Travel Money Guide: Europe

Rates and Fees verified correct on April 26th, 2017

Planning a Euro trip? Discover how you can get the most out of your travel money here.

In 1993, the nations of the European continent came together to found the European Union. In 1999 the Euro was introduced and old currencies like the French Franc and the Deutsche Mark were phased out. While there are European countries which still use their own currency — for example the Czech Republic and Hungary — the Euro is the national currency of the majority of nations in Western and Central Europe.

Travelling overseas is expensive enough without the added cost of actually accessing and using your money. If you’re heading to the Euro Zone, either for business or for pleasure, it’s worth taking the time to examine the different travel money options available to you. The following article will highlight the travel cards, credit cards and debit cards suited for spending in Europe.

Which option is right for your next trip?

ANZ Travel Card

ANZ Travel Card

The ANZ Travel Card is a prepaid card that can be loaded with up to 10 currencies to make purchases overseas at over 38 million merchants and over 2.3 million ATMs worldwide.

  • Lock in your exchange rates and know how much money you have to spend
  • No transaction fees for electronic purchases in Australia and overseas
  • Multiple reload options - online, over the phone or in person
  • Manage your money online or over phone 24/7
  • Spare card if in case one is lost or stolen

    Compare travel cards for Europe

    Rates last updated April 26th, 2017
    Available Currencies ATM Withdrawal Fee Reload Fee Initial Load Fee
    ANZ Travel Card
    ANZ Travel Card
    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 1.1% of the value purchased $0 Go to site More
    NAB Traveller Card
    NAB Traveller Card
    AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD $0 per withdrawal on international ATMs and $3.75 per withdrawal at any Australian ATMs $0 $0 Go to site More
    Qantas Card with Qantas Cash
    Qantas Card with Qantas Cash
    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 $0 $0 Go to site More
    Travelex Travel Card
    Travelex Travel Card
    AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD Travelex does not charge an ATM withdrawal fee when you use your Travelex Multi-currency Cash Passport to withdraw currencies that are loaded on the card at overseas ATMs where MasterCard is accepted. The greater of 1.1% of the initial load / reload amount or AU$15.00 $0 Go to site More
    Rates last updated April 26th, 2017
    Foreign Currency Conversion Fee (MC) Foreign Currency Conversion Fee (VISA) Overseas ATM Withdrawal Fee Annual fee
    Bankwest Qantas Platinum MasterCard
    Enjoy a high credit limit with complimentary travel insurances and earn 0.5 Qantas Points per $1 spent on eligible purchases.
    0% of transaction value $160 p.a. Go to site More info
    28 Degrees Platinum MasterCard
    Benefit from no international transaction fees on purchases, no currency conversion fees and no annual fee.
    0% of transaction value $0 $0 p.a. Go to site More info
    Bankwest Qantas World MasterCard
    Earn uncapped Qantas Points per $1 spent on eligible purchases. Also enjoy no foreign transaction fees on online and overseas spend.
    0% of transaction value $270 p.a. Go to site More info
    Rates last updated April 26th, 2017
    Monthly Account Fee Debit Card Access ATM Withdrawal Fee Fee Free Deposit p.m. Details
    St.George Complete Freedom Account
    $0 Overseas ATM fee when you withdraw from the Global ATM alliance network.
    Visa $0 $2,000 $0 account keeping fees if you deposit at least $2,000 per month. Otherwise, a $5 fee applies. Unlimited free withdrawals at St.George, Westpac and BankSA ATMs. Go to site More
    Westpac Choice
    $0 Overseas ATM fee when you withdraw from the Global ATM alliance network.
    Mastercard $0 $2,000 $0 account keeping fees if you deposit at least $2,000 per month. Otherwise, a $5 monthly fee applies. Unlimited free withdrawals at St.George, Westpac, Bank of Melbourne and BankSA ATMs. Go to site More
    Bank of Melbourne Express Freedom
    $0 Overseas ATM fee when you withdraw from the Global ATM alliance network.
    Visa $0 $1,000 $0 account keeping fees if you deposit at least $1,000 per month. Otherwise, a $3 monthly fee applies. Unlimited free withdrawals at BankSA, St.George, Westpac and Bank of Melbourne ATMs. Go to site More
    Bankwest Qantas Transaction Account
    No overseas ATM withdrawal fees (charged by Bankwest), 3rd party ATM fees and international transaction fees may still apply.
    Mastercard $0 $2,000 $0 account keeping fees when you deposit at least $2,000 into your account each month. Otherwise, a $6 monthly fee applies. Unlimited Free withdrawals at Bankwest and CommBank ATMs in Australia. Go to site More
    Bankwest Platinum Debit MasterCard
    Link to an eligible Bankwest transaction account. Plus no overseas ATM withdrawal fees
    Mastercard $0 $4,000 $0 account keeping fees if you deposit at least $4,000 per month. Unlimited free withdrawals at Bankwest and CommBank ATMs. More
    Citibank Plus Everyday Account
    No international transaction fees and no overseas ATM withdrawals fees if you use a Citibank ATM overseas.
    Mastercard $0 $0 No ATM fees using Citibank, Westpac, BankSA and St.George branded ATMs in Australia. Use overseas Citibank ATMs for free. More

