5 smart ways to split bills with friends while travelling overseas

Collage of two friends debating how they're gonna split bills overseas.

Travelling with someone is the ultimate relationship test. Can you split bills, follow an itinerary, and reach your destination – while still liking each other?

Stay on good terms: here are five clever ways to take the stress out of money-sharing abroad.

I get this, you get that

Collage of alternating hands holding foods.
  • For those who believe in The Shout
  • Method: Mobile wallets, travel debit or credit cards

You’re already vacationing together, so why not use the buddy system and spoil each other? You get dinner tonight, they get dinner tomorrow. You buy these tickets, they buy those tickets. Easy!

You might not be splitting things exactly down the middle, but this can be a low-fuss way to pick up the check (provided no resentment builds up). 

All you need to do is make sure you have a payment method that works overseas, whether it’s a chill debit card or travel credit card that won’t charge you international fees or a fintech app like Wise

Top up a shared prepaid travel card

Collage of a hand holding a prepaid travel card.
  • For those not fussed about the minutia
  • Method: Prepaid travel card

If you’re ready to take your friendship to the next level, why not share a prepaid travel card? This special international card works like debit at home – simply pay-as-you-go and top it up when the balance gets low. 

The catch is that you and your friend(s) will all chip in. Make sure everyone transfers the same amount at the same time to keep it honest (i.e. $100 each), then use the card to pay your way. 

This works best if you plan on sharing a lot of purchases, i.e. dinners, souvenirs, and experiences, and aren’t too fussed about the exact ratio of who ordered/used what.

Pay now, split later

Collage of a girl tracking her expenses.
  • For those who will make good on debts
  • Method: Expense tracker apps like Beem, Splitwise, and SettleUp

Can’t be bothered to work it all out now? Simply track your ongoing expenses and pay each other back when you get home!

This method can be an extension of the “I get this, you get that” system of money management. You take turns on holiday, then sort it out when the plane lands. 

There’s a bit of trust involved in this, and you’ll need to stay organised to log every payment you want to split later. Apps like Beem, Splitwise, and SettleUp make good options for easy tracking.

Pay now, split now

Collage of two friends debating splitting the bill now.
  • For those who kick it old school
  • Method: Bill-splitting apps

Don’t trust your friends? (Or rather, would like to stay on top of things?) Splitting the bill when it comes might save you the headache of keeping track of costs while overseas.

Apps like Beem, Splitwise, and SettleUp make great options for divvying up and transferring each other. Some money-sharing apps like Beem also let you make requests, so there’s no way for your friend to ‘accidentally’ forget to pay you back.

Book major expenses ahead of time

Collage of a person beckoning you overseas.
  • For everybody
  • Method: Whatever Australian money transfer floats your boat

As a good rule of thumb, settle any big bills before taking off. This includes accommodation, plane tickets, and any event tickets that make you go “oof” at the checkout. This way, you start your holiday on an even keel, and no one feels short-changed. 

After all, you’re over there to have fun! Not to argue over who owes who.

Browse our travel money hub for more expert guides. Compare prepaid travel cards below.

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Last updated 25 July 2024Important disclosures
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