How to avoid foreign currency exchange fees when travelling

Are you going overseas? Pay $0 foreign transaction fees with the right travel money option and save.

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Most credit cards and debit cards will charge you a foreign transaction fee when you spend in the local currency while travelling overseas. These costs can add up, so you may want to consider a card that doesn't charge any foreign transaction fees to cut your travel costs. You can use this guide to compare your options and pick up some other tips to save on your next international holiday.

Compare credit cards with 0% foreign transaction fee and other travel money products

Rates last updated October 21st, 2019
Name Product Foreign Currency Conversion Fee Overseas ATM Withdrawal Fee Overseas Cash Advance Fee Annual fee Product Description
Latitude 28° Global 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.
Bankwest Zero Platinum Mastercard
0% of transaction value
$0
2% of transaction amount or $4 (whichever is greater)
$0 p.a.
Offers a $0 annual fee, 0% foreign transaction fees, complimentary international travel insurance and a balance transfer offer.
ING Orange One Platinum
2.5%
of transaction value
$2.50
$149 p.a.
Enjoy up to $30 cashback per month and 100% foreign transaction fee rebates. Available when you hold or open an Orange Everyday account.
Bankwest Breeze Platinum Mastercard
0% of transaction value
$0
2% of transaction amount or $4 (whichever is greater)
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($99 p.a. thereafter)
Enjoy 0% p.a. on balance transfers for 6 months and a $0 first year annual fee. Plus, complimentary insurance and no foreign transaction fees.
ANZ Rewards Travel Adventures card
0% of transaction value
$0
$225 p.a.
Receive 75,000 bonus Velocity Points, a complimentary flight and 2 Virgin lounge passes per year. Plus, 0% foreign transaction fees.

Compare up to 4 providers

Rates last updated October 21st, 2019
$
Name Product Product Description Debit Card Access ATM Withdrawal Fee Monthly Account Fee Overseas ATM Withdrawal Fee Overseas Eftpos Fee
HSBC Everyday Global Account
Special offer: $100 bonus for new HSBC customers.
Earn 2% cashback on tap and pay purchases under $100.
Enjoy no foreign ATM or transaction fees and the flexibility to hold up to 10 currencies. Apple Pay and Google Pay available. T&C's apply to $100 bonus and 2% cashback offers.
Visa
$0
$0
$0
Westpac Choice
Take advantage of Westpac's Global Alliance and save on overseas ATM fees at over 50,000 locations worldwide with fee-free cash withdrawals.
Mastercard
$0
$5
3%
Citi Global Currency Account
Hold up to 10 currencies.
$0 monthly account fee.
Enjoy one linked debit card to hold up to 10 currencies and receive foreign currencies for free. Earn up to 1.50% p.a. interest on your AUD balance.
Mastercard
$0
$0
$0
CUA Everyday Snap Account
Refund of international ATM withdrawal fees and international card transaction fees (conditions apply). Refund of overdrawn fees.
$0 monthly account fee. Unlimited fee-free everyday transactions.
Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay available. Savings Top Up tool automatically transfers to linked savings account.
Visa
$0
$3.50
2.75%

Compare up to 4 providers

How can you avoid foreign currency exchange fees?

No foreign transaction fee credit cards

Most credit cards charge a foreign transaction fee of around 3% each time you spend in an international currency. If you're travelling overseas, you could consider a credit card that charges 0% foreign transaction fees. Some of these cards also charge no annual fees and no ATM withdrawal fees, but you still may be charged an overseas cash advance fee if you withdraw cash from an ATM. Some of these cards also offer other travel-centric perks like complimentary insurance, frequent flyer points and global wifi.

These cards usually charge high purchase interest rates. With this in mind, it's important that you pay your balance in full before the end of the statement period so any that your foreign transaction fee savings aren't outweighed by interest costs.

Prepaid travel money cards

You can load a prepaid travel money card with Australian dollars and then convert it into a supported currency and pay no foreign transaction fees when you spend in that currency. These cards usually support up to 10 foreign currencies including USD, GBP, NZD, EUR and JPY. You can use these cards to pay at the checkout and withdraw cash from an ATM overseas. You may be charged additional fees for topping up your account balance, withdrawing cash or closing the card depending on the card. If you spend in a currency that isn't supported by the card, you'll be charged a foreign transaction fee.

