Compare some of Australia's best travel card offers
Travelling should be all about having fun or, if you are on a business trip, getting your work done. However, it definitely shouldn't include constantly worrying about how much you are paying in foreign transaction fees and whether or not you are getting a good currency conversion rate.
In this document, we will be looking at foreign transaction fees and other connected charges as well as analysing different options to help you find a good rate and save money.
Over the past few years, the Australian dollar has strengthened, offering Aussies significant value on overseas transactions, especially for the duration of its lengthy run above parity with the US dollar. For Australians travelling overseas, the Aussie dollar is worth approximately 44% more in Euros and US dollars, compared to four years ago.
While that offers any traveller quite a bit of additional purchasing power, most people forget to take into account that the rates they see announced by the media are far from what they will actually get. This is because most banks and money exchangers take quite a bit off for themselves during the currency exchange process.
In addition to the difference in rates, there are other fees and charges that most people don't factor in when exchanging money or making withdrawals overseas. In other words, most people don't get what they think they will and the problem is that one could end up spending a lot more money than they realise simply because they don't factor these additional costs in.
In this document, we will be looking at how you can effectively analyse whether or not you are getting a good rate as well as looking at various options that will offer you a better return on your foreign currency transactions when travelling overseas.
The difference between market rates and what you actually get
If you've made any foreign currency exchanges, you probably realised that the rate the media announces (also referred to as the market, mid-market or wholesale rate) is not the same as the rate you actually get. This gap in exchange rate between what your bank pays and the one that is used for making overseas purchases or withdrawals, over and above any fees, is referred to as the 'margin'. It differs according to the transaction type or card you are using as well as the money exchanger.
A good example of this margin is the difference in rates at airport exchange booths. If you've ever changed money in an airport, you're probably well aware of the fact that the difference in rates tends to be exorbitant.
This margin is so complex that it's practically impossible to figure out how much a financial service provider earns through the foreign exchange process. And it's this complexity that makes it seem as if the consumer will always get the short end of the stick when it comes for foreign currency exchange transactions.
A look at exchange rates
To get a glimpse of the current exchange rates, check out www.xe.com
Below is a comparison of ANZ interest rates on June 11 2013. In order to show the margin, we've included the market rates for that day.
|Market rates from www.xe.com||1 AUD|
|United States Dollar (USD)||0.94333|
|Great Britain Pound (GBP)||0.60316|
By way of explanation of the table jargon:
IMT = International Money Transfer
TT = Telegraphic Transfer
ANZ Foreign Exchange Rates
|Currency:||IMT/TT||Travel Card / Chq||Notes|
Percentage difference between market rates and bank rates:
|Currency||IMT/TT||Travel Card / Chq|
Generally, the least attractive rate you can find is at airports. But it seems that if you choose to order your foreign currency in advance, which is a service Travelex offers online, the rate isn't quite as bad as changing on site because you won't be paying the 3% commission they charge per transaction. However, you have to exchange a minimum of A$250 and they do specify that in-store rates are different.
If ordering online via Travelex, the rate as of June 11th, 2013 is US$0.9123 for one Aussie dollar. In other words, it would cost you A$109.6 for every US$100, though as specified the minimum you can order via this system is A$250. Conversely, in-store rates will cost you approximately 34% more than mid-market rates and that's before applying the 3% commission! Yes, it's definitely worth planning in advance.
Making life easier on yourself
One thing is certain. Banks make it as difficult as possible to calculate the real expense of converting Australian dollars into another currency. There are so many fees to consider as well as exchange rate variations from one financial product to another that it can be practically impossible to work out exactly how much you will end up paying.
One way to make life easier on yourself and to make sure you are getting the best possible rate is to look for financial products or services that feature exchange rates that are very close to market rates and don't have too many additional fees, charges or commissions. To find current market rates, two excellent sources are XE.com and the RBA but when doing your calculations, don't forget to look at the fees as well.
And it does pay to make calculations because you might end up with a surprise or two.
As of June 11th, 2013, for every 100 Australian dollars, you can get US$90.02 from ANZ. So, if you were to make a reservation for your hotel that costs US$900 it would cost you A$999.77 using your Travel Money Card as there is no fee. Now, your ANZ Visa Debit card uses Visa consumer exchange rates and as of the same date, for every A$100, you get US$93.91. That means that the hotel bill of US$900 would cost you A$958.36 plus the 3% fee, bringing it to a total of A$987.12. In other words, even with the additional transaction fee, you are better off using your Visa debit card due to the more attractive rates Visa offers.
