What Is a Cash Passport?

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  • Written By: Felicia Dye
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 18 September 2019
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A cash passport is a financial instrument resembling a debit card that is designed to eliminate certain hassles that are associated with using other forms of payment while traveling. This type of card allows a person to use his native currency to obtain foreign currency prior to traveling. The value of the foreign currency is stored on the card and can be obtained as needed while the individual is on her trip. This can largely eliminate the need to deal with cash, worry about theft, and be concerned with currency exchange.

Individuals commonly obtain a cash passport, also referred to as a prepaid currency card, when they are preparing to travel. These financial instruments are usually marketed as a convenient and secure means for individuals to have access to their travel budgets. This is made possible because people are allowed to store monetary value on their cards before their trips commence.

It is common for issuers of cash passports to allow their clients to select the type of currency that is applied to their cash passports. These options are generally limited to major world currencies such as US dollars (USD) and Great British pounds (GBP). This means that a resident of a country such as South Africa can use her native currency to obtain USD or GBP in a secure form prior to her departure.


These cards are considered convenient for many reasons. To begin with, they can largely eliminate the need for cash and therefore the problems associated with losing it or having it stolen. For many people, they are preferable to traveler's checks because those are also individual items that a person has to be concerned with and keep track of. A cash passport, on the other hand, is one item that can be used multiple times.

Cash passports generally bear either the Visa or MasterCard logo and can be used to make purchases wherever those cards are accepted. They can also be used to obtain cash at ATMs. This arrangement can be very beneficial because it can eliminate the need to find foreign currency exchange services abroad.

These financial instruments are considered secure because they are usually protected with personal identification numbers (PINs) that need to be entered each time the card is used. Another feature of a cash passport is that value can be added at a later date. If a person is traveling and he overspends, he can use other sources to add funds to his card while still abroad.


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