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Using AAA Visa Travel Card

Has anyone experienced any problems in Italy using AAA Visa Travel/Debit Card? We are thinking of using this as an alternative to traveler's checks, our personal debit/credit cards, and carrying too much cash. Are they widely accepted in restaurants, to pay for hotels, trains, ATM withdrawals? Thanks!

Posted by
9109 posts

These pre-paid debit cards come with high fees. So if you already have a debit card with your own bank, I don't see any advantage to purchasing one. But if you must have one, you are better off purchasing one when you arrive in Europe. The European versions have smart chips embedded in them which will make them easier to use at ticket machines, supermarkets, gas stations and other merchants that only accept smart chip cards.

Posted by
7737 posts

If you use a credit card whenever possible to pay for things you'll have much better protection in case of theft. See the FAQ for suggestions on ATMs.

Posted by
225 posts

Maybe provide some information about why you are considering the AAA credit card and then we'll be able to provide some additional insight.

Posted by
8 posts

I used a AAA travel card in Spain several years ago and it worked great. I plan to use one in Italy when I go in several weeks.

It costs $7.95 and then $2.50/transaction only, no other fees unless the local European bank adds on fees. If you lose it and have their telephone number they will get you new card delivered to your hotel within 24 hours. You just go to a AAA and load it up with as much money as you think you will need. I found the rates better than my debit card, which charged a transaction fee and % conversion fee and also it is a stand alone account and so I feel more secure not having my checking account exposed.

Posted by
8 posts

One more thing...I only used them at ATM's so I cannot vouch for using them elsewhere. Big bills...expensive restaurants, etc I used a regular credit card. Capital One seems the cheapest....the charges are the same in Europe as in USA.

Posted by
23464 posts

You need to look carefully at the card. A couple of years ago when I looked at the card the overall charges amounted to nearly 10% when all fees were considered. May have changed in two years. These are considered gift cards and are outside of the banking regulations for debit/credit cards. Be absolutely certain that fees are not being buried in the exchange rate you receive for currency conversion. A debit card will always give you an exchange rate within 1 % of the interbank rate. And all additional fees must be identified.

Posted by
17 posts

I used a AAA card while in Italy and it did work really well. I was able to use it everywhere I wanted to, and it was nice because you can put however much you want on it. This is a good idea because you can still bring alot of money, but it will most likely have much less on it than your regular bank card that you use at home. If it is lost, then there is less to worry about and they give you lots of numbers to call to report it stolen and to get a new one. Also, regarding fees at ATM's, you'll get those no matter what kind of card you use..so why not use a AAA card and take much of the possible hassle out of it.

Posted by
4555 posts

AAA's travel card charges a 3% foreign conversion fee on ATM withdrawals....a lot higher than a regular ATM card. And I'm not sure how good a rate the AAA's bank (MetaBank) will give you in the first place, for paying in dollars and withdrawing in Euros. They will also charge you five bucks for the card itself, and 1.25 monthly "maintenance fee" after 12 months of inactivity. And they charge you to recharge your card....$10 for $100-500, $20 for $501-1000,and $30 for $1001 to 1500.

Posted by
23464 posts

Norm, if those numbers are current, then I think it is easy to get in the range of 10% or more for the card usage. I am currently only paying $1/transaction and 1% on a debit card and 0% beyond the network fee for the credit card.

Posted by
7209 posts

Had a friend who unfortunately got a AAA Travel card for her trip to South Africa. She was EATEN ALIVE with fees. She also ran out of money on the card, and her mother attempted to load more $ onto the card from the USA. The problem was that it took 2 days for the money to actually be loaded and available onto the card.

Why do people do this?

Use your ATM to withdraw money straight from your account. Use a Capital One credit card to charge items and pay 0% Foreign Transaction Fee.

Posted by
106 posts

Capital One Direct Banking ATM card does not charge a transaction fee for using the card in Italy, the only fee you pay is if the ATM owner charges a usage fee. Capital One credit cards also do not charge a foreign transaction fee. We plan to use only these cards when traveling in Italy later this month. My husband and I each have separate Capital One credit card accounts (just in case of a problem w/ one of the cards) and we each have an ATM card linked to our Direct Banking card. Hopefully this will be all we need, but just in case, I will bring one other bank ATM card in case Capital One has any problems while we are there.

Posted by
1167 posts

I used my Capital One Money Market ATM card in both France and Italy without being charged for either ATM or foreign currency conversion.