Most Aussies still see Australia Post as the handler of snail mail and parcels from nanna. But with its new Load & Go Visa Prepaid Card, our national postie embraces 21st century technology by launching its first Visa card. Funny thing is, Australia Post’s latest offering isn’t actually a credit card, or a debit card even. What’s more, the Load & Go charges no interest and there are no sign up restrictions. Has Australia Post unlocked the holy grail of Visa cards?
What is the Load & Go exactly?
The Load & Go Visa is a PREPAID card, where money is directly stored on the card much like a gift card or telephone call card. The card is accepted anywhere that takes Visa which means you can shop online, by phone, in store, and withdraw cash from ATMs at home or abroad.
Since you only spend what you load on the card, you don’t incur any interest charges like you do with credit cards. And unlike debit cards, you don’t need to link a bank account to the Load & Go Visa card. But the biggest drawcard is there’s none of the usual credit card paperwork, application forms, or even credit checks. You simply provide basic details (name and address), nominate a PIN, load up and away you go. There’s a one off cost of $6.95 for the card itself and there is a mandatory initial loading of $20.
Can you take the Load & Go overseas?
UPDATE: Since this post was published, Australia Post has launched the Load & Go Travel, a prepaid travel card designed to be used for overseas purchases. You can read about it here.
Yes, the Load & Go Visa card is connected to the Visa network so it should be accepted wherever Visa cards are. But unlike speciality prepaid travel cards that lock in foreign exchange rates before you travel, the Load & Go only takes Aussie dollars. With overseas transactions, the Load & Go charges a 3% foreign currency conversion fee, which means you could potentially lose out when your Aussie dollars are converted overseas.
Foreign currency conversion fees also apply if you use the Load & Go to buy overseas online shopping purchases. You’ll pay the Visa card exchange rate plus a 3% conversion fee. So be sure to do your sums to make sure that online purchases from overseas shopping sites will turn out to be the bargain you think they are.
Load & Go features
Although the Load & Go is low maintenance and makes sign up easy, there are some traps to watch out for.
To load money onto the card, you can do it the old fashioned way by going into any Australia Post branch or online. In-store reloads are instant but online reloads can take up to 2-3 business days to process. The maximum load per transaction is $999 but there is a loading cap of $5000 every 30 days, and it can’t be used for direct debit payments. Remember to choose an easy to remember password for your PIN since it can’t be changed during the life of the card.
There are also some fees attached to the card that could eat away at your balance if you’re not careful. A simple phone call to check your transaction and balance history costs 50 cents, and if you need live customer service you’ll be stung by a $4 fee. The card expires after 2 years and if you have any remaining funds on the card, you’ll pay a $1 management fee every month until your remaining balance reaches zero. To stop this management fee, you’ll need to pay a $15 renewal fee to receive a replacement card.
The stamp of approval?
Where the Australia Post Load & Go really sets itself apart is the fuss-free sign up process. This enables people on low or fixed incomes who might otherwise be excluded from bank credit cards, to enjoy the benefits of Visa’s worldwide shopping network. Although there are some fees attached to the card, the Load & Go Visa is definitely worth a look for those don’t want the temptation of a credit card.