Travel credit cards for overseas spending

Prepare for your next adventure with a credit card designed for travel, with features including waived fees and complimentary insurance.

When you're travelling overseas, unexpected costs such as foreign currency conversion fees, ATM withdrawal fees or emergency card replacement can quickly eat into your spending money. While many credit cards (and many debit cards) charge some or all of these fees, there is also a range of options that waive these costs.

Some credit cards go one step further and offer complimentary extras, such as travel insurance, to help you save even more when you go away. So if you're planning for your next trip, you can use this guide to compare travel credit cards and learn more about the different features available. We also go through factors to consider when you're travelling with a credit card and look at other travel money products so that you can find an option that works for you.

Comparison of No Foreign Currency Exchange Fee Credit Cards

Rates last updated July 16th, 2018
Name Product Foreign Currency Conversion Fee Overseas ATM Withdrawal Fee Overseas Cash Advance Fee Annual fee Product Description
28 Degrees Platinum Mastercard
0% of transaction value
$0
3% of the cash advance or $4 (whichever is greater)
$0 p.a.
No foreign transaction fees on international purchases including international purchases online, together with a no annual fee.
ANZ Rewards Travel Adventures card
0% of transaction value
$5
$0
$225 p.a.
Receive 40,000 bonus Velocity Points, 2 yearly Virgin Australia lounge passes, plus enjoy $0 overseas purchase transaction fees.

Compare up to 4 providers

What features do I need when choosing a travel credit card?

Some of the features you can expect from a travel credit card include:

  • Worldwide acceptance. The majority of Australian credit cards are issued by Visa, Mastercard or American Express, which are all widely accepted internationally.
  • No or low currency conversion fees. While most credit cards charge 2-3% on currency conversion, many travel credit cards offer no fees for transactions made overseas or online with a international retailer.
  • Complimentary travel insurance. A wide range of credit cards offer complimentary travel insurance, that can save you money and give you peace of mind when you travel overseas. Usually, you'll need to pay for your flights or other travel costs using the card to activate the cover, so make sure you check what's required for any card you choose.
  • Emergency card replacement. If your card is lost, stolen or damaged when you're travelling overseas, you may need to request an emergency card replacement. This sometimes attracts additional fees, so look for a travel card that waives these costs if that's something you want to avoid.
  • ATM withdrawals and balance check. Many travel credit cards offer free ATM withdrawals and balance checks to help you save on fees. But keep in mind that using a credit card to withdraw cash overseas will still attract a cash advance fee worth around 3% of the transaction. You'll also be charged interest at the cash advance rate from the time the transaction is made.

What else should I consider when using a travel credit card?

Keeping these details in mind can help you avoid extra charges and hassles when you're using a credit card overseas.

  • Beware of the dynamic currency conversion. Some overseas businesses and ATMs may give you the option of paying in the local currency or in Australian dollars. If you choose Australian dollars, the transaction will be processed using dynamic currency conversion (or DCC), which is typically more expensive than paying in the local currency. So when you're given the choice, opt to pay in the local currency instead.
  • Check what fees and charges may apply. As well as foreign transaction fees and ATM fees, make sure you consider the cash advance fee, cash advance interest rate and the purchase interest rate.
  • Let your bank know you're going overseas. To help protect your account from fraud while you're away, contact your bank and let them know your travel plans. Otherwise, you may find that your card is blocked and you no longer have access to your funds while overseas.
  • Check for any restrictions. Some credit card companies have financial sanctions for certain geographic regions. Others may have limits for daily withdrawals or transactions. Make sure you check with your bank before you go overseas to make sure you'll be able to use your card when you want to.
  • Make a copy of your card's emergency contact details. Store your credit card's emergency contact details in your wallet, on your phone and anywhere else secure in the case of an emergency. This information is usually on the back of your card, as well as on your bank or provider's website. If anything happens while you're away, make sure you contact your provider as soon as possible so they can help you sort things out.

What other travel money options can I take with me?

Having more than one travel money option gives you more flexibility and security in case something happens when you're away. Some other options you can consider include:

  • Travel cards. Prepaid travel cards let you load and spend money in multiple currencies. This means you'll be able to avoid foreign transaction fees and can lock-in the amount of foreign currency you have before you go overseas. As you load your own money onto the card, you also won't have to worry about interest charges or cash advance costs if you withdraw money from an ATM.
  • Debit cards. Taking your everyday debit card overseas gives you direct access to your cash, rather than a credit limit. As well as helping you avoid interest charges, this could make it easier to avoid overspending while you're away.
  • Cash. Depending on where you're travelling, there may be limited options for paying with a card. Even in countries where cards are commonly accepted, you may find that there are businesses that apply hefty surcharges or don't accept your particular card, so having some foreign cash before you go away means you'll have all your bases covered.
  • Traveller's cheques. While traveller's cheques used to be a popular travel money option, they are not widely accepted any more. So if you decide to order some traveller's checks, do your research first to make sure there will be places you can cash them on your trip.

