A cash passport is a prepaid travel card that can be used to withdraw cash or to make transactions at bars, restaurants and shops when you are travelling overseas, which allows you to travel with less cash and makes for greater security whether you are heading abroad for business or leisure.
Thomas Cook no longer sells Cash Passport cards, but you can still use yours until it expires and reload it online or in store. This review will look at all aspects of the Thomas Cook Cash Passport for you, so you know what to expect in terms of exchange rates, fees and features. Then you can compare it to other alternatives such as the multi-currency card by TransferWise that offers 40+ currencies and the real exchange rate.
Like other travel cards, Thomas Cook's Cash Passport lets you to buy your foreign currency in advance of travel which 'locks in' the price you pay. This is good if the price of the foreign currency you are buying is going up but, of course, prices can drop as well as increase. When using a Thomas Cook Cash Passport, you can load your card with a foreign currency balance before you go or do it online once you have arrived, so you have the flexibility to get the best price.
However, the purchasing price of any currency using this card is never as a favourable as the headline price you see on the big international currency markets. Unlike TransferWise's mid-market rate – which offers transparent fees and the real exchange rate – the Thomas Cook Cash Passport will commonly charge you a little more for converting your money from one currency to another.
Here's an example of how Thomas Cook's rates measure up against the mid-market rate on the day this article was written:
|Thomas Cook rate (€1.0807)||€216.14||€540.35||€1,080.70|
|Mid-market rate (€1.1193)||€223.86||€559.65||€1,119.30|
Rates displayed are for online orders only. Source: Thomas Cook* (31/12/18)*
There are no charges levied by Thomas Cook to load a cash passport card - unless you load money into your GBP wallet, then a 2% commission fee applies. It’s also free to use your card at merchants.
However, if you use your card to make a transaction in a currency other than ones you have preloaded or if you don't have enough balance in the local currency, then you will pay a fee that equates to 5.75% of the transaction. Furthermore, foreign exchange rate applies when transferring money between wallets.
Some flat fees will apply if you use your card to withdraw money from a bank or an ATM - €4.60 and €1.75, for example. Having said that, some cash machine operators may also charge you a fee and you should be careful to choose the local currency when using an ATM or paying at a merchant's terminal if given a choice.
Furthermore, a shortfall fee is applied if you take your cash passport beyond its available balance in a given currency. Lastly, Thomas Cook charges you £2 per month if you are not using the remaining balance on your cash passport after a 15-month period has elapsed since you last used it. If you choose to cash your card out, then a £6 charge is applied.
There are 10 currencies available to use with a Thomas Cook Cash Passport, including British pounds. The popular overseas currencies include euros, US dollars, Australian dollars, Canadian dollars, New Zealand dollars and South African rand. In addition, you can use it to hold Turkish lira, Swiss francs and United Arab Emirates dirham.
You are able to reload your Thomas Cook Cash Passport with as little as £50 credit to get you going. If you want to add more credit to your card, then the maximum you can add to it is £5,000 across all currencies that the card holds.
The maximum amount you can load onto a card is £15,000 over a week and £30,000 in any 60-day period. You must supply your name and address when loading credit to these limits online. When phoning in a credit load, you are restricted to £750 per day with £1,500 being the limit over a 60-day period. Via the app, the maximum daily credit load is £250.
When spending, you are restricted to a maximum expenditure of £3,000 per day at merchant's terminals regardless of the currency or currencies you happen to be paying in. ATM withdrawals are limited to £500 per day. You can only have £5,000 of credit loaded onto your cash passport at any one time.
Available from both Google Play and the App Store, Thomas Cook's multi-currency card app is designed to make it easier and quicker to use your card and to load it with credit. In fact, it has few advantages over logging on to your account from a conventional web browser unless you just want to see a more streamlined interface on a handheld mobile device. You can reload your card using the app just as you would online but have a more restrictive limit on the amount you add using the app.
That said, the app's fingerprint identification system does allow for an extra level of security when managing your overseas currencies. It offers a handy way to check your spending when abroad and to spot any transactions which don't seem quite right. You can also use it to change your password easily, a good idea if you think someone might have observed yours as you entered it at a computer terminal.
On the whole, a Thomas Cook multi-currency cash passport is good because you can use it in many locations around the world and at all sorts of sellers without needing to worry about holding on to lots of money. It is easy to load with funds and the app is user-friendly.
On the other hand, Thomas Cook’s exchange rates come with markup and the fess that you’re charged every time you use an ATM can quickly add up. Other alternatives could offer you more currencies, fewer fees and quite often more attractive conversion rates. The TransferWise debit card, for example, can hold up to 40+ currencies at once and offers the real exchange rate.
Thomas Cook no longer sells Cash Passport cards, although you can still use yours until it expires and reload it online or in store.
You can top up the credit available on your multi-currency cash passport to a limit of £5,000 buy logging in online, making a bank transfer from your home account, using the app or calling 0800 056 0572.
There is a helpful 'Contact Us' button on Thomas Cook's with a webform for general enquiries on their cash passport website. You can also see a list of contact telephone numbers to use depending on where you happen to be in the world. For example, the US contact number is 1 877 465 0085. Alternatively, you can email Thomas Cook about cash passport enquiries using firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here’s what you need to do in case your card is:
Call Thomas Cook's card services department straight away if your card stops working or is lost.
If your card is declined, then check the balance and add credit if necessary. The cash passport system uses Mastercard Prepaid services, so check the retailer takes card transactions using that system.
You can log in to your account online or access it via the mobile app and alter your PIN to a new one.
Call Thomas Cook's card services department straight away if your card has been blocked for any reason.
If your card has become expired, then you can apply for Lyk prepaid Mastercard and transfer your balance from your existing Cash Passport, although fees might apply.
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