Travelex Currency Services has joined with MasterCard to offer U.S.-based travelers a prepaid card that handles currency conversion and uses EMV-chip security.
Calling it the first card of its kind in the U.S., Travelex has launched Multi-Currency Cash Passport, a card capable of holding five currencies in an account not connected to the cardholder's bank account.
Despite the progress that the U.S. has made toward adopting EMV-chip cards, most consumers still do not have them and may not know what options they have to obtain one. The new Travelex card solves a longstanding problem for U.S. travelers, says Madeline K. Aufseeser, senior analyst with Boston-based Aite Group.
"With the chip-and-PIN technology, this card takes the place of the old traveler's checks model," Aufseeser says. "It's a good thing that Travelex was able to get this off the ground."
Consumers can purchase the Cash Passport for $5.95 online or at any of more than 200 Travelex foreign exchange stores throughout the U.S. and load money onto the card after registering it online.
In the past, Travelex offered separate cards for euros or pounds, but determined that travelers could best be served if one card could hold multiple currencies, says Travelex spokeswoman Maria Brusilovsky. "We hope to add more currencies in the future and just evolve with the market," she adds.
Cardholders can transfer funds from one currency to another, which is beneficial when someone is traveling to multiple countries, Brusilovsky says.
For security purposes, the cardholder's name does not appear on the card, and "the user would be the only one who knows the PIN as well," she says.
American travelers using Cash Passport can load British pounds, euros, Canadian dollars, Australian dollars and Japanese yen. The card will detect which currency to use based on its location.
Cardholders will receive 24/7 customer service through Access Prepaid, another partner in the Cash Passport venture. If the card is lost or stolen, Access Prepaid will issue a replacement card within 24 hours.
Travelex and MasterCard are offering an extra incentive to those who purchase a Cash Passport during a promotional period. They will have their names entered for a chance at receiving one million free travel miles.