Finding the right option
The fact is that finding the right option when it comes to foreign currency transactions depends on the type of product you require and the day because rates fluctuate daily.Back to top
What is a travel money card?
A travel money card is a special type of debit card that can have foreign currency deposited on it before you leave on your trip. The advantage of making advanced foreign currency deposits on the card is that you can make the exchange when the rate is most favourable to you.
Many people are turning to travel money cards, whether they are travelling to one destination and need one currency or multiple countries requiring multiple currencies, since these cards are, essentially, just as good as taking cash or traveller's cheques. While the different cards that are available can be loaded with different currencies, most of them offer at the very least US dollars, GB pounds, Euros and NZ dollars.
These cards allow you to load them up with a currency or multiple currencies, depending on where you will be travelling to. This way, you can access the foreign currency you need at any time. Once you've left the country, you can use the internet or your mobile phone to reload your card or change the currencies around as you need to. The card can be used for ATM withdrawals, to make purchases, pay for meals or book accommodation via the internet.
Certain Australian companies offer travel money cards but they all differ a little, so finding the right card for your needs is a matter of doing some research. Luckily, we can help with that and below, you will find a selection of some of the best travel money cards currently available on the Australian market.
American Express pre-paid travel card
American Express has joined the ranks of travel money card providers via their pre-paid travel card, the American Express GlobalTravel Card. This card enables you to load it up with Euros, US Dollars and GB Pounds and you can reload as often as you need to.
The American Express GlobalTravel Card can be used for ATM cash withdrawals overseas as well as online. You can also use it to make purchases from any retailer that accepts American Express.
One advantage of this card is that you won't be charged an inactivity fee and it doesn't have an expiry period. This means you can put as much foreign currency as you want on it at the current exchange rate. In other words, if there's a highly favourable rate one day, you can take full advantage of it and load up your card with as much foreign currency as you want, without having to worry that your trip is three or four months away because there is no expiry date on the card.
Note that you will be charged an initial load fee of $15, though you could avoid this fee by purchasing your card from Australia Post. The reload fee is $10 or 1% whichever amount is lower. In other words, if you make a deposit of $1,500, then 1% would be $15, meaning that you would pay $10 and that your card would be loaded with the equivalent of $1,490 in whatever currency you chose.
If you want to make an ATM withdrawal, you will have to pay either 2 USD, 1.25 GBP or 2.20 EUR. Note that you might have to pay additional fees depending on the operator of the ATM.
You also have to keep in mind that American Express charges higher fees to businesses for processing their transactions, which is why some merchants might charge extra if you try to pay with an American Express card, as they want to recover the higher costs. In the US, shops aren't permitted to charge an Amex surcharge as they have a contract with American Express to this effect.
However, the American Express GlobalTravel Card offers other advantages as well. Thus, you will be able to access the Global Assist emergency service if you require assistance in replacing a lost passport or need translations services or emergency medical and legal referrals.Back to top
MasterCard Multi-Currency Cash Passport
Another excellent travel money card is the MasterCard Multi-Currency Cash Passport, which allows you to load up to 9 different currencies on the same card. A highly convenient card, it gives you all the benefits of a credit card, like the ability to make online or in-store purchases from any store that accepts MasterCard. You can also withdraw local currency in cash from any ATM that takes MasterCard.
Reloading the card is easy since it can be done online or via BPAY, so this can be accomplished even while you are travelling with no problems. In fact, you can check your balance, look at any recent transactions and much more online merely by going to 'My Account' after you've logged in.
This card allows you to lock in a favourable exchange rate before you depart on your trip and makes it easier to stick to a budget since you can load the exact amount of money you want to limit yourself to for your trip. This makes it easier than trying to use your credit card or debit card since you can lose track of conversions fees and you can end up spending a lot more than you planned.
However, while the rate is locked-in on the initial deposit, any subsequent deposits will be subject to future daily rates.
Like any quality card, the MasterCard Multi-Currency Cash Passport is protected by CHIP and PIN technology as well as a signature panel on the back. When you order this card, you also get an additional card as a backup for emergency purposes. Complimentary access to Global Assist emergency services is another advantage this card offers.
