Travel money options: best ways to pay overseas

Cartoon hand holding up a passport and travel money.

Do you spend all your time comparing deals on flights, hotels, and travel insurance, but scramble to organise your travel money last minute? You’re not alone!

There are many savvy travellers like you who end up paying exorbitant conversion fees at the airport and throughout the trip, all because they put packing travel money at the bottom of their pre-trip checklist.

While there’s no magic formula to swear by, there are plenty of solutions for taking your money overseas. In fact, using multiple options can be the best option, since if you lose one you can still bank on the other.

Here’s a look at some of the best travel money options for your next overseas trip.

Travel Money Option 1: CASH

Collage of hands exchanging cash Euro coins.

Live like a local, and use local currency. This option can be fantastic for avoiding sneaky transaction fees while abroad – and better still, cash tends to be accepted globally. But there’s one thing you can’t afford to ignore: the foreign exchange charges. 

If you’re considering exchanging before you leave, compare exchange rates from different providers to ensure you’re getting the cheapest deal. After all, money you save with one provider can be spent on souvenirs on your next trip!

  • Expert tip: Cash is a convenient travel money option, especially if you’re off to a country like Nepal, which doesn’t accept cards as widely as Australia. But carrying a lot of cash in a foreign country can make you the perfect target for pickpockets – and mention most travel insurance policies won’t cover a loss of more than $200 cash. So split your bills: keep some in your wallet and the remainder in the safe at the hotel.

Travel Money Option 2: PREPAID TRAVEL CARDS

Collage of a hand paying with a prepaid travel card.

Convenient as cash, but security protected and easier to carry. Prepaid travel cards can be preloaded with currency of your destination at a fixed exchange rate and secured with a pin code. You then use them wherever cards are accepted abroad. You can even add multiple currencies to the same card and top them up with funds from your home-grown bank account.

While comparing prepaid travel cards, look out for options that don’t have a purchase fee and allow overseas ATM withdrawals for free.

  • Expert tip: If you’re not planning another international trip soon, it’s a good idea to withdraw the remaining balance on your prepaid card when you get back, as some providers charge a monthly inactivity fee if you don’t use the card for more than 12 months.

Travel Money Option 3: TRAVEL CREDIT CARDS

Collage of hand holding a travel credit card.

Frequent traveller? Then it could be a good idea to go for a travel credit card, which can be used both at home and abroad.

Unlike standard credit cards, travel credit cards charge low or no foreign exchange fees. In fact, a competitive travel credit card can come with added advantages such as 24/7 worldwide concierge and complimentary travel insurance. If you have an overseas holiday coming up, compare travel credit cards and kick off your application online.

  • Expert tip: Don’t forget that this is a credit card, which means you still need to pay off your balance in full at the end of the month or you’ll end up with a huge holiday debt. 

RELATED: Are you covered for Coronavirus under your credit card travel insurance?

Travel Money Option 4: TRAVEL DEBIT CARDS

Collage of a hand slicing a pizza with a travel debit card.

Not keen on racking a huge credit bill abroad? Spend your own money with a travel debit card. The sweetest deals charge $0 in overseas ATM fees and no foreign exchange commissions, so keep a look out for those key features when comparing options.

Since your travel debit card is linked to an everyday transaction account, you also don’t need to worry about disabling the card when you’re back. Just inform the bank of your travel plans and you’re ready to jet-set.

  • Expert tip: In the case your travel debit card does charge an overseas ATM fee, try to withdraw large amounts of money in one go, to avoid the bite of being charged multiple fees, which can add up.

Head over to our travel hub for more expert guides and tips.

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