Travel Money Finder™ – Guide to Travelling With Money Overseas

Discover how far your travel money can take you.

From cash to travel cards, credit cards and regular debit cards, compare different travel money options you can use around the world.

Prepaid travel cards, credit cards, debit cards and cash all have their uses, but the differences lie in their features and fees. So it’s often convenient to take a combination of travel money options with you or at least to have a back-up option on hand. 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.

Travel debit cards

If you have a Visa or Mastercard debit card that’s linked to an everyday account, you could continue to use it when you’re travelling overseas. This gives you a way to spend your own money without transferring or converting it beforehand. Some everyday debit cards offer travel benefits such as international ATM alliances to help you avoid overseas withdrawal fees or 0% currency conversion fees.

Compare travel debit cards

Rates last updated August 16th, 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

Compare up to 4 providers

What are the benefits of travelling with a debit card?

  • Pay with your own money. Unlike a credit card with a line of credit or a prepaid card with a loaded amount of funds, a debit card gives you direct access to your transaction or savings account when you’re in another country. This can save you time compared to loading money on a prepaid card and can help you avoid cash advance or interest charges that could apply on a credit card.
  • ATM availability worldwide. If your debit card is a Visa or Mastercard, you should be able to withdraw money from ATMs around the world. To avoid ATM withdrawal fees, look for a card with a global ATM network, such as Westpac’s Global ATM Alliance or Citi’s international ATM network.
  • Card fraud protection. Australian debit cards offer security features such as fraud-monitoring services and zero-liability policies that can help you get your money back if your card is used for fraud.

What do I need to know when I travel with my debit card?

  • Foreign transaction fees. Unless your debit card offers 0% international transaction fees, you could be charged between 1% and 4% for all payments made in a foreign currency.
  • Dynamic currency conversion. Similar to credit cards, you may have the option of paying in the local currency or in Australian dollars when you use your debit card overseas. Choosing Australian dollars means the transaction will be processed using dynamic currency conversion, which usually adds between 6% and 8% to the transaction cost.
  • No back-up or additional card. Unlike some travel money cards, debit card accounts do not provide a backup. This means that you may have to wait up to two weeks for a replacement if you’ve lost your card or had it stolen overseas.
  • Daily currency exchange rate. You will receive the daily exchange rate for your withdrawal from Mastercard or Visa. Due to the uncertainty of exchange rates, this may be favourable or provide a lower rate than securing a rate with a prepaid travel card before you leave the country. You can get an idea of how the Mastercard and Visa exchange rates compare here.

CASE STUDY: Do your homework first

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 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 since they come with a backup. To his girlfriend's delight, the back-up 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.

Travel debit cards draw funds from a savings account and enable you to access your funds while overseas and to 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.

Foreign cash

While cards are convenient and secure, it’s a good idea to have some foreign cash on hand when you go overseas. This allows you to make payments when cards are not accepted, such as at smaller cafes, stores or even public transport ticket machines. It also means you’ll have some funds available even if something happens to your card. You can buy foreign currency in Australia from specific outlets or order it online. You can also buy it when you’re overseas, although this could be more expensive.

Compare foreign cash services

Rates last updated August 16th, 2018
Name Product Description Minimum Order Amount Maximum Order Amount Delivery/Pickup Method Commission Fees
Travelex makes it easy to exchange and get the best rate on over 40 currencies so you can be prepared for your next holiday.
$500
$5,000
In Store or At Airport
$0

Compare up to 4 providers

Benefits of having foreign cash

  • Acceptance. As long as you have enough money, you can use foreign cash anywhere. In comparison, there could be some locations where cards are not accepted.
  • Convenience for smaller payments. Some businesses might have a minimum transaction amount for cards, which could make it easier to use cash. Similarly, if you’re travelling to a country where tipping is required, such as the US or the UK, having cash could make it easier to leave a tip that’s affordable for you.
  • Lock in exchange rates. If you buy currency before you go overseas, you’ll be able to get it at the exchange rate offered for that day. This means you’ll know exactly how much you have to spend when you’re away.
  • Easy ordering services. If you order your currency online, you could have the choice of getting it delivered or picking it up at a nearby store. This could save you time and money when compared to last-minute foreign currency purchases you make at the airport.

Other factors to consider when getting foreign cash

  • Exchange rates. The exchange rates for buying currency can vary a lot depending on the company and where you are. So planning ahead will help you find a service that offers a competitive exchange rate for whatever currency you want to buy.
  • Currency conversion costs. Many foreign currency exchange services will charge a fee or commission for each transaction. You could also be charged a fee for delivery. Make sure you factor this cost in before you order money so you can budget accordingly.
  • Processing times. If you want foreign cash before you go overseas, keep in mind that some services may need to order the money for you. This could take a couple of weeks, so give yourself plenty of time between ordering money and going away.
  • Security. Remember that cash is easy to lose and tricky to insure. Aim to keep your money on you or locked up in a secure section of your luggage that would be hard for thieves to access. Also check your travel insurance policy to see how much you could be covered for if you lose your cash.

