Which option is right for your next trip?
|Travel Money Feature|
Prepaid Travel Card
|No currency conversion fees|
|No ATM withdrawal fees|
|No initial currency load fee||-||-|
|Instant reload (no delay)||-||-|
|Emergency cash facility|
|Purchase over the counter (EFTPOS)|
|Chip & Pin protection|
|Emergency card replacement|
|Online account login|
|Reward points for spending|
|Frequent flyer benefits|
|Promotional interest rates|
(0% purchases, 0% balance transfers)
This table is a general summary of the travel money products in the market. Features and benefits can vary between cards.
The best* travel money card for you will depend on your holiday destination, how you plan to use the card and what you can afford. Prepaid travel cards, credit cards and debit cards all have their uses, but the differences lie in their features and fees. As such, many travellers opt for more than one type for greater convenience and security.
Here you can compare the different travel money options available on the Australian market to discover which one offers you the best value for your next holiday.
When you load Australian dollars onto a prepaid travel card, you can transfer them into the supported currencies (such as USD, UKD and NZD) so that you can spend or withdraw your own funds without the cost of currency conversion fees while overseas. To determine whether a travel card is the right choice for you, weigh up some of the pros and cons below.
Jeremy stood shoulder to shoulder with locals and tourists, trying to keep his footing as the metro made its way towards the Colosseum. As more and more people packed onto the train, Jeremy lost his girlfriend to the glacial movement of the crowd pulling her towards the back. When he felt a brush against his rear, he was a little surprised but thought nothing of it and put it down to one of those 'packed train moments'. A moment was all the pickpocket needed to steal Jeremy's wallet.
Jeremy got on the phone to his card protection service, Secure Sentinel. A call to this service is supposed to be the 'one stop shop' for cancelling cards, but Jeremy ended up having to call each bank separately, which led to a number of frustrating hours spent on the phone, instead of hours negotiating in Italy's famous tourist traps.
Luckily for Jeremy, he had done his homework. Jeremy is a publisher at finder.com.au, so he knew to get a prepaid card before he left - they come with a backup. To his girlfriend's delight, the backup card saved their trip and they were back on the streets of Rome the next day; albeit with an eye on their pockets. It almost wasn't such a sure thing. Like any smart traveller should, Jeremy had done his research before he left the country and he knew to spread his money between a couple of cards and his girlfriend.
Be like Jeremy and do your homework before you leave.
Enjoy financial security, flexibility and extra features with a credit card. Look for a credit card that is designed for overseas use, preferably one that doesn’t charge currency conversion fees, foreign transaction fees or overseas ATM withdrawal fees. If you have a prepaid or debit card for everyday purchases, you might want to leave your credit card for emergencies. Plus, credit cards come with features like overseas travel insurance, a concierge service and rewards programs that could come in handy on your travel. Credit cards tend to be expensive though, so you can weigh up the costs and the benefits here.
Travel debit cards draw funds from a savings account and enable you to access your funds whilst overseas and manage your budget. The advantages of using a debit card can include international ATM alliances and no withdrawal fees, no currency conversion fees on foreign transactions and access to your savings.
Holding a certain amount of cash/foreign exchange provides convenience and payment flexibility for your travelling needs. It is commonplace to exchange a practical amount of currency in Australia for when you land (for taxis, travel tariffs, food etc) to ensure a smooth transition into your new holiday destination.
Knowing how the Australian dollar (AUD) has performed against the foreign currency in the past few years and the months where it typically peaks will enable you to secure the best exchange rate for your foreign exchange transaction. Our travel money guides will inform you on some of the ways to access cash and ATMs worldwide.
Travellers cheques were once a widely used form of travel money, but they’re going the way of the dinosaur. You can weigh up whether they’re worth your time below:
How a travellers cheque could still work for you
Considerations to keep in mind
A cross currency conversion fee is charged when you use your Australian card with Australian dollars to make a purchase in a foreign country. The money is exchanged from Australian dollars into the local currency electronically.
Banks who have international ATM alliances will allow you to withdraw cash for free. Westpac have one of the largest ATM alliances out of any Australian Bank. Global lenders like Citi and HSBC have a number of ATMs worldwide, and Citi do not charge for international ATM withdrawals. So if you're a Citi customer looking to use your card overseas, head to a Citi ATM and all you'll pay for the withdrawal is the currency conversion fee.
Although this method of loading travel funds is rarely disclosed in the banks terms and conditions, loading your credit card into a positive balance can avoid the cash advance interest rate.
As smart travellers have continued to use this method, banks have made changes to their fees and charges. The following fees may still apply when you load your account into credit:
Many premium credit card issuers will offer complimentary travel insurance as an added bonus for successful applicants. The decision on whether to go with this complimentary cover or to purchase a standalone policy will really come down to your cover requirements and budget. While the cover provided on credit cards may not offer the same comprehensive level of cover as that from a travel insurance issuer, you may already have other cover in place from other insurance and feel that your trip requirements don't need the cover options available on standalone policies. Either way it's important to compare the benefits available from both options and get a clear understanding of the exclusions for payment. The last thing you need when travelling is the nasty surprise that you are not actually covered for losses in the event that you need to make a claim.
If you have a travel card that has an inactivity fee (a fee that's charged every month when your account is inactive for a period of time), you will lose any remaining funds on the card, but your account won't go into a negative balance. Once the card has no funds left on it, this fee will not be charged.
The eligibility requirements will differ between policies, but a general rule is that you have to pay for a percentage of your prepaid travel expenses with your card or by simply logging into your account online and activating the policy with your trip details (departure date, travel destinations etc). Once you've done this, you're automatically covered under the policy agreement — although keep in mind that each policy has a list of exclusions that you should check before travelling.
compartment under your shirt to minimise the risk of theft and loss. If security and peace of mind is your first priority when travelling and you don't mind a piece of fabric strapped around your waist, then investing in a travel money belt will protect your travel money cards and important valuables.
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