4 ways to save on overseas transaction fees

Guest Blog: Kylie Ofiu

On my recent trip to America I did a bit of research into what was the best way to  use my money while there. I found my bank didn’t charge much for transactions, but if I wanted to withdraw US dollars from them before leaving they would charge me an arm and a leg.

There are a few things you can do to save on fees and charges when travelling overseas.

1. Compare banks

Different banks charge different fees for different things. You might find one bank has high fees for using ATM’s overseas, (as much as $5) but their over the counter currency conversions are really cheap. Find out which one has the best deal for you and use them.

Banks often charge these fees, but also a fee when changing the currency as well as a commission for converting the currency which can be anywhere from 1.5% – 3.65%. You can compare these fees with the Mozo debit card fee finder.  Getting it right can save you a lot.

2. Negotiate

Try negotiating with your bank. If you find a better deal elsewhere ask your bank if they will match or beat it. It is cheaper for them to keep a customer rather than try and get a new customer, so it is in their best interests to keep you happy.

3. Get the right cards

I say cards because not all cards are accepted everywhere. There are 4 different types of cards you can use overseas: prepaid travel cards, credit cards, debit cards and you regular ATM card. A prepaid card is just like a credit card except you put your money on it before you go. Credit cards are great as they are easy to replace and many such as AMEX have excellent reward schemes attached. A debit card enables you to use your money, but it can be used as a credit card. A regular ATM card is your own money again, but the fees can be steep.

Compare different cards to find which will be right for you, or take a couple of options such as a credit card and a prepaid card.

4. Deal in large sums of money

To really avoid transaction fees deal in large sums of money. This can be risky as you are carrying around cash instead of a card, and you cannot get cash back if it is lost or stolen, whereas you can cancel credit cards, get them replaced and prove certain expenses were not made by you.

Taking out a large sum of money at one time instead of regular smaller sums means you will only have one transaction fee instead of several.

4 ways to save on overseas transaction fees was last modified: June 22, 2012 by Kylie Ofiu

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6 Comments - Write a Comment

  1. Very inspirational. Thanks for the useful tips. Last time I went travelling I wrote thousands of words down on paper, very rewarding to look back on. This time I’m defo going to blog. I love giving fellow travellers advice and what better way. Making money from what you love to do…Perfect.

  2. Thanks Kylie. I travelled to the US, Canada and Mexico in 2011-12 and used a Cash passport. Never again! I obviously didn’t research enough before purchasing and loading it up. I had lots of $ left on it on my return date as I had to reload and it took 3 days for the transfer. By that time I was on my way back home. It then cost to re transfer back into AUD and back into my account. This time around, I will use my own bank’s Visa credit option as the fees are best and exchange rates etc cheapest. Also able to have a spare in case the first is lost/stolen or eaten by an ATM when in an mind lapse state of mind! Cheers, Jenny P

  3. I don’t know if this appropriate or not in this blog but the Author should have mentioned the Citibank Plus Transaction account which will cost you absolutely ZERO to have and is the ONLY transaction account in Australia that charges ZERO FEES on overseas ATM withdrawals and purchases.

    Our extensive research suggests this is actually the BEST Transaction account in Australia. Period.
    The experts from Money Magazine also seem to agree with our assertion 🙂