Travel Money Finder™ – Guide to travelling with money overseas

Rates and Fees verified correct on February 27th, 2015

A quick comparison of travel money features

Type Security Features Fees for
Withdrawing Money
Fees for
Over the Counter
Purchases

Travel Money Cards

View cards

  • Backup card
  • PIN
  • Can be blocked
  • Zero Liability Guarantee
  • Local ATM fee
  • Travel card ATM fee
  • No fee

    Assuming cardholder is spending on a currency loaded onto the card

Credit Cards for Travel

View cards

  • Protected by PIN & chip
  • Can be blocked
  • Zero Liability Guarantee
  • Emergency cash
  • Currency Conversion Fee
  • Cash Advance Fee
  • Cash Advance Interest
  • Local ATM Fee
  • International ATM Fee
  • Currency Conversion Fee
  • Purchase interest rate*

Debit Cards for Travel

View cards

  • Protected by PIN & chip
  • Can be blocked
  • Zero Liability Guarantee
  • Emergency cash
  • Currency Conversion Fee
  • Local ATM Fee
  • International ATM Fee
  • Currency Conversion Fee

Travellers Cheques

Find out more

  • Unique serial number
  • Photo I.D. needed to cash cheques

*Excluding interest free days on credit card

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Travel money cards

Qantas Card with Qantas Cash

Qantas Cash Card with Qantas Cash®

The Qantas Cash Card with Qantas Cash® allows you to earn Qantas Points on all transactions including local and foreign transactions.

  • Choose from Australian Dollars, US Dollar, Euro, Great British Pound, New Zealand Dollar, Hong Kong Dollar, Canadian Dollar, Singapore Dollar, Japanese Yen, Thai Baht and UAE Dirham.
  • Locked-in exchange rates for multiple currencies and low and transparent fees
  • Ability to load money and convert currencies 24/7 on the secure customer portal
  • Accepted electronically – at over 29 million locations worldwide, across more than 60 countries.

    A comparison of travel money cards

    Rates last updated February 27th, 2015
    Available Currencies ATM Withdrawal Fee Reload Fee Initial Load Fee
    Qantas Card with Qantas Cash
    Qantas Card with Qantas Cash
    AUD, USD, GBP, EUR, THB, NZD, SGD, HKD, CAD, JPY, AED AUD 1.95, CAD 2.00, EUR 1.50, GBP 1.25, HKD 15.00, JPY 160, NZD 2.50, SGD 2.50, USD 1.95, THB 70.00, AED 6.50 $0 $0 Go to site More
    ANZ Travel Card
    ANZ Travel Card
    AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD, AUD 3.50, CAD 3.00, EUR 2.20, GBP 2.00, HKD 20.00, JPY 260, NZD 4.50, SGD 4.00, THB 95, USD 2.50, 1.1% of the value purchased $0 Go to site More
    OzForex Travel Card
    OzForex Travel Card
    AUD, USD, EUR, GBP, NZD, HKD, SGD, CAD, JPY AUD 2.95, CAD 2.95, EUR 2.00, GBP 2.00, HKD 15.00, JPY 210, NZD 4.25, SGD 3.50, USD 2.25 $0 $15 Go to site More
    Multi Currency - Cash Passport
    Multi Currency - Cash Passport
    AUD, USD, EUR, GBP, NZD, THB, CAD, HKD, JPY, SGD $0 for International ATM withdrawal and 2.95% of the amount withdrawn in Australia $0 $0 Go to site More
    Travelex Travel Card
    Travelex Travel Card
    AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, USD Travelex does not charge an ATM withdrawal fee when you use your Travelex Multi-currency Cash Passport to withdraw currencies that are loaded on the card at overseas ATMs where MasterCard is accepted. The greater of 1.1% of the initial load / reload amount or AU$15.00 $0 Go to site More
    Rates last updated February 27th, 2015
    Currency Conversion Fee Monthly Inactivity Fee Multiple Currencies on One Card? Maximum Load Amount
    Qantas Card with Qantas Cash
    Qantas Card with Qantas Cash
    3% $0 Yes $20,000 Go to site More
    ANZ Travel Card
    ANZ Travel Card
    3% $3 Yes $80,000 Go to site More
    OzForex Travel Card
    OzForex Travel Card
    3% $0 Yes $25,000 Go to site More
    Multi Currency - Cash Passport
    Multi Currency - Cash Passport
    5.95% $4 Yes $100,000 Go to site More
    Travelex Travel Card
    Travelex Travel Card
    5.95% AU$4.00 per month No Go to site More

    Avoid the hassle of changing money when you visit a new country. Carry multiple currencies in your wallet

    But are the fees worth the convenience?

    The product du jour for Australians heading overseas, travel money cards are a popular alternative to traveller’s cheques, which until now, were the only way a traveller could take a foreign currency with them from country to country.

    They’re safe and convenient, but they can be expensive. There are a number of fees and charges that come with using a travel money card overseas. Purchase fees, inactivity fees and reload fees are hard to avoid as travel cards will tend to charge one or the other; while currency conversion fees can be avoided by making sure you have the right currency loaded when you spend on the card.

    It’s easy to load different currencies onto these cards, this can mostly be managed online through the providers web portal. When you arrive home, these cards can also be used to make purchases at Australian merchants or withdraw from ATMs.

    Be warned though, for the majority of these cards, it’s just as, if not more expensive to use one of these cards in Australia compared to using it overseas. Plan your trip and your budget for each destination you plan to visit.

