Your guide to travel money

Tuesday 24 January 2012

Article by Mozo

If you're a savvy traveller about to set off on a quick getaway or adventure around the world, you should be considering the best way to spend your money abroad. With so many options – from cash to cards and everything in between – it can certainly be a minefield, and something that most people choose to ignore until it’s too late.

Never fear! Mozo has the run-down on travel money options to suit your unique trip…


Foreign exchange

Converting your Aussie dollars is an easy way to get some foreign currency in your wallet before heading off on holiday. It's as simple as heading to your local financial institution (e.g banks, Travelex or American Express) and handing over your Banjo Paterson's and Dame Nellie Melba's in exchange for new foreign faces. You can't avoid fees, so shop around for the best rate and never use currency counters at the airport. RIP-OFF!

At present, exchanging $1,000 AUD with American Express will net you $1,003.61 USD, including the flat $8 fee and exchange rate of 1.0117 – the best result in this scenario. Whilst hard currency can be convenient, carrying around bulk bills can be risky, especially if there's a quick fingered thief about!

Compare foreign exchange.


Travel money cards

Prepaid travel money cards give you the safety of a locked-in exchange rate. All you have to do is load up the foreign currency you need and you'll be set for drinking Shiraz in Italy or eating croissants in Paris! Much like credit/debit cards, prepaid travel cards can be used at restaurants, shops and foreign ATMs and you have the extra security of pin-protection. These cards take some of the risk out of exchange rate fluctuation, but as with any market speculation, you are exposed to both losses and gains.

At present, the Travelex Prepaid Mastercard has the strongest rate in the market, with 1 Aussie dollar buying 1.0198 greenback. Be sure to factor in the initial fee of AUD$15 plus USD$1.99 for ATM withdrawals. Also watch out for hidden foreign exchange margins or added charges for recovering leftover funds.

Compare travel cards.

Travel credit cards

If you’re a regular jet-setter, a travel credit card may be just for you! You can put that delicious mango daiquiri on your travel credit card, whilst earning tasty rewards points. Other benefits include free travel insurance and purchase warranty. Keep in mind with all these great benefits you'll often be slammed with a hefty annual fee, so be sure to check our Rewards Revealer to find the best reward card for you.

If you don't need the fancy extras, go for the 28 Degrees Mastercard. With no annual fee, no international transaction fees, no currency conversion fees and no overseas cash withdrawal fees it ticks all the travel money boxes. Just load your card into credit before you head off and you’re good to go!

Compare travel credit cards.


Travel debit cards

If you're worried about spending money that you don't have, you can opt for using a travel debit card. Unlike the old days of travelling, the debit card attached to your everyday bank account is accepted everywhere credit cards are. You won’t be earning those juicy rewards points, but you'll have the security of avoiding the horrors of holiday debt!

NAB Gold Banking has the goods when it comes to a travel debit card. For a monthly fee of $10 you score a card with no overseas ATM fees, no foreign currency transaction fees, and the added benefits of complementary travel insurance and purchase protection.

Compare travel debit cards.



Travel money tips:

Keep your options open: having access to different funding sources can be a safe play – maybe a bit of cash, a travel bank account and a credit card for backup
Horses for courses: globe-trotters may benefit from a rewards credit card in the long-run, but for everyone else, sticking to the most cost effective travel money option is best.
Hedge your bets: if you think the AUD has reached its peak, why not lock in a rate with part of your funds on a preprepaidpaid travel card now and hold the rest for later

For more info on travel money, check out our travel money section!

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