Foreign currency transactions using debit cards

These cards could offer you flexibility and savings by letting you use your own money overseas with limited fees.

Debit cards are becoming an increasingly competitive option for Australians making foreign transactions. Some debit card providers are matching offers of credit cards and travel money cards by offering low transactions fees, low interest rates and international money transfer options. Take a look at the guide to debit cards for foreign transactions to see if they might be an option for.

$0 international ATM withdrawal fee offer

HSBC Everyday Global Account

$0 international ATM withdrawal fee offer

No foreign ATM or transaction fees. $0 monthly account fee. Enjoy no minimum ongoing balance or transaction requirements and the flexibility to hold up to 10 currencies. Apple Pay and Google Pay available.

  • Account keeping fee: $0.00
  • Linked debit card: Visa
  • ATM withdrawal fee: $0.00
  • Overseas EFTPOS fee: $0.00
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Rates last updated March 23rd, 2019
Name Product Debit Card Access ATM Withdrawal Fee Fee Free Deposit p.m. Monthly Account Fee Product Description
HSBC Everyday Global Account
No foreign ATM or transaction fees.
$0 monthly account fee.
Enjoy no minimum ongoing balance or transaction requirements and the flexibility to hold up to 10 currencies. Apple Pay and Google Pay available.
ING Orange Everyday Account
$0 international transaction fees.
ATM fee rebate.
Pay no International transaction fees and receive a rebate on overseas ATM withdrawal fees when you deposit $1,000 per month and make 5+ card purchases a month
Citi Global Currency Account
$0 transaction fee on international purchases.
Save on international transaction fees by using local currencies with your debit card.
If you’re shopping online on a US site, you can set your debit card transaction currency to USD to pay no international transaction fees.

Compare up to 4 providers

Rates last updated March 23rd, 2019
Name Product Debit Card Access ATM Withdrawal Fee Fee Free Deposit p.m. Monthly Account Fee Product Description
HSBC Everyday Global Account
The HSBC Everyday Global Account is both an everyday transaction account and a multi-currency account in one with no overseas ATM or transaction fees
Citi Global Currency Account
Pay $0 international transaction fees and $0 overseas ATM fees when you use a foreign currency linked with your account in a country that uses that currency. Make sure your debit card is linked to the correct currency before using an ATM, otherwise a foreign exchange fee applies.
ING Orange Everyday Account
Pay no International transaction fees and receive a rebate on overseas ATM withdrawal fees when you deposit $1,000 per month and make 5+ card purchases

Compare up to 4 providers

What are the features of debit cards for foreign transactions?

Now you can use your own money and also take advantage of the following features:

  • Low foreign transaction fees. When you make a foreign transaction with any debit card you will be charged certain fees, but some debit cards have low fees or waive these fees altogether.
  • Prepaid options. Card providers have come out with various prepaid debit card options for travellers that allow you to load your card with the money you want to spend. These cards let you save on currency conversions and also some foreign transaction fees.
  • Low ATM fees. Some cards do not charge you to use foreign ATMs, which can save you a considerable amount of money when travelling.
  • Low interest rates. Debit cards generally charge very low interest rates or no interest rates at all, which make them a competitive option when compared to what you could be charged for using some credit cards.

Other benefits

  • Global money transfers. If you regularly make foreign purchases or payments then you can take advantage of free transfers to global banking locations, a service offered by some debit cards.
  • Rewards programs. Some debit cards let you earn rewards points for eligible purchases which you can use to claim travel benefits. Take a look at whether your card is linked to a frequent flyer program or a dedicated provider rewards program.
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A guide to foreign transaction fees

Foreign transactions come with additional fees and charges that are not applicable for ordinary transactions. It's important to understand all fees involved with these transactions so you can compare your debit card options and find one that will cost you the least money. Think about what kind of foreign transactions you will be making and then pick a card that suits how you'll be using it. Here are some fees to look out for:

  • ATM fees

When you are using a credit card or debit card overseas you can expect to be charged for using an ATM. Some providers will charge you a fee as high as $5 for using a foreign ATM, and you have to pay that on top of the fee you are charged from the ATM provider. Make sure you check the fees charged for using your card and then work out how much you will have to pay for each ATM transaction, which includes checking your balance, transferring and withdrawing money. To save on these fees try and withdraw a large amount of money when you visit a foreign ATM to limit the amount of times you will be charged.

  • International money transfers

International money transfers are where you send money overseas through an international transfer system using different currencies. Some debit cards allow you to transfer money to partner banks in various countries and charge you no fees. Using other methods, such as online money transfers, you may be charged fees as high as $30. If you often need to make foreign money transfers then a debit card that offers this for free may be worth considering.

  • Currency conversion fees

Currency conversion fees are charged each time you make a transaction and the bank needs to convert your money into a different currency. Depending on how you go about converting your money you could be charged fees as high as 3.4% of your transaction amount. If you make this transaction at an ATM or at an airport then you can be charged extra fees on top of the interest you are charged, and you can also lose money through unfavourable foreign transaction rates.

Other considerations

When you are comparing your travel money options, there are a few things to consider before you make your decision. If you are thinking about using a debit card on your trip then you should check the areas you will be travelling in and think about what access you will have to your money, and also what you will be charged for this access. Check to see if your bank has any partner ATMs that will not charge you fees to help you save money.