    Do your homework first

    Jeremy stood shoulder to shoulder with locals and tourists, trying to keep his footing as the metro made its way towards the Colosseum. As more and more people packed onto the train, Jeremy lost his girlfriend to the glacial movement of the crowd pulling her towards the back. When he felt a brush against his rear, he was a little surprised but thought nothing of it and put it down to one of those 'packed train moments'. A moment was all the pickpocket needed to steal Jeremy's wallet.

    Jeremy got on the phone to his card protection service, Secure Sentinel. A call to this service is supposed to be the 'one stop shop' for cancelling cards, but Jeremy ended up having to call each bank separately, which led to a number of frustrating hours spent on the phone, instead of hours negotiating in Italy's famous tourist traps.

    Luckily for Jeremy, he had done his homework. Jeremy is a publisher at finder.com.au, so he knew to get a travel money card before he left - they come with a backup. To his girlfriend's delight, the backup card saved their trip and they were back on the streets of Rome the next day; albeit with an eye on their pockets. It almost wasn't such a sure thing. Like any smart traveller should, Jeremy had done his research before he left the country and he knew to spread his money between a couple of cards and his girlfriend.

    Be like Jeremy and do your homework before you leave

    Read more about our Europe travel money guide

    Fees you can avoid

    • ATM withdrawal fees,
    • Currency conversion fees,
    • Purchase, reload fees & inactivity fees,
    • Currency conversion fees.
    Fees you can't avoid

    • N/A

    Pros for using a travel money card

    • Multiple currencies can be loaded onto the card, avoiding the currency conversion fee common with credit cards and debit cards.
    • These accounts come with two cards. One to use as a backup.
    • They are not linked to your primary bank account. This allows you to control your spending.
    Cons for using a travel money card

    • There can be fees for card issue and reloading funds onto the card.
    • These cards may not be accepted by all merchants because your name is not usually printed on the front (this depends on the card).
    • Travel money card reload time.

    Compare and learn more about Travel Money Cards

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    Travel Credit Cards

    A comparison of travel-friendly credit cards

    Rates last updated February 27th, 2015
    Interest rate (p.a.) Balance transfer rate (p.a.) Annual fee Cash advance rate (p.a.)
    Bankwest Zero Platinum MasterCard
    Bankwest Zero Platinum MasterCard
    An introductory offer on balance transfers with $0 annual fee. Complimentary travel insurance & 24/7 Concierge service and $0 Foreign Transaction fees. 17.99% p.a. 2.99% p.a. for 9 months $0 p.a. 21.99% p.a. Go to site More info
    Bankwest Breeze Platinum MasterCard - Exclusive Offer
    Bankwest Breeze Platinum MasterCard - Exclusive Offer
    A low rate on purchases together with a $0 Foreign Currency Conversion Fee. 0% p.a. for 13 months (reverts to 12.24% p.a.) $99 p.a. 21.99% p.a. Go to site More info
    28 Degrees Platinum MasterCard
    28 Degrees Platinum MasterCard
    No annual fee and $0 Foreign Currency Conversion Fee. 20.99% p.a. $0 p.a. 20.99% p.a. Go to site More info
    Bankwest Breeze Platinum MasterCard
    Bankwest Breeze Platinum MasterCard
    Save your money with a low interest rate and $0 Foreign Currency Conversion Fee. 12.24% p.a. 0% p.a. for 4 months $99 p.a. 21.99% p.a. Go to site More info
    Bankwest Qantas Platinum MasterCard
    Bankwest Qantas Platinum MasterCard
    Earn 8,000 Bonus Qantas Points. Included travel and accident insurance and payment protection. No foreign transaction fees on online or overseas spend. 19.99% p.a. 0% p.a. for 12 months $160 p.a. 21.99% p.a. Go to site More info
    Bankwest More Platinum Mastercard
    Bankwest More Platinum Mastercard
    $0 foreign transaction fees and complimentary insurance cover. 19.99% p.a. 0% p.a. for 18 months $130 p.a. 21.99% p.a. Go to site More info

    Pros, cons, fees and charges: what every credit card holder needs to know

    Taking your plastic overseas? Read this before you leave

    Most credit cards will charge extra for transactions that take place in a foreign country. There are some accounts that do not charge international transaction fees; however, the majority of credit cards do.

    The cards listed in the comparison table do not charge a currency conversion fee when you carry out a transaction in a currency other than Australian dollars. Note that other fees and charges - like ATM withdrawal charges may still apply.

    The cost of using a credit card overseas depends on how you use it.

    All the international transaction fees on credit cards can be avoided — go for a credit card with no foreign currency conversion fee, don’t use your card to withdraw from an ATM, make sure you pay your balance in full each month and only use your card for purchases only — avoid cash advances - but whether this is feasible to your situation depends entirely on your travel plans and how you spend.

    If do you use your card for a cash advance, cash advance fees may be able to be avoided by preloading your own money onto the card.

    Check the table in the ‘frequently asked questions’ section of the article to find out which providers allow you to pre-load funds onto the card and won't charge a cash advance fee for withdrawing your own money from the credit card account.

    Fees you can avoid

    • ATM withdrawal fees,
    • Currency conversion fees,
    • Foreign transaction fees,
    • Cash advance fee,
    • Cash advance and purchase rates of interest.
    Fees you can't avoid

    • N/A

    Pros for using a credit card

    • Easy to carry, secure and accepted almost everywhere.
    • Emergency access to cash through a cash advance facility.
    • If cards are lost or stolen, a call to the bank will be enough to have it blocked. If a dodgy transaction has been discovered, cardholders are covered by a money back guarantee if they take certain measures to properly prevent fraud.
    Cons for using a credit card

    • Just as credit cards are easy to carry, they're easy to lose.
    • International transaction charges can get expensive
    • Interest charges will also apply if you're using the bank’s money.
    • The bank will block transactions in a new country if you have not notified them of your travel plans.

