Airlines vs. Banks – which Travel Cards come out on top?

With more than a dozen prepaid travel cards now available in Australia and new offerings entering the market all the time, the decision of which travel card to pack is no longer a matter of turning up at your bank and taking what’s on offer. Leaving the country with the right plastic in your pocket (and knowing how to get the most out of it) can save you a pretty penny – Mozo puts the features of prepaid cards from the big banks, forex providers and new offerings from the airlines under the microscope to reveal some of the hottest prepaid options in the market.

Currencies & Exchange Rates

The first thing to look at when selecting a prepaid travel card is the exchange rate you’ll be getting from your provider. Some banks offer cards with no or low fees to try to make themselves look like the cheaper option, but the devil is in the detail! Have no doubt they’ll be making their profit in the exchange rates you’re quoted on the day. The other element you’ll need to consider is the number of currencies you can get on the card, multi-currency cards vary, offering you between 4-10 currencies, so if you’re planning a round the world stint to some unusual destinations, you’ll want to make sure you can carry the cash you need.

Here’s a look at how the cards stack up…

Number of CurrenciesExchange Rate (Euro)
Ozforex Travel Card9 0.6754
Qantas Cash9 0.6618
Velocity Global Wallet4 (+ AUD) 0.6608
ANZ Travel Card100.6581
NAB Traveller Card100.6577
Cash Passport10 0.6569
CBA Travel Money Card6 0.6515

Source: Mozo data accurate as at 18/11/2013.

Mozo thumbs up goes to – OzForex Travel Card with Qantas Cash and Velocity Global Wallet also highly commended. (Update: OzForex are no longer processing new Travel Card applications).

Fees

Most Prepaid travel cards are littered with fees so knowing what you’ll be charged for ahead of time will mean you can manage your money smart on the road. Fees you’re likely to encounter with prepaid travel cards include a purchase fee, reload fee, cross currency conversion fee, ATM fees and account or inactivity fees – which can all add up to making a prepaid travel card a very expensive option for taking your money overseas. Here’s how the newcomers stack up against the more established players:

Purchase FeeReload FeeConversion Fee*ATM Fee (in Euro)Close FeeInactivity/Account Fee
NAB Traveller CardNAB Traveller Card $0 (til march 31March 2014)1%4%0$0$4 (after 12 months)
Qantas Cash$0$03%1.50$0$1 (after 12 months)
Velocity Global Wallet$0$13%1.50$0$1 (after 12 months)
ANZ Travel Card$111.1%3%2.20$0#3 (after 12 months)
Ozforex Travel Card$15$03%2$10$0
CBA Travel Money Card$151% (up to $15 max)0%2.20$0$0
Cash Passport1.1% ($15 minimum)1%5.95%0$10$4 (after 12 months)

Source: Mozo data accurate as at 18/11/2013. *Charged when purchases are made in a currency not loaded on the card.

Mozo thumbs up goes to NAB Traveller Card with Qantas Cash and Velocity Global Wallet also highly commended.

Airline Extras

New arrivals to the prepaid travel card market, both the Qantas Cash and Virgin Australia Global Wallet offer a highly competitive alternative to the banks and offer some appealing extras.

Frequent Flyer Points

Both airline travel cards allow you to earn frequent flyer rewards points on your card. On both the Global Wallet and Qantas Cash cards, cardholders earn 1 point per AUD$1 for international spend and 1 point for every $2 spent domestically. Which card you choose will probably be based on which rewards program you’re with.

Virtual Card for Online Shopping

A unique and exciting offering, Virgin Australia’s Global Wallet is the only prepaid travel card to offer a ‘virtual card’ facility. You can create a temporary card number, expiry date and security number that you can then use to make purchases online or over the phone. The virtual card is linked to your Global Wallet account and when you’re finished with it, you simply delete the virtual card so even if someone has managed to capture your details, they can’t use them.

The part we really love? Unlike Virtual Card options from other card providers – with the Virgin Australia Global Wallet – It’s completely free!

Quick Travel Card Tips

• Don’t try to time the market when buying foreign currency – just choose the provider with the most competitive exchange rate.

• Before you top up your card, double check which currency is set as your default – and make sure you’ve set it to the currency you need. Paying with the wrong currency will get very expensive, very quickly!

