A decade or so ago, I worked for a man whose display of credit cards in his Smythson wallet was like a VIP preview of an exclusive exhibition. Moleskin leather divided a sleek black Amex card (invitation only) from elegant members’ cards for private nightclubs and elite sporting venues: these were classy slivers of a lifestyle very different to my own.
Not that there’s anything wrong with a serviceable debit card for the more mundane expenses of day-to-day life. When trundling the trolley around Sainsbury’s, there’s no need for fancy plastic at the till. Just tap and go, it’s all about functionality, not aesthetics.
However, when it comes to holidays and travel to different and exciting places, there’s a desire to escape from normal life. To pack one’s suitcase with clothes that you wouldn’t wear at home: a special dress for a sunset dinner, shorts that have been languishing at the back of the wardrobe since last summer, the sarong which brings back memories of a local market, sunhats and swimwear – they are all part of the dream of discoveries and adventures that lie ahead.
And when it comes to spending money on your travels, it’s nice to have a special piece of plastic in the holiday handbag, which is where the Currensea card is the perfect accessory. For a start, it doesn’t look like a normal debit card; someone has clearly put quite a bit of thought into the design and colour scheme. The front is an aesthetically pleasing swoosh of rolling blue waves, with all the boring bits on the back.
What’s more, there’s no tedious admin involved, as it links up directly with your current account. No need to buy currency, no hassle of putting funds into a separate account or having to plan top-ups. You just use the card in exactly the same way as your normal debit card and it deducts straight from the same account. It is, quite literally, seamless.
Currensea saves you money too, with no fees or charges, and a claim to save 85% on each transaction compared to other cards. And when you are overseas putting the card through its paces, with what my mother would call a “continental flourish”, it becomes part of the whole travel and holiday experience for both planned and unplanned expenditure.
“Ooh la la, c’est très intéressant votre carte” – said the lady in the rather lovely clothes shop in Antibes where I was making an impulse purchase of an irresistible Breton t-shirt, spotted at 100 paces from the other side of the town square. Yes, indeed I responded, and explained that it was my special holiday card linked to my English bank account. She hadn’t heard of Currensea and I took on my role as the unappointed company PR. By the end of our conversation, she had gone online to find out more.
Each time you make a purchase, it appears on your normal bank account within seconds, and it even gives you handy hints. On one occasion, I clicked “pay in sterling” rather than “pay in local currency” on the options offered in a Portuguese guitar shop (ah yes, another impulse purchase). The good folk at Currensea quickly admonished me for this lapse by email, reminding me that the saving could not be made. Thanks Currensea, I’ll behave and remember to select local currency for next time.
On returning home, there’s no need for tedious post-holiday administration, moving funds around or calculating expenditure. Or that habitual problem of bringing back unspent foreign cash that sits in the drawer for months, while you decide whether you can face exchanging it back to sterling with a punitive loss on the rate. I still have a huge jar of French francs, Italian lira and a host of unidentifiable currencies sitting on a shelf. One day it will be worth something, surely.
Instead, the beauty of the Currensea card is that it can go back into the travel folder (Paperchase rather than Smythson), and you can concentrate on the important things like holiday memories and future plans, safe in the knowledge that next time you set off again, your trusty card is ready for action too.