I'm traveling to Russia soon and want to take a prepaid credit card along with me (on top of some cash, of course).

Does this count as like a visa gift card? I know Visa and Mastercard are accepted worldwide.

Otherwise, should I go to my bank and try to find something like this? What are some good options? I currently do not have a regular credit card, as I'm stuck in the "Can't get a card because no credit - no credit because no card" loop.

  • After July 1st, Visa and MasterCard may be banned from doing business in Russia; it's still unclear.
    – ach
    Commented Jun 19, 2014 at 7:58
  • Well, I'm only staying until the 2. So with some cash I should be fine ;) Commented Jun 19, 2014 at 15:36

4 Answers 4


If you can't get a "real" credit card, I would advise you to get a debit card tied to a checking account (these are very common in the US and Canada) - these look and function exactly as a credit card, but actually don't provide you with any credit (so you don't need credit approval), they're tied to your actual account balance. So you will get all the functionality of a prepaid card without the inconvenience and the extra fees.

If you're using this for travel, make sure there are no big foreign transaction fees and no big foreign ATM cash withdrawal fees. Shop around, it's possible to find a good deal. I have a card like this from a small credit union in the US, not a major bank, which only charges 1% for ATM withdrawals - I've successfully used this card in Russia.

Another way to break out of the "can't get a card because no credit - no credit because no card loop" is to get a "secured card", some banks allow that (e.g. you give the bank $500 to store in an interest-bearing account for you which you don't have access to, they give you a card with a $500 credit limit). Of course, you can get your money back if you cancel the card, and the advantage is that it starts building your credit history.

By the way, if you're taking cash to Russia, beware of a common foreign exchange scam where the exchange rate you see posted is actually an exchange rate for large sums of money (as indicated in Russian fine print :), and the actual exchange rate for typical traveler amounts is much worse. Always have them show you on a calculator how many rubles you're getting before physically handing over your cash.

  • I would strongly advise against using a debit card for O/S travel in Russia. If your card is defrauded, they can clean out your entire account. Better to go with pre-paid since you can control how much you top it up. Commented Jun 20, 2014 at 1:12
  • Good point, but you can have more than one checking account and use a debit card associated with one you designate specifically for travel. You can always top up that account from your main account using online banking anywhere you have Internet access.
    – Eugene O
    Commented Jun 20, 2014 at 2:11

In case someone else checks this page. My daughter has been in Russia for 5 months. She was using her visa check card from her bank. Found out that between the bank and each transaction she makes she was being charged $15 a transaction. Watch out for this. She now takes out a large amount of money at a time. She will now be getting a prepaid card in Russia since she is now working there til May. There is no where in St. Petersburg to get money exchanged for free, just make sure the institution you are going to is credible. Ask the locals.

  • 1
    Upvoting because while slight off-topic, this answers the OP's question"What are some good options?" to some extend.
    – DCTLib
    Commented Jan 19, 2015 at 9:14

The main difference between a pre-paid and a gift card is that pre-paid can usually be recharged, while gift cards usually can not.

I have a pre-paid card for use with online shopping and travel, and I can charge it up over the internet using my normal credit card before making purchases or going away. That way, if the card is defrauded or stolen, I can limit my losses to whatever money I'd put on the card.

There is also a third category now called a pre-paid travel card which can be charged up in foreign currencies such as EUR and USD.

Check out the range from Australia Post to see the types of cards which are available: http://auspost.com.au/money-insurance/prepaid-cards.html

  • Yeah just for my travels, it's OK if it can't be charged. Wondering if there are some fees for that, or something... Commented Jun 19, 2014 at 15:37
  • I bought mine from Australia Post and they charged me $6 (AUD) to buy the card, which is valid for five years. There was no check of any kind and it's possible to remain anonymous since the card is totally pre-paid, though I chose to register it so I can use the online service. There are currency conversion fees if I use it overseas, and of course they have your money until you choose to spend it which I think is the main attraction for the card issuer. Commented Jun 20, 2014 at 1:10
  • Also, I would strongly advise against using a debit card attached to your normal bank account for O/S travel. If your card is defrauded, they can then clean out your account. Commented Jun 20, 2014 at 1:11

I use Caxton fx card both euro and global usd they're great you can text to top up and check balance I have literally been on nil balance and texted whilst waiting in line to pay - I've used in India China all over USA Europe Hong Kong and also this brand is cheap conversion and supposedly the best rate but don't bother to check I just like the convenience and sometimes the difference In rats is a drop in the ocean to the cost of the holiday and I'm not going to waste holiday time changing up somewhere out of the way or large lines just because I get a few more rumbles for my money as we all know time is money! but it's not to be used as deposits in hotel or petrol stations as they ghost to their limit but great in all other ways however I am going to Russia which started my interest in this string and understand that ATMS are rare out there so I was just considering taking cash with credit card as emergency unless someone can advise that this is not true

  • 5
    Punctuation is great, I recommend looking into it :/ This is really, really hard to read.
    – Mark Mayo
    Commented Aug 9, 2014 at 3:52
  • Sorry about the punctuation but it was after ten or so vodkas
    – Elaine
    Commented Aug 9, 2014 at 14:11

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