This one is for you, Visa (though MasterCard and Amex listen up too!). Here’s the deal: I have Visa debit and credit cards for both UK and USA. I have bank accounts in UK and USA so I can transfer money when needed from one to another. With all of that in mind, you’d think that would be easy right to say buy some flowers for my sister, who is in Romania? Or order some presents for my friends in Germany? D’oh, no can do!
It turns out that most online shops take cards issued in the country they operate in — mainly for fraud prevention reasons and the fact that their bank doesn’t protect against fraud if they accept foreign cards. As such, regardless of the card I’m using, since I can’t produce a billing address in the same country as the florist for the example mentioned above, I’m stuck!
Sure, there are shops which take PayPal, however, in Europe at least PayPal doesn’t have that much in-take, so my choices are limited unfortunately. And even in the case of that, one has to put up with currency conversions where the bank has the final say on rates 🙁
Sure, the lucky members of Amex Centurion Card have their own personal concierge who can arrange all of this for them — typically they would use a corporate card issued in the given territory and then charge the member’s account. However, the Centurion Card is by invitation only and only few lucky ones met the criteria. And the charges are quite high — so definitely not for your average Joe!
However, what I’m thinking, with the increase spread (and probably demand too!) of pre-paid credit cards, why can’t Visa (or like I said, MasterCard) provide me with a pre-paid card (so they take no risk with this) which I can:
- Charge/load online with a debit card — or even through PayPal! This way it doesn’t mater which country I’m in, right, I can deposit money on my card and say in 48 hours I got the money there.
- I can use online in any territory and I can use a billing address in the given country so the country is treated as issued in the country i’m shopping in! I’m sure Visa can provide me with some addresses of their offices in some of these territories such that the address given is actually a valid one.
So if I have one of these, then I can go to any online shop in Romania, order flowers online and when prompted for the billing address I will supply a Romanian billing address — I might even chose to pay some extra to have any potential correspondence sent to an address of my choice (in case some online shop require registration or need to send me anything through the post!). Then using the very same card I can go to an Austrian online shop order my mate’s present for his birthday and supply an Austrian billing address and go ahead with the order.
Since it’s Visa, they dictate the exchange rates and since it’s pre-paid there is very little — if any! — risk involved for them, right?
So come on, Visa, where can I get one of these pre-paid cards? My sister’s birthday is coming up soon! 🙂