    How much Euro do I need to bring?

    Wondering how much money to take to Europe? How long is a piece of string. Like anywhere, prices in Europe are varied. Countries like France and Germany are a touch more expensive than places like Greece, but no matter where you are in the Eurozone, your trip is going to be as cheap or expensive as you let it be. For example, shop at Franprix for cheap cheese and wine in France, a delicious baguette is just over 1 euro in price. Alternatively, you can easily spend a couple of hundred euros on dinner for 2 on the Champs Elysée.

    Some basic prices across Europe

    When it comes to food, if you’re eating in a restaurant, prices will be higher than grabbing a bite on the street, i.e. Gyros in Greece, Trapizzino in Rome or a jambon et fromage baguette (ham and cheese sandwich — far better than it sounds) in France are all less than €5 in price. In most European countries you can expect to pay anywhere from €10 - €30 for a meal in a mid-tier restaurant. Once you hit 5 star restaurants, price is likely to be less of a concern. Prices for staple goods in Western and Central Europe (rice, potatoes, pasta, etc.) are comparable if not cheaper than Australia.

    • Tip: If you’re at a restaurant, the ‘plat de jour’ (plate of the day) will be one of the cheapest and best tasting dishes on the menu.

    Accommodation is likely to be your greatest expense when you’re visiting Europe. We’ve included a snapshot of some prices for budget, midrange and top end hostels and hotels in different European countries below.

    Greece (Athens)Germany (Berlin)France (Paris)Italy (Rome)
    $15 per night
    $15 - $20
    $30 per night
    $12 per night
    $20 per night
     eatGyros (street)
    Small beer (supermarket)
    $1 - $2
    Currywurst (street)
    Beer (supermarket)
    Baguette (supermarket)
    Cheese (supermarket)
    Average wine (supermarket bottle)
    $2 - $7
    Pizza (restaurant)
    $5 - $10
    Wine (restaurant)
    $5 - $10 per glass
     seeWalk around the Acropolis and Parthenon (pay $30 to go inside or enjoy the spectacular view from the outside for free)Walking tour of Berlin
    Free (although it’s polite to tip the guide a couple of euros at least)
    Get the food items mentioned above and camp at the Champ-des-Mars for a view of la Tour Eiffel.Walking tours of Rome
    Free (plus a tip for the guide)

    *Prices are approximate and based on summer seasonality and are subject to change.

    Exchange rate history

    It’s very difficult picking the future movement of currency pairs. The European Debt Crisis saw the Aussie dollar rise against the euro in 2012. Since then, the euro has regained its value. 1 euro has been worth about $1.4 - $1.6 Aussie dollars for the past 3 years.

    YearConversion rate history from AUD to EUR

    This table is a general summary of the travel money products in the market. Features and benefits can vary between cards. 

    Travel card, debit card or credit card?