• Don’t use your card in a currency not loaded on the card, the fees and charges for this range from bad to awful.

• If you’ve still got money on the card after your holiday, don’t leave your balance to get eaten up by inactivity fees. Checking your balance regularly is a good way to avoid the charges, or jump online and do a bit of shopping with your international cash.

Heading overseas soon? Mozo’s complete report and comparison of Prepaid travel cards will be out this weekend! We’ll crunch the numbers and survey the fine print to reveal the best deals for your travel dollar.

 

MORE in this month’s Moneyzone

small-travel-credit-cardsTop credit cards for overseas spending

Heading overseas? Don’t leave home without packing a travel savvy credit card this holiday season. See our top picks >>

 

small-money-traps5 travel money traps (and how to avoid them)

Is your hard-earned attracted to holiday rip-offs? 5 ways to have fun without the traps >>

 

small-tips-and-tricksTips and tricks for a regret-free holiday

Don’t let post-vacation money blues ruin a good time. Top tips to beat holiday spending hangover >>

 

Airlines vs. Banks – which Travel Cards come out on top? was last modified: August 24, 2015 by Kerry Lotzof

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7 Comments - Write a Comment

  1. Thank you for the wonderful data on Travel Card. I appreciate the effort taken to give us an insight on the various charges imposed. Without these, we will be blinded by some of the frills offered and jump into obtaining the travel card.

    Reply
  2. Thanks for the great tips. There are a lot of hidden things with travel cards that if you’re not careful can end up costing a lot of money, for example the default currency you pay with. I think in some countries it’s especially worth carrying a travel card rather than cash, for example in India where thefts are too common.

    Reply
  3. I used a NAB Traveller card last year in the USA and it would not work in ATM’s. After 3 tries it blocked me out. I rang the international help line and got people who spoke poor English and were difficult to understand an converse with. They could not understand my issue, kept on contradicting me, and repeating what their system said. No help at all, very rude in fact. I got similar treatment from an Australian operator when I got back, plus similar hassles with my local NAB branch, who were also stonewalled by the same ignorant people. Many of these things are issued by MasterCard, so the issuer can really do nothing.

    Reply
  4. I have the QantasCash and OzForex cards for my upcoming overseas travel. I plan to load my Qantas card with some $A to ‘roadtest’ it locally before I head off. On ATM fees, I plan to minimise these by avoiding daily withdrawals while away, and paying for hotels etc. directly with the card. One point to observe though, is that some hotels may not accept these cards and may ask for your regular credit card when you book. Even if they don’t debit it right away they will lodge a charge against it for the whole amount, so that amount of credit will not be available for your use from that moment onwards, irrespective of how far out your visit will be. Best to check with the hotel what their policy is.

    Reply
    1. Mozo

      Great tips Glenn! Given that the Qantas cash card is still relatively new, it’s probably a good idea to test it out before you get caught up with any teething problems. And yes, many hotels and car hire companies will often require an upfront payment which will reduce the amount of funds available to you during your overseas trip. Perhaps adopting a hybrid approach; where you use a credit card for hotel and car hire bookings and a prepaid travel card for general holiday expenses, would be better?

      Team Mozo

      Reply
  5. Hi i am going to Europe next week and wondering what atm withdrawal card is best ?? we have the ING orange citi bank plus and if i need i can use my global wallet virgin debit card .Going to Croatia and not sure to use Kuna or Euro??
    Also we have 28 degree for all our purchases

    We are a family of 5 so would it be better if we use just one card and put all our aussie in one

    thanks George

    Reply
    1. Mozo

      Hi George,

      It sounds like you’ve done your research already! If you plan to make regular ATM withdrawals in Europe, the Citibank Plus Transaction account is your best option as it charges no fees for domestic and international ATMs. It also has no foreign exchange fee so you won’t be charged any extra for converting Aussie Dollars into Euros and Croatian Kunas.

      However, the Citibank Plus Transaction account is a debit card so you’ll need to make sure you keep your budget in check. If you’re looking for a travel-friendly credit card, the 28 Degrees card is another great option but be aware that the card charges a 3% cash advance fee on all ATM withdrawals.

      Bon voyage!

      Team Mozo

      Reply

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