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    Travel Debit Cards

    Citibank Plus Everyday Account

    Citibank Plus Transaction Account

    Experience fee free international banking with the Citibank Plus Transaction Account. Citibank will not charge you currency conversion fees when accessing your own money and allows you to transfer money overseas for free.

    • Monthly Account Fees: $0
    • Debit Card Access: Yes, Visa
    • Interest Rate: 0.00% p.a.
    • Minimum Balance: $0
    • Minimum Deposit: $0

    Travel debit card comparison

    Rates last updated February 27th, 2015
    Savings Account Monthly Account Fee Debit Card Access ATM Withdrawal Fee Interest Rate p.a. Details
    Citibank Plus Everyday Account
    The Citibank Plus Transaction Account is a revolutionary financial product with Free Overseas Direct Purchase Fee. Get a 5% cashback on Visa payWave purchases on new accounts opened before 31 March 2015.
    $0 Yes, Visa $0 0.00% No ATM fees using Citibank, Westpac, BankSA and St .George branded ATMs. No international ATM or purchase fees. Open More
    Bankwest Qantas Transaction Account
    Earn Qantas Points on your account balance 365 days a year, plus access to Australia's largest bank ATM network.
    $6 Yes, Mastercard $0 0.01% *Pay no monthly account fees when you deposit at least $2,000 into your account each month. Open More

    We all have a debit card, but is this the best card to use overseas?

    Debit cards are as safe as any other type of plastic, but few debit cards are designed for international travel

    Many people use their debit card linked to their day-to-day transaction account to access their money while they’re on holiday.

    Debit cards are convenient to take overseas. Most of us have a debit account, and using this account as our day to day source of funds while overseas means one less thing to do before heading off.

    But for the most part, the majority of debit cards are an expensive piece of plastic to take on holiday.

    The vast majority of debit cards are not ‘travel friendly’. Currency conversion fees and international and local ATM fees can quickly eat into your bank balance. There are accounts that do not charge currency conversion fees and some don't charge for ATM withdrawals.

    If you’re lucky, ATM fees can also be avoided if your bank has an international ATM alliance. But international ATMs that are partnered with Australian banks are few and far between.

    The debit card accounts we compare in this section have either no currency conversion fee or no international ATM fee; some accounts have both.

    Fees you can avoid

    • ATM withdrawal fees,
    • Currency conversion fees,
    • Foreign transaction fees,
    • Cash advance fee,
    • Cash advance and purchase rates of interest.
    Fees you can't avoid

    • N/A

    Pros for using a debit card

    • Use your debit card overseas like you would at home.
    • Some debit card providers have an international ATM presence.
    • If lost or stolen, debit cards can be blocked by calling the card provider. Visa and MasterCard offer emergency cash to cardholders.
    Cons for using a debit card

    • International transaction charges can get expensive
    • International ATM charges can be substantial.
    • A debit / transaction account, in many cases, holds the majority of a traveller's budget. This can be a security concern for some.

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    Cash and foreign exchange

    International Money Transfers Comparison

    Rates last updated February 27th, 2015
    Product Name Description Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Services Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received
    TorFX International Money Transfers
    TorFX International Money Transfers
    Conduct phone transfers with this company and enjoy 0% commission and a large range of currencies. AUD $200 1 day Online, Phone, Agent Go to site More
    OzForex International Money Transfers
    OzForex International Money Transfers
    Transfer amounts over $1,000 in as little as two days and make scheduled regular transfers. AUD $1,000 2 days Online, Phone, Agent Go to site More
    World First Foreign Exchange
    World First Foreign Exchange
    Transfer money into a range of currencies online and over the phone. AUD $250 3 - 5 days Online, Phone, Agent, International Money Order Go to site More
    HSBC Multi Currency Account
    HSBC Multi Currency Account
    A multi-currency bank account with up to 10 currencies in 1 account. AUD $0 3 - 5 days Online, Phone, Agent, Bank Account to Bank Account, Cash Transfer, International Money Order Go to site More
    Citibank Plus Everyday Account
    Citibank Plus Everyday Account
    A transaction account with free transfers to any country and no foreign transaction or international ATM withdrawal fees. AUD $0 3 - 5 days Online, Phone, Agent, Bank Account to Bank Account Go to site More
    Travelex International Payments
    Travelex International Payments
    Send money to over 50 countries and choose from 48 currencies. AUD $500 2 days Online Go to site More
    CurrencyFair International Money Transfers
    CurrencyFair International Money Transfers
    A peer-to-peer transfer service with a large range of currencies on offer. EUR €8 3 - 5 days Online Go to site More
    CurrencyOnline International Money Transfers
    CurrencyOnline International Money Transfers
    Enjoy regular scheduled transfers, one off transfers and a range of currencies. Also enjoy your first transfer for free. AUD $0 2 days Online, Phone Go to site More
    HiFX International Money Transfers
    HiFX International Money Transfers
    Make your first transfer for free. Transfer money between 20 currencies, and enjoy schedule regular transfers. AUD $50 2 days Online, Phone, Agent Go to site More
    TransferWise International Money Transfers
    TransferWise International Money Transfers
    Make online transfers in a range of currencies and enjoy high maximum transfer amounts. AUD $1 3 - 5 days Online Go to site More

    Only carry a small amount of cash at a time

    The important thing is not to carry too much cash at once. Losing a large amount of cash will hurt, and it can't be replaced. So, if Fred's 'shorts within pants' option isn't for you, spread your funds amongst your travelling companions. But make sure to always have a little cash handy; it's a universal language. It may just save your neck one day too.