In terms of fees, you can expect to pay 1.1% of the load amount or $15 when your first buy the card, whichever amount is greater. So, if you load $2,000 when you first load the card, you will have to pay $22.
If you need to replace your card, you don't have to worry because it's free and you'll receive a secondary card at the time of purchase, just in case.
In terms of reloading, if you reload via BPAY, the fee is 1% of the reload amount. This fee is calculated and deducted from the amount you reload so if you add $100 to your card, you will pay $1, so your card will actually load a reduced total of $99.
If you want to make cash withdrawals from an ATM using your MasterCard Multi-Currency Cash Passport card, there is no fee other than any withdrawal fees the ATM operator may charge when you are overseas. To make domestic withdrawals where you withdraw Aussie dollar amounts you have on your card, you will be charged 2.95% of the total withdrawal amount, which will be charged when you make the withdrawal. So, if you have A$ on your card and want to withdraw $300, you will incur a fee of $8.85.
Note that this card does come with an inactivity fee of $4 per month, but you don't really need to worry because you will only have to pay this fee if you haven't used your card in any transactions over the previous year, whether using it to make payments, cash withdrawals or reloading it.Back to top
Travelex Cash Passport card
Travelex is a well-known foreign exchange company founded in 1976. It has grown to be one of the world's leading specialists, trading over 80 currencies and with a presence in more than 50 countries. From 1,300 physical stores to online service and more than 1,100 ATMs all over the world, customers have no shortage of options when it comes to exchanging currencies.
In Australia, Travelex offers a travel money card, along with their online and physical store foreign currency exchange services. The Travelex Cash Passport card enables consumers to manage their currency more easily while travelling abroad. Thus, this card will save you a lot of time, money and problems when you are abroad.
You have two options when it comes to travel money cards from Travelex. You can opt for the Travelex MasterCard Multi-Currency Cash Passport card, which is the same card as the one mentioned previously, featuring the same benefits and fees.
Travelex also offers a range of single currency Cash Passports. There is the Visa Cash Passport ATM Card, the Visa Cash Passport Debit Card, the Prepaid Visa Travel Money Card and the Cash Passport MasterCard Prepaid Currency Card. All of these cards can be reloaded online and give you access to a wide range of ATMs and retailers anywhere in the world.
Travelex Cash Passport ATM Card
The Travelex Cash Passport ATM card is a prepaid travel Card that is available in seven currencies, namely Australian dollars, Great British pounds, US dollars, Euros, New Zealand dollars, Singapore dollars and Hong Kong dollars.
The advantage of this card is that it allows you to lock in an exchange rate every time you load the card. It also helps keep you on budget since you know that the amount of foreign currency you've loaded onto the card is all you have to spend.
In terms of fees, the initial card fee is 1.1% or $15, whichever amount is greater. The reload fee is 1% of the amount you will be loading onto your card if you use BPAY. You can also reload via SMS but that will cost you 1.1% of the amount you want to reload. The fee will deducted from the reload amount.
If you want to withdraw cash from an ATM overseas, it will cost you:
- 3.75 AUD
- 2.20 EUR
- 1.50 GBP
- 24 HKD
- 4.00 NZD
- 4.75 SGD
- 2.25 USD
These charges are per transaction and the applicable fee depends on the currency your card is in. Note that you might have to play surplus charges as the ATM operator might have fees of their own.
To make cash withdrawals in Australia, if you have AUD on your card, you will pay a fee of 2.95% and this fee will be charged when you make the withdrawal.
After 12 months of no activity on your card, which means no spending or reloading, you will be charged a monthly inactivity fee as follows:
- 4.00 AUD
- 2.00 EUR
- 1.50 GBP
- 27.50 HKD
- 4.80 NZD
- 5.40 SGD
- 2.00 USD
Note: you will have to pay this inactivity fee every month until you use your card again or reload it.
There are also certain limits that apply. The minimum amount you can load is $100 or the equivalent in your chosen currency and the maximum amount you can reload via BPAY in one day is $10,000. In terms of reloading via SMS, you can reload a maximum of $1,000 per day and the minimum per transaction is $20.
