Two MasterCard Tricks for International Students
If you live in Sweden and you don’t have a Swedish MasterCard/Visa card, you might have experienced online payment difficulties. Sellers often do not accept foreign credit cards. Since I am a student, I cannot apply for a Swedish credit card. I only have a Maestro debit card… which is not valid for online shopping. As a result, books/shoes/gadgets/tickets cannot be ordered. Sad face.
Today was no different…. My Canadian visa card was rejected (and not because it is monday). But thanks to my lab partner Mario, he showed me a trick and the day was saved!
$ Trick #1: Temporary Credit Card
Anyone living in Sweden with a Swedish bank account must learn this trick ASAP!
Ok, log into your Swedish bank account. Click on this e-kort option… Agree with a bunch of conditions and agreements… and enter the amount you would like to have for this temporary credit card…
Safe and Easy
And voila! The system generates a temporary credit card that is valid for a month.
Boom! I paid for my … printer quota ONLINE… (CHALMERS students get 250 pages of printing quota per semesters. If you exceed this limit, you oughta plant a tree). I am about to print my assignment…
$ Trick #2: TravelCash Card
Hia from the sunny beach of Florida: 26°C and no complaints…
Exchange Rate SUCKS!
(i.e. the price tag is 100kr. But after the bank does its exchange rate thing, the price is now 108.78 something kroner…)
As an international student in Canada, most banks offer a $500 credit card. However, in the land of Sweden where “cash is king, no more”, being an international student, meaning you are “unemployed”, banks simply will not offer you a credit card. As aforementioned, my Canadian credit card does not always work on Swedish websites. Even if it does, have you heard about the ridiculous exchange rates incurred through each transaction .
Exchange rate is the devil: you can guess when I moved to Sweden…
Generating an online temporary MasterCard is not super convenient.
Imagine Example 1:
Gimmy wants to buy a movie ticket online… wait, no he can’t! He needs to get his temporary credit card.
Imagine Example 2:
Gimmy buys a bus ticket. It is suppose to be 26kr, but the bank statement says $3.26! Bus ticket became 25% more $$.
Imagine Example 2:
Gimmy goes to Germany. Maestro cards are accepted, but the exchange rate makes the trip more expensive…
It is actually not as bad as it sounds. I am just very tight about my balance sheets.
$$ Work Around:
Anyhow, this is my way to “work around” this problem. Scandinavian Airlines SAS has a frequent flier program called EuroBonus. EuroBonus members have the option to order a TravelCash card.
It is a debit MasterCard – meaning you can charge some money onto the card and use it wherever MasterCard is accepted, both online and offline.
Another really neat feature is the card allows you to have multiple currencies (Swedish Kroner, Euro, and US dollar are my main trio).
This way you can buy currencies when exchange rates are favourable. Moreover, you can always pay with the local currencies. For example, I am currently in the US and I can pay for everything in USD. Look, I am not an economist, but trust me I am an engineer – (unless you are a finance major) exchange rate is always an enemy.
I was initially very sceptical about this card, but after one and half month of testing in three countries, it is still working!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
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