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We recently took a trip to the USA. Like most people we wanted a safe fool proof way of having money with us without needing to carry to much cash. After a little searching we found Fairfx online, we read a few reviews and agreed it seemed very worth while and safe. Like most things in life there are pros and cons, we did not however come across many cons, but found the card very useful and very convenient for our trip. You basically top up your card with your money and can use it to make purchases abroad. You can also withdraw funds from ATM usually at a cost, which was nothing to outrageous. We made maybe 2 cash withdrawals altogether just so we had some cash on us at all times but most places in the USA take visa etc. We found that when we needed to enquire about something in relation to the card we were contacted back reasonably quickly and the replies were generally helpful and any minor problems or enquiries were resolved straight away! You do have to check the exchange rate though as it will effect the value of your money, but to us this was an obvious thing to keep an eye on! We are planning other trips very soon and will definitely consider using Fairfx again as we had no problems at all with this company or their service! In our opinion Fairfx are safe and trustworthy and I would recommended to everyone
This seems like a pretty dodgy company. The online software is poor and they have no useful customer service at all. My card was locked the night before travelling because Fairfx couldn't verify my address although the card used to verify the address works on other sites fine. I tried phoning the helplines but none were genuine Fairfx helplines that could offer me any help with the account. They are for stolen cards only. One was for Westminster and the poor chap had no idea what I was talking about when I mentioned Fairfx. You have to email Fairfx for help and so far I have received no response, not even an automated acknowledgement.If you have any problems don't expect any help from their customer service, if it even exists.
The card itself works fine, application is easy and the fees are reasonable. However, the are money grabbing, misleading and the customer service is terrible. While in Spain we rented a Quadbike and a block was put on my card for Euro300. We returned the bike and the transaction was reversed. But after two days the money has still not gone back to my card. I returned to the merchant and he confirmed and showed me that the transaction was cancelled and that FairFX was responsible for the delay. After a two day delay i finally got a reply to my email, shame i was already back in the UK. The representative said that it will take 21 days for the money to go to my card, or I could let the merchant sign a form and they could release the money. Obviously that was impossible as I was no longer in Spain. I was never notified of this and is nowhere stated in the T&C's of FairFX. I think it is very misleading and caused great distress to my holiday. When the 21 days finally passed I got charged Euro12 to withdraw my balance! How else was I supposed to get the money out as there is no feature to return the balance to your bank account. Terrible service and would not recommend it to anyone.
I've never been sure about what is the best way to take money abroad. Taking all cash away with you is obviously very insecure, and I've always found travellers cheques a bit of a hassle (although great from the protection point of view).
I used to use a Nationwide FlexAccount and credit card as they didn't charge for foreign currency transactions, but then they introduced a charge so I stopped using them.
- Why Fairfx?
I was on a cashback website one day when I saw that there was an offer with Fairfx for a free foreign currency card and also cashback if you applied for one. Not being one who likes to turn down free things I thought I'd investigate it as a possibility for taking our money on an upcoming holiday to Florida.
I found the website to be very informative, and found out that they offer 2 options for foreign currency cards; US Dollars and Euros. The exchange rates were the best that I could find at the time, so I decided to apply and also take advantage of the cashback deal.
- How does it work?
When you go to fairfx.com you choose which card to apply for. I just applied for the US Dollar card as we were going on holiday in the US, but you can also apply for a separate Euro card as well.
Within a week of applying for the card I received it in the post and also received a PIN in a separate mailing. Once I received the card I had to login to the website and activate the card - this gave me peace of mind that this was a secure process and that it wouldn't be easy for someone to spend the money that I had initially loaded on the card.
It is a prepaid Mastercard that you "load up" via the website. They state the rate of exchange very clearly on the website at the time of purchase and show you a summary of how many $ you are getting for your £ before you complete the transaction.
This method of loading the card also makes it easy to top up the card in small amounts prior to going on holiday. You get the exchange rate that's advertised at the time of making each transation. So, if you are topping up the card multiple times then it's likely that you will get a different rate of exchange on each occasion.
You can login to you account online at any time to see how much money you have available on your card, and also to see a statement of all the times it's been used in the past. It shows the amount of every transaction and where you spent the money, just like a regular credit card.
- What I love about the Fairfx card
It's a Mastercard and so is very widely accepted at retail outlets, restaurants etc. In the USA they're quite used to people making even the smallest purchases with their cards and so we have never had any problems using it. We do, however, always take a small amount in cash for tolls, tips, etc.
It's very easy to top up on the website and I've always found that the transactions take place pretty much instantly.
It lasts for multiple trips. Since we first got the card we've used it a further 4 times on holidays to the USA. If we come home and there's still money on it then it just stays there until we go away again. It's often a nice surprise to discover that we've actually come home without spending every penny (or should I say cent?) on it.
The exchange rate has always been the best I've been able to find anywhere.
- What I would change about the Fairfx card
You need to be very aware about how much you're spending on it. The only way to check the balance is by logging onto the website, so it's quite easy to lose track of how much you've spent. To get round this I keep all my receipts and add them up at the end of the day. On our most recent trips we have had internet access at our accommodation so, although having to login to the website is a little inconvenient, it wasn't a big problem.
