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How to shop online with overseas merchant and pay no foreign transaction fees

Enjoy the benefits of shopping online without paying transaction fees. Read on to learn how.

If you have ever bought an item online from a store based outside of Australia, then you might have had a shocker when you received your credit card bill. That’s because you saw an additional 2- 3% charge plus other “expenses” such as unfavourable conversion rates for your dollars.

There are some great bargains to be had on the internet, so fees or bad exchange rates shouldn’t stop you. Here are some ways to shop online and save on fees.

How to shop online with foreign merchants and pay no foreign transaction fees

There are a number of credit cards, debit cards and travel cards available which won't charge foreign transaction fees.

Credit cards

There are a number of credit cards that charge 0% foreign transaction fees when you spend in a foreign currency. Most credit cards charge 2% or 3% per foreign transaction, which could add up if you're travelling overseas or regularly shop online with international merchants.

These cards often come with other travel perks including complimentary travel insurance and purchase protection, rewards programs and airport lounge passes. Each card provider will have their own exchange rate or might use the exchange rates set by MasterCard or Visa, so check these out before applying for any one card.

Debit cards

Some Australian debit cards also waive foreign transaction fees. You can compare some of the current options in the table below. Some will require you to meet deposit and spend requirements to activate the foreign transaction fee rebate. You may be able to find cards that don't charge any account-keeping or international ATM withdrawal fees as well.

Comparing debit cards

Travel cards

Travel cards are designed to be used when you're overseas but can also be used when you shop online. They usually offer around 10 supported foreign currencies, which you can transfer your Australian dollars to and then save on foreign transaction fees. Unlike your debit card, travel cards are prepaid and you can top up your balance. These cards sometimes charge loading fees or currency conversion fees when you spend in a currency that isn't supported or loaded on the card.

If you are looking to travel or interested in learning more, see our travel money guide here.

Finder survey: What is the main feature Australians of different ages look for on a travel credit card?

ResponseGen ZGen YGen XBaby Boomers
0% foreign transaction fees7.87%3.53%0.99%1.7%
A low annual fee1.09%0.33%0.28%
Frequent flyer points1.09%1.64%0.28%
A low interest rate0.54%0.33%0.57%
Travel insurance0.54%0.66%1.7%
Airport lounge access0.27%
Security features0.27%0.28%
Source: Finder survey by Pure Profile of 1113 Australians, December 2023

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