Overseas ATM trap: ING reveals the countries where Aussie travellers are being charged the most

By Tom Watson ·

Summer holiday travel season is fast approaching, but while you may be fixated on getting the best price on your flights and accommodation for that trip to Europe or South America, have you ever seriously thought about the fees you’re likely to fork out while overseas?

According to a recent study by ING, one in three Australian travellers aren’t sure what credit and debit card fees and charges they’re actually paying for while holidaying abroad.

And it’s a mentality which could be costing them, with ING reporting that Australians lost around $442 million in 2017 alone to overseas card fees and charges - roughly $155 per person, per trip.

RELATED: Aussies plan their travel while at work, says KAYAK.com.au

“$155 is an awful lot to lose out to international bank card fees and charges. That same amount could cover the costs of a bungy jump in New Zealand or a photo safari in New York,” said ING Australia’s Head of Retail Banking, Melanie Evans. 

“This study brings to light just how important it is to understand all the fees and charges that can come with using your Australian bank card overseas.”

Overseas withdrawal woe

Following a move by all four major Australian banks to remove ATM fees last year, many Australians will have become accustomed to a fee-free life when it comes to making cash withdrawals. At the very most, Aussies may have to cop a $2.50 fee for using an ATM at the local pub.       

Given that ING’s study found that 53% of travellers used an ATM at least once during their last overseas trip, it makes sense for Australians to be aware of the foreign fees they’re likely to be charged - especially when ATM fees in some countries can come with a real sting.

While ING customer data revealed that travellers in China, Croatia, Sweden, Malaysia and Egypt (to name a few) often paid no or relatively low fees for ATM withdrawals, the same wasn’t so for others.

Most expensive countries (by average ING ATM rebate)

  • Chile ($10.44)
  • Vanuatu ($9.67)
  • Argentina ($8.93)
  • Fiji ($8.48)
  • Thailand ($8.47)
  • United Arab Emirates ($7.84)
  • Czech Republic ($7.63)
  • Papua New Guinea ($7.03)
  • Guatemala ($6.94)
  • Peru ($6.81)

Fee-free card options

Relying on a debit or credit card is certainly the go-to payment option for many travellers, but depending on where you are in the world, cash can still be a necessity.

So how can Australians abroad avoid getting stung by high ATM fees?

Thankfully for consumers, there has been a growing trend among Australian banks to introduce features like fee-free foreign ATM withdrawals and international transactions on select travel cards and accounts. Some of the banks with these features include ING, UBank, HSBC and Citi amongst others.

For example, ING customers with an Orange Everyday account will have ATM fees in Australia and the rest of the world reimbursed to their accounts (almost instantly), plus they won’t pay any international transaction fees on purchases made either overseas or through a foreign website.

Most of these accounts, including the ING Orange Everyday account, do come with minimum requirements which need to be met in order to access features like free ATM withdrawals, so it could be worthwhile weighing them up beforehand.

RELATED: UBank scraps overseas ATM and transaction fees

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Tom Watson
Tom Watson
Finance journalist

Tom Watson is a financial journalist at Mozo, specialising in fintech, property and business banking. Whether it’s reporting on banking trends or uncovering the latest product innovations, Tom’s mission is to keep our readers up to date with breaking Australian financial news. His work is often sourced in the media and across social media channels. Tom has a degree in Journalism from the University of Technology, Sydney.