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Travelex Cash Passport Card

San Francisco...
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Travelex Cash Passport Card

I've heard that US credit/ATM cards without an embedded chip might not work in some (primarily unattended automatic) paystations in France.

I thought I'd found a way around this for until US banks start adding chips. Despite the horrible conversion rate, I converted some money at Travelex before leaving the US, getting part cash and part on a chipped, Euro-denominated, Travelex "Cash Passport" MasterCard.

Turns out to have been a waste of effort. The only place the Cash Passport worked where one of my stripe-only US ATM or credit cards would not have worked was in the Paris Metro (where it would have been simple enough to use cash anyhow). The automated gas stations and some toll booths that did not accept my regular credit card refused the Cash Passport as well. Most other toll booths, parking garages, etc. (and of course all merchants and restaurants) were fine with my US cards. And my banks' conversion rates, even after adding their fees, were still at least 10% better than Travelex's. The only plus here is that without any additional fees, Travelex allowed me to convert what was left in cash and on the card back to dollars at an almost reasonable rate (though I still lost what they took in the original conversion).

And don't think the Travelex card is a good way to use cash machines! Use it only for purchases -- you'll be charged extra if you take cash from it at an ATM. Again, your bank card is a better way to get cash. My Bank of America card worked at BNP Paribas machines with no extra ATM fee.

I'd be interested in whether anyone knows why the chipped Travelex card failed at the automated gas station and at toll booths southwest of Paris. (My US cards worked at toll booths to the northwest. And no card worked at one parking garage in Rouen.)

One theory: The stored value on the card was not great enough for a gas station? The machine accepted my PIN but refused to proceed with the purchase. There was, in fact, less than €100 on the card at the time, although my gas purchase in the end was less than what was on the card.

Another theory: The toll machines do not have ATM keypads. So do they only accept "credit" cards that don't need a PIN and not ATM cards that do need one?

(Cross-posted as new topic from original discussion "Chip and PIN credit card" at http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g187147-i14-k4190894-l32681029-Chip_and_PIN_credit_card-Paris_Ile_de_France.html)

New Hampshire
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for Paris
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1. Re: Travelex Cash Passport Card

Thank you for posting your comments.

Many people recommend this card with no personal experience.

Adelaide, Australia
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2. Re: Travelex Cash Passport Card

Thanks for posting your experience. We are travelling in July and have been looking into what would be the best option as far as finances go. Your post just convinced me that our initial plan of paying by our existing credit card for big purchases like hotels, and meals at places that accept cards, and cash for the rest is the best way to go.

Loire Valley
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3. Re: Travelex Cash Passport Card

Dont forget, you can always "preload" your credit card, and use it much in the same way as a debit card (check with your card supplier to find out what their limit is)

The reason that the card doesn't work in the automatic booths is probably because it isn't tied to a French bank account. Sometimes you're lucky and that isn't one of the considerations, and sometimes you're just going to be plumb unlucky. It depends on the merchant.

New Hampshire
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for Paris
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4. Re: Travelex Cash Passport Card

If by "preload" a credit card you mean forwarding enough funds to create a credit balance, this is not allowed with credit cards in the USA. After a (short) period of time, a check would be issued for the credit balance.

Tampa, Florida
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5. Re: Travelex Cash Passport Card

depends on the kind of card and the issuer. As always, your mileage may vary, and you'll have to pick up the phone and actually talk to your credit card issuer.

New York City, New...
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6. Re: Travelex Cash Passport Card

David and Sonia,

We are so sorry to hear about your experience with the chip and PIN Cash Passport. Could you please email us directly at retail.marketing@travelexamericas.com with details on your experience? We would like to assist you and better understand why your card did not work.

Travelex

Andover...
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7. Re: Travelex Cash Passport Card

What was the outcome of this posting? We are traveling to Paris in 1 week and are looking to Travelex passpord card as an alternative to use our debit card.

Sydney, Australia
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for Train Travel
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8. Re: Travelex Cash Passport Card

Prepaid travel cards are usually a poor bargain. You would do better to take a debit card and get money out of ATMs from your usual account, just like you do at home. Be sure to tell your bank you will be travelling.

San Francisco...
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9. Re: Travelex Cash Passport Card

Aralicea: It's exactly as SydneyNick says.

I never bothered to follow up further with Travelex. The facts in my original posting stand, and when I talked with the Travelex agent at the time I cashed out the remaining couple of dollars from the card, he could offer no more advice or explanation -- not that there was much need for it by then.

My posting was to share my experience and conclusion that the card is not very useful and has a poor exchange rate and fee structure.

If you can get your bank to give you a chipped card, that'll be great (hopefully we'll all have that option soon in the U.S.) Otherwise, Travelex doesn't help much. Your existing U.S. credit and debit cards should serve adequately in most situations, at less cost and inconvenience than the Travelex card. Have a little cash on hand for situations like the Paris Metro, automated gas stations, and some toll booths where your cards won't work (and Travelex might well not have worked either).

Chicago, Illinois
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10. Re: Travelex Cash Passport Card

the fees are so high on the Travelex that I can't think of a situation where it would be worth doing

Americans have to plan around service station openings when traveling in the countryside and keep the tank topped off (if desperate you can head for a toll road off times) -- and for train tickets you have to line up, sometimes for an hour or more, while Europeans zip on through with the machines -- but other than that, it is not yet to big an inconvenience.

I hope American obsolescence gets dealt with by our short sighted companies -- we are behind, way behind, in internet quality and availability and way obsolete in banking --