    What every traveller wish they knew about foreign exchange services

    When changing over cash, your first option should be to get it changed at a bank. They will charge a commission, usually 1% or $10, whichever is greater.

    If you can't get to a bank, any other legitimate currency exchange business will be fine, but these places are likely to cost you more because of the margins they earn of the difference in exchange rate.

    What you want to avoid at all costs is the type of business where foreign exchange is not their primary purpose. Common sense will alert you to these rip-off merchants a mile away — think shops with glass counters containing watches, jewelry and other easily pawned items. These places will charge a commission, give you an inaccurate exchange rate, and have been known to keep a couple of notes for themselves when their 'customer' isn't paying attention.

    Banks are by far the safest option for exchanging cash

    Here's what it looks like buying and selling $2,000 in Euros and USD at the Commonwealth Bank:

    Trusted foreign exchange

    A trusted foreign exchange company shouldn't charge you a commission when you buy or sell a foreign currency. There are range of places like this online, like Travelex, and a number of stores in shopping centres that provide this service. They may not charge a commission but they will make a cut through a margin applied to the exchange rate.

    Avoid shop attendants and ‘foreign exchange artists’

    Avoid shop attendants who say it's okay for you to pay in Australian dollars. You will lose out on the deal. You will also want to avoid exchange artists like the plague. These are the type of people who will count your money in front of you with a smile, but pocket it all when you turn your back.

    Fees you can avoid

    • N/A
    Fees you can't avoid

    • Currency exchange fees / commission / rates
    Pros for cash & foreign exchange

    • By far, cash is the most convenient way to travel. It pays for fuel, meals, taxis, drinks, and a multitude of other expenses; however, convenience aside, cash is the loudest international language. When you're out in a foreign country, the last thing you want to worry about is finding an ATM. Trust us, having enough cash can be the difference between a good or a bad night, day, week or trip.
    • Getting cash changed at a foreign currency exchange gives instant access to the local currency.
    Cons for cash & foreign exchange

    • Having too much cash is a bad thing; you only want to have enough money on you for a day or two. It's bulky, and thieves are observant and will go for an easy target.
    • There’s no protection if you lose cash or it’s stolen. Unless you lose a couple of million, don't ever dream of seeing stolen cash again.
    • When money is changed anywhere except a bank, you're likely to lose out with a dodgy exchange rate, and even then the rates aren't going to be the same as what you hear quoted on the news.

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    Travellers Cheques

    Fees you can avoid

    • N/A
    Fees you can't avoid

    • Cheque purchase fee
    Pros for travellers cheques

    • Travellers cheques are extremely secure, they can be easily replaced if lost or stolen. The person who wants to cash travellers cheques must also show identification to show that they are the ones who bought them.
    Cons for travellers cheques

    • Travellers cheques are a costly way to spend money. There is an initial charge when you buy travellers cheques. The cost will depend on the amount you wish to change over.
    • Travellers cheques can be bulky and awkward to carry.
    • Not everyone will accept travellers cheques.
    • You will still need to carry cash.

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    Travel money FAQs

    Travel fees explained

    What's a cross currency conversion fee?

    A cross currency conversion fee is charged when you use your Australian card with Australian dollars to make a purchase in a foreign country. The money is exchanged from Australian dollars into the local currency electronically and a series of fees are charged along the way by the card schemes and providers.

    The way currency conversion fees work is like this:

    • The exchange rate is set by external market factors. This is the figure you hear quoted on the evening news.
    • The card scheme currency conversion fee is applied. Say you're in France and looking to make a purchase with your credit card. You have Australian dollars on your card but must pay with Euros. The money must be exchanged electronically in order to make the purchase. The first fee is applied by Visa (1.1%), MasterCard (0.2%) and American Express (1.5%), and is passed on to the card provider.
    • The card provider then applies to a margin to the figure passed on by the card scheme. The fee is then passed onto the cardholder.

    The image below explains this process

    Using a credit card with a positive balance, what fees will apply?

    If you’re thinking of loading money onto your credit card to put it into credit, you will want to have a look at the table below. If you make a withdrawal from an ATM using a credit card with a positive balance, fees and charges will still apply for some credit card providers.

    Provider CA Fee CA Interest Notes
    Bankwest Yes No

    Minimum cash advance fee is $4 where the customer has a positive balance (after transaction is completed). This fee is currently waived if withdrawal done at Bankwest or CBA ATM, in a Bankwest Store or online. Therefore the $4 fee will apply when this transaction is performed overseas. In addition when the cash advance is done overseas a foreign currency conversion fee (2.95%) will apply — this is waived for Platinum cardholders.

    Citibank Yes No  
    CBA Yes Yes

    This can be avoided by speaking to one of their team members and getting them to put the transaction through manually. If done through an ATM or over the internet it goes through their automatic systems and fees and interest will apply.

    ANZ No No

    For cash advances made overseas at an ATM, bank or ANZ office, the 2% fee will be calculated with reference to the cash advance amount, any ATM operator fee plus any Overseas Transaction Fee charged.

    Westpac Yes No  
    St.George Yes No  
    BoM Yes - $2.50 No

    To be able to do a cash withdrawal and not be affected by the cash advance, you must factor in the $2.50 flat fee into your withdrawal. (Normal cash advance fee is 2.00%). Please see the ‘ANZ Personal Banking General Fees and Charges’ booklet for the Overseas Transaction Fee description.

