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What Is an International Transaction Fee?

Everything you need to know about international transaction fees and how to avoid them.

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If you use your credit card with a merchant that's based overseas, an international transaction fee or currency conversion fee may be applied to your credit card bill. This can add to the cost of paying with plastic when you're in another country or shopping online with international retailers. This page explains when these fees are charged, the potential cost and how you can avoid or minimise them.

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Comparison of no foreign currency exchange fee credit cards

Data indicated here is updated regularly
Name Product Foreign currency conversion fee Overseas ATM withdrawal fee Purchase rate Annual fee
Bankwest Zero Platinum Mastercard
0%
$0
17.99% p.a.
$0
Offers a $0 annual fee, 0% foreign transaction fees, complimentary international travel insurance and a balance transfer offer.
Bankwest Breeze Platinum Mastercard
0%
$0
0% for 15 months, reverts to 10.99% p.a.
$69
Get 0% interest on purchases for 15 months, complimentary travel insurance and no foreign transaction fees.
Coles Rewards Mastercard - Exclusive Offer
0%
$5
19.99% p.a.
$0 annual fee for the first year ($99 p.a. thereafter)
Finder Exclusive. Ends 29 October 2020
Save with $100 off a Coles Supermarket shop and a $0 first-year annual fee. Plus, 0% p.a. on balance transfers for 18 months (1.5% fee applies).
NAB StraightUp Card
0%
N/A
$0
Save with 0% interest charges and 0% foreign transaction fees. Plus, $0 monthly fees when you don't use the card or carry a balance.
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couple_travel_shopping_Shutterstock

When is an international transaction fee applied?

Australian credit card providers may apply an international or foreign transaction fee for any of the following transactions:

  • Transactions made overseas
  • Transactions made online in a foreign currency
  • Transactions made with a merchant based outside of Australia

International transaction fees are most common for payments that are converted to Australian dollars from another currency, such as when you're using your card overseas. But it's important to note that any payment that's processed overseas can attract this fee, even if it's made in Australian dollars. For example, if you purchase something online for $100 and the retailer processes the payment overseas, this fee would still apply.

How much are international transaction fees?

International transaction fees vary depending on your card and your card provider. In general, foreign transaction fees are 2-4% of your total transaction amount in Australian dollars.

So, if you were paying $1,000 for overseas accommodation and had a card that charged a 3% foreign transaction fee, the additional cost would be $30. Similarly, if you were shopping online and spent $100 with a merchant based overseas, you could expect to pay $2 to $4 extra, depending on your card. Even though this percentage figure can seem like a small amount, with large expenses, like travel-related costs or repeated small purchases from the same international retailer, these extra fees can add up to a substantial amount over time.

How can I avoid international transaction fees?

Here are some options that allow you to avoid or minimise international transaction fees:

  • No foreign transaction fee credit cards. These are credit cards especially tailored for international use and offer 0% foreign transactions fees. Some of them also come with no overseas ATM withdrawal fees.
  • No foreign transaction fee debit cards. You can also opt for a debit card with low or no foreign transaction fees. The upside of using a debit card is the elimination of interest charges since you'll be accessing your own money.
  • Prepaid travel money cards. Travel money cards offer the convenience of a credit card without the costs of international transaction fees or ATM withdrawal fees. Recharge fees may apply however.
  • Foreign cash. Using cash eliminates bank transaction and ATM fees, but you may still have to pay a fee for the currency exchange, and you'll also bear the full risk of losing cash that is irreplaceable, unlike a card.
  • Traveller's cheques. These can help you avoid international transaction fees, but they are a little antiquated now and somewhat expensive and inconvenient to use. Traveller's cheques come attached with other fees and are less widely accepted than credit cards these days.

Avoiding international transaction fees can result in some savings over time, but may not always be the most convenient option. As such, you might wish to consider a range of payment options before shopping online or travelling overseas. This will help you derive as much value as possible out of your money, no matter where you are.