What other travel money options can I consider?

Traveller's cheques

Traveller's 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:

Benefits of traveller's cheques

  • Secure. Traveller's cheques are an extremely secure method to spend money overseas, requiring an ID check before they can be used.
  • Safe. Traveller's cheques are insurable and can be replaced if lost or stolen.

What else should I consider when looking at traveller's cheques?

  • Cost. You might be charged a purchase fee when you first pick up your traveller's cheque.
  • Acceptance. Traveller's cheques are not widely accepted, especially compared to Visa or Mastercard credit, debit and travel money cards.
  • Ease of use. Traveller's cheques can be bulky and awkward to store in your wallet or luggage. Plus, you’ll have to go to the effort of getting them cashed rather than having immediate access to money like you would with a card or foreign cash.

Credit cards with complimentary travel insurance

A range of credit cards come with complimentary travel insurance that can help you save on buying cover upfront. Usually, you’ll need to activate the cover or pay for some or all of your trip with the card to get this insurance. If you think you’ll use this card when you’re overseas, remember to also look at the other features of the card – including foreign transaction fees and interest rates.

Frequent flyer credit cards

As well as earning you points for your everyday spending, many frequent flyer credit cards offer travel perks such as airport lounge passes, travel insurance and concierge services. If you get a new frequent flyer card, you could also earn thousands of bonus points to help pay for your next trip. There are also some top-tier frequent flyer cards that offer flight or travel vouchers you can put towards the cost of your next trip. As with other credit cards, remember to check the rates and fees, so you know how much it will cost to use the card in Australia and overseas.

There is a wide range of travel money options you can choose from when you go overseas. So learning about the different types of cards and cash services means you’ll be able to spend your money easily wherever you are in the world.

The most commonly asked travel money questions on the Internet

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314 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    BrendaDecember 10, 2017

    Hello, just wanted to let you know that unless I’m mistaken, the Qantas Cash card has differing information on your website. On one page it says that there is a 1% reload fee and on another that there is 0%. That said, thanks for offering unbiased easy to understand information, much obliged…

    • finder Customer Care
      MayDecember 10, 2017Staff

      Hi Brenda,

      Thank you for your inquiry.

      There are actually two ways to reload your Qantas Cash Card. The first option is via bank transfer or BPAY which has 0% fee and the second option through Direct Debit that charges 1% of the total amount. As a sample, this is how Direct Debit works:

      If you wish to load or reload 200 AUD onto your card using Debit Card Load, you will be charged a fee of 1% of the load amount being AUD 200 x 1% = AUD 2. This means you will be required to pay AUD 202 to complete your Debit Card Load transaction.

      Please also note that you may be charged other fees by third parties in relation to the Debit Card reloading transaction like the fees charged by your financial institution.

      I hope this information helps.

      Cheers,
      May

  2. Default Gravatar
    JeanSeptember 16, 2017

    I am traveling to South Africa and wanted to take a prepaid debit card but do not know who to contact for something like that. I talked to Travelex but they do not deal in South African currency. Any suggestions?

    • Default Gravatar
      DanielleSeptember 17, 2017

      Hi Jean,

      Thank you for contacting finder. We are a comparison website and general information service, we’re more than happy to offer general advice.

      You may refer to this page for options that may suit your needs. You may review and compare the offers available on the table. Once you have selected one, you may proceed by clicking the green “Go to Site” button.

      I hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Danielle

  3. Default Gravatar
    BrendaSeptember 15, 2017

    Can i take english currency to greece or should i take euros

    • Default Gravatar
      GruSeptember 16, 2017

      Hello Brenda.

      Thank you for reaching out to finder for your trip to Greece.

      As a friendly reminder, please note that finder is an Australian comparison website and general information service.
      We can offer you general advice.

      Yes, you may take English currency to Greece and have it changed to Euros there, but you may also take Euros. As to what you should bring is all up to you.
      You may continue reading up on the information we have on this page to assess what would be best to bring. Please also note that exchange rates vary on a daily basis, also depending on the travel money provider or exchange bureau.
      Alternatively, you also have several other options to choose from aside from taking cash. You may use your debit or credit card, a travel card, or traveller’s cheque. Again, choosing what would best suit you and what you would be comfortable with is all up to you.

      Hope this helped.

      Cheers,
      Gru

  4. Default Gravatar
    DorothyJuly 10, 2017

    Which travel card is best for me – for 3 weeks in England in September

    • Default Gravatar
      DanielleJuly 11, 2017

      Hi Dorothy,

      Thank you for contacting finder. We are a comparison website and general information service, we’re more than happy to offer general advice.

      You may refer to this page for options that may suit your needs. You may review and compare the offers available on the table. Once you have selected one, you may proceed by clicking the green “Go to Site” button.