    This all depends on where you’re travelling. A prepaid travel card can be a good idea if you’re staying within the Euro financial zone and the United Kingdom. If you’re travelling to another destination like Croatia, the Czech Republic, Sweden or Hungary, for example, you’re better off using a debit card which waives the fee for currency conversion (ATM fee waivers are a bonus too). While there are travel cards which don’t charge you for currency conversion, the back end fees, exchange rate margin and extra account management make a travel friendly debit card such as the Citibank Transaction Account a better option if you’re moving in and out of the Euro Zone. This is in addition to a credit card, which can be a travel essential if you want greater financial security and flexibility.

    Travel money options for Europe at a glance

    Have a look at how these different types of travel money product will work in Europe.

    Travel Money OptionProsConsiderations
    Travel prepaid cards
    • Multiple international currencies load Euros and GBP on most travel cards
    • Currency conversion may apply
    • Conversion fee is almost double the charge than on debit and credit cards
    Debit cards
    • A chance for waived international ATM fee
    • No ATM operator fees on European bank ATMs for cash withdrawals
    • International ATM fee and currency conversion fee applies when on withdrawing cash with an Australian card
    Credit cards
    • A chance for waived international ATM fee
    • Operator fees may apply
    • Cash advance fees
    Travellers cheques
    • Acceptance
    • Security
    • Can be costly with initial purchase charges
    • Not all merchants accept travellers cheques
    • Greater payment flexibility
    • Convenience
    • More difficult to manage expenses
    • Higher risk of theft
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    How do travel cards, credit cards, debit cards and more work in Europe?

    Using a travel prepaid card

    A travel card can hold multiple international currencies. The main value proposition: use a travel card to spend in a currency already loaded on the card and you save on the fee for currency conversion. You can load Euros and GBP on most travel cards, but few other European currencies will be supported.

    If you’re travelling to one of these European countries, consider using a debit card or credit card rather than a prepaid travel card. A currency conversion fee applies if you’re spending in a currency not loaded on the card. In most cases, the conversion fee is almost double the charge than on debit and credit cards. There are less than a handful of countries in Europe that have not adopted the Euro.

    • Latvia
    • Lithuania

    Although the United Kingdom is not a part of the Euro Zone, all travel cards let you load pounds sterling. Preload both euros and pounds and you can use the one card to spend like normal on both sides of the English Channel.

    Using a debit card

    Visa and MasterCard branded debit cards will work throughout Europe without problem. There are fees that come with international debit card use — mainly currency conversion fees and ATM fees — these charges can be avoided by taking the right debit card on holiday to Europe. Debit card providers such as Bankwest and Citibank waive international ATM fees. Unlike in Australia, you’ll find most European banks don’t charge a local ATM operator fee. Westpac also have deals with major European banks allowing cardholders to make cheap ATM withdrawals.

    • Tip: European bank ATMs do not charge a local ATM operator fee when you make a cash withdrawal. Only the international ATM fee and currency conversion fee applies when you withdraw cash with an Australian card.

    Click here if you wish to learn about Citibank ATMs

    • ATM partners — why not withdraw for free?
      If you’re a Westpac Group customer, that’s Westpac, St.George, Bank of Melbourne and BankSA, you can avoid the international ATM fee by making withdrawals at Westpac Global ATM Alliance partners.
    • Westpac ATM Alliance partner banks
      France and ItalyBNP Paribas
      Germany, Spain and PolandDeutsche Bank
      UKBarclays Bank
      UkraineUkrsibbank - Private Bank

    Using a credit card

    The cards listed below are among the cheapest credit cards to use in Europe, or anywhere in the world for that matter. This is because they do not charge a ‘currency conversion fee’. This is a charge of 2 - 3% (depending on the card provider) charged when you carry out a transaction in a currency other than Australian dollars.

    Credit card providers such as Bankwest waive international ATM fees (operator fees may still apply); however, using your credit card to withdraw cash will incur cash advance fees and interest as well as ATM fees. You may be able to avoid the cash advance fee and interest charges if you preload your own money onto your credit card. The rules are different for each provider. The catch: you’re waiving certain anti-fraud guarantees when you preload your own funds onto your credit card.