As you're spending your own money, you won't be charged any interest rates. When you move your Australian dollars into one of the supported currency wallets, it will be locked in at the exchange rate that's in place at the time. While this can protect your budget from fluctuating exchange rates, these cards don't always offer the most competitive foreign exchange rates.

Debit cards with no foreign transaction fees

Most Australian debit cards charge fees for overseas transactions, so you may want to consider a debit card that doesn't charge foreign transaction fees. Some of these cards also charge $0 ATM withdrawal and account fees. If you're withdrawing cash, local ATM fees may apply. Unlike a prepaid travel card, the current exchange rates will apply each time you make a transaction and withdraw cash.

Using cash

Using cash is another way to spend fee-free while you're overseas. It's not safe to carry your entire travel budget in cash, so you should aim to keep some cash on you and the rest in a secure spot (like your locked suitcase or hotel safe). If you're using a card that charges no or low ATM withdrawal fees, you can also withdraw small amounts throughout the duration of your trip to keep your funds secure.

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What are the other costs and features to consider?

  • ATM fees. If you’re not careful, you could end up paying fees for using an overseas ATM twice. Unless your bank has a global ATM alliance that allows you to make international withdrawals for free, you could be charged by your bank and the issuing bank for withdrawals and account balance enquiries when travelling.
  • Supported currencies and global acceptance. Make sure the card you’re using will work where you're travelling. Make sure that your credit card is accepted worldwide, as you can expect with a Visa, Mastercard or American Express. If you’re using a travel money card, make sure it supports the local currency you’ll be using or doesn’t charge a currency conversion fee.
  • Merchant fees. You might find in some places that the merchant adds a surcharge to your transaction for using a foreign issued credit card. Check your bill before paying to avoid these fees and have backup travel money options (such as cash or a travel card) on hand if this is the case.
  • Exchange rates. Check to see how often exchange rates are updated and if there are additional fees for currency conversion. A good way to avoid negative exchange rate movements is to lock in the rates with a travel money card.
  • Additional travel perks. Credit cards with complimentary travel insurance, a 24/7 global emergency customer service line and frequent flyer rewards programs are all extras that could help you get more value from your card.

How often you travel, the length of your stay and the way that you spend money abroad all factor into your decision about the type of credit, debit or travel card to use abroad. When you're travelling, it's wise to spread your budget over multiple options so that in the event of an emergency (for example, if your card is lost, stolen or used for fraudulent transactions) you have access to funds.

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33 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    shainzJune 28, 2017

    I’m going overseas soon and considering getting a credit card that charges no currency conversion fees. However, looking back on my current credit card records, it seems I have been charged the conversion fee at times and not others. For example, all transactions I made in a previous US trip did not have a fee attached but most (but not all) of my online purchases in online stores do. What is the logic here? Wouldn’t the transactions made in the US need to be converted in the same way? Thanks.

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      MayJune 28, 2017Staff

      Hi Shainz,

      Thanks for reaching out.

      Typically, when you’re shopping online or travelling overseas, credit cards charge fees of 2% to 3% for your transaction in a foreign currency. Although some there are some credit cards that waive this foreign transaction fee. If you’d like to compare the credit cards that do not charge foreign conversion fee, please click this link.

      Cheers,
      May

  2. Default Gravatar
    matthewMay 20, 2016

    The company that I work for has told me that they can pay me in USD at the current exchange rate eliminating the need to convert AUD to foreign currency at the banks exchange rate. Is there any travel card that I can get that I can load foreign currency directly on to.

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      MayMay 23, 2016Staff

      Hi Matthew,

      Thanks for your inquiry.

      Yes, there are actually travel money cards that you’ll be able to load and reload multiple currencies onto. You can find them here.

      I hope this has helped.

      Cheers,
      May

    • Default Gravatar
      matthewMay 23, 2016

      Yes, I know but are there travel cards that I can load USD directly on to them not by converting AUD to USD at the banks exchange rates. I can get paid in USD so this would save me a lot of money with conversion fee’s and lost money due to banks low currency exchange rates on these cards.

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      MayMay 23, 2016Staff

      Hi Matthew,

      Thanks for you reply.

      Yes, there are travel cards that will allow you to load USD directly onto the card. In fact, all Australian travel money card issuers allow you to do that. You can lock in an exchange rate when you convert AUD to USD and spend without paying the extra 3% for currency conversion. Please feel free to visit this page for more information.

      I hope this has helped.

      Cheers,
      May

  3. Default Gravatar
    KayeMay 17, 2016

    We have a Bankwest Platinum credit card which we plan to use when travelling overseas. Some people are saying that if you pre-load this card with your own money, any cash withdrawal using your own money has ‘no’ cash withdrawal fee applied because it is the platinum card. Is this the case?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      MayMay 17, 2016Staff

      Hi Kaye,

      Thanks for your question.

      Unfortunately, that is not the case. However, you can load your Bankwest Platinum credit card with funds. Please find the two circumstances below when loading your account with funds:

      1. If your account is current and has no outstanding balance – it will make your card in a positive balance. If you withdraw cash at any ATMs abroad, you will be charged with $4 fee every time you withdraw but, you will not be charged with a foreign transaction fee.

      In the meantime, if you withdraw money that is more than your loaded funds (money from your credit limit), that transaction is considered as a cash advance and fees/interests as well as foreign transaction fees will be charged to your account.

      2. If your account has outstanding balance – any amount you load onto your credit card will clear the debt first and be regarded as a Credit Card Payment. As an example, you have $10,000 credit limit and you have a current outstanding balance of $6,000 (spent), that means you only have $4,000 left on the account (credit limit). Once you load your card with $8,000, the $6,000 will be treated as a payment and you only have $2,000 left to use your own funds.

      I hope this has answered your question.

      Cheers,
      May

  4. Default Gravatar
    AnnMay 1, 2016

    I’m going to Europe and I’m confused re the pre loaded card. There seems to be a fee to have it also a fee for transactions. I’m consider ing just convert my money before I go. But I’ll also have money in my own debit card, how do I access this money without paying excess fees??? All confusing????????

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      YsaMay 4, 2016Staff

      Hi Ann,

      Thanks for your question.

      Pre-loaded cards or prepaid travel cards lets you hold multiple currencies in Europe. However, in some cases, spending in a currency not loaded on the card will incur you currency conversion fees.

      On the other hand, there are also some charges associated with international debit card use, usually ATM and currency conversion fees. To avoid incurring these fees, take time to compare which debit card is right and suitable for your next holiday in Europe.

      You may wish to check our Travel Money Guide: Europe for a comprehensive guide and clear comparison on how each travel money option work in Europe.

      I hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Ysa

  5. Default Gravatar
    MarieApril 24, 2016

    I am travelling soon and will be using GBP, USD & euros. I don’t know how much of each I will need Do I have to load specific amounts of each denomination? Are they interchangeable?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      SallyMay 13, 2016Staff

      Hi Marie,

      Thanks for your question.

      If you get a travel money card, you can load Australian dollars on your card and then transfer them to the relevant currency wallets as you need to use the funds. So, say you’re visiting the UK first, you can move your funds into your UK currency wallet, then transfer the remaining funds into your Euros wallet or USD wallet as you need them.

      You can start comparing travel money cards here.

      I hope this has helped.

      Cheers,

      Sally

  6. Default Gravatar
    robertApril 7, 2016

    is there a conversion charge for using a debit card oversees

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      SharonApril 8, 2016Staff

      Hi Robert, thanks for your inquiry.

      Australian debit cards when used overseas will require currency conversion fees. You may also refer to our best debit cards to use when travelling overseas* review to help you save money if you’re planning to use one.

      Cheers,

      Sharon

  7. Default Gravatar
    ronOctober 3, 2015

    what credit card will allow me to preload using my own money and then allow me to withdraw it overseas from an atm or bank without charging me the cash advance fees

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JonathanOctober 6, 2015Staff

      Hi Ron, thanks for your inquiry!

