Prepaid Card Glossary


A bank or other financial institution having a business relationship with merchants, retailers and other service providers to process their plastic card transactions. Acquirers obtain financial settlement for from the card issuers, typically via the card schemes that, which maintain the clearing systems, and pay the proceeds to the merchants, charging a fee.

ATM (Automated teller machine)

Also known as a cash machine or cash dispenser. A computerised self-service machine permitting the holders of an appropriate card and personal identification number (PIN) to withdraw cash from their account and access other banking services.

ATM balance enquiry fee

A fee applied by some prepaid card providers for checking the balance of an account from an ATM machine.

ATM fee

A charge applied by some prepaid card providers for withdrawing cash from an ATM machine while at home or abroad.


The total amount outstanding on a credit card account that includes borrowing for purchases, cash advances, balance transfers and any interest or charges incurred.

Balance transfer

Where the credit from one credit card account is used to pay off part or all of another debt. The total transfer amount cannot exceed the credit limit of the account that the payment is transferred to. Often credit cardholders will request a balance transfer to take advantage of a promotional or preferential rate on a new or existing account.

Card issuer

A bank, building society or other organisation issuing to its customers payment cards and cards for use in cash machines. The card issuer undertakes responsibility to settle transactions made with the card (except in some cases where fraud has occurred).

Card scheme(s)

Card schemes set the business rules that govern the issue of the payment cards that carry their logo. Typically these rules apply throughout the world to ensure that cardholders’ cards can be used anywhere. Card schemes include American Express, MasterCard and Visa.

Cash over counter

A fee applied for withdrawing cash from a prepaid card at a bank, or bureau de change. Also referred to as ‘cash advance fee’.

Cash Passport Globe

Cash Passport Globe is a MasterCard® prepaid card designed to save you money on your overseas spending. The card can be loaded with British Pounds which are then converted to the local currency when you use it abroad with just a 2.49% usage fee.

Chip and PIN card

A payment card containing a chip that requires use of a PIN as the preferred method of cardholder verification at the point-of-sale and at cash machines.

Credit card

A payment card enabling the holder to make purchases and to draw cash up to a pre-arranged ceiling. The credit granted can be settled in full by the end of a specified period or can be settled in part, in which case interest is normally charged.

Debit card

A payment card linked to a bank or a building society account used to pay for goods and services by debiting the holder's account. Debit cards usually also allow the account holder to use the facilities of cash machines.

Dormancy fee

A charge applied by a prepaid card provider when a card has been inactive for a period of time, there is a balance remaining on the card, but the card has expired.

Global Emergency Assistance

Travelex’s Global Emergency Assistance is a 24/7, multilingual service which ensures that if your card is lost, funds can be transferred to a replacement card or we can provide emergency cash to you in as little as 20 minutes. Other benefits of this service include interpretation and ‘send a message home’ services.

Identity theft

Criminals commit identity theft by stealing your personal information. This is often done by taking documents from your rubbish or by making contact with you and pretending to be from a legitimate organisation. Visit for more information.

Inactivity fee

A charge applied by a prepaid card provider if the card or account is not used for a specific length of time (e.g. 12 months).

Initial purchase fee

A flat, one-off fee charged to purchase a card. Travelex does not charge a purchase fee for its currency cards.

Load fee

A charge for transferring the cardholder’s money onto the card for the first time.


A place or shop where purchases are made, including those on the internet.


The name given to the practice of sending emails at random purporting to come from a genuine company operating on the Internet, in an attempt to trick customers of that company into disclosing information at a bogus website operated by fraudsters.

PIN (Personal identification number)

A set of characters, usually a four-digit sequence, used by cardholders to verify their identity at a point-of-sale or at a customer-activated device such as a cash machine. The number is generated by the card issuer when the card is first issued and may be changed by the cardholder thereafter.

POS (Point of sale)

A physical location where a customer makes a purchase.

POS transaction

A transaction taking place at point of sale.


Allows the cardholder/merchant to obtain advance approval or verification that sufficient funds are available to make a subsequent purchase using a payment card.

Prepaid card

A stored-value card used to pay for goods and services, mainly as an alternative to cash or travellers’ cheques.

Redemption fee

Fee to redeem the balance of any unspent funds on a prepaid card. Also commonly referred to as ‘cash out fee’.

Reload fee

The fee for adding more money or ‘topping up’ a cardholder’s balance on the card. This can be done online, by phone, by internet banking or in-store. Also commonly referred to as ‘top-up fee’.


The action by an acquirer of paying the value of merchants’ card payments into their nominated bank accounts.

Summary box

A standard format for providing a brief summary of the key features of a credit card, which is available on all credit card marketing materials and credit card statements. A Summary Box can be used to easily compare different products and to remind cardholders of the features of their credit cards.


Any agreement between two or more parties that establishes a legal obligation, and the act of carrying out such an obligation. Also, any action between a cardholder and a merchant or a cardholder and a credit card company that results in activity on the cardholder’s account.

Travelex Prepaid Currency cards

The Travelex MasterCard® Prepaid Currency Cards can be loaded with foreign currency prior to travelling to make purchases and withdraw cash whilst abroad. Available in seven currencies online or in store, the cards allow users to lock in their rate at the time of load or reload and with no fees for purchase transactions or ATM withdrawals.

Usage Fee

The fee imposed on any transactions made on a prepaid card – either a purchase or cashwithdrawal. Also commonly referred to as ‘foreign transaction fee’ or ‘FX mark-up’.

Reference: The UK Card Association