    BankSA Yes - $2.50 No  
    Aussie      
    Coles Yes No

    You can contact the lender and get them to refund the cash advance fee. This can be credited to your account if the amount is up to $500.

    CUA Yes No  
    GE Money Yes No  
    HSBC Yes No  
    American Express N/A N/A

    Do not offer cash advance

    HSBC Yes No

    Cash advance usage charge 3%

    NAB Partial: $1.75 flat fee No

    You’ll pay 1.75% or $1.75 whichever is greater when carrying out an overseas cash advance.

    Virgin Money Yes No  

    Fee free overseas ATM withdrawals

    Westpac by far have the largest ATM alliance out of any Australian Bank. In fact, they’re the only Australian bank with an ATM alliance that allows you to withdraw from an ATM overseas that isn’t ‘own-branded’ (for instance ANZ have a couple of ATMs scattered throughout Asia).

    Global lenders like Citibank and HSBC have a number of ATMs worldwide, and Citibank do not charge for international ATM withdrawals. So if you’re a Citibank customer looking to use your card overseas, head to a Citibank ATM and all you’ll pay for the withdrawal is the currency conversion fee.

    The table below outlines some of the countries and institutions where you can save on ATM fees. There’s no point changing your travel plans to save a couple of bucks on an ATM withdrawal, but if you find yourself in the area, why not withdraw from a free ATM?

    Institution Country ATM Network
    Westpac    
      New Zealand Westpac NZ
      Fiji, Vanuatu, Cook Islands, Samoa, Tonga, PNG, Solomon Islands Westpac Pacific Banking
      France & Italy BNP Paribas
      Germany, Spain, Italy, Poland  
      UK, Spain, Portugal and Gibraltar

    Africa - Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Seychelles, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe
     
      South Africa ABSA
      USA Bank of America
      Canada, Chile, Guyana, Mexico, Peru

    Caribbean - Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica Grenada, Jamaica, Netherland Antilles (St Maarten), St Kitts-Nevis, St Vincent & The Grenadines, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks & Caicos and the US Virgin Islands.

    ScotiaBank
      Ukraine UkrSibbank - Private Bank
    NAB    
      N/A  
    CBA    
      New Zealand ASB Bank (There will still be a fee for Commonwealth Bank cardholders carrying out a transaction at an ASB Bank ATM — it is discounted from $5 to $2.).
    ANZ ANZ have representative branches in the following countries and territories:The UK, Germany, the UAE, India, Loas, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, East Timor, Papua New Guinea, The Soloman Islands, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Fiji, Tonga, American Samoa, the Cook Islands, New Zealand, Bonriki, Guam, Philippines, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, China and The United States. It's worth mentioning that for most of the countries listed there  is only one branch or office per country and you may not be able to use the offices for everyday banking services. This information may be of better use if you find yourself stuck in an emergency.

    How much will I pay when...?

    Make a withdrawal from an ATM?

    If you use your credit card to withdraw from an overseas ATM, the following fees and charges will apply:

    • International ATM fee (see above);
    • Cash Advance fee (Some lenders will waive this fee if you’ve preloaded your own funds onto the card);
    • Currency conversion fee (this amount is calculated based on the total of the international ATM fee and the amount being withdrawn); and
    • Local ATM operator fee (this can be avoided by using an ATM with your bank’s overseas ATM Alliance [if they have one]);
      The cash advance rate of interest will apply from the day the transaction takes place.
    ATM Fees

    When making an ATM withdrawal overseas, the foreign currency conversion fee is calculated on the total value of the amount being withdrawn from the ATM in addition to any fees charged by the ATM operator and international ATM fees.

    Make a purchase?

    Purchases are a little more forgiving on the hip pocket than an overseas cash advance.

    This applies to everything from booking a hotel or a flight while abroad through to buying goods from overseas from the comfort of your living room back home.

    • Currency conversion fee; and
    • Purchase rate of interest (excluding interest free days).

    Travel card inactivity fee

    If you have a travel card that has an inactivity fee (a fee that's charged every month when your account is inactive for a period of time), you will lose any remaining funds on the card, but your account won't go into a negative balance. Once the card has no funds left on it, this fee will not be charged.

    Protection against the unexpected while you’re away

    Am I protected against getting ripped off?

    Yes and no. If you end up in a similar situation to Fred, then your cash is gone. If the fraud is more like Greg's, then you will get your money back. This includes getting your card skimmed at an ATM and online purchases too.

    MasterCard and Visa Zero Liability Policies:

    This is a money back guarantee when a fraudulent transaction on your debit/travel/credit card is reported to Visa, MasterCard and your bank; and

    • You have exercised vigilant care in safeguarding your card from risk of loss, theft, or unauthorised use; and
    • You immediately and without delay notify your card issuer upon discovery of the loss, theft, or unauthorised use; and
    • You have not reported two or more incidents of unauthorised use in the preceding 12 months; and
      Your account is in good standing; a
    • You have complied with the terms and conditions of the cardholder agreement.

    Insurance

    Are you considering travel insurance for your trip?

    Finding the right travel money option for your trip overseas is just one of many boxes to tick before leaving the tarmac. Whether you are just heading off for a weekend getaway or a six month backpacking adventure, it’s crucial to have the right cover in place to ensure you don’t have to endure financial hardship in the event of a loss. Most people that have travelled will have their own story of when things didn’t go exactly to plan and were forced to hand over funds to cover the loss.

    What am I covered for?

