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Would you consider this type of debit card?

This is available at one of our local banks. Would you trust it to work? We do not have an account at this bank but they keep foreign currency on hand to purchase and I saw this on their website:

Whether a merchant uses chip or swipe technology, with the Travel EMV® Card Prepaid MasterCard®, it doesn't matter – we've got you covered.
The Travel EMV Card is a reloadable prepaid card funded with U.S. currency and can be used to pay for purchases at millions of merchants worldwide, or online everywhere Debit MasterCard is accepted. The Travel EMV Card reduces card acceptance issues while traveling outside the U.S. where chip technology is quickly replacing the traditional magnetic stripe.

Travel EMV Card
Secure:
Works with an embedded microchip to reduce fraud
Reduces the need to carry large sums of cash
Requires use of a PIN or signature
The MasterCard Zero Liability policy* protects you from financial loss if your card is lost or stolen
Convenient:
Universally accepted everywhere Debit MasterCard is accepted. The Travel EMV Card works the same regardless of the country you visit or the merchant’s system
Obtain local currency at millions of ATMs
Helps monitor spending

Posted by
17653 posts

I almost always pay in cash from an ATM. I have never had a problem using a strip card in a bank ATM, so I don't see this card as solving a problem. If my trip spans two calendar months, I get 4 completely free (no exchange rate discount, no ATM fee) from one of my banks. From my credit union, I get unlimit withdrawals at 1% discount.

However, read the small print. I did a Google search and found some EMV cards - all pre-paid cards. Pre-paid cards are not, in general, a good deal. They often have additional fees to buy the card and to load the card, there is often a monthly charge. Check to see what the currency exchange fee is. Some travel cards allow you to load the card in euro, but take a larger currency exchange fee than most banks do for an account linked ATM card.

US banks are going to have to go chip technology soon. IMO, this is just a ruse to get money from people who have to have it sooner.

Posted by
193 posts

Thanks for the thoughts, Lee. We are going to open a checking account for our daughter this week and we may use her account as our main travel account. I still am not totally comfortable using our checking account and ATM without transferring most of the funds to our money market account. If our ATM card gets comprised, I don't want to have someone clean out that account. I'll have our bank officers info with us in case of problems but still want to try and safeguard our account as much as possible. I'll keep asking them questions too and try make sure I understand any liability we might have if our ATM card is comprised.

Posted by
16769 posts

NO our staff would not consider any pre-paid card. See also http://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/money/card-fees. I would take the same credit cards and debit/ATM cards that you use at home. Any ATM card with a Visa or MasterCard logo will be widely accepted and doesn't need a chip to work, since all ATMs do have the necessary internet connection to work with magnetic strip cards.

I expect that the liability info for your regular bank account will turn out to be good news. In addition, your bank has a daily withdrawal limit that is much lower than your account balance. If the limit is currently $300, I'd ask to have it raised to at least $500 during the trip, so that you don't have to go to an ATM every day.

Posted by
7680 posts

I don't have anything to add to the discussion about this card, but have just a very general suggestion for when you are asking your bank questions. Ask whoever you are talking to if they have ever traveled to Europe and have they encountered (xxx - whatever you are talking about). This is important because sometimes they will tell you things that they have been instructed are correct but in reality are not. It is just best to know up front if someone has practical experience so you can evaluate the information they are giving you. As an aside, your bank may have brighter people working the teller desks than my credit union does. I have found I do better if I go in and discuss things face to face rather than relying on telephone communication.

Posted by
193 posts

Thanks Laura & Pam! Laura - the daily ATM limit info helps a lot. Pam - I am putting one of the bank staff through 20 questions and she's been pretty good (I hope!) but yes, I won't ask a teller and rely on that info. Thanks for the input!

Posted by
5308 posts

If you're opening a new account anyway, get one at Charles Schwab which has fee-free ATM withdrawals and a chip. I don't leave home without it.

Posted by
11613 posts

The ATM you use in Europe may have a per-transaction limit, if you ask for, say, €500 and it is denied, just do more transactions for smaller amounts.

Posted by
4468 posts

As US-issued pre-paid cards go this seems to be one of the better ones. A 1% currency loading over the MC exchange rate, $2.25 to withdraw from a non-US ATM, with the fee waived the first time in a calendar month. They do charge to load ($1) - I suspect they catch people with the 'inactivity' fee of $2.50 per month after only 90 days.

Posted by
2954 posts

I listened to several people on this forum and opened the Charles Schwab debit card. I am extremely pleased so far. Chip and Pin technology, all ATM fees waived, and a decent interest rate for a checking account. Excellent customer service as well. I agree. If you are going to be opening a new account, consider this one.