Currency bureau Travelex is to axe the Supercard, with existing cardholders told they won't be able to use it after 24 July.
When it first launched in May 2015, the Supercard was a new kind of overseas plastic. Anyone could get it, as there's no credit check, it let you link your debit and credit cards to it using an app and it came with no added fees on spending and one of the best exchange rates on overseas spending.
Yet Travelex admitted today that the costs of running the card had been "much higher than anticipated", and that as a result it's being scrapped this summer - it was already closed to new applicants. Here's what happening, what to do if you're affected and the best alternatives for spending overseas.
What is Supercard?
Essentially, Supercard is an alternative to cheap overseas credit cards - it's technically a prepaid card, but users don't load it with cash. To use it you need its Android or Apple app on your mobile phone – once you dowloaded that and set it up, you would be sent a card. It then works as follows:
a) You link your existing debit or credit cards to it (not Amex).
b) You spend on it.
c) It charges your existing card in pounds, having done the conversion at the near-perfect Mastercard wholesale rate, which is far better than you would've got spending directly on most cards.
However, cash withdrawals overseas have a 2.99% fee (more than the cheapest specialist credit cards) so it's best to spend on the card, not withdraw cash and spend that.
Supercard holders who ‘activated’ the complimentary travel insurance that came with the card will be able to use it until 24 July.
Existing customers can use the card until 24 July
Here's how the Supercard scheme is changing:
- Existing customers can continue using their Supercard until 24 July. After that date the card will no longer work and should be destroyed.
- The app that accompanies the card will continue to be accessible until 24 October so customers can look up past transactions.
- The complimentary travel insurance that was available to existing Supercard cardholders will no longer apply from 24 July.
- Supercard is no longer accepting new applications, and those who've applied for a card and haven't yet got it won't now receive one.
A Travelex spokesperson said: "Unfortunately, the costs of running Supercard and delivering the standards of service we expect have been much higher than anticipated. As a result, we have made the difficult decision to close Supercard.
"At Travelex we strive to develop innovative products that provide our customers with great value and exceptional service. We are grateful to all our customers who embraced this new concept and apologise for any inconvenience caused."
What are the best alternatives for spending overseas?
Unfortunately Supercard was one of a kind, so there's no direct equivalent which works in exactly the same way.
A specialist travel credit card is one of the cheapest ways to spend abroad. Here are the current best-buys:
- Our top pick: Barclaycard Platinum Visa* - it has no cash withdrawal fee, and charges no interest on overseas withdrawals if you pay IN FULL every month. It's 18.9% rep APR on spending if you don't pay in full.
- Long-term winner plus £20 cashback: Halifax Clarity Mastercard* has no fees and low interest charges (18.9% rep APR) and is widely accepted. Apply before 3 Sep and you'll also get £20 cashback on your first purchase abroad before 30 Sep 2017. The cashback will be credited to your card account within 90 days.
See our Cheap Travel Cards guide for full info and other top pick credit cards.
Alternatively if you don't fancy or can't get a credit card, look for a fee-free prepaid travel card instead. Our top picks are Revolut, WeSwap and Monzo as they have decent exchange rates and low or no fees. FairFX is also good if you're loading £600+, as it gives an extra £20 of currency.
For a full rundown of the different options plus how to get cheap travel cash, see our 18 Cheapest Ways to get Travel Money guide.
If you relied on Supercard for your travel insurance and have a holiday booked, it's important to make sure you have cover in place from 24 July - see Cheap Travel Insurance for full help and top picks.