Travel Money Cards for France

Finance Journalist · 3 December 2018

Co-author Maddie Clarey

Planning a getaway to France? Magnifique! And if you’re thinking about a travel money card for your expenses while you’re there, we have put together some factors you might like to consider.

Source: Badahos (Shutterstock)

France. Home of croissants, the Eiffel Tower and some of the world’s most iconic fashion labels. From walking along the River Seine in Paris to sipping a full-bodied red in Bordeaux – it’s no surprise that France is the most popular tourist destination in the world. According to UN figures, 89 million visitors flocked to the country in 2017.

While there’s plenty to see, do and eat in the European nation, it can be a pricey place to visit. One way of withdrawing cash and making card payments with retailers during your French holiday is to use a travel money card.

Compare travel money cards for France

The following table displays a snapshot of travel money card products on Canstar’s database that can be used for travel to France and with links to providers’ websites, sorted by Star Rating (highest to lowest) then by provider name (alphabetically). Check upfront with your provider to confirm the details of a particular product, and whether it meets your needs, before deciding to commit to it.


How do travel money cards work?

Typically travel money cards work like this: you exchange your Aussie dollars for Euros – or whatever eligible currency you need –  and load them onto your card before your trip. Then, when you arrive in France, you can expect to use the card to withdraw Euros and make card payments in-store or online at selected outlets. You may also be able to reload your card with extra funds if you need them. Bear in mind, though, that some cards may only offer some of these features.

Is a travel money card the right option?

Depending on the type of traveller you are, travel money cards can be useful for a number of reasons. For example:

  • They allow you to lock in the exchange rate in advance of your trip
  • They are designed to be easy to use – similar in function to a debit card
  • They can be used with multiple currencies
  • They aren’t connected to your transaction account, so you can only lose the amount that’s on the card if it’s stolen

There can also be disadvantages to using a travel money card:

  • You may lose out if the exchange rate improves after you’ve locked in your rate
  • Travel money cards can come with various fees, such as currency conversion fees, ATM fees and inactivity fees
  • They may not be accepted everywhere
  • Some travel cards have a reload delay – that is, it may take several days for you to be able to access extra money you load onto the card

Travel money cards aren’t perfect for every situation, or every traveller, and so it can be smart to consider a combination of different travel money options for your trip to France, such as loose cash, as well as a travel credit or debit card.

Source: Yulia Grigoryeva (Shutterstock)

What exchange rate will I get?

The exchange rate you might get when converting your Aussie dollars into Euros is likely to vary depending on when you load your card, as exchange rates generally fluctuate regularly due to a number of factors. Check with your travel money card provider as to what the current rate is when you are loading money onto a travel money card.

It’s important to note, however, that the exchange rate quoted by your card provider may be different to the official exchange rate quoted by the RBA.

This is because travel money card providers typically charge an ‘exchange fee’ on top of the quoted exchange rate. This fee can vary from card to card, so it’s worth comparing what each one offers for the Euro – as well as considering the other features and terms offered by the provider – to see which card best suits your needs. It’s worth considering that some travel money card providers may not list an ‘exchange fee’ as such – instead the cost of the exchange to the cardholder would be factored into the exchange rate they offer.

What to be aware of when travelling to France

There are no hard and fast rules for tipping in France, so don’t be too worried about committing a faux pas if you fail to tip a certain percentage. Some restaurants will include a service compris (service included) charge which can be as much as 15% of the bill. In this case, there is no need to tip anything more unless the service is particularly good. For taxis, drivers will generally expect you to at least round up to the next euro. If they help you with your luggage giving one or two euros per bag may be a a good idea, depending on the situation of course. Likewise, for anyone who helps carry your luggage to your room at your hotel.

It can be best to tip using cash rather than by card as there may not be a tip line on the EFTPOS machine.

Another thing to be aware of is that in cafes and bars you might be charged more if you sit at a table or terrace compared to standing at the counter. Cafes and bars may list two prices – au comptoir (at the counter, with minimal service) and a salle (at the table).

Some French restaurants may charge more for service at a table. Source: RossHelen (Shutterstock)

Don’t forget to consider travel insurance

When travelling to France you may also want to think about an insurance policy to cover you for things like:

  • Cancellation costs for flights, accommodation and tours
  • Overseas emergency medical expenses
  • Travel delay/changed travel plans
  • Cover for theft or lost luggage and personal items

The table below displays a snapshot of travel insurance policies rated by Canstar with links to providers’ websites, sorted by Star Rating (highest to lowest) then by provider name (A-Z). These results are based on a couple aged 18-59 travelling to France. Check upfront with your provider and read the PDS to confirm the details of a particular product, and whether it meets your needs, before deciding to commit to it.

Compare travel money cards for other destinations

Image source: Catarina Belova (Shutterstock)

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