The total amount you can load onto your card over a 12 month period is US$30,000 or the equivalent. Furthermore, you can only load a total of US$30,000 on all prepaid cards issued to you by any company over a 12 month period. In other words, even if you ten prepaid cards from different providers, the total amount you load onto all ten of them cannot exceed US$30,000 or the equivalent in any other pertinent currency.
Other limits are as follows:
|Max balance allowable on card at a time||25,000||15,000||10,000||156,000||27,000||30,000||20,000|
|Max cash withdrawal amount from ATM per day*||6,000||3,500||2,500||39,000||7,000||8,000||5,000|
*This amount could be lower if the operator of the ATM has a different withdrawal limit.
Travelex Cash Passport Debit Card
The Travelex Cash Passport Debit card is available in five currencies, namely AUD, GBP, USD, EUR and NZD. Featuring the same benefits as every other travel money card, such as the ability to lock in the rate, allowing someone back home reload your card if you run out of money while travelling and the ability to reload the card as many times as you wish throughout its life — this card is ideal for anyone looking to save money on foreign currency transactions.
In terms of fees, the initial load fee and if you choose to reload the card in-store, you will have to pay between 1% and 1.1%, depending where you purchase the card. Note that some sellers establish a minimum $15 fee. On a $500 reload, that is actually a 3% fee.
The BPAY reload fee is 1% of the amount you will be reloading your card with while SMS reloading incurs a 1.1% fee.
The minimum ATM withdrawal fee depends on the currency of your card and is 1.5 GBP, 2.25 USD, 2.20 EUR, 3.75 AUD or 4.00 NZD. This is the minimum fee you will pay as there are some ATM operators who also charge fees, which will be payable on top of the one charged by Travelex.
A monthly inactivity fee does apply and is 1.50 GBP, 2.00 USD, 2.00 EUR, 4.00 AUD or 4.80 NZD per month, depending on the currency of your card. This fee is charged only after 12 months of complete inactivity, meaning you haven't charged anything to the card, made a cash withdrawal or reloaded it.
If you want to get cash over the counter using your card, the fees are 0 GBP, 8.25 USD, 6 EUR, 10 AUD or 12 NSD.
There are certain limits that apply to this card, though and they are as follows:
|Currency of Card||GBP||USD||EUR||AUD||NZD|
|Min load amount per transaction||40||80||60||100||120|
|Max BPAY reload amount per 24 hours||4,000||8,000||6,000||10,000||10,000|
|Max SMS reload amount per 24 hours||1,000 AUD or equivalent in respective currency|
|Min SMS reload per transaction||20 AUD or equivalent in respective currency|
|Max amount you can load at a time||10,000||20,000||15,000||25,000||30,000|
|Max amount you can load onto all prepaid cards in a year||18,000||30,000||25,500||45,000||51,000|
|Max ATM withdrawal limit per 24 hours *||600||1,000||800||1,400||1,600|
|Max cash back from merchant per 24 hours||150||250||200||350||400|
|Max withdrawal over the counter from a bank per 24 hours||2,000||250||200||350||400|
|Max amount of EFTPOS expenditure per 24 hours||3,000||5,000||4,000||7,000||8,000|
*The ATM withdrawal limit might be lower than stated as some ATM operators set different withdrawal limits.
Travelex Cash Passport Prepaid Travel Money Card
The Travelex Cash Passport Prepaid Travel Money card offers a wide range of benefits. Firstly, it's not linked to your bank account, which means you can keep your travel money separate from your other funds, reducing your risk in case of identity theft or if you lose your card. Secondly, you get a free secondary card, meaning that if you do lose your first card, you can still access your funds right away. You also get complimentary access to Global Emergency Assistance.
Like the previously mentioned debit card, this card is also available in five different currencies and the same fees apply.
Travelex Cash Passport MasterCard Prepaid Currency Card
This card is practically identical to the previous one, in that it's available in five currencies, is not linked to your bank account and can be reloaded as many times as you choose. The fees are also the same but there are differences in terms of the limits.Back to top
Commonwealth Bank Travel Money Card
The Commonwealth Bank Travel Money Card is a prepaid card you can reload as often as you choose and is designed to hold foreign currency. This particular card allows you to hold up to six different currencies on the same card at the same time and you can opt for any of the following:
- US Dollars
- Canadian Dollars
- GB Pounds
- Australian Dollars
- Japanese Yen
- Singapore Dollars
- Vietnamese Dong
- Thai Baht
- New Zealand Dollars
- Hong Kong Dollars
As with all other travel money cards, you can lock in the exchange rate of the day when you load the card, which can be quite beneficial. This is especially true if you are going to be exchanging a large amount. You can load up to $100,000 on your card or the equivalent in the various foreign currencies. The card can be reloaded either in a Commonwealth Bank branch or via BPAY. You also have the option of converting one of the currencies already on your card into another.