    FAQs on our travel money page

    Using a traveller's cheques

    It is not necessary to take travellers cheques with you on your trip to Europe. Financial institutions offer money back guarantees if you’re the victim of fraud, and there’s a limited number of places where you can cash your cheques.

    Paying with cash in Europe

    Although the Euro was officially introduced in 1999, European citizens didn’t start to see the new notes and coins till sometime in 2003. The notes are all different colours and feature different architectural designs from different eras.

    There are places where you’ll need cash; however, card payments are the norm throughout Europe. Contactless card payments are common in places like France and Germany, but cash is necessary if you’re heading off the beaten track — places like smaller Greek islands predominantly use cash.

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    Buying currency in Australia

    You won’t need euros to pay for your visa when you arrive in the European Union, Australians get an automatic 90 day visa on arrival. If you really want to buy euros before you leave Australia, consider non-bank foreign exchange providers such as Australia Post or Travelex. Travelex lets you order cash online and pick it up at the airport before you leave. These providers don’t charge a commission like the banks; but they do make a small profit by applying a margin to the exchange rate. You can make an ATM withdrawal when you arrive; ATM fees aside, Visa and MasterCard offer some of the best rates for everyday consumers.

    Finding cash and ATMs in Europe

    Why you’ll need a combination of travel money options

    Never put all your eggs in one basket. A credit card and debit card combination is a good mix to use to access cash and make purchases. A credit card is a must: interest free days give you time to pay back your purchases, some cards offer free travel insurance and credit cards give you peace of mind through access to emergency cash. Don’t use a credit card for cash withdrawals. It’s almost too expensive to justify. Use a debit card or prepaid travel card to withdraw cash.

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    Interview with Marc Terrano about short-term travel money options for Europe


    Where did you visit in Europe?

    Mark visited: London, Paris, Rome, Prague, Split, Amsterdam, Munich, Barcelona and Switzerland. He stayed on the continent for a month.

    What cards did you take with you?

    Why did you take these cards with you?

    Mark took the Citibank Plus Transaction Account as his primary travel account to use in Europe. He applied for this account specifically for his trip. He used the Citibank Plus for ATM withdrawals and in-store purchases. Mark had no problems using his card and he used European bank ATMs so he could avoid the local ATM operator fee too.. Mark notes that the Citibank Plus card did not have a CHIP (recent issues of this product do have a CHIP), so he was conscious of not using his card to withdraw cash at dodgy looking ATMs. Mark is back in Australia and continues to use his Citibank Plus Account for day to day spending. He likes the fact that the account is low on fees. He’ll be using the Citibank Plus Transaction Account when he goes back to Europe too.

    Mark used the Commonwealth Bank Smart Access as a backup card. The Commbank Smart Access account was Mark’s main account in Australia before he went to Europe. Mark was topping up his Citibank account from his Commonwealth Bank as he needed more money. He kept the Smart Access card in his passport in case he lost his Citibank card.

    What about ATM withdrawals?

    Mark withdrew $300 - $500 Australian dollars in Euros each time. Citibank didn’t charge Mark an international ATM fee, and Mark doesn’t remember paying too many local ATM operator fees either.

    Could you use your card everywhere?

    Mark could use his Citibank card everywhere. He was given the option of paying in Australian dollars in a few places, but he chose to pay in Euros instead. The exchange rate is more favourable paying in the local currency.

    What do you think is the best way to travel with money in Europe?

    If you’re like Mark and you don’t have a credit card, Mark recommends the Citibank Plus Transaction Account. He also advises that everyone to take a backup. Whether it’s a travel card, another debit card, traveller’s cheques or a credit card, Mark says it’s important to have options.

    What are your travel money tips for Europe?

