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Travel wallets vs credit cards – which is right for you?
Senior Member


You’ve booked your flight and hotel, put together your itinerary, and even planned your outfits for your dream holiday abroad. Only one small, but critical detail remains: How will you spend and with what?


It seems like an obvious question, but there are many options depending on your budget and destination. Currently, the most popular among today’s jet set are the credit card and travel wallet. The credit card has been around for decades, but the travel wallet is a much more recent innovation and, so, the concept is new to many.


Basically, travel wallets are swipe cards on which you can preload the currency of the country or countries to which you’re travelling to swipe or withdraw from local ATMs. It may be hard to tell which is better for you, but to help you make the right choice, we’ve set up a simple comparison:


Travel wallets


  • Lock-in exchange rate: When you load money onto your travel money card, you’ll lock an exchange rate, meaning you don’t have to worry about the fluctuating value of the rand.
  • Multiple currencies: Different currencies can be loaded on your travel wallet, but only at one time. This means that you won’t have to pay a currency conversion fee if you’re transacting in the same currency.
  • Enhanced safety: If your travel wallet is stolen, there’s no risk to your finances above what you load onto the card. Furthermore, travel wallets are usually protected by chips and/or PINs.



  • Higher fees: Some travel cards charge higher fees in general, including purchase fees, issue fees and load fees. It’s a good idea to compare products before making a commitment.
  • Loading times: Because a travel wallet needs to be loaded with currency prior to your trip, your money may not show immediately.
  • Limited to currencies available: If your bank doesn’t support a certain country’s currency, a credit card may be the way to go.


Credit cards:



  • More money available: Funds are available up to your limit - useful for hotel and car hire pre-authorisations and emergencies.
  • No merchant fees: There’s usually no swiping fee when using your credit card overseas, however there’ll be a currency conversion charge.



  • Costly withdrawals: It’s expensive to withdraw from an ATM. Generally, you’ll be charged with a cash advance fee and interest will grow as soon as you withdraw.
  • Interest charges: You’ll need to spend carefully, because if you don't pay off your balance in full when you get back, you'll be charged interest on it.
  • Currency fluctuations: This may mean that the same local price may result in a different amount charged to your account every time, as currency exchange rates fluctuate.

Overall, it’s hard to compare a credit card and travel wallet; choosing one or the other depends on preferences and circumstances. In some cases, it may be useful to have both.  


If you’re preparing for a holiday abroad, why not use our credit card and Travel wallet pages to help make your decision?