When you are travelling, if you use your card, it will automatically select the currency of the country you are in, if it is available on the card. If not, it will use the first available currency according to the order you set on your card.
Seeing as this is a MasterCard, you can use your Commonwealth Bank Travel Money Card at any ATM or retailer, both off-line and online, that accepts MasterCard. Furthermore, you can check your balance at any time by using Travel Money Online or by calling the Travel Money customer service centre. You also have the option of getting SMS alerts to inform you when your card has been loaded as well as monthly, weekly, daily or low balance notifications, as you decide, allowing you to keep a close eye on your balance.
In terms of fees, you will have to pay a fee of $15 when the card is issued but there is no fee on the first deposit you make. Subsequent deposits will cost you 1% but no more than $15. Transferring funds from one currency to another is free and so is using the card to make in-store, online or over-the-phone purchases.
When withdrawing from an ATM, the following fees apply:
|ATM withdrawal fee||3.50||2.50||2.00||2.20||3.50||3.00||220||3.50||17||80.00||50,000|
While you get a secondary card for free for emergency purposes, if both cards are lost or stolen and you require two new cards to be issued, the fee is $15 AUD. However, you can request an emergency cash advance in the interim, CBA will not charge you any fees but you might have to pay the costs of any other operators involved in getting the funds to you.Back to top
BoQ MasterCard Multi-Currency Cash Passport
BoQ offers its customers a travel money card via the MasterCard Multi-Currency Cash Passport card. Featuring the same benefits and fees as the previously mentioned card, it's a good option for those who would prefer to work with BoQ over any other provider, such as Travelex.Back to top
28 Degrees MasterCard – Great for travellers?
The 28 Degrees MasterCard is credit card that is a great option for travellers because you don't pay an annual fee and you don't have to pay currency exchange fees or international transaction fees. The card also features a highly advantageous interest rate on purchases and cash withdrawals at 20.99% per annum, as well as a 55-day interest-free period. Note that cash advances start accruing interest from the day the transaction is made, while interest-free days only apply on purchases if you pay your bill in full and on time each month.
Learn more about the 28 Degrees MasterCard credit card
Following are the most frequently asked questions pertaining to the 28 Degrees MasterCard credit card, which should give you all the information you need to figure out whether or not this is the right card for you.
Fees, charges and repayments
What are the fees for cash withdrawals from an ATM?
If you withdraw cash from a Westpac ATM, you won't have to pay a fee. However, you might have to pay owner fees if you make withdrawals from any ATMs that are not from Westpac. You will be informed of the charge when you make the withdrawal, though.
Will I be charged interest on a cash advance?
Yes, the moment you withdraw cash from your credit card, the interest will start to accrue.
Can I avoid paying interest costs?
The only way to avoid paying interest costs is to take advantage of the interest-free period on purchases, but that means making sure you pay off your bill every month. If you avoid taking out cash advances and make sure your account is paid off every month by the due date, you won't have to pay interest.
How can I make repayments?
You have a few options in terms of repayments. You can use direct debit, BPAY, cheque or money order. You can also make repayments in person at any Australia Post outlet but you will be charged a small handling fee, so you are probably better off avoiding this approach.
What if I don't have enough money to make my repayment?
If you are having problems covering the minimum monthly repayment, contact the issuer as they might be able to find a solution to help you.
Questions about MasterCard PayPass
Is MasterCard PayPass safe to use?
MasterCard PayPass is as safe as any other credit card that features a chip. You will only be charged for what you buy and you are always in full control because you never have to hand your card over, thanks to the Tap & Go system. In the worst case scenario, if someone else utilises your card, you will be fully protected from unauthorised transactions thanks to Zero Liability protection, secure encryption technology and MasterCard and GE Money's extensive security systems.
Why would I want to use MasterCard PayPass?
