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Have you tried the multi-currency card?

Last updated on: June 19, 2009 16:56 IST

Ever travelled to another country and found that you've run out of foreign exchange, or had the misfortune of having had your traveller's cheques stolen?

What about when you go to different countries, and have to change from US Dollars to Pound Sterling to the Euro? Fazed by all the rates of exchange? Not quite sure how much you're losing with each transaction? Don't lose heart.

In these times of instant cash and virtual travel, the multi currency card might just be the ticket.

What is a multi currency card?

This is a card that works like plastic money, where you can make purchases with a quick swipe, just as you would with your credit card. You can use it at ATMs and recognised VISA-enabled points of sale, is prepaid in nature and can be loaded with dollars, euros or pounds, but can be used in the local currency of any country you visit.

No more hassles with finding money exchanges, cashing traveller's cheques, or carrying wads of cash. We're talking anytime, anywhere, instant access to funds.

Who is it for?

The companies that have launched the multi currency card have targeted the high-end traveller, with plans to expand nationally.

Advantages of the multi currency card

There is, first and foremost, the convenience that this facility affords: you can pay in the currency with which you are most familiar, which means your shopping experience is positive from a financial aspect, because the decisions you make will be confident, and informed.

There are no surprises with the multi currency card – what you pay for on your travels, is what is reflected in your card statement, exactly.

Unlike the credit card, there is no transaction fee associated with any transfer, exchange, or purchase. In fact, the annual fee on most international credit cards is much higher.

With credit cards, the rate of exchange applied is the day's rate, which might not be favourable. With the multi currency card, the rate of exchange is fixed the day you purchase the card.

And the security of your cash is stepped up, because the card is protected by a secure PIN (Personal Identification Number) which prevents anyone else from using the card, even if it is lost or stolen.

If you do misplace your card, all you have to do is call the respective company's Phone Banking numbers, for a replacement card to be issued within 48 hours.

While Travellers Cheques are accepted only at select locations for purchases or encashment, multi currency cards are accepted everywhere Visa credit and debit works. You can use this card to withdraw cash in the local currency wherever you are.

You only spend what you need so you don't have to carry any extra cash.

For retailers, it means an increase in sales, opening up markets where the dollar and the euro don't hold sway (such as small towns and villages for local handicrafts), and a reduction in customer service inquiries.

The retailer enjoys the added benefit of customer loyalty and building relationships with repeat customers.

Some multi currency cards also offer great deals on air tickets, holiday packages and travel insurance (including lot card, and lost or delayed baggage), making it a sweet proposition all round.

The paperwork to acquire a card is at the minimum -- all you need is a copy of your air ticket, a valid passport, an A2 form, and your PAN card details.

You can now enjoy unsurpassed global acceptance, and easily pay for hotels, airfare, train fare, car rental, dining, entertainment and more, anywhere in the world, all on one card.

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