With the pound particularly weak following the Brexit vote, it’s even more important to your wallet that you work out the cheapest ways to spend on your travels. Could Travelex’s Supercard save you money?
I’ve written a few times before about how you can add hundreds of pounds to the cost of your holiday by not thinking about how you pay when away.
The Travelex Supercard promises to save you money when you spend abroad. It’s not a credit or debit card, it’s not even a prepaid card. Instead, it links to your existing cards and cuts out all the roaming fees your bank would normally charge.
The Supercard has just been made available to everyone (you don’t need a credit check), but I was lucky enough to be on the trial last year. Here are my thoughts.
How does the Supercard work?
It’s actually very simple. Download the app and apply. You’re given a Mastercard – your Supercard – which is linked to your account on a smartphone/tablet app. On the app you can easily add any of your existing Visa or Mastercard credit or debit cards, and these are then linked to your Supercard.
You then spend as you would any other card, though it’s not contactless. Because it’s a Mastercard you can use it anywhere that accepts Mastercard, which is a huge chunk of the planet.
Does it save you money?
When you spend, the transaction is converted into pounds using the Mastercard exchange rates with no added fees or charges. With most banks, if you used your credit it or debit card directly you’d have paid roughly 3% extra, possibly more.
So say you do most of your spending for food, drinks, excursions, travel etc when abroad with a Supercard, you’d save at least £30 for every £1,000. It’s even more of a saving when compared to exchanging cash at the airport, where rates are even worse.
One change from the trial which isn’t good is the addition of a charge to withdraw cash. Now, you’ll be charged 2.99% if you take money out on the card at an ATM. You’ll also be charged to use it in the UK, so avoid doing that!
Where I think it’s extra handy is you can earn points or cashback through your linked card, something it’s not normally worth doing when overseas as the charges would make them pointless. You can only link Visa and Mastercard (not Amex), so I’ve added my TSB Platinum card, which will give me an extra 1% on all full pounds I spend.
Is it easy to use?
When we used it on our honeymoon we mainly had no issues, though a few times it was declined – possibly because the linked credit card provider wasn’t sure about the transaction. Fortunately, we had our backup Halifax Clarity cards on hand.
On your bank or card statements, each transaction will appear as a Supercard followed by the merchant name. This is a huge improvement on the trial version which simply said “Tuxedomoney”!! You can use the app to get more details on what you spend.
Is it any better than the Halifax Clarity Card?
This is the credit card which I’ve been using for years on my trips abroad as it too offers fee-free international spending.
With most spending the costs are exactly the same as Supercard. But the Clarity card is the better option in terms of cash withdrawals – though you will be charged interest, so pay it off in full each month.
Since you’re spending directly through Halifax you still get consumer protection on larger purchases, which is worth thinking about buying expensive goods.
However, Supercard does let you earn cashback, which could give it the edge.
It’s also useful if you’ve a poor credit rating and don’t think you can get the Clarity card.
So there’s not much in it – I’ll generally take both with me to keep my options open.
What about Curve?
Curve is a similar card but you can also use it fee-free in the UK. This was handy when it accepted American Express, but as it no longer does, and since it comes with a £35 one-off fee, you’re better off getting a Supercard for now.
If you do want to give it a try, you can use the code 25PBH.