      I hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Danielle

  5. Default Gravatar
    KiaJune 17, 2017

    Hi,
    I am going to Russia is a couple weeks time and I would to known that if I load my 28 degree Platinum Mastercard card with Australia dollars, do I still have to pay any fees for withdrawing cash from ATM?
    Many thanks!

    • Default Gravatar
      JonathanJune 17, 2017

      Hi Kia!

      Thanks for the comment.

      The 28 Degrees Mastercard doesn’t charge for international ATM withdrawals, but ATM withdrawals may have a fee of 3% of the cash advance or $4 (whichever is greater). Local ATM operator fees may still apply too. This will be advised prior the transaction.

      You can read our guide right here.

      Hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Jonathan

  6. Default Gravatar
    FranndonMay 3, 2017

    We are currently holidaying in Bali. Before leaving we loaded our GE 28 Degrees Platinum Mastercard so it was in a positive/credit balance. We have done this on previous holidays & it worked perfectly for us.
    This time we are being charged a Cash Advance Fee everytime we withdraw money from an ATM.
    Is this correct, even though its our own savings & not technically a cash advance?

    • finder Customer Care
      LouMay 4, 2017Staff

      Hi Franndon,

      Thanks for your question.

      If you have preloaded money into your account, you will still incur a cash advance fee of 3% of the amount your withdraw or $4 (whichever is greater), even if technically it is not a cash advance. Also, third party ATM operators may charge a fee.

      Cheers,
      Anndy

  7. Default Gravatar
    JulieApril 26, 2017

    I am going to live in England for about 18 months or more and have CBA credit cards and debit cards. I will be wanting to withdraw money regularly and also use credit card, which would you recommend?

    • finder Customer Care
      HaroldApril 27, 2017Staff

      Hi Julie,

      Thank you for your inquiry.

      Unfortunately, we cannot recommend what is best for you. Our company finder.com.au is a financial comparison website and general information service designed to help consumers to make a better decision. Please note we do not represent any company we feature on our pages.

      With Commonwealth Bank, MasterCard credit cards are accepted in millions of locations all over the world. Use your card to shop online, make purchases over the counter and withdraw cash from ATMs everywhere MasterCard is accepted.

      I hope this information has helped.

      Cheers,
      Harold

  8. Default Gravatar
    LINDAApril 3, 2017

    I am travelling to the US and Canada do I need to take US and Canadian money or convert US dollars while in the US to visit Canada. Would the exchange rate be higher in the US than purchasing Canadian dollars in Australia.

    I am looking for the easiest way to travel without carrying a lot of money on me.

    I have a velocity mastercard which I can load with my own money or would a Travelex travel card be a better way to go.

    I do not know whether to buy now while the US dollar is around .76 or wait closer to the time when I leave.

    • finder Customer Care
      LouMay 8, 2017Staff

      Hi Linda,

      Thanks for your question.

      When you travel overseas, it would be best to bring a combination of cash and card for your needs.

      Unfortunately, we can’t tell if the rate in the US is higher than in Australia when purchasing Canadian dollars. We also cannot forecast the movement of US dollar rate in the coming weeks.

      In regards to having a Velocity Mastercard, since you did not mention the full name of the card, I am unable to check its complete features and fees. Generally, credit cards charge foreign currency transactions fees while Travelex Travel Money does not charge currency conversion and international ATM withdrawal fees.

      You may check our travel money guide to Canada on this page for more information.

      Cheers,
      Anndy

  9. Default Gravatar
    SteveMarch 21, 2017

    I’m travelling from Australia to Argentina then NY and LA. what are the best options for travel cards when a credit card or any kind of loan is out of the question?

    • finder Customer Care
      LouMarch 24, 2017Staff

      Hi Steve,

      Thanks for your question.

      If you’ll be spending most of your time in the US, you may compare your travel card options here.

      Alternatively, you mentioned going to Argentina. Our travel card comparison page for South America can be found on this page.

      Cheers,
      Anndy

  10. Default Gravatar
    DonnaNovember 24, 2016

    Hi im going to the UK and europe i have a travel card i tried to get a 28degree credit card just for a backup but was denied I have a visa card but i don’t want to use it because of all the fees .what i want to know is would it be cheaper to transfer $2000 from my commonwealth credit card and put it in my commonwealth travel card while im still in australia and when i come back if i haven’t used the $2000 transfer back to the visa card

    • finder Customer Care
      MayNovember 24, 2016Staff

      Hi Donna,

      Thanks for your question.

      When transferring a balance/money from a credit card to another account, that would be treated as a cash advance, so most likely, you’ll be charged cash advance fee and interest on your credit card.

      So in this case, if you will load your CBA travel card with funds from your CBA Visa credit card, then the CA fees and interest will be applied to your credit card.

      Cheers,
      May

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