Travelex Reports Majority of Outbound Travelers Unaware Traditional Magnetic Stripe Cards May be Rejected
New York, June 29, 2011 – According to a new survey commissioned by Travelex, the world’s largest non-bank foreign exchange currency provider, while world travel is expected to rebound with a 4.5 percent increase in both vacation and business trips this year, the majority of American outbound travelers are unaware that their magnetic stripe credit and debit cards may not be accepted abroad.
A recent survey by Alternative Futures Research Ltd. noted that the number of vacation and business trips taken in 2011 is expected to increase from 935 million in 2010 to an anticipated 977 million in 2011. Tourism expenditures are also expected to increase by 8.1 percent in 2011, with the average tourist spending $1,040 per trip. This is good news for the travel industry, which saw its fortunes adversely impacted by the global recession of 2009. According to the research, however, overseas travelers are facing some significant challenges during their trips.
While American travelers spent $56 billion using credit or debit cards last year, over 8.2 million travelers experienced card problems ranging from non-acceptance issues to lost or stolen cards. In fact, non-acceptance is one of the leading problems Americans may face while abroad with almost one third (31%) expressing that card acceptance problems have spoiled their vacation.
Of great concern to Travelex President Jon Dario is the fact that only 35 percent of American outbound travelers are even aware that their magnetic stripe credit and ATM cards may not be accepted internationally due to a lack of compatibility with new technology being used overseas, particularly in Europe.
“While chip and PIN cards are prevalent in Europe, Americans are still relying on their magnetic stripe cards, which may well not be accepted everywhere,” said Dario. “Travelex strongly encourages our customers to use chip and PIN MasterCard Cash Passport to avoid these potential issues.”
The Cash Passport is specifically designed to meet the growing demand for currency cards that are compatible with overseas merchants using chip-based technology. With its pin-protected option, the Cash Passport also provides fraud protection and wide acceptance in international markets.
Travelex’s online purchasing option, available at www.us.travelex.com, allows travelers the added convenience of stress-free planning before vacationing outside the U.S. Customers can also take advantage of Travelex’s Online Price Promise which matches any lower published price on foreign currency including all delivery fees allowing customers to receive the greatest value for their dollars.
“Nearly half of Travelex’s online sales of Euros and British Pounds are on the chip and PIN card rather than in cash, which is a strong sign of the product's appeal,” said Dario. “In fact, overall sales of Cash Passport have increased by 100 percent compared to last year!”
While Dario emphasizes that further awareness is needed to help Americans avoid the potential pitfalls associated with magnetic stripe card incompatibility, Travelex was encouraged by the good news that the U.S. continues to recover from the effects of the global recession.
“Bottom line, Americans are taking the opportunity to travel,” said Dario. “This is extremely important as the tourism industry is one of the world’s largest revenue generators.”