They charge you for cash withdrawals at the ATM. It's only $2 per transaction, so it makes sense to get larger amounts of cash out at a time because of this. I rarely get cash off my card because of this fee.
It's a card in a single name, so if you're taking this as your only form of payment then whoever's name is on the card needs to be there to use it! You can obviously get around this by having a card for each adult member of your party.
There's no formal financial protection for any money that you have on this card. Any money held on the card is not covered under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme and it's important to realise this when you decide to get this card. However, Fairfx do tell you that the funds are held in a ringfenced account with Newcastle Building Society and so this was enough of an assurance for me that it would be suitable for us as we don't take a huge amount of money away with us.
- Would I recommend it to other people?
Yes. Definitely, although I would explain to friends and family that they would need to make their own risk assessment over the protection of their funds.
One thing that previously would have fallen into my "could be improved" category is that if you lost your card while away there would be nothing you could do about it. However, they've now brought in a system where friends or family can get cards that are linked to yours and so if you lose one, you can transfer any balance to the other card(s).
I'm giving it 4 stars out of 5 as I think it's great overall, but you do need to be really organised about knowing how much you've spent on the card, especially if you don't have internet access readily available.
I recently have come back from America but along with the usual planning of any holiday i thought how i was going to take my travel money was a harder decision then it would be if i was just travelling to Spain or Greece.
After reading about the various money cards on money saving expert, and constantly checking the exchange rate, i decided to take £300 cash and everything else to be pre-loaded onto a travel money card.
The reason i chose the fairfx card was because i thought the exchange rate was better compaired to the Post Office where i would have gone for any cash or traveller cheques.
Plus by going through a link on the money saving expert website, if the card was loaded with more than $20/10 euro's (i think that works out at around £25) the administration fee of £9.95 was wavied.
The web address for those that are not able to locate this on the money saving expert website is:
Altough it was advised that i would be able to check my balance from any ATM - i wasnt actually able to because of the number of account options that appeared none of them seemed to be the correct one.
However i found a really cheap Internet Cafe so every couple of days i was able to check the balance and ensure i wasnt charged for anything i should have been or any dubious transactions. (especially as most of the shops where not chip and pin and in the Armani Exchange shop they swiped my card and let it go through without my signature!).
Fairfx do advise that there is a $2 fee for cash withdrawls - but please note some ATMS also add on a charge so therefore your cash withdrawl could be $4. So if you do require cash to be drawn from the card i recommend that you do this in a lump sum.
Overall i am so glad i chose this as a way of carrying my travel money. It was:
i know if the card was lost or solen i could get it easily replaced
it only took 7 days to recieve the card
same day that i loaded the card the funds was available (however i dont know if that is because fairfx's bank is barclays and that is where i hold my current account that i was transferring money between)
check my balance online
card is valid for 3 years so can be used again
i even used it to withdraw the remainder of my holiday money from a UK ATM.
Only downfall i can see with this card is that the rate changes daily depending on the exchange rate.
I am going to keep this card until it now expires as i would like to return to America some point in the next 3 years - even if it's a short break to New York or Las vegas.
When planning a holiday abroad you have lots of things that you need to make sure you have ready before you go including making sure your passport is valid, getting travel insurance and getting your travel money.
Most banks charge you an average of 2.75% on using debit and credit cards abroad but as it's not safe to carry around large amounts of cash in a foreign country, you can of course get travellers cheques too but this is fast becoming an out dated way of spending abroad.
Before my trip to America in April I was looking for a safe way to take my cash with me and came across the FairFx Card which was being promoted by Martin Lewis on moneysavingexpert.com
The FairFx card is a pre-paid MasterCard, you top it up using a debit or credit card and it converts your sterling into Dollars or Euros giving you a very competitive exchange rate, when looking at best rates this card was also at the top of the list when it came to the best deals.
You do need internet access for this card; you can order the card from www.fairfx.com, although it's a MasterCard as its pre paid there is no credit checks involved so anyone can apply and be accepted.
Once you have applied you will be sent your card and a pin within 10 working days although my card arrived within two days and the pin another few days later and I was very impressed with this.
Once you have received the card you activate on line and you can then top it up with your chosen amount.
If you want to add further funds whilst away you can do this online, it will take approximately 2 hours for the card to be updated with the new useable balance.
There is no charge for using the card in shops or restaurants abroad, if you wish to make withdrawals from a cash machine you can do so at the charge of 2 Euros/Dollars per withdrawal which I felt was reasonable as you can take out any amount for this and this is what I did whilst in America.
There is a £9.99 administration fee for ordering the card if your first top up (which you need to do on ordering) but this is wavered if you top up £500 or more, at the time I ordered I went via moneysavingexpert.com where there was a link to order via money supermarket and you didn't pay anything even if your top up was smaller.
At the time of writing that offer is still valid if you go to http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/cards/prepaid-cards.
I highly recommend this card to anyone travelling who wants to feel safer in spending and don't want heavy interest fees for that privilege.