    Travel Insurance will generally provide cover for the following events:

    • Overseas medical expenses: Covers the cost of emergency medical assistance including emergency medical evacuation, hospital expenses and medical costs.
    • Theft of cash: Cover in the event that the following are stolen from you: cash from your person, banknotes, currency notes, postal orders and money orders.
    • Cover for loss or damage to personal items: Cover for loss/damage to luggage and personal items.
    • Cancellation fees: Cover for cancellation fees or lost deposits.
    • Rental vehicle fees: Cover for rental vehicle excess that may be applied in the event that you have an accident while you are travelling.
    • Credit card fraud or replacement: Cover for the replacement of credit cards lost or stolen from you on your journey.

    Receive a quote from a travel insurance provider

    Travel insurance from credit cards or from a travel insurance provider

    Many premium credit card providers will offer complimentary travel insurance as an added bonus for successful applicants. The decision on whether to go with this complimentary cover or to purchase a standalone policy will really come down to your cover requirements and budget. While the cover provided on credit cards may not offer the same comprehensive level of cover as that from a travel insurance provider, you may already have other cover in place from other insurance and feel that your trip requirements don’t need the cover options available on standalone policies. Either way it’s important to compare the benefits available from both options and get a clear understanding of the exclusions for payment. The last thing you need when travelling is the nasty surprise that you are not actually covered for losses in the event that you need to make a claim.

    Or you can compare credit cards with free international travel insurance here.

    How do I activate travel insurance on my credit card?

    The eligibility requirements will differ between policies, but a general rule is that you have to pay for a percentage of your prepaid travel expenses with your card. Once you've done this, you're automatically covered under the policy agreement — although keep in mind that each policy has a list of exclusions that you should check before travelling.

    You can read about the activation requirements for different credit card providers that offer complimentary international travel insurance below.

    Westpac.

    HSBC.

    ANZ.

    American Express.

    Bankwest.

    Commonwealth Bank.

    Bank of Queensland.

    Wherever you plan to travel, you're there to have a great time, not go bankrupt — so remember that most bad things happen when you're not paying attention. Lock those doors, carry multiple money items, spread them out between friends and family, and make sure that you at least know some of the language. Being safe is much better than being sorry.

    You have your plane ticket, you've booked insurance but have you sorted your finances?

    Most of us don't go on holiday to be tight with our cash, but there are a thousand better things to spend your money on than fees and charges. Who better to offer guidance through the tips and traps of using money in a foreign country than the people who have been there before, made the mistakes and learnt the lessons the hard way?

    What do we think?

    Whether you use a credit card, debit card or travel cards, you should be aiming for a card that gives you the least amount of hassle combined with the lowest fees and charges. And this all depends on what you plan to do and where you plan to go. Shopping in the E.U? Look for a card with low currency conversion fees and easy access to one currency. But if you want to visit the world, you'll want to load a travel money card with multiple currencies at a set exchange rate - you can save on currency conversion fees by loading up to ten 'currency buckets' at a time.

    Use a combination for best results

    Many people carry two or three of forms of the payment methods discussed in this article so they have a backup if something goes wrong. Knowing the advantages and disadvantages of each will help you decide which form of money you want to use as your primary source of funds.

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    Compare Travel Insurance Quotes from Australian Providers

    It's critical to compare quotes from a range of providers to ensure you get adequate cover for your trip at the right price. Use the form below to compare quotes from Australian travel insurance providers and access coupon codes to help you save even further.

    Made a search before? Retrieve your search results

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    We compare these trusted insurers and more


    Miscellaneous travel tips

    Safety Tips

    Remember that when you are travelling, you will encounter others who want cash, as well as your identity. Here are some smart tips to keep you safer.

    Airplane ticket stubs

    • Dispose of them because they have personal information on them and Identity thieves will grab at anything to get your identity.

    Airline:

    • Book flights in advance, and during a special or lower rate period – it could save hundreds in fares, and don't forget to sign up for a frequent flyer account! Frequent flyer rewards are huge, especially if you love to travel.

    If you lose your wallet

    • Keep credit cards and cash in a separate place, so you won't be without cab fare or other necessities.

    Hotels

    • Use comparison sites for discounted hotel rates such as priceline.com as this could save money if you book in advance and do some serious searching prior to leaving.

    Food

    • To find the best prices on meals or shopping for food, check out YELP or Eatability. There is nothing worse than finding a great restaurant at the last minute and finding out it's way overpriced.

    Money belt:

    • It sounds a little paranoid, but in reality everyone should be! A money belt is nearly impossible to steal or lift. And, you'll have your cash, cards and necessities close. Each traveler should have one.

    Mobile Broadband

    • Virgin Mobile, offers a mobile broadband service and for minimal cost, allowing you to have virtually unlimited Internet access from anywhere you travel, which could save a lot in the long run. Internet connections overseas can get costly.

    Cell Phone:

    • Make sure you contact your cell phone provider to inform them that you plan to travel abroad. They can set up your phone so you don't incur huge international roaming fees, as well as web fees. It's a little pricey, but worth the cost in the long run.

    Bank international phone number:

    • Save this number to your cell phone, you will need it, especially with money travel cards.

    Travel Insurance:

    • People scoff at this necessity, but it really is a necessity- it covers you if your luggage is lost, you are mugged, or anything else happens that you have no control.

    Open up an account with an international bank:

    • Some are Citibank or HSBC so that you can gain access without fees in some countries and it might just save you should something happen.

    Additional Cardholders:

    • Give your fellow travellers an additional cardholder credit card so that you will always have one, if one gets lost or stolen.

    Compare!

    • Make the decisions for travel money based on what is best for your travel needs, and compare prices and fees. If you add all of the exchange rates, foreign currency fees, bank fees and ATM withdrawal fees – as well as load fees you could save quite a bit of cash getting the lowest rates and best deals.