    • SMS alerts. You’re required to confirm transfers between some accounts by entering a SMS verification code. This can be a problem if you’re using an international SIM. Mark spoke to the Commonwealth Bank directly to disable this function while he was overseas.
    • Call your bank. Mark says it only takes five minutes to tell your bank about your travel plans. This stops your bank from blocking your account when you make a purchase or withdrawal.
    • Tipping. Tipping varies depending on what country you’re in. In some countries and in some restaurants the tip is worked in as an automatic ‘service fee’, especially in Italy. Always read the bill to avoid paying two tips! Mark was told to tip 10% if he wanted to, but the service is shocking in some European restaurants so he didn’t always follow this rule.
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    Travel insurance for Europe

    Euro-trips and gap years are almost a compulsory rite of passage for young Australians, but don't let your revelling get you in trouble. Covering your European vacation with travel insurance is imperative to ensuring you are financially protected against unexpected travel expenses. Travel insurance may include cover for:

    • Cancellation
    • Lost or stolen luggage
    • Emergency medical and dental
    • Repatriation
    • Evacuation
    • Personal liability

    Compare travel insurance policies for Europe today, and find a policy to suit your specific needs.

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    Other topics you may be interested in:

    Europe is a diverse continent rich in culture and natural beauty. Travel for an hour and the people speak a different language, the food is different and so is the architecture. If you’d like more information about taking travel money to specific European countries, have a look at our location guides.

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    This page was last modified on 21 March 2017 at 9:51am.

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    25 Responses to Travel Money Guide: Europe

    1. Default Gravatar
      Louisa | September 10, 2016


      I’m travelling to UK and Europe at the end of the year, and am considering applying for a Citibank Plus Transaction Account. I’ve noticed when I search for ATMs using the Citibank’s ATM locator (online) there don’t seem to be all that many ATMs in UK/Europe!

      Just wondering if Citibank ATMs are the only ones I can use to withdraw cash abroad (without incurring fees) or whether Citibank has an alliance with other banks which would allow me to use their ATMs.

      If so, which banks/ATMs are these?


      • Staff
        May | September 12, 2016

        Hi Louisa,

        Thank you for your question.

        Unfortunately, Citibank does not have a bank or ATM partner in the UK and Europe. However, please note that there are no currency conversion fees nor international transaction fees applicable when using the Citibank Plus Transaction account overseas. Citi will also not charge you ATM fees when using any ATM in the world. If you use overseas non-Citibank ATM for withdrawal, the third party ATM operator may charge a fee which Citibank cannot control.

        You may like to use our Citibank ATM locator look for Citibank overseas ATM.


    2. Default Gravatar
      Greg | February 16, 2016

      Hi Everybody,
      I’m planning a trip from Australia to six countries in Eastern Europe and only one country on the list accepts Euros. What’s the best cash travel card to withdraw local cash from ATMs?

      • Staff
        Sally | February 16, 2016

        Hi Greg,

        Thanks for your question.

        Australian travel cards namely support Euros, but you probably won’t find a card that supports some of the currencies you’ll need in Eastern Europe. If you make a purchase in an unsupported currency, your Euros will be converted into the local currency and you’ll be charged a currency conversion fee. So you might want to select a card that doesn’t charge foreign currency conversion fees. The Commonwealth Bank Travel Money card doesn’t charge currency conversion fees on supported or unsupported currencies. However, this card does charge ATM fees.

        You can compare card ATM fees on our travel money guide, though you’ll find that most cards charge an ATM fee or currency conversion fee when withdrawing funds in an unsupported currency. As such, you’ll want to compare the fees and at least try to find one that’ll charge you the least.

        I hope this has helped.



    3. Default Gravatar
      Benny | January 4, 2016

      hi there!
      i am really thinking about moving to Berlin to live.
      I have applied for my british passport.
      What long term solutions for money are recommended?
      I have had friends say to get the citibank card and others say maybe get a HSBC account which is international…

      I would like some tips if im thinking of moving there at least 6 months to a year or longer but would also like to travel around europe whilst over there.


      • Staff
        Sally | January 5, 2016

        Hi Benny,

        Thanks for your question.

        As a financial comparison service, we can’t provide any specific recommendations as the ‘best’ option will depend on your financial situation, travel plans and spending habits.

        If you’re interested in either a Citi or HSBC account, you’d benefit from comparing the two side by side and considering the fees, benefits and features of each account to weigh up which one you can both afford and receive the most value from.

        I hope this has helped.