MasterCard PayPass will make your life a lot easier because it's the simplest way to make small purchases. A PIN or signature is not required and all you have to do is tap your card against the specialised reader. Upon confirmation of the transaction, you can leave. A good example of the time you can save is when you fill up your car with petrol. You simply tap your card against the reader at the bowser and then you can leave, without having to go inside and wait in a queue.
I lost my card or it was stolen
If you lose your card or suspect it was stolen, call the customer service centre immediately to report it. The numbers are available on the issuer's website.
Over credit limit alerts
If you go over your limit, a free service will alert to the fact via an email, message, SMS or an automated phone call. You will be contacted by standard mail if the card issuer doesn't have a phone number or email address for you on file. You will be sent the message within two days of your account going over the limit. Note that you will only receive a single alert between the dates your statements are issued.
While you won't be charged an over limit fee as a 28 Degrees MasterCard customer, you might not be able to perform certain transactions while your account is over the credit limit. If you get an alert, you should take advantage of your online account to check your balance. If you haven't registered yet, you can do so in about five minutes, but make sure you have your most recent statement on hand for the registration process.
Opting in for invitations to apply for a credit limit increase
Why must I 'opt in'?
The law has changed recently, stipulating that lenders must have your permission to send you an invitation to submit an application for an increase in your credit limit. By opting in, you are giving the lender permission to send you an invitation to submit your application for a credit limit increase when you become eligible for such an increase.
Why should I do it?
Not everyone can get a higher credit limit and not everyone can get one all the time. By opting in, you will receive an invitation when you are eligible, which means you don't have to risk submitting an application and being refused. And you can easily opt out if you wish to do so at a later date by calling the customer service team.
Can I submit an application to increase my credit limit without giving consent?
You can submit an application to increase your credit limit if you want to. All you have to do is call the lender and request and increase, but there is no guarantee you will be eligible. First, the lender will review your application and then let you know if you were approved or not.
How often will I get invitations if I opt in?
You don't have to worry about receiving tons of invitations because you will get one every three months, at most.Back to top
The pros and cons of travel money cards
Understanding how travel money cards work is essential to ensuring you make the most of your overseas trip. This way, instead of worrying about money and trying to figure out how things work, you can spend time relaxing and enjoying the local culture.
The benefits of a travel money card
- Convert all your money into the currency of the country you will be visiting on the day you purchase the card. Meaning that you lock in the exchange rate and won't have to worry about fluctuations. So, there's no need to worry that you'll have less money available than you planned because the exchange rate might plummet while you are travelling.
- You can add a variety of different currencies to your card, including USD, EUR, GBP, AUD, NZD, with some cards allowing you to add up to 9 different currencies on the same card. However, you can also use your card to buy in other currencies, with your funds being converted on the spot, making it a lot easier to spend your money. Of course, that might not always be a good thing but it definitely adds a high level of flexibility.
- A travel money card can be used almost exactly like a standard debit card, whether you want to use it for online or in-store transactions. And the fact that you don't have to carry around large amounts of cash or traveller's cheques is also another advantage. If you really need cash, though, you can make withdrawals from a huge number of ATMs all over the world.
- Internet banking allows you to monitor the status of your account, including your transactions and the balance left on your card. If you need more cash, it's easy to transfer money from your bank using the online system.
- When you buy a travel money card, you usually get two cards, allowing you to keep on with you and another one in the safe in your hotel room. Thus, if you lose one or it's stolen, you still have immediate access to your money without having to pay a fortune to get an emergency replacement card.
- Since your travel money card is not linked to a bank account, the money in your current account is protected. This helps to reduce the risks and limit your possible losses in case of skimming or if your card gets stolen.
The cons of travel money cards
- While locking in the exchange rate might be beneficial on one hand, it could also be a drawback, especially in the event of the Aussie exchange rate suddenly spiking.
- If you check the exchange rate your bank is offering, it might actually be more advantageous than the rate the travel money card is offering. And some cards use MasterCard and Visa consumer exchange rates, which are generally even more attractive than the rates offered by the banks. This is why it pays to do your homework when it comes to choosing the best card for your needs.
- While you can spend money in practically any other currency than the ones on your card, you will have to pay a currency conversion fee, which can prove to be quite steep. There are also vendors who only accept cash transactions, which means you won't be able to use your travel money card to make payment unless you withdraw cash using the card.