Comparison of travel money products

Data indicated here is updated regularly
Name Product Available Currencies ATM Withdrawal Fee Initial Load Fee Reload fee
Travelex Money Card
AUD,USD,CAD,EUR,GBP,HKD,JPY,NZD,SGD,THB

Overseas: $0

Domestic: 2.95% of the amount withdrawn

1.1% of initial load value or $15, whichever is greater
1.1% of transaction value or $15, whichever is greater
Lock in exchange rates for up to 10 currencies, pay no overseas ATM fees and get exclusive merchant offers.
7-Eleven Just Go Pre-Paid Travel Card
AUD,USD,EUR,GBP,NZD
EUR €0, GBP £0, AUD $0, USD $0, NZD $0
$0
$0
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Data indicated here is updated regularly
$
Name Product Card access ATM Withdrawal Fee Monthly Account Fee Internatonal ATM Fee Foreign transaction fee
HSBC Everyday Global Account
Visa
$0
$0
0%
Special offer: $100 cash bonus for new HSBC customers.
Earn 2% cashback on tap and pay purchases (T&C's apply).
Enjoy no minimum ongoing balance or transaction requirements and the flexibility to hold up to 10 currencies. Apple Pay and Google Pay available.
CUA Everyday Snap Account
Visa
$0
$4.50
2.95%
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.
Citi Global Currency Account
Mastercard
$0
$0
Pay $0 international transaction fees and $0 overseas ATM fees when you use a foreign currency linked with your account in a country that uses that currency. Make sure your debit card is linked to the correct currency before using an ATM, otherwise a foreign exchange fee applies.
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couple_outdoor_with_iPad_Shuttesrstock

Other costs to consider when using your card internationally

As well as an international transaction fee, the following costs could also apply in certain circumstances:

  • Currency conversion. Fluctuating and unfavourable exchange rates could negatively affect the funds you have available to you in another currency. You could lose money as a result of the currency conversion before even being charged the currency conversion fee.
  • Foreign ATM fees. This is a fee you will commonly incur when using your card to withdraw cash from an ATM abroad. Unless your bank has foreign ATMs or agreements with foreign banks that allow you to use their machines for free, this fee could be around $5 per transaction.
  • Cash advance fees. Another common credit card fee is the cash advance fee, which is commonly about 2-4% of each transaction. Cash advance fees are not limited to ATM withdrawals and some purchases can also be considered to be cash equivalents. Learn what is defined as a cash advance.
  • Interest charges. If you don't repay your balance in full and on time, interest charges may apply past the interest-free period on eligible purchases. With cash advances, interest charges apply immediately, since they're not eligible for interest-free days or offers.

Pictures: Shutterstock

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8 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    HeinoMay 11, 2015

    Welcome.
    Sorry to bother you.
    Who can help me today, instant loan?
    Can you suggest where to turn.
    If possible, look forward to your reply.
    Sincerely H.Oja Estonia.

    Tere.
    Vabandage,et Teid tülitan.
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    Oskate soovitada kelle poole pöörduda.
    Võimalusel ootan Teie vastust.
    Lugupidamisega H.Oja Eestist.

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JonathanMay 12, 2015Staff

      Hi Heino Oja, thanks for your inquiry!

      Please refer to the following link for personal loan options.

      Cheers,

      Jonathan

  2. Default Gravatar
    lesterch35z4zb@outlook.comMarch 20, 2014

    I assume there is not GST?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JacobMarch 20, 2014Staff

      Hi, Chris.

      Thanks for your question.

      GST is an Australian tax and does not apply to international purchases.

      I hope this helps.

  3. Default Gravatar
    ClaireJune 7, 2012

    If a purchase was made online to an overseas based company in AUD, is that treated as overseas transaction?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      MarcMarch 27, 2013Staff

      Hello Claire,
      thanks for the question.

      There is no foