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How to keep your money safe when travelling

Heading overseas? Here are five tips to protect your finances on your next international trip.

No matter how often you travel or swear that you’ll be more careful with your money when you’re overseas, Australians suffered from almost $1 billion dollars worth of travel money mishaps when they travelled overseas in 2016. If that number surprises you, read on to discover how you can keep your money safe the next time you head overseas.

1. Bring more than one travel money option

Although you it might be easier to organise one travel option, it’s best not to put all your financial eggs in one basket. If you do, you risk being stranded without any cash if your money is misplaced or stolen.

Instead, you should organise a few travel money options before you leave for your trip. For example, you might want to use cash for day-to-day expenses, a travel card for ATM withdrawals to save on fees and a credit card with no foreign transaction fees as a backup for big ticket purchases or financial emergencies. Or you may want to consider a credit card with airport lounge passes, complimentary travel insurance or frequent flyer points you enjoy extra perks as you spend. If you prefer to spend your own cash, you could also consider a debit card with 0% foreign transaction fees to cut back on travel costs.

Having a variety will ensure that if you do lose one, you’ve got other ways to pay as a backup. Plus, then you’ll have a few alternatives to choose from if you want to dodge rates or fees that come with using different types of travel money. You can use our travel money guide to compare your options.

Compare travel cards, credit cards and debit cards

Rates last updated October 17th, 2018
Name Product Description Available Currencies ATM Withdrawal Fee Reload Fee Initial Load Fee
Hold up to 10 currencies and lock in your exchange rate. No load, reload or transaction fees on purchases and part of a worldwide ATM alliance.
AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD
AUD 3.50, USD 2.50, GBP 2.00, EUR 2.20, NZD 4.50, CAD 3.00, HKD 20.00, SGD 4.00, THB 95, JPY 260

0%
$0
Earn up to 15,000 bonus Qantas Points when you load foreign currency onto your Qantas Travel Money card before 31 October 2018.
AUD, AED, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD
AUD 1.95, CAD 2.00, EUR 1.50, GBP 1.25, HKD 15.00, JPY 160, NZD 2.50, SGD 2.50, USD 1.95, THB 70.00, AED 6.50

1%
$0

Compare up to 4 providers

Rates last updated October 17th, 2018
Name Product Foreign Currency Conversion Fee Overseas ATM Withdrawal Fee Overseas Cash Advance Fee Annual fee Product Description
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.
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.
Bankwest Breeze Platinum Mastercard
0% of transaction value
$0
2% of transaction amount or $4 (whichever is greater)
$99 p.a.
Receive a 0% p.a. interest rate on purchases and balance transfers for 13 months, complimentary travel insurance and 0% foreign transaction fees.
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.
Bankwest Qantas Platinum Mastercard
0% of transaction value
$0
2% or $4, whichever is greater
$160 p.a.
Enjoy 0% foreign transaction fees, complimentary travel insurances and earn 0.5 Qantas Points per $1 spent on eligible purchases.
Bankwest More World Mastercard
0% of transaction value
$0
2% of transaction amount or $4 (whichever is greater)
$270 p.a.
Earn 115,000 bonus points when you meet the spend requirement, receive complimentary travel insurance and a LoungeKey membership.
Bankwest More Platinum Mastercard
0% of transaction value
$0
2% of transaction amount or $4 (whichever is greater)
$160 p.a.
Earn 2 More Rewards Points per $1 spent, 75,000 bonus points when you meet the spend requirement and save with 0% foreign transaction fees.

Compare up to 4 providers

Rates last updated October 17th, 2018
$
Name Product Product Description Debit Card Access ATM Withdrawal Fee Monthly Account Fee Overseas ATM Withdrawal Fee Overseas Eftpos Fee
ING Orange Everyday Account
Receive a rebate on any international transaction fees and international ATM fees when you deposit at least $1,000 a month and make at least 5 card purchases.
Visa
$0
$2.50
2.5%
NAB Classic Banking with Platinum Visa Debit Card
$10 cashback on contactless purchases, $0 foreign transaction fee and complimentary travel insurance.
$10 monthly account fee.
Receive $10 cashback when you spend $1000 on contactless purchases. Complimentary travel insurance, transport accident insurance, purchase protection insurance and more when you meet eligibility criteria.
Visa
$0
$5
0%
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.
Visa
$0
$0
$0
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 2.25% p.a. interest on your AUD balance.
Mastercard
$0
$0
$0

Compare up to 4 providers

2. Keep your cash concealed and secure

Although you might feel like a baller if you have a wad of cash in your wallet, it’s not ideal to pull this out overseas as you might become a target for theft. Instead, you should keep a small amount of cash on you in a secure place, such as a zipped up bag or a wallet. Another idea is to keep some cash in a secure place in your hotel as an emergency just in case you misplace some funds.

3. Use ATMs in safer locations

Using ATM’s in the hotel you’re staying in as well as large shopping centres are safer than using them in rural areas, as there is a chance that you will stand out as a tourist and become a target for theft.

You may want to avoid withdrawing large amounts at a time and you should also be aware of any daily withdrawal limits that may apply. As always, make sure to cover your PIN when you’re entering your details when getting cash.

travel-money-pack-banner

4. Contact your bank before you leave

There’s nothing worse than wanting to buy a gelato in Italy and having your card declined because you forget to tell your bank you’ve gone overseas. If you let your bank know that you’re going on a trip and when you’ll be returning home, you can spend as normal when overseas. Your bank will be on alert if any unusual purchases are made overseas or back home using your account details.

5. Contact your bank immediately if your card is lost or stolen

If you realise that your card has been lost or stolen, contact your bank or card issuer immediately. Many companies have 24/7 customer service emergency numbers in case of issues like this.

Depending on the card provider, your options when it comes to accessing your funds vary. For example, if you have a Suncorp Cash Passport Travel Card, a complimentary card will have been issued with your first card in case of loss or theft.

Some providers also offer emergency money transfers, as well as the option to immediately block one or both of your cards.

Before you leave, make sure you’re across what these options are in the case of an emergency. It’s also wise to save your card issuer’s emergency contact number in your phone before you leave. You can also check out our guide on what to do if your travel card is lost or stolen for more information.

Keep these five money tips in mind for your next trip overseas and keep your money safe!

Pictures: Shutterstock

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Sally McMullen

Sally McMullen is an editor at finder.com.au who is a credit cards, frequent flyer and travel money expert by day and music maven by night.

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