Compare your travel money options

Three tips to protect your travel money when you're overseas

Following these precautions should help ensure your trip runs smoothly:

  • Don’t carry a lot of cash. Travellers should avoid carrying a lot of cash or wearing expensive jewellery. This might attract negative attention and can lead to unpleasant experiences.
  • Safely store your cards, cash or cheques in various secure areas. Carrying all your cards and cash in a single location or wallet is not advisable. You should distribute these items among your secure belongings. It is better to carry an alternative wallet which can store excess cash and other important items. It is also better not carry the main wallet in your back pocket, but rather somewhere secure that you can see.
  • Report any emergency situations immediately. As mentioned, make sure that you have all of your necessary contact numbers on you. This should include those of your personal emergency contacts, your credit card providers and your insurance provider. This will ensure that you can get in contact with the relevant people in the chance of an emergency.

With so many different things to see and do when you go overseas, it can be easy to put off organising your money until the last minute. But taking the time to choose your travel money options before you leave can help you avoid extra costs and issues so that you can spend more time enjoying your trip.

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8 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    MargaretMarch 10, 2018

    We have ING accounts. What is the best cards to take with us to Canada? Credit card or Debit card or both? Probably will need to spend money on trips or purchases. Not sure what to take, (apart from a little cash)
    Thank you
    Margaret

    • finder Customer Care
      RonMarch 16, 2018Staff

      Hello Margaret,

      Please note that we are unable to advice you which option is the best for you as it would totally depend on your preference. Bringing a credit card is definitely convenient for you as it may give you access to first-class lounges, elicit VIP treatment at hotels and restaurants. As well, it will make it a bit convenient for you as Visa and Mastercard are accepted worldwide, and American Express is gaining ground. Many Australian debit cards will work overseas, but fewer establishments support them. Furthermore, some credit cards have complimentary travel insurance with transport accident cover. This provides cover for accidents during travel or when you are boarding or leaving a commercial aircraft, cruise ship or bus. It may also cover any loss in departure and destination terminals. Do check with your card provider if this is covered and how to activate your cover.

      Bringing a debit card is good as well. They usually are cheaper than credit cards since they don’t have as many fees attached to them. Additionally, since you are using your own funds, you won’t have to pay interest.

      One of the primary differences between a credit and a debit card is that the latter never offers a credit limit. In other words, if you have a debit card, you will only be using your personal funds and won’t have access to any credit.

      You may bring both with you instead which you may find better. You use one for everyday spending and maybe the occasional perk, and the other will have your back if something goes wrong. Think it through and weigh the pros and cons so you can decide better.

      Hope this helps!

      All the best,
      Ron

  2. Default Gravatar
    BronwynAugust 18, 2017

    Volunteering in South Africa for a year. Need to pay rent/food/car using funds in Australian bank account, with minimal currency conversion/ATM fees. Would a debit card, or credit card, or opening a Sth African bank account, offer best/least fees option?

    • Default Gravatar
      MariaAugust 19, 2017

      Hi Bronwyn,

      Thank you for reaching out to us.

      As finder is a financial comparison website offering general advice, we are not permitted to provide our users with personalised financial advice or make product recommendations.

      You may find useful information on our pages on Travel Money Debit Cards and 0% Foreign Fees Credit Cards.
      Another option you may consider is Prepaid Travel Money Cards.

      In opening a South African Bank account, it would be best to consult directly with your preferred bank regarding their fees to help you compare your options.

      I hope this helps.

      Cheers!
      Maria

  3. Default Gravatar
    DianaMay 16, 2017

    My husband and I will be going to Canada and Alaska later in the year. We will need a credit card for the trip we already have a debit card with St George. We will only require it for a month while overseas as our debit card is all we need in Australia. Can you give us some advice on what to do

    • finder Customer Care
      LiezlMay 16, 2017Staff

      Hi Daina,

      Thank you for your question. As a financial comparison service, we can’t recommend any one specific travel money strategy as the ‘best’ option will depend on your financial situation and travel plans.

      It’s always good to have a mixture of travel money options (such as cash, debit card and credit card) to give yourself a backup in case of emergency. You can check our travel money card comparison on this page to see what options are available for you.

      You may also opt to go with your current bank. Application process might be easier given that you already have an existing account with them. You can check their credit card offers on this page and travel cards on this page.

      I hope this has helped.

      Cheers,
      Liezl

  4. Default Gravatar
    MONTYSeptember 5, 2013

    I tried applying for a Bankwest ZERO Master Card
    I am a self funded retiree in Pension Mode. I was asked by one of their Reps. (after phoning the 1300 number and waiting approx. 5 minutes for a response) to supply them with dividend statements , investment property details and Centrelink payments etc. After telling the Rep I don’t receive a Pension and to send lease documents from my investment property as well as a share portfolio summary was ridiculous I offered to send a summary of my previous years income statement sent to the ATO. He insisted on my Centre Link payments (which I don’t receive any) but I explained I created my own self funded pension not the States. He could not get his head around it at all. So much for the people we deal with………a complete waste of time and I am an existing customers of their’s. I ask you what is the world coming to?

    • finder Customer Care
      JacobSeptember 5, 2013Staff

      Hi Monty.

      I ask myself the same question some days.

      Thanks for your comments.

      Jacob.

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