- Some travel money cards don't charge ATM fees and some do. However, this isn't the only issue. You will also have to pay the fees charged by the operators of the ATMs and these fees vary from country to country. So, with some cards, you will have to pay a fee twice for cash withdrawals. Furthermore, while most travel money cards specify their own limits on cash withdrawals, these might be lower in certain countries as these also vary according to the operator of the ATM.
- Another problem you might encounter is that the internet banking system doesn't always update in real-time, which means you could end up spending more than you budgeted if you aren't careful. To make sure you stay on budget, you should probably keep a record of your transactions yourself to avoid any nasty surprises.
- While many travel money cards advertise the ease of using BPAY to reload the card, the fact is that it can take between two and three days for the funds to be available on your card. So, don't wait until you run out of money completely to reload your card or you might have an unpleasant few days until the money reaches your card.
- When you get home, you'll probably want to recover any leftover funds on your card, especially if you aren't planning on visiting the same destination any time soon. The problem is that not only do you lose on exchanging money back into Australian dollars but you might also have to pay a fee to the card issuer to get your money refunded.
- If you don't use the card at all for 12 months, which means no transactions whatsoever, including reloading the card, you might be required to pay a monthly inactivity fee. Some issuers will charge according to the balance still on the card, while others charge a flat fee. This fee is payable every month until you use the card again.
- If your card has not been used and it expires during the inactivity period, you could end up losing the money you haven't used that's still on the card or the funds will be kept in trust until they are claimed.
Despite the fact that currency exchange rates can be confusing, if you spend a little time researching the market, you will definitely be able to find options that will suit your needs. However, remember that because rates fluctuate so much on a daily basis, your research will only be useful on the day you do it. Today GE Money's 28 Degrees MasterCard — which recently won Choice Award for being the Best Travel Money Card — might offer the best rates, fees and features but tomorrow it could be the Travelex Cash Passport Debit Card.
The secret is to take the time to actually work out the figures, to keep an eye on mid-market rates and to make the exchange on a day when the rates are favourable but is not too far off from the date of your departure. So, remember to look for a financial product or service that doesn't have too many fees, has reasonable limits, offers rates that are as close as possible to mid-market rates — at least when compared to other options — and also provides you with the convenience you need.Back to top
Frequently Asked Questions on Travel Money Cards
How can I order a travel money card online?
The first thing you need to do is pick the travel money card that best suits your needs and decide on the currency. You will then be required to add your personal information and confirm the details of your order. Subsequently, you will receive an email with the Biller Code and Reference Number you will require to make that BPAY payment to load the card. You will have to make the payment within four hours. Once the payment has been received by the issuer, your order will be sent to the pick-up location you chose.
What is the maximum I can order online?
There are certain limits when it comes to the order you can place online. Thus, for a Cash Passport, there is a minimum of $500 and a maximum of $10,000. The minimum order you can place to reload your Cash Passport is $100. Note that these limits apply for every 24 hour period.
How can I make payment for the order I placed?
Any order you make has to be paid using BPAY, which you can either by phone or internet banking. Note that you might need to speak to your bank first to determine whether or not you can use BPAY to make payments.
What is the Biller Code and Reference Number I have to use for BPAY?
Note that you will receive an email, which will be sent to the email address you submitted, with the Biller Code and Reference Number you should use when paying for your order via BPAY.
Will you confirm that the payment was received?
Once the issuer receives the payment, you will receive a confirmation email. The email will confirm payment was received and the order has been accepted. It will also include where you will be picking up your card, the date when you will be able to pick it up, ID requirements and the final date when you can collect it.
What will occur if I don't make a BPAY payment?
Your order will no longer be valid and the issuer will cancel it.
What do I need to have on me when I go to get my order?
You will have to have the confirmation email with you as well as an ID, which can be either a current Australian Driver's Licence or a current passport. If you have neither, you will be unable to pick your order up as it is mandatory for you to provide a current driver's licence or a current passport as proof of ID.
What if I can't pick up my order on the specified date?
Your card will stay at the designated pick-up location for 30 days. If you haven't picked it up within that time frame, it will be returned to the issuer. You will then have to get in touch with the issuer to make alternative arrangements to collect the card. You have to do this within 15 days. If you have not contacted the issuer within 45 days of placing your order, it will be cancelled and the cash converted back into Australian Dollars.