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Prepaid credit cards

Are prepaid credit cards excepted in Germany?

Posted by
17659 posts

Perhaps you mean accepted?

There are prepaid cards (cards that are preloaded with cash), and there are credit cards (cards that charge an account that you have to pay off later), but there is no such thing as a prepaid credit card.

If a prepaid card has a logo like Plus or Cirrus, it should work in Germany.

However, prepaid cards are a very bad way to get money in Europe. Most come with huge fees. The fees might be well concealed, but they are there. In particular, avoid anything that says "Travelex", Your best card is an ATM/debit card from a local bank or credit union.

Germany has a preloaded card, called a Geldkarte, available at banks, but I am not familiar with how to get one.

Posted by
2766 posts

You might find some very helpful information elsewhere on this web site: "Home > Travel Tips > Money"

Posted by
16771 posts

We don't recommend paying to load money onto a new prepaid card for the purpose of your trip. Using regular credit cards for large purchases or getting cash with a debit card tied to your regular checking account are better values. See also http://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/money/card-fees. If you happen to have a prepaid card that you got as a gift or a bonus, it should work fine. I always have a couple of different cards in deep storage in my money belt.

Posted by
40 posts

Has anyone ever used the AAA Visa TravelMoney Card? I was thinking about getting one for a trip to Scotland this fall:

Use and Benefits
Visa TravelMoney is a prepaid reloadable Visa debit card which offers travelers a safe and convenient alternative to travelers checks and cash. Can be used everywhere Visa credit and debit cards are accepted.

Security and Convenience - Carry the card that provides the security of travelers checks and the convenience of a Visa card.
Easy to Use - Make purchases at millions of merchants worldwide that accept Visa debit cards including restaurants and shops. Obtain local currency at any Visa ATM around the world and avoid standing in line to exchange foreign currency.
Emergency Card and Cash Replacement - With Visa TravelMoney you can obtain emergency card and cash replacement virtually anywhere in the world, generally within one business day by calling 1-800-VISA-911 (1-800-847-2911).
Lost/Stolen Card Reporting - Makes it easy to report a lost or stolen Visa TravelMoney card. Just call 1-800-VISA-911, or from outside the U.S., call collect 0-410-581-9994.
Reloadable - Cards can be reloaded where your card was purchased. Use cash, funds from your bank account, credit or debit card to reload you cards.
Instant Alerts - Increase your awareness of your card account charges with instant alerts on your cell phone each time your card is used. Call by 1-866-674-9621 to set up your alert notification.
Lost Luggage Reimbursement* - Get reimbursement up to $250 per trip, $1,000 per cardholder to replace your luggage and its contents if an airline, train, cruise or bus line loses your checked or carry-on luggage. Reimbursement is not contingent upon the purchase of travel with the Visa TravelMoney card.
Purchase Security* - Within the first 90 days of the date of purchase, Purchase Security will replace, repair, or reimburse you for eligible items of personal property purchased entirely with your registered Visa TravelMoney® card up to a maximum of $500 per claim, in the event of theft, damage due to fire, vandalism, accidentally discharged water, or certain weather conditions.
Travel & Emergency Assistance* - Get translation assistance 24-hours a day, medical and legal referrals, emergency trip arrangements, and emergency messages to relatives.

Posted by
4472 posts

You pay a fee to buy the AAA card, a fee to use it in an ATM, a monthly fee after the first 6 and it expires after 18 months. Seems a bit pricey to me.

Posted by
17659 posts

Preload a bank (or credit union) account with an ATM card and use it. Credit unions often only charge 1% exchange fee. Just make sure that the CU card will work in Europe (Plus or Cirrus). Some CUs use oddball networks that don't work outside the country.

It looks like each AAA club might issue their own prepaid cards, so they might be different, but the one I found (Mid-atlantic AAA) charges 3% for the exchange rate, as high as any US banks seem to charge (in addition to $10 to buy the card and $3.50 to use it). In the past I've seen AAA prepaid cards from Travelex. These are the worst. If you load them in euro, the charge around 11% exchange rate.

Posted by
20634 posts

The cheapest and most convenient way to obtain local currency will ALWAYS be with a debit card at a bank owned ATM - bar none!!!! For credit cards use one of the now many credit cards that do not charge a foreign transaction fee. The only advantage to a prepaid credit card is the false sense of security created by the marketing hype and the extra fees for using the card. Why do you think you need the prepaid credit card? What is it going to do for you that standard debit/credit cards will not?

Posted by
1406 posts

Easy on the hate, folks, I understand the interest in a prepaid card. It seems to be the modern day version of travelers cheques, and remember how we all took Karl Malden's advice and never left home without them? And it also seems to appeal to people who are deathly afraid of going over some semi-arbitrary travel budget, because when the money's gone the card is dead. I looked at these for quite a while before my recent trip before deciding against one; they are marketed pretty hard on the internet, esp. it seems in the Euro zone.

But yes, the fees make this an unappealing option. So take the money you were going to put on that card, set it aside in a safe place for your return, and use a credit card for major stuff and an ATM card for cash on your trip with low fees. Settle up when you get home.

Posted by
9363 posts

Not everyone can (or wants to) obtain a credit card with no foreign transaction fees, or with favorable interest rates, or with available credit line large enough to cover the trip. What is possible for you might not be possible for everyone, for whatever reason. But it is easy enough to open a separate checking account for your travel funds, and use the debit card provided to access your funds while traveling, just as if the card was preloaded with money. Then there is no setup fee, no fee to get the remaining cash off of the card when you return, and since it's not tied to your other accounts, it's as safe as a preloaded card. Debit cards have similar protections to credit cards if they are lost or stolen. A prepaid card does not.

Posted by
40 posts

For some of us who have experienced Credit Card Fraud, I do not wish to use my debit card that is tied to all of my accounts in a foreign ATM. I do have a card that has no foreign transaction fees, so I still think a pre-paid card to use for my cash might be the answer. I'd rather pay some extra fees for piece of mind.

Posted by
1406 posts

Nancy yes, a "throwaway" account can be a good idea. Like creating a "throwaway" email address that you don't have to worry about being compromised because you're not going to use it after your trip.

Credit unions are a good place for this. They also have excellent rates on credit cards.

Posted by
9363 posts

Gmyatovich, why pay any extra fees? If you lose a prepaid card, the money is gone. There are no consumer protections on a prepaid card (which is essentially treated like a gift card). How is that more secure than a debit card tied to a separate account? A debit card does have protections against fraudulent use. Just out of curiosity, what does credit card fraud have to do with debit cards in ATMs?

Posted by
17659 posts

"I do not wish to use my debit card that is tied to all of my accounts in a foreign ATM."

What ATM card is tied to all of your accounts? Mine is tied to just one account, and I only have enough money in it for the trip (plus I can access it online to add more, if necessary).

And why single out foreign ATMs? You are just as likely (if not more likely) to be skimmed here in the US. Take sensible precautions; use the same precautions as you would here. Use only bank ATMs, preferably in well trafficked areas or in bank lobbies. Look for suspicious faces on the card slot, and always cover you hand when inputting your PIN.

Don't give your debit (or credit) card to someone who will take it out of your sight.

Actually, I think, most card fraud occurs from using credit cards in restaurants. In Germany, restaurants that are the most economical don't take credit cards anyway. Plan to use cash from bank ATMs. Problem solved.