Travel Cards:

The Traveler’s Cheque card from Amex and the Visa Travel Money cards seem like a good idea. You pay for the cards in advance and then simply use them at ATM’s throughout Europe until you’ve used up your money.

But be careful. There are activation fees and “reload” fees. You are, in essence being charged to use your own money. Worse, many ATM’s, a great many, won;t accept the cards. Some users are reporting that they have to visit an actual American Office.

The Visa version is available through the American Automobile Association. They charge less than Amex but the you may find yourself dealing with Visa’s partner in this venture – Travelex, a Europe-based currency trading firm.

These cards place limits on what you can withdraw. You will also likely pay a foreign “conversion charge.”

At this point, we are only recommending the card for students on a tight allowance and even there we have concerns that the card may not be useable in an emergency. This is an idea whose time is yet to come.