Once a fool-proof alternative to old fashioned traveller’s checks or bundles of foreign currency, several prepaid travel money cards have been knocked out of action by Wirecard’s collapse.
Travel money cards have rapidly grown in popularity, using them avoids cumbersome traveller’s checks, unsafe envelopes containing hundreds of pounds of the local currency and the dizzying fees of using your regular debit card abroad.
The ease of taking a second card away with you loaded with your travel spends is undeniably attractive but news from the last two weeks meant certain companies have told their customers they cannot access thousands saved in the accounts.
Wirecard AG, a German Fintech company, has gone bust after “intricate” fraud. The company’s CEO, Markus Braun, resigned after admitting €1.9 billion had gone missing from the company’s accounts. He was arrested less than a week later.
The company’s UK subsidiary, Wirecard Card Solutions, loads money onto several company’s prepaid bank cards, including various travel money card companies.
Because of the growing chaos, the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK has decided to freeze all of these company’s activities meaning you cannot access your travel money. If you’ve got money left over from a holiday or if you’re abroad right now you cannot take your money out.
Which travel cards have been affected?
The most prominent companies who use Wirecard to load your travel money are:
- Asda Travel Money Card
- British Airways’ Multi-Currency Cash Passport
- Ramsdens Prepaid Travel Card
- Sainsbury’s Bank Multi-currency Cash Passport
- Tuxedo Travel MasterCard Prepaid Card
- Thomas Cook Cash Passport
- Wirecard’s Multi-Currency Travel Card
There are more companies who use Wirecard Card Solutions, if you are concerned you need to get in touch with them to confirm they don’t use them. Some companies like lastminute.com decide to withdraw their cards before the FCA’s measures took effect.
You’ll find notices on their websites to say that services are currently unavailable.
What Does the FCA Freeze Mean for Your Money?
Money will be unable to enter or leave your account whilst the FCA’s freeze on Wirecard remains in place.
The freeze, as well as affecting Wirecard, affects it’s partner companies like those listed above rendering their cards unusable.
For people with a decent amount of cash left over from their last holiday or have just loaded their funds ready for their first post-lockdown holiday it can be a massive inconvenience.
If you’re already abroad it could be disastrous. You might rely on your travel card to pay for your food and accommodation or even your travel back home.
What Should You do Now?
If you use an affected travel card you need to start paying using your regular bank card, you’ll have to face the charges in place for taking money out at ATM or paying at the point of service.
If you haven’t brought alternative methods of payment you need to contact both your travel card company and your bank to see if they can help provide alternatives.
If you use online banks such as Pockit, CardOneMoney or U Account you will also be affected by the Wirecard Crisis.
Author Bio: Peter East is a professional content writer for Suits Me. He has training in BA Journalism and has an interest in political and data journalism. When not on the lookout for new stories he’s been developing a new podcast.