      Preloading a credit card can avoid the cash advance fees, however regular benefits such as fraud protection can be lost in such circumstances. We do not currently have a list of cards that allow this transaction, was there a specific bank/lender you had in mind today? You may like to refer to our guide on how to avoid foreign currency exchange fees when travelling.

      Cheers,

      Jonathan

  8. Default Gravatar
    MitchellSeptember 4, 2015

    Some European merchants capitalizing on the fact that many Americans are intimidated by unusual currencies cheerfully charge you for converting their prices to dollars before running your credit card. So, how can a smart traveler avoid or at least reduce these fees?

  9. Default Gravatar
    NigelJanuary 19, 2015

    Hi, I have noted the cash advance fee from ATM’s overseas but can you confirm if interest in charged from the day you obtain that cash advance? Is this interest negated if the full outstanding balance is paid within the 55 day period?

    • Default Gravatar
      NigelJanuary 20, 2015

      Hi Jonathan,

      Thanks for your reply. Sorry I should have been more specific regarding which card I would be using. It would be a 28 degrees MasterCard with the 55 day interest free period. Given this info can you specify what charges would be payable and whether the interest on the cash advance only starts to be charged after the 55 day period or from the day the cash a advance is taken out. Thanks again for your help.

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JonathanJanuary 20, 2015Staff

      Hi Nigel,

      A cash advance fee of 3% of the cash advance or $4 (whichever is greater) will be charged to the account on each occasion on which you obtain a cash advance or make a cash equivalent transaction, interest will be charged on the cash advance fee on a daily basis from the date of the withdrawal. If your account is in credit, you will not be charged interest on the cash advance fee.

      I hope this helps!

      Cheers,

      Jonathan

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JonathanJanuary 20, 2015Staff

      Hi Nigel,

      Thanks for your question,

      Depending on the credit card you are using, on top of the normal interest rate and lack of interest free days, you can be imposed a $1-$10 / 1%-4% fee (whichever is higher) every time you carry out an overseas cash advance. You will also be charged the standard cash advance rate for your credit card (as well as the international cash advance fee).

      I hope this helps!

      Cheers,

      Jonathan

  10. Default Gravatar
    aengusJune 28, 2014

    I like 28 degrees but as they changed the rules on 1st of Jan 2014 and now charge 3% or $4 for cash-out from a preloaded card, I use it for online or credit transactions abroad only

    Cash out, at $2.50 per t transaction, I do via Ing orange everyday, a debit card.

Credit Cards Comparison

Rates last updated October 21st, 2019
Name Product Purchase rate (p.a.) Balance transfer rate Annual fee Product Description
HSBC Platinum Credit Card - Balance Transfer Offer
19.99% p.a.
0% p.a. for 22 months
$129 p.a.
Enjoy a balance transfer offer, yearly annual fee refund, airport lounge passes and complimentary insurance covers.
Latitude Low Rate Mastercard
9.89% p.a.
$69 p.a.
Offers a competitively low interest rate and annual fee, plus up to 55 interest-free days on purchases.
Qantas Premier Platinum
19.99% p.a.
0% p.a. for 18 months
$199 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($299 p.a. thereafter)
Get up to 120,000 bonus Qantas Points (20,000/month) when you spend $1,500/month for the first 6 months. Ends 31 October 2019.
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Balance Transfer Offer
20.74% p.a.
0% p.a. for 22 months with 1% balance transfer fee
$64 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter)
Save with a 0% p.a. interest rate on balance transfers for the first 22 months, with a 1% balance transfer fee. Plus, a reduced $64 first year annual fee.

Compare up to 4 providers

* The credit card offers compared on this page are chosen from a range of credit cards finder.com.au has access to track details from and is not representative of all the products available in the market. Products are displayed in no particular order or ranking. The use of terms 'Best' and 'Top' are not product ratings and are subject to our disclaimer. You should consider seeking independent financial advice and consider your own personal financial circumstances when comparing cards.

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