What’s your travel money match?

Jet-setters and globetrotters your biggest priority right now, is probably, searching the net for the top places to visit or chatting with your friends, family, colleagues (anyone!) about your upcoming vacation.

But don’t forget to consider how you will access your cash overseas or you could find yourself forking out for bank fees rather than for manicures by the pool. We’ve done some research to help you find the ultimate travel money match for your holiday type … but you can mix and match to suit your holiday spending habits.

1. Family resort goers

A life of leisure is awaiting you (and your family). Poolside relaxing, days of unwinding at the spa and beachside candlelit dinners. Ah the high life!

Since you’re likely to be charging most expenses to your room and may only venture out of your resort for a few local souvenirs, your current credit or debit card may be all you need for such a chilled back holiday.

Most standard ATM cards have overseas withdrawal fees around the $4-5 mark with foreign exchange commission between 2% – 3.95% for each transaction. So if you’re only making one or two withdrawals, your current ATM card fees shouldn’t leave a massive dent in your wallet.

But if you hate overseas ATM fees consider:

Citibank Plus Transaction Account – Visa debit, no overseas ATM fees and no foreign exchange commission on purchases or withdrawals.
Bankwest Rewards Transaction Account – MasterCard debit, no overseas ATM fees, earn rewards points. 2.95% foreign exchange commission on overseas withdrawals and purchases.
Bankwest Qantas MasterCard – MasterCard debit, no overseas ATM fees, earn Qantas points, 2.95% foreign exchange commission on overseas withdrawals and purchases.

2. Savvy international shoppers

Dreaming of spending it up big in Europe? Versace, Ralph Lauren, Valentino, Dolce and Gabbana…so many brands, so little time!

If you’re jet-setting with a healthy bank balance and can pay off your credit card balance in full, consider a rewards credit card, to clock up points while purchasing the latest designer threads.

However, if you’re jet-setting without much savings and are planning to charge your overseas shopping spree to your credit card, look for a credit card with a generous intro purchase rate deal or a low ongoing interest rate and long interest free period.

Top picks:

Rewards credit cards

Virgin Australia Velocity High Flyer Card – 1.25 uncapped Velocity Points for every $1 spent and up to 20,000 bonus Velocity points if you apply by 30 June 2014.
HSBC Platinum Qantas – 2 uncapped Qantas Points for every $1 spent overseas and up to 20,000 bonus Qantas points if you apply by 31 August 2014.

Low rate credit cards

NAB Low Rate Card – 0.00% purchase interest rate for the first 12 months and then 13.99%.
Commonwealth Bank Low Rate Credit Card – 0.00% purchase interest rate for the first 10 months and then 13.49%.
Community First McGrath Pink Visa – 4.74% purchase interest rate for the first 9 months and then 8.99% and up to 55 interest free days.

3. 6 week mega vacationers

You’ve been in the rat-race long enough and the once in a lifetime holiday is just around the corner. All you’re thinking is “Woohoo!”. Of course you don’t want to blow your life savings and have carefully budgeted for the trip.

A prepaid travel card (the new-age traveller’s cheques) could be your money match, as it allows you to lock in the exchange rate before you go and can be used for ATM withdrawals and purchasing goods.

If you are planning on paying in cash once you’re on the ground, select a prepaid card with no ATM fees. If you run out of cash on a prepaid card you can reload overseas by transferring online, just keep in mind it takes a few days for the funds to show up in your card and some cards have reload fees attached.

However, not all currencies are available on prepaid travel cards and if this is the case look for a travel-friendly debit card which lets you use your own money and has no overseas ATM withdrawal or overseas purchase fees.

Top picks:

Prepaid travel cards

NAB Traveller Card – no overseas ATM fee, load up to 10 currencies and 1% reload fee.
Cash Passport MasterCard – no overseas ATM fee, load up to 10 currencies and 1% reload fee.

Debit card

Citibank Plus Transaction Account – no overseas ATM fee and no foreign exchange commission.

4. Multiple country adventurers

Your epic exploration is almost here and the world is your oyster! Nobody wants to worry about hefty overseas fees whilst strolling beside the English River Thames or meandering through New York Central Park. So finding the right travel money will help make your travels a breeze!

Global-trotters avoid using prepaid travel cards if you don’t have the currency loaded. For example, if you’re travelling to Europe with a stopover in Dubai and have the Euro loaded on your prepaid card, you will be charged a cross currency conversion fee to withdraw United Arab Emirates Dirham which could reach up to a steep 5.95%.

In that situation it’s better to use your ATM card that should only have around a 3% foreign exchange commission or pay by swiping with your travel credit card.

Top travel credit card picks:

28 Degrees MasterCard – no foreign exchange margin, no annual fee, 20.99% standard interest rate with 55 interest free days.
Bankwest Zero Platinum – no foreign exchange margin, complimentary travel Insurance and concierge, no annual fee, 17.99% standard interest rate with 55 interest free days.

Extra tips for the money savvy traveller:

1. Avoid dynamic currency conversion. If an overseas merchant offers to charge you in Aussie dollars at the time of sale a good rule of thumb is to say no. Generally the dynamic currency conversion exchange rate will not be as competitive as the rate your credit card provider will charge you.

2. Don’t pay for things twice. If you have a premium credit card check if it comes with overseas travel insurance. Also, most travel comprehensive insurance comes with rental car excess cover so if you are renting a car while overseas turn down the excess reduction cover being asked by car rental companies and put the money saved towards your entertainment budget.

3. Always carry a bit of cash. You never know when you might need some extra dosh, so bring both AUD and a small amount of the currency of the location you’re travelling to with you.

4. Visit the overseas ATM sparingly. Don’t get out small amounts from overseas ATMs unless you have a card with no overseas ATM fees. At $5 a pop, one withdrawal a day adds up to $70 in ATM fees over a two week holiday.

Do you have any travel money tips? Let us know below!

What’s your travel money match? was last modified: August 24, 2015 by Rebeccah Elley

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2 Comments - Write a Comment

  1. Great overview but we would like to raise a few points:

    1. Why would you recommend reward credit cards to anyone? Research conducted by CHOICE and CANSTAR has CLEARLY demonstrated that reward credit cards are USELESS and the only ones who benefit from them are the issuers themselves. They almost always come with very high annual fees or high interest rates (or both) and the reward points really have very little value when it comes to redeeming them for anything in the ‘real world’.

    2. Prepaid travel cards are almost always poor value unless one expects the Aussie dollar to weaken substantially by the time they go on their overseas trip and want to lock-in their rates now. Most of them have very sneaky fees and the exchange rates can’t even come close to the interbank wholesale rates you are getting when you use the Citibank Plus transaction account or the 28 degrees Mastercard which offer the conversion without an added margin.

    1. Mozo

      Hi Michael,

      We agree, rewards cards aren’t for everyone but as the article states if you pay off your balance in full each month, you won’t pay any interest and therefore get value from the types of rewards offered.



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