For many Aussies, travelling can give us a hands on experience to all the world has to offer. But in between tasting different cuisines and taking in scenic locations, you might decide you need a piece of plastic to help you get around and pay for those experiences. If you’re considering picking up a travel credit card, here are some of the things you should know.
How can a travel credit card help me while I travel?
So you’ve decided to pick up a travel credit card for your next holiday, but how exactly can a credit card help you out while you travel? Aside from not having to carry heaps of cash around, a travel credit card can include:
- Social perks - Many travel credit cards come with complimentary concierge services. Not only can they help to book you a table at a top restaurant, they can also give you access to exclusive overseas events and discounted travel services.
- Worldwide acceptance - Since majority of credit cards are linked to Visa, AMEX or Mastercard, you can rest easy knowing that your plastic will be accepted at millions of places around the globe.
- Travel Insurance - many premium and rewards credit cards come with free overseas travel insurance. There is criteria for the insurance to be like paying for some of your prepaid travel expenses on the card but it can save you money from having to take out single trip travel insurance.
Can I use my everyday credit card overseas?
Yes, of course. There is no rule against using your everyday credit card on your next getaway, but when considering whether to use it or get a travel credit card there are a couple questions to ask yourself, like:
- Does it come with foreign transaction fees? - If you’re planning on taking your everyday credit card overseas, check to see what the fees are on foreign transactions. Depending on the card, these fees can range between 2% - 4% of each transaction. And while this may seem like a minor charge, over a 6 week holiday it adds up. Some travel credit cards do not charge overseas transaction fees so this could save you some money.
- Will I have to use it at an ATM overseas? - While paying with plastic has become the norm in Australia, some countries around the world still see cash as king. And if you find yourself in a situation where you’ll need to withdraw cash with any credit card, there’s no escaping the hefty cash advance fee. Always use a your ATM / debit card or consider getting a prepaid travel card for those ATM withdrawals, .
What are the pros and cons of using a travel credit card?
If you’re thinking that a travel credit card could be the perfect addition to your holiday, it’s still a good idea to weigh up the pros and cons before making a decision.
- Provide up to 55 interest-free days - If you plan on spending big on your holiday, many travel credit cards will offer up to 55 interest-free days just so long as you pay your balance off in full.
- Boost rewards points - If you’re a rewards lover, you’ll be able to earn rewards and frequent flyer points as you spend overseas which means you could be taking off on your next trip sooner.
- Travel perks - Many cards that are designed to be used overseas will come with certain travel perks, like complimentary travel insurance, lounge access and rewards programs.
- Lower or no transaction fees - Credit cards that are designed for travellers will generally have lower foreign transaction fees than your standard credit card.
- High annual fees - If you’re looking at a rewards credit card just be aware that these cards usually have higher annual fees so to make up for this, you’ll want to make sure you take advantage of all the extra benefits that come with the card like concierge..
- Temptation to spend - Just like back home, with a travel credit card on hand you may tempted you to spend more than you’d initially budgeted. So keep in mind that everything you buy overseas will eventually have to be paid back, so if you’re out souvenir shopping really ask yourself if you need that replica Eiffel Tower statue.
What should I compare in a travel credit card?
Okay, so you’re ready to start your search for the perfect travel credit card, but how do you know what features you should be comparing? To help, we’ve got compiled a few things you should look out for when it comes to finding the right travel credit card for your spending needs.
- The interest rate - Opting for a low rate credit card will keep costs low and can cut down your interest bill. Just keep in mind that most low rate cards don’t come with flashy rewards programs or perks.
- Fees - It’s a good idea to keep your credit card away from ATMs to avoid a high cash advance fee and look for a travel credit card that has no foreign exchange and a low or no annual fee. This can help you save a few bucks on everything from dinners to shopping sprees.
- Other perks - Depending on your travel needs, things like complimentary travel insurance, free lounge access and the chance to earn rewards points could be make or break when it comes to picking your plastic.
Is the complimentary credit card travel insurance enough cover for my holiday?
If you’re planning to pick up a high end piece of plastic, like a rewards or platinum card, it might come with complimentary travel insurance. While it is a common extra to find amongst high end cards, just keep in mind that these cards also mean you pay a hefty annual fee. Another thing to remember is that most credit card travel insurance policies will cover the cardholder, their partner or spouse and dependant children under the age of 19. Some of the usual things covered by credit card travel insurance include:
- Flight cancellation
- Lost or stolen baggage
- Medical cover
- Rental car excess
- Cash cover
- Loss of income
However, while this may tick all the boxes for many travellers, you should still think carefully about whether it offers enough cover and consider whether a stand alone policy is a better option. You can compare travel insurance policies on Mozo to find out which option is better for you.
It’s important to read the fine print beforehand to make sure you fully understand what’s and what’s not covered, plus make sure you activate cover before you take off.
Aside from a travel credit card, what other travel money options are there?
It’s always a good idea to travel with more than one travel money option when you are travelling, as it can give you more flexibility in your payment options. Some other travel money options you have include:
- Travel debit cards - One of the best things about having a travel debit card is that unlike a credit card, you won’t be spending money you don’t have, which will help to keep you out of debt. Many travel debit cards also offer 0% foreign exchange fees and fee-free overseas ATM withdrawals. But the downside is with debit cards, you won’t be able to earn any rewards or frequent flyer points.
- Prepaid travel cards - With a prepaid travel card, you load up cash with the currency or currencies you need for your trip, then just as you would use a credit card you use it to pay for dinners, shopping trips and withdrawing money at ATMs. Keep in mind that you might have to pay a small fee to recover any leftover funds you have at the end of your trip.
- Cash - Depending on your destination, many places may only take cash, so it’s handy to always have some cash on you while you travel. Places like banks and international money exchange agencies are two of the main options you have when it comes to converting your cash into a foreign currency.