    4. Default Gravatar
      chi | March 24, 2015

      My daughter is going to Europe for first time with packaged tour for four weeks, mainly currency is euro, except Czech republic. What is the best way to manage her spending ?

      • Staff
        Shirley | March 24, 2015

        Hi Chi,

        Thanks for your question.

        Please note that is an online comparison service and is not in a position to recommend specific products, providers and services.

        The information on this page outlines a range of suitable options to take and suitable products for Czech Republic can be found here. Your daughter may choose to take multiple products with her to manage her spending.


    5. Default Gravatar
      cybele | January 15, 2015

      rite of passage (not right of passage)

    6. Default Gravatar
      Kerry | January 7, 2015

      Hi there,
      If I apply for a citibank plus transaction account, how long will my card take to arrive?
      Thanks :)

      • Staff
        Elizabeth | January 7, 2015

        Hi Kerry,

        Thanks for your question.

        Your Welcome Pack, which contains your new Visa Debit Card, ATM PIN and CitiPhone Banking Telephone PIN (TPIN), should arrive within five to seven working days after you apply.

        I hope this has helped.



    7. Default Gravatar
      Victoria | September 9, 2014

      When paying for goods or services overseas with Visa credit card or cash card, I am often asked whether I want to pay in the local currency (ie, euros) or Australian dollars.
      Which option should I choose?

      • Default Gravatar
        Carolyn | January 12, 2015

        Hi there my daughter is 1st time traveller going to Prague with cba cash card loaded mainly euro is it wise to take some local currency will she incur many fees if uses card

      • Staff
        Elizabeth | January 12, 2015

        Hi Carolyn,

        Thanks for your question.

        It’s really up to you and your daughter whether she wants to take cash as well as the card, although generally speaking it’s usually a good idea to have cash at least as a backup to your card when travelling. In terms of fees, please see this page for the fees that she’ll incur with the Commonwealth Bank card while she’s travelling.

        I hope this will help.



      • Staff
        Shirley | September 9, 2014

        Hi Victoria,

        Thanks for your question.

        It depends on the card that you’re using. If your card charges a foreign currency fee then either option will incur the same fees plus exchange rates.

        However, if its a prepaid travel card and you’ve preloaded Euros, then choosing Euros will probably be the better option saving yourself the currency conversion fee and exchange rates.

        All the best,

    8. Default Gravatar
      Ryan | June 23, 2014

      Hi, In Citibank fees and charges it appears there is a 2.5% fee charged to all international purchases. Is this correct?

      The interview with marc claims that no fees were paid with citibank

      • Staff
        Shirley | June 24, 2014

        Hi Ryan,

        Thanks for your question.

        In the document you’ll notice a small asterisk that indicates that the Citibank Plus Transaction account is exempt from this fee.

        This account doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees.


    9. Default Gravatar
      Beth | May 31, 2014

      I’m heading to Spain and have some large cash payments to make once there (ranging from a few hundred euros to thousands, all within a few days of each other). The largest payment, which is around 5000 euro, can be paid via bank transfer, but the others have to be cash. What would be the best money option – I want a good exchange rate, but most importantly don’t want to be caught out by daily withdrawal limits. If I were to get the OFX card, for example, could I use it to withdraw AU$10,000 in one transaction inside a bank?

      • Staff
        Shirley | June 2, 2014

        Hi Beth,

        Thanks for your question.

        Unfortunately we cannot advise on the best money option. Since exchange rates are also very volatile, we can’t recommend one with a good exchange rate.

        To our knowledge, the Velocity Global Wallet doesn’t have a maximum limit but the maximum balance you can have is $25,000. The Citibank Plus transaction account has a maximum daily spending limit of $10,000 but this can be changed by contacting the customer service team. You’ll need to check the limits on all the products available to you to help you make the best decision.


    10. Default Gravatar
      Kay | April 10, 2014

      How long will it take me to get and load a Qantas pre paid travel money card? I’m leaving Australia on 25 April 2014

      • Staff
        Shirley | April 10, 2014

        Hi Kay,

        Thanks for your question.

        Unfortunately Qantas cannot guarantee the date of delivery for your card. When you apply for it, they’ll send it out to you asap.


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