There is a wide range of credit cards that offer travel benefits, such as savings on fees and complimentary extras. You could save with no foreign transaction fees and no ATM withdrawal fees and enjoy credit card travel insurance, frequent flyer points or airline lounge passes.
The type of credit card that you should use will depend on where you're travelling, your spending plans and your financial situation. You can use this guide to compare your options and find the right credit card to use overseas.
Bankwest Credit Card Offer
$0 annual fee
0% foreign transaction fees
Eligibility criteria, terms and conditions, fees and charges apply
Bankwest Credit Card Offer
Save with a $0 annual fee, 0% foreign transaction fees and a balance transfer offer. Plus, complimentary overseas travel insurance.
- Ongoing $0 annual fee
- 17.99% p.a. purchase rate | 21.99% p.a. cash advance rate
- 0% foreign transaction fees online and overseas
- 2.99% on balance transfers for 9 months, reverts to 17.99%
Compare credit cards with no foreign transaction fees
Some of the best cards for travel
How to compare credit cards for overseas travel
When you're comparing credit card for your next international trip, compare products that don't charge extra fees when you make foreign transactions, offer travel perks and are accepted overseas. Some of the factors to consider include:
Credit card fees
To understand how much your card could cost you, consider the following fees when comparing which cards to use outside Australia:
- Foreign transaction fees. When you make an international purchase using your card, your Australian dollars are converted to the local currency. When this happens, you're usually charged a fee between 2% and 3%. If you want to avoid this fee each time you make a transaction overseas, consider a credit card that doesn't charge a foreign currency conversion fee.
- Annual fees. While some travel credit cards charge $0 annual fee, others with lots of extra fees may charge a higher annual fee. Make sure that any value you get from using the card and its extra fees helps outweigh the annual fee.
- ATM withdrawal fees. If you use your credit card to withdraw funds overseas, you will be charged a cash advance interest rate and fee. Your card may also charge a separate ATM withdrawal fee. The local ATM provider may also charge a third-party fee. To avoid these charges, consider using a debit card or prepaid travel card to withdraw cash instead.
Using a credit card that offers complimentary international travel insurance can help you save the time and money you'd otherwise spend on standalone cover. The complimentary travel insurance usually covers overseas medical insurance, transit accidents and travel delay. The cover usually extends your spouse or any dependent children travelling with you. As well as travel insurance, some credit cards offer purchase security insurance and extended warranty so you can shop with peace of mind.
Frequent flyer rewards
Using frequent flyer credit card is an easy way to pick up reward points as you spend overseas. Depending on the card, you might be able to redeem these points for flights with a specific airline, accommodation with partner hotels, travel vouchers, cashback on your account or products from a rewards store. If your card is designed for overseas use, you could earn more points per $1 on foreign purchases. Compare frequent flyer credit cards with no foreign transaction fees to earn points without forking out for extra fees.
Make sure the card that you're using isn't restricted by economic sanctions before you travel. Credit cards with affiliation to Visa or Mastercard find acceptance in most countries around the world, at ATMs and EFTPOS terminals alike. Acceptance of Diners Club and American Express cards is not as widespread and could attract surcharges.
Airport lounge passes and other travel perks
You can escape the chaos of the airport and relax before your flight with a credit card that offers complimentary lounge passes. Some credit cards in Australia offer invitations to Qantas Club, Virgin Australia, American Express and Priority Pass lounges in Australia and around the world. The perks will vary between lounges but you can usually expect complimentary food, beverages and access to high-speed Wi-Fi, comfortable seats and work stations.
Some credit cards also offer cardholders complimentary flights. You may need to meet a spend requirement to access the perk, but it's an easy way to save on travel costs and offset any card fees.
What should I be aware of when using a credit card overseas?
- Adding funds to your credit card. Some travellers add money to their credit cards accounts before they leave for overseas. Then they use their card like a type of debit card to pay with their own cash rather than credit. If your card allows you to do this, you can avoid paying interest. However, banks don’t take responsibility for money you add to your account. If your card is lost or stolen and used for unauthorised transactions, those funds won't be eligible by zero liability cover.
- Take multiple travel money options. Instead of putting all of your eggs in one basket, you should take multiple travel money options with you. This may include a debit card or prepaid travel card as well as your credit card and some cash. That way you'll have a backup if your card is lost or stolen and can avoid being charged credit card fees withdrawing cash from an ATM.
- Attracting debt. Create a travel budget and use your credit card to spend responsibly. You have to repay everything you charge, plus interest if you don't pay your balance in full.
What are the pros and cons of using a credit card overseas?
- Global acceptance. Most Australian credit cards can be used in hotels, restaurants and stores around the world.
- Travel perks. Credit cards designed for overseas use often come with travel-related benefits such as frequent flyer rewards programs, complimentary insurance and airline lounge passes.
- Security of credit. A credit card can come in handy when you need to cover unexpected or emergency costs while you're travelling overseas. As mentioned above, it's also wise to organise multiple travel money options in case your cash or card is lost or stolen on your travels.
- Fees. Depending on the card you choose, you may be charged a foreign transaction fee or surcharge for using a credit card overseas.
- Limitations. You'll need to meet eligibility requirements (such as a minimum annual income and credit score criteria) to be approved for a credit card.
- Risk of debt. While a line of credit can provide you with peace of mind, you may be tempted to overspend. Use your credit card responsibly and stick to a budget that you can repay in full by the end of the statement period to make the most of your card.
There are many types of credit cards to suit Australians travelling overseas. Whether you want to avoid foreign transaction fees, earn points as you spend or take advantage of complimentary travel insurance, make sure to compare your options before you choose the right card for your international trip.
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