'Seasons', an innovative Visa prepaid debit travel card, digital account and mobile app, is launched today by prominent European e-Money institution, Contis Group.
This means UK holidaymakers can now forget about FX rates, avoid hidden card charges and currency buy-back fees and spend in any local currency knowing the precise cost in pounds.
Seasons is designed to make the business of taking and spending money abroad much easier. Holiday money loaded onto the Seasons online account is held in sterling and the currency is converted as each transaction is made, using highly competitive FX rates. Seasons challenges the travel money market status quo, removing the need to convert pounds before travelling abroad and providing customers with a cost effective and innovative mobile product that is both simple and intuitive.
Seasons makes the planning and monitoring of holiday funds easy. Holidaymakers can manage their money on the move via the Seasons mobile app and online account, tracking their transactions and total spend in real time and in pounds.
By doing away with the need for holidaymakers to purchase large sums of local currency, Seasons eliminates the risk of over or underestimating the amounts of each currency that will be needed for each trip and, as a result, avoids triggering more charges, either to buy more currency, or to buy-back sterling at the end of the trip. Instead, Seasons levies a modest 1% transaction fee in Euro zone, or 1.5% in any other Visa-accepting country worldwide.
An independent study of 1,000 UK consumers*, commissioned to accompany the launch of Seasons, revealed that sorting out travel money is a constant source of frustration for the UK's holidaymakers. More than half of the survey's respondents stated that they found ever-changing FX conversion rates confusing. What's more, 79% described themselves as 'shocked and disappointed' by the 'hidden charges' that are often taken directly from their balances, to cover fees such as card inactivity, or monthly administration. Two out of every three respondents (66%) described the travel card market as overly complex, withh the various card products being too difficult to compare. 57% of respondents also said they spent an inordinate amount of time trying to find the best deal.
"Consumers are fed up of feeling like they're being duped by hidden fees, inflated FX rates and currency buy-back charges," comments Jenny Whiteside, Product Manager of Seasons. "According to our research, three in five people still won't consider a prepaid travel card, despite the convenience and security that they offer over cash. Seasons tackles these issues by taking a simpler, more practical and longer-term approach. Because the card account is always kept in sterling it is ideal for families planning holidays, gap year students travelling through a variety of currency destinations, business people hopping between continents, or adventurous retirees that can afford to spend more time away from home exploring different parts of the world. And when the cardholder's trip finally comes to an end, any remaining funds can be spent in the UK without penalty, or indeed set aside in a special digital envelope ready for the next trip."
The new card and account lets travellers pay using a real-time Visa FX conversion rate, which cardholders can view live via the Seasons accompanying mobile app (iPhone and Android). "Seasons gives holidaymakers the best deal on the day by combining a highly competitive Visa FX rate with low overall fees, thus saving them money," adds Whiteside. "97% of research respondents agreed that getting the best possible rate was important, so we know this is going to be a popular feature."
"Too many holidaymakers are dogged by costly and inconvenient travel cards. Some have to get different cards for different currencies. Others have to dispose of existing cards and reapply for each trip in order to avoid additional fees. Many others have fiddly systems for managing multiple currencies on a single card, with high FX conversion rates as you move money between currencies. Seasons cardholders can simply add pounds to their card and go wherever they want."
"We are pioneering a shift away from one-hit-wonder travel cards," continues Whiteside. "All too often people come back from holiday with €20 on a card, take a hit to convert the cash into sterling and pay a £5 redemption fee to get the money back into their regular account. The card then gets thrown in a drawer, never to be used again. Seasons is a simpler and cheaper approach. Spend anywhere using the best rate available at that moment, continue spending without penalty when you get home and use the same card every time you go away."