One of the things about travelling a lot is that I often have to change between currencies several times a month. I also don’t really like carrying lots of cash with me. Let’s face it, traveller’s cheques were a complete pain but at least they were a safe and easy way to carry cash abroad.
So when I read about the Ukash Travel Money Card I was intrigued. I applied (no credit check or anything like that, you just have to load up £50 online which is very easy to do) and my card arrived 10 days later. You then just add as many funds as you need – you can add them in Dollars or Euros, but you can also take money out in the UK if you need to. I was pleased to discover the exchange rate seemed very favourable, too. All you have to do is look for ATMs and places that accept Mastercard.
The real road test, though, came when I was in New York last week. I first tried the card at JFK and was relieved to discover I could check my balance, no problem, and the money I’d loaded before I’d left the UK was all there. The following morning I was up bright and early thanks to my transatlantic insomnia and a craving for breakfast, and I headed out to a bank (open 24 hours, can you believe?) close to our hotel. I put the card in, put my number in, the machine asked how much I wanted to withdraw and then I had my crisp dollar bills. Easy peasy.
I then decided to try and use the card at Macy’s (where they actually have an ENTIRE FLOOR FOR SHOES), followed by a small drugstore where I bought some rather cute Snoopy/Peanuts chocolate hearts for No 1 Son. The card worked perfectly – exactly like using a debit card or credit card at home, and the best thing was that I wasn’t having to carry cash, so it all felt really safe.
The only *slight* negative is that it’s not advised to use the card when you check into a hotel in the US and they ask for your credit card in case of ‘incidentals’. (This is really common practice in the US unfortunately, and some hotels actually take a deposit from your credit card which they then hold for as long as 30 days). Obviously if they tried to take a deposit from your travel money card this would then leave you short for the rest of your trip, so it’s best to take another credit/debit card for when you’re checking in to your hotel.
But apart from that, I was really impressed with how simple it was to use the Ukash travel money card, and another bonus is there are no transaction fees and you can manage it all online. I’m definitely going to use it again when I have to go to Amsterdam in March.