    ATMs:

    • Make sure the ATM you are using is an actual bank ATM, and when you enter your pin, be sure that there is nobody who can observe. As well as taking cash out, never, ever take a large amount of cash out of an ATM – it is much too tempting to thieves.

    Skimmers:

    • Watch for them, they are the people out there trying to steal your identity – they've gone as far as putting little webcams at the ATM's focused on the keys so that they can gain your PIN and card number.
    • Cover keys when entering information, and don't use the ATM if you see someone close by, or notice anything unusual.

     

    Wherever you plan to travel, you're there to have a great time, not go bankrupt – so remember that most bad things happen when you're not paying attention. Lock those doors, carry multiple money items, spread them out between friends and family, and make sure that you at least know some of the language.

    Being safe is much better than being sorry.


    Join in the Forum Discussion on:

    Taking money overseas

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    This page was last modified on 20 January 2015 at 15:01.

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    205 Responses to Travel Money Finder™ – Guide to travelling with money overseas

    1. Default Gravatar
      Lindsay | February 25, 2015

      Hi there!

      My partner and I are travelling to the US for 5 weeks, Iceland then to the UK on a work visa and will be travelling around Europe as we can afford it. We have been looking into the 28 degrees card but our only issue is when we need cash. I am considering using a 28 degrees card for booking things and pay it off as we go but I would also like an option to withdraw cash in respective countries with a low rate. I understand you cannot recommend a single card but would you have any advice on using 2 methods for our money? It seems we have missed the boat on locking in US currency at a good exchange rate unfortunately. Happy to hear any advice!

      Kind Regards

      Lindsay

      • Staff
        Shirley | February 25, 2015

        Hi Lindsay,

        Thanks for your question.

        If you would like to withdraw cash at a low rate, then you may want to consider a Travel debit card instead or prepaid card. Since you’re using your own money, you won’t liable to pay interest and worry about cash advance fees. Using a credit card to withdraw cash is likely to incur a cash advance fee and cash advance interest rate.

        Debit cards providers may sometimes have ATM alliances, so you can withdraw funds out for free.

        Hope this helps,
        Shirley

    2. Default Gravatar
      stuart | February 19, 2015

      When shopping in Hawaii in big department stores/outlets, I like to pay with Visa. Is it better to have the store convert to AUD or leave it as USD?

      • Staff
        Shirley | February 19, 2015

        Hi Stuart,

        Thanks for your question.

        Since you’re shopping in Hawaii, it would be best to leave it in USD as that is the local currency.

        Cheers,
        Shirley

      • Default Gravatar
        stuart | February 19, 2015

        Thanks, so there is no benefit in converting at local rate to AUD instead of paying USD and getting FX Conversion Fees later?

      • Staff
        Shirley | February 19, 2015

        Hi Stuart,

        I am a bit confused by your question. Would you be able to let know which type of product you’re using, e.g. credit card, debit card, travel card etc.

        My assumption is that you’re using an Australian issued product to purchase something in Hawaii?

        Thanks.
        Shirley

      • Default Gravatar
        stuart | February 19, 2015

        That’s correct. I am using a Australian issued Visa Card. At a lot of stores they give you the option of being charged in USD or they convert to AUD for you.

      • Staff
        Shirley | February 19, 2015

        Hi Stuart,

        Thanks for letting me know.

        Since the local currency for Hawaii is the USD, if you choose the AUD option the currency will eventually need to be converted into USD. The question would be whether you as the consumer pays for the currency conversion fee or the retailer will (typically the consumer does). If you’re asked this, it might be best to ask the cashier if the retailer pays for this fee or if its charged on your card. Please also keep in mind that if the retailer converts the money for you, you’ll be used the retailer’s exchange rates and not the exchange rates from Visa.

        If you choose the USD option, then the currency conversion fee will be charged to your card and Visa exchange rates apply. Ultimately the decision would up to you and how the retailer processes your payments.

        Hope this helps,
        Shirley

    3. Default Gravatar
      simon | February 3, 2015

      what is the cheapest, best and safest way to pay for holiday expenses in Kerala and Sri Lanka?

      • Staff
        Elizabeth | February 4, 2015

        Hi Simon,

        Thanks for your question.

        Unfortunately I can’t recommend a specific product to you, but you might want to have a read through of our guide on this page (although it’s Southeast Asia it could still be of some use) and consider some of the travel money options discussed there. Any of the travel money options discussed on the page above can also be an option for you.

        I hope this will help.

        Thanks,

        Elizabeth

    4. Default Gravatar
      Nicole | January 23, 2015

      Hi,
      I am travelling to Europe this year and I am tossing up between getting the Bankwest Zero and 28 Degrees cards as they have no annual fees and no currency conversion fees. Are there any main differences between the cards? Do they charge ATM fees in Australia and overseas? I understand both cards are now charging for cash advance even when your own money is loaded onto the card. If I only use the card for purchases and not to withdraw cash, will I pay any fees?
      Thanks.

      • Staff
        Shirley | January 27, 2015

        Hi Nicole,

        Thanks for your question.

        You can read our reviews for the Zero Platinum and 28 Degrees card by clicking on the links.

        The Zero Platinum offers complimentary travel insurance (if that’s something you’re interested in) whereas the 28 Degrees is more targeted towards online shoppers. If you only use the cards for purchases and not to withdraw cash, you won’t be charged any fees. Please keep in mind that exchange rates and/or interest charges could apply.