You should also consider what you will be using your card for. If you are travelling around and will be using multiple currencies and want to use a debit card, you can limit your transaction fees by only withdrawing money once or twice for each place you visit so you do not have to pay multiple currency conversions. Although if this is the case, you may benefit from a travel money card that allows multiple currencies to be uploaded to the card.

To make sure you get the best travel money option for you, you should compare cards online and pick the one that best suits your travel needs.

What are the pros and cons to using a low currency conversion fee debit card?


  • Use your own money. Debit cards allow you to use only your own money when travelling so you can limit your chance of overspending.
  • Accessibility. Most debit cards are linked to providers such as Visa and Mastercard so you can enjoy the same access to your money as you have with a credit card.
  • Savings. Debit cards can offer low foreign transaction fees, no ATM fees, low interest rates and prepaid options which all give you opportunities to save money.
  • Linked to your bank account. Using a card that is directly linked to your transaction account makes it quick and easy to transfer money onto your card without being charged reload fees.


  • No extra funds. You have no access to emergency funds like you do with credit cards, which may be limiting while you are overseas.
  • Limited special benefits. Debit cards do not offer the same travel benefits that come with some credit cards, for example some do not offer complimentary travel insurance.
  • Cannot lock in exchange rates. Other travel money options allow you to lock in exchange rates, but this is not an option for debit cards and as such you may lose out on money.

How do I apply?

To apply for a debit card for foreign transactions simply follow the secure link on this page which will take you through to the card provider's online application form. The application process differs between providers, but generally you will need to provide the following:

  • Personal details such as your name and address
  • Forms of identification ie. driver's license, medicare, passport, birth certificate etc.
  • In some cases you may need to provide financial details

Eligibility criteria

The eligibility criteria for debit cards is generally not as strict as it is with credit cards. Card providers do not usually require a good credit rating because these cards only allow you to use your own money, not theirs. Debit cards also offer options for people who are looking for joint applications, which is great for you if you are travelling with a partner or a card option if you have children under 18.

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2 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    JoApril 20, 2018

    I am travelling to the US and I’m considering using my ING Visa debit card because l meet the criteria to receive a rebate on all international ATM fees as well a currency convention fee waiver.
    Is there anything else l need to consider as apposed to using a travel card and how do l find out the exchange rate they use?

    • finder Customer Care
      NikkiApril 20, 2018Staff

      Hi Jo,

      Thanks for your message and for visiting finder – the leading comparison website & general information service built to give you advice in your buying decision needs. How are you doing today?

      Travel benefits by taking a debit card overseas

      * Account security. Both Visa and Mastercard debit cards offer zero liability policies that allow you to get a refund on any fraudulent transactions that are made. Depending on the card, you could also get 24/7 emergency support, fraud-monitoring services and transaction alerts.
      * Fee-free cash withdrawals. Unlike credit cards, you can use your debit card to withdraw cash from an ATM without being charged a cash advance fee or interest. Some debit cards, such as those offered by Westpac and St.George, also offer international ATM alliances that give you a global network of ATMs you can use to avoid transaction fees.
      * Currency conversion costs. Like credit cards, there are some debit cards that charge a foreign transaction fee when you use them overseas or online with an international retailer. Your transaction will also be converted into the appropriate currency based on the daily exchange rate, meaning you won’t know how much money you have left until the transaction shows up on your account. This is the same with any credit card but could be avoided by pre-loading foreign currency onto a travel money card.
      * No interest charges. While you could be charged interest on your balance when you use the 28 Degrees Platinum Mastercard (or any other credit card), debit cards don’t charge interest because you’re spending your own money.

      Features and benefits of prepaid travel cards offer

      Travel cards are designed to be used overseas or for shopping online with retailers that are based overseas. With these cards, you can avoid foreign transaction fees by loading and spending money in a range of foreign currencies. This also allows you to lock-in an exchange rate before you leave, meaning you’ll know exactly how much travel money you have available on the card.

      In comparison, regular debit cards and credit cards – including the 28 Degrees Platinum Mastercard – will convert foreign transactions using a daily exchange rate. As a result, you won’t know your exact account balance until the transaction is added to your credit card or debit card’s account. Other features and benefits vary depending on the travel card but could include:
      * Security. Similar to regular credit cards and debit cards, travel cards offer security features such as 24/7 emergency support and zero liability for fraudulent transactions made on your account.
      * A backup card. Some travel cards come with an additional card you can use if the main card is lost or stolen. Each card has its own number and PIN, which means you’ll still have access to the account even if you have to cancel one of them.
      * Rewards. Some travel money cards, such as the Qantas Cash and Velocity Global Wallet Card offer points per $1 spent that you could use to redeem rewards such as flights or flight upgrades.
      * Account fees. While travel money cards do give you a way to avoid foreign transaction fees, make sure you look out for additional costs such as loading fees, ATM transaction fees or inactivity fees that could add to the cost of your card.

      how do l find out the exchange rate they use?

      – Since you’re card waives the current conversion fee, any transactions processed while you are in the US will only incur the conversion rate by your bank from AUD to USD. To find out their current exchange rate, you may call your bank when you get to the US.

      Hope this helps! Feel free to message us anytime should you have further questions.


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