Travel Money

I am going on holiday to Disney World, again, next year for my 40th birthday with my family and we are also taking my step-daughter as it is her 25th birthday 4 days before my 40th. So, I know what I am going to do for my foreign currency having used the FairFX card when we went last year together with a bit of cash and it worked great. I also got the application fee of £9.95 written off by accessing the site via and have since found that has the same deal if you link through to FairFX from their site too.

However, what do you do if you either don’t want to or can’t apply for and load your card online? What is the best deal of the cards which are available on the high street which you can apply for and load with cash?

I found three which I looked at more closely:

First Choice/Thomson
Thomas Cook
Post Office

All three of these are free to purchase and free to reload and the travel agent (or Post Office). However, where they differ is in the amount they charge for withdrawing cash at ATMs and the cost of cashing the card in when you have finished your holiday or if you don’t use the card for a certain period of time.
Minimum load amount:                  First Choice – $150     Thomas Cook – $50              Post Office – $50
Maximum load amount:                                                             Thomas Cook – $9,000      Post Office – $5,000
Cash withdrawal fee from ATM: First Choice – $3            Thomas Cook – $2.50         Post Office – $3
Maximum withdrawal in 24 hours: First Choice – $300   Thomas Cook – $800       Post Office – $500
Monthly inactivity fee:                                                                 Thomas Cook – $3.50 after 15 months
Cashout fee:     First Choice – Free in store    Thomas Cook -Free at purchase location  Post Office – Free if a balance over £10 but must phone to cash in

As you will see from the above, they are pretty much of a muchness especially if you cash in the card after your holiday rather than saving it for another trip. Where the differences are going to affect your decision is the amount that you load, the amount you can withdraw in cash and the charges for ATM withdrawals. If you are like me and are happy to pay for your transactions by card then chances are you won’t be making ATM withdrawals so the fee for that won’t matter. I usually take some cash with me anyway for those transactions which I need cash for such as tips and small purchases such as odd drinks and sweets. That said, I am looking at this for a holiday to Walt Disney World and at WDW they will accept your card for any value transaction anyway. However, for those who are not like me and don’t want to spend on their card and want to take cash out the decision is likely to be based on how much you can take out for the lowest ATM fee. In this case, you can take out up to $800 for a fee of $2.50 with the Thomas Cook card whereas you can only take out up to $500 with the Post Office card and $300 with the First Choice card for a fee of $3. So, in order to get the same $800 with the Post Office card it will cost $6 in fees whereas it will cost $9 on the First Choice card, that is a whopping $6.50 more!

If I was choosing a card to load at a “shop” rather than online, I would choose the Thomas Cook card and cash it in when I return to the UK to avoid the non-use penalty.

Please note that I am NOT a finance person and this is not an exhaustive search for the “best” deal. I may have some of the facts wrong but they are correct as I saw and interpretted them. If you want a more definitive search/research I would suggest that you look at money websites such as and


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