BMO Bank of Montreal
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BMO Bank of Montreal

March 11, 2011 15:21 ET

Prepaid Travel Cards Growing in Popularity

BMO Bank of Montreal offers timely tips for Canadians who plan to travel abroad during March break

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 11, 2011) - A trend to use prepaid travel cards in lieu of cash and/or travellers cheques for out-of-country spending is expected to continue as students and families embark upon the annual exodus of travelers to out-of-country vacation destinations during the upcoming March break next week.

"Prepaid travel cards take a lot of the worry out of travel because you don't have to carry a lot of cash in your pocket," said David Heatherly, Vice President, Payment Products, BMO Bank of Montreal. "They offer the convenience of cash and travellers cheques without the risks associated with loss or theft," he said.

But not all cards are created equal. Most prepaid travel cards can only be loaded once and it can be costly to do so. Also, they may not offer extensive security features.

A BMO Prepaid Travel MasterCard can be reloaded as often as necessary and is valid for three years. Secondary cards can be issued to family members under the same account if required. 

"A BMO Prepaid Travel MasterCard is a great help when you're trying to stick to a travel budget and not overspend," said Mr. Heatherly. "If you're sending a son or daughter on a trip next week, a secondary card lets you top up their card at any time from home. You can also predetermine a limit on the card and keep track of a travel budget in real time to help them manage their spending."

Mr. Heatherly offered some timely advice for Canadians who plan to travel abroad this holiday season:

  • Have a travel budget - Plan your itinerary and anticipate your expenses. Set a realistic budget and then stick to it. It's also a good idea to have a small amount of the local currency on hand to tip service providers or make other incidental purchases. 
  • Don't Carry More Cash Than You Need – A pre-paid travel card provides all the convenience of a credit card without the interest costs and is an effective tool for managing to a travel budget. Choose a card that comes with security features that protect your purchases and give you peace of mind. 
  • Advise your bank before boarding – Bank fraud-prevention measures might automatically block unusual transaction activity such as out-of-country purchases. Tell your bank in advance that you're planning to travel. 
  • Carry a converter – Buy a currency converter, available at many retailers, to help you determine how much you're spending before you buy.
  • Plan to carry a balance? Opt for a low-rate credit card – If you typically carry a balance on your credit card consider a card with a lower interest rate. BMO's Preferred Rate MasterCard carries a 17.5 per cent interest rate and no annual fee, and 11.9 per cent for just a $20 annual fee. (NOTE: on a monthly average unpaid balance of $1000, you can lower your annual interest costs by more than $55 by choosing BMO's lowest rate (11.9 per cent) over the higher rates that most credit cards charge today (19.5 per cent). 

About BMO Prepaid Travel MasterCard

BMO Prepaid Travel MasterCard has quickly gained popularity as an easier alternative to travelers cheques and cash, gaining double digit growth, year over year, since it was introduced in 2007. A BMO Prepaid Travel MasterCard is a purchase card with security features designed to protect your purchases including Zero Dollar Liability, Identity Theft Assistance, Extended Warranty Insurance and Purchase Protection. If your card is lost or stolen when you're travelling outside Canada, you can obtain either a replacement MasterCard or an emergency cash advance usually within 2 business days. Cardholders can also secure an Emergency Cash Advance of up to $1,000 U.S. or an amount equal to the balance on their BMO Prepaid Travel MasterCard, through designated Card replacement centres and cash advance locations.

More information about BMO Pre-Paid MasterCard cards is available at www.bmo.com/prepaidmastercard.

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