        Cheers,
        Shirley

    5. Default Gravatar
      Mark | January 14, 2015

      Hi, I am travelling to the US later this year and have already purchased US dollars in the past which is currently sitting in a multi currency account. I am after a travel card option which allows me to transfer my US dollars onto the card and not get effected with any exchange/conversion rates. Do you know of any card that will accept US dollars to be loaded onto it and that can be used in the US??

      • Staff
        Shirley | January 15, 2015

        Hi Mark,

        Thanks for your question.

        You’d have to convert it into AUD first then convert it back to USD when you load it onto a travel card issued in Australia.

        You may want to consider loading your USD into a travel money card issued in the USA instead when you arrive.

        Cheers,
        Shirley

    6. Default Gravatar
      RC | January 11, 2015

      Hi,

      Myself and a couple others are moving to England in the coming months; however we will be travelling around Ireland and Europe for about a month prior to arriving in England.

      What will be our best option for withdrawing cash until we can get a bank account set up in England?

      Note: I currently have a Qantas card.

      • Staff
        Elizabeth | January 12, 2015

        Hi RC,

        Thanks for your question.

        I’m unable to recommend a specific product to you, but a Qantas Cash card can be used for the purposes you described. You can also look at other prepaid travel money card options to see if there is one that better suits your needs. Some things you might want to consider are the currencies you’re able to load onto the card, the ease at which you can manage your account and reload funds onto it, and the fees you’ll be charged for using the card. You can take a look at the individual reviews for the cards listed on this page by clicking ‘more’. The review pages will detail the fees and costs as well as the features of the card.

        I hope this has helped.

        Thanks,

        Elizabeth

    7. Default Gravatar
      Barbara | January 10, 2015

      My son is travelling in South Africa, and had his Commbank travel card stolen. We have stopped the card, but what recourse does he have on the funds removed from the card but not by him?

      • Staff
        Elizabeth | January 12, 2015

        Hi Barbara,

        Thanks for your question.

        According to the Commonwealth Bank Travel Card terms and conditions, your son won’t be liable for unauthorised transactions if:
        ‘- it is clear you did not contribute to the loss in some way;
        – the loss arises after you notify us that any Card used to access the facility has been misused, lost or stolen or that the security of a PIN has been breached;’

        If Commonwealth Bank can prove that your son contributed to the loss somehow, then he will be liable.

        I hope this has helped.

        Thanks,

        Elizabeth

    8. Default Gravatar
      Justine | January 8, 2015

      Our teenage daughter going to live in Denmark for 3 months on exchange and we will be putting money into her Australian bank account to draw on there but was thinking as a backup buying her a prepaid Mastercard from the Post Office. As you don’t seem to be able to load DKK would AUD or EU be the best currency.

      • Staff
        Elizabeth | January 8, 2015

        Hi Justine,

        Thanks for your question.

        It’s really up to you which currency you load onto the card. Keep in mind that each time currency is converted on the card you’ll be charged the MasterCard rate plus 5.95%. So, if you load funds in AUD, then convert to Euros and then convert to DKK you will stand to lose a bit in each conversion.

        I hope this has helped.

        Thanks,

        Elizabeth

    9. Default Gravatar
      chris | January 4, 2015

      Hi myself and my partner are travelling for 1 year to usa and canada for 4.5 months, Europe for 3.5 months and South East Asia for 4 months. We were planning on taking a small amount of USA dollars to get us started and then were planning on using a loaded travel card. We have a good pot of money here in Australia earning interest and we were planning to take money out of this account as needed and load it on to the card. Is this better or should we get a credit card? Which one would you advise?

      • Staff
        Elizabeth | January 6, 2015

        Hi Chris,

        Thanks for your question.

        Unfortunately I’m unable to give you personal advice on this. It’ll really come down to the way you want to use your card, what your situation is and what kind of features you want with it. For instance, travel debit cards are generally lower cost than credit cards (no interest, lower fees) and offer the same accessibility, but credit cards may offer additional features such as complimentary travel insurance, etc. A credit card can also give you extra funds should you need them.

        You’ll need to weigh up the pros and cons of each option and decide which is best for you.

        I hope this has helped.

        Thanks,

        Elizabeth

      • Staff
        Shirley | January 6, 2015

        Hi Chris,

        Thanks for your question.

        Please note that we can only provide general advice regarding the products that we display. The answer depends on a few things such as what type of products you opt for, what fees and charges apply to each product and if you can pay back your credit card’s balance in full every statement period. A credit card is helpful in emergencies but a prepaid travel card could help you save on fees and lock in your exchange rate. You’ll also need to think about Internet access during your trip and if it’s easy to transfer funds back and forth.

        Cheers,
        Shirley

    10. Default Gravatar
      steph | January 3, 2015

      Hi there, I will be living in south america for a year – in argentina- but also travelling around (where there are different currencies) what do you suggest is the safest/most convenient method of taking my own money. Im tossing up between a travel debit card or credit card -im just not sure what would be the most economical over an extended period of time. Thanks so much

      • Staff
        Shirley | January 5, 2015

        Hi Steph,

        Thanks for your question.

        Please note that we can’t provide personal advice regarding the products we display, however we can give you some considerations to help with your decision. A travel debit card is helpful in the sense that you’re spending you’re own money so you don’t need to worry about paying interest. You’ll need to ensure that you always have sufficient funds in your account and if you pick a suitable product you can minimise fees too.

        A credit card is handy for emergencies and it may be helpful having one on the side just in case. Bear in mind that interest could apply, along with cash advance fees and rates if you use it to withdraw money out of ATM. Some credit cards also offer international travel insurance with an eligibility criteria. You may even want to consider bringing both on your trip.

        Cheers,
        Shirley

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