Cool Guide Travel
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Cool Guide Travel

Lost your Visa Card while Travelling? The 4 Best Providers for Quick Cash Flow

You don´t always need a card, there are other ways besides traveler checks

I lost my visa card while traveling through Mexico in Campeche after visiting a lot of Mayan Temples. An ATM from Banco Santander simply ate my Visa and didn´t want to spit it out again. Dang.

The friendly people in the bank could not help further, since they were not the technician, and I was told even the technician would not be able to bring the card back again. So I had to find a solution quickly since I still needed money for the travels.

So far, I hadn´t done online payments via my phone, apart from PayPal transactions, and I used Western Union once in a while to pay my partners in India when I was still handling a jewelry line overseas.

Now, standing in Campeche pretty cashless, I was in slight despair. Hotels, taxis, bus trips, food — almost all had to be paid in cash. And since I didn´t know anyone there and was just passing through, wiring my money to someone else, so that they could give me cash was also not an option.

But, after a bit of research and scrolling through my memories of what other people told me they were doing when traveling, I came to a few options that saved me.

1. Option: Send yourself Cash

Yes, you can. Via the Western Union website or the Western Union app on the phone. You just need to open a virtual account, link it to your bank account or Visa card, and off you go.

You have the option to send cash to pick-up locations in many different countries. Often it´s a bank or big store that´s linked to WU. Smaller shops can give out smaller amounts of money only, so choose a big location to pick up your moola. You can also send money to a bank account overseas, if that works easier for you (if that´s the account of a friend for example). The maximum amount of money transferred is 6200€.

The fee is 3,90€ for sending it to a pick-up location and 0,90€ to send it to a bank account. You receive a transaction number via mail and text, which you present together with your passport at the pick-up location.

The money usually arrives within 15 minutes. The longest it took me to receive the cash was 1.5 hours when they needed to verify my ID again (since I started sending myself cash regularly after losing the Visa card — seems like that´s to prevent money laundering).

Not every country is registered with Western Union to send some dollars, though. Indian citizens for example can receive money via Western Union either as cash to be picked up or as money deposited directly into their bank account. They can not send money out of India via Western Union though. So, check the requirements for your country.

2. Option: Send yourself even more Cash!

After using Western Union a few times, I came across Remitly. The first transaction of at least 500$ is completely free. I used it once and then went back to Western Union, since Western Union charges 3,90€ as a fee for cash payouts and Remitly charges 4,90€ after the first free trial.

When checking back in with Remitly one day though out of curiosity, I noticed that they have a massively better conversion rate for my Euros into Mexican Pesos, than WU. Sending myself 400€ from WU to Mexico would give me approximately 8600 Pesos. Sending myself 400€ with Remitly would give me 9300 Pesos. That´s a full 30€ more, for just 1€ higher fees!!!! Needless to say, I switched.

The advantage of Remitly is also, that they don´t ask as many questions at the counter when picking up the moola. With Western Union, you need to verify your status of work, your home address, your current address, your name, and whatnot. With Remitly they just need your transaction number, passport and your name. Done.

3. Send yourself a debit Visacard — quick

Last but not least, you can send yourself a new Visacard via an amazing lifestyle app, that allows you to pay recurring payments, save money in a virtual vault, share bills with friends, receive money, invest in crypto, and have a masterful overview of your finances and your spending habits.

The app I´m talking about is Revolut. You can choose a specific design of your Visa card, which is sent to your location within 7–10 business days for 19,90€. For me, this was the better option, since my bank charges 39,90€ when I lose the card.

Meanwhile, you are able to use the virtual card with the virtual card number for transactions, such as on GooglePay.

Revolut has a few limitations of countries that are accepted to register with the app. I wanted to register from Mexico, but it seems Mexican citizens can still not open an account with Revolut. All European and many other countries can though. So have a look at the list they provide. You need a phone number and a passport to register and verify your identity.

4. Pay contactless

If you still have your Visa card number available online and did not block your card, use it with GooglePay for online or contactless payments in shops. For this, you need to download the Google Pay app, register your number, or your PayPal account, and wave your phone over the card-reader when they present your bill in a restaurant.

Ask before you order though if their card-reader is contactless! Because, if it´s not, you´ll have to go wash the dishes :).

I hope this article helped you to travel more effortlessly and stay in the (cash) flow. All links provided are referral links, so I might benefit from you using one of the service providers.


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Anne Haack

Transformational Coach, Writer, DJ, Insight Timer Teacher. Travelled Asia for 7 years, learned from a sage, published a book. Join: