Exchange rates often lead to angry exchanges when travellers use their plastic to draw cash abroad; pay the restaurant, shopping or fuel bills. If most feel they are victims of a bank heist they can be forgiven for their uncharitable thoughts.

The cloud with the silver lining may lie in competition between banks. Collaboration between Travelmail and the Newcastle Building Society now offers travellers a FairFX Prepaid MasterCard©. It can be used in the same way as an ordinary debit or credit card.

The difference lies in its pre-paid status. This enables the issuing bank to offer chip and pin protected business rates of foreign exchange, ‘locked in’ to market-leading exchange rates. The savings are considerable and up to 10% set against bureaux de change and bank rates.

The card is free of management or hidden charges with a further saving of up to 5% compared to competing cards. There are no purchase transaction charges and €1.50/2% only is levied on cash withdrawals.

Compared to other travel cash providers; notably Lloyds, Marks & Spencer and the Post Office (UK) the FairFX pre-paid was the clear winner, offering rates at €1.1475. The difference was even more marked when compared with (airport) Travelex.

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