Sainsbury's Cash Passport - everything you need to know

TransferWise
31.12.18
6 minute read

If you're heading abroad, a travel money card can be a very useful thing to pack, offering an easy and secure way of financing your trip. Sainsbury’s Multi-currency Cash Passport is one such prepaid currency card.

These are becoming increasingly popular for several reasons. One of the main ones is safety - many customers are concerned about the safety of carrying lots of cash. Other customers choose travel cards because they're easy to top up while abroad and because they believe that they get a better exchange rate.

Read this review to find out all the key features of the Sainsbury's Multi-currency Passport, including all the main pros and cons so that you can make an informed decision about whether the card is right for your travel needs or whether you might be better served by an alternative such as the TransferWise travel money card that offers the real exchange rate and stores over 40 currencies.

Exchange rates

You can load up to 10 currencies on the Sainsbury's Multi-Currency Cash Passport. Exchange rates vary from day to day and whether you order online, in person or via telephone. A currency calculator can be found on Sainsbury’s website so you can see how your sterling converts into foreign currency.

It's worth being aware that Nectar cardholders get better rates. As per the time of writing this article, Nectar card holders get 1 GBP = 1.0878 EUR, as opposed to 1.0856 EUR on the standard rate. You can also collect Nectar points whenever you buy currency.

Tourist versus mid-market rate

An alternative to Sainsbury's Multi-Currency Cash Passport is the TransferWise debit Mastercard. Unlike other prepaid cards, this uses the mid-market rate, with transparent fees and no hidden markup so customers can benefit from the real exchange rate - widely acknowledged to be the fairest and most transparent exchange rate in the finance sector.

Take a look at this comparison table to see how Sainsbury's exchange rates for sterling into euros compares with mid-market rates at the time of writing:

You spend £200 £500 £1,000
Sainsbury’s standard rate (€1.0856) €217.12 €542.80 €1,085.60
Mid-market rate (€1.1193) €223.86 €559.65 €1,119.30
Conversion loss €6.74 €16.85 €33.70

Rates displayed are for online orders only. Source: Sainsbury’s* (31/12/18)*

Fees and charges

Here's how Sainsbury's travel money card applies some common fees:

  • Reload fee: 2% is charged for loads and reloads into your GBP purse. Reloads converted into all other currencies are free.
  • ATM charges: these are free, although some ATM operators may charge you a fee (see more below).
  • Withdrawal fee: it will cost you £4 to withdraw cash over the counter in a bank.
  • Moving money from one currency to another: foreign exchange rate with a markup.
  • Foreign exchange fee: 5.75% applies if you make a transaction on a currency you don’t hold on your card or have insufficient funds to cover the whole transaction.
  • Inactivity fee: if you don't use your card for 18 months, £2 will be deducted from your balance each month.
  • Shortfall fee: a £10 charge will be levied if your balance falls below zero.

Watch out for the DDC trap

If you haven't left the UK for some time, you may feel a bit surprised when you are asked at a foreign ATM or shop whether you would prefer to be charged in sterling or the local currency.

The option is usually presented in the machine and the customer has to select their preferred choice before entering their four-digit pin. The reason for this is not altruism - the operators of those devices have signed up for something known as 'dynamic currency conversion' which allows them to make money by offering the customer an unfavourable exchange rate.

The advice is always to pay and withdraw in the local currency when abroad.

Currencies available

A Sainsbury's Bank Multi-currency Cash Passport Mastercard allows you to carry up to 10 currencies: Australian dollar, British pound, Canadian dollar, Emirati dirham, euro, New Zealand dollar, Swiss franc, South African rand, Turkish lira, and US dollar.

Your Sainsbury's Travel Card is a smart card in that it always know which currency to use. If you are somewhere in the world not mentioned in the list, or you have insufficient funds of the local currency on your card, it will use funds from one of your other currencies to pay the bill, although Mastercard’s exchange rates and a 5.75% foreign exchange fee will apply.

Limits

These are some of the limits that apply to the Sainsbury's Travel Cash Passport:

  • The minimum load and reload is £50.
  • The maximum total balance per 12 months is £30,000.
  • The maximum total balance at any one time is £5,000.
  • The maximum amount that can be withdrawn from an ATM in a 24-hour period is £500.
  • Withdrawing cash from a bank: £150.
  • Spending money in a single transaction: £3,000 - although, some retailers may set their own limits.

Please check the terms and conditions for more details.

So, is it good? An honest Sainsbury's Cash Passport review

The Sainsbury's travel card is useful to have when travelling abroad if you want to keep your money safe. The fees and charges are reasonable - and low in many respects in comparison to other providers.

The Sainsbury's Bank Multi-currency Cash Passport is ideal for frequent travellers heading to places where Mastercard is widely used and recognised. Nectar Points are a plus point and offer a genuinely good deal for Nectar Account holders. However, the number of currencies the card can hold used is quite limited.

But there are plenty of viable alternatives. The TransferWise multi-currency card, for example, can be used with over 40 currencies and, with zero transaction and small conversion fees, it may be a wiser option, particularly if flexibility and low fees are important.

Ordering and using a Sainsbury's Cash Passport

The process of ordering your card is straightforward as long as you are a UK resident and aged over 18. Simply order it online or visit your nearest Sainsbury's Travel Bureau with your passport or a valid form of photo ID and complete the application form.

You will need to load £50 to the card, which will then be handed to you with a PIN number and is then ready for immediate use. Don't forget to sign the signature strip on the back of the card.

Once you have your card, it's important to create an online account at Sainsbury's Bank by registering your card. You will then be able to view your balance, load and reload your card and view transactions.

You can use it online to spend with any retailer that accepts Mastercard prepaid debit cards, as long as it is loaded with sufficient funds. It can also be used to make contactless payments.

How to top-up your card

As long as the expiry date on the card is still valid, your travel money card can be topped up by the following methods:

  • Online
  • Bank transfer
  • Over the phone
  • Via the mobile app
  • In store at a Sainsbury's branch with a travel bureau.

Buyback

If you have extra currency after your trip, it is possible to use a buyback service but it does come with a fee. Just take it to your nearest Sainsburys; Travel Bureau with valid ID and you will be refunded.

How to contact someone about your card?

General enquiries can be answered by emailing: cardservices_prepaid@mastercard.com

If you want to contact the Card Service team by phone, a list of numbers in the relevant countries can be found here. If you need to contact Card Services by mail, the address is:

Card Services

Access House

Cygnet Road

Hampton

Peterborough

PE7 8FJ

Troubleshooting tips

Some useful information on how to cope with common problems with your card:

If your card is lost or damaged

Phone the Card Services Team straight away. They will cancel the card and issue with another. A courier fee may apply.

If your card is declined

Make sure you have sufficient funds on your card before making the transaction and check with the merchant that they accept Mastercard prepaid cards.

What should I do if I forget my pin number?

The best thing to do is to phone the Card Services team who will be able to issue you with a new pin number.

What should I do if my card is blocked?

Phone the Card Services team for advice.

What should I do if my card has expired?

You can choose to either withdraw all the funds on your card and close the account or transfer them to a new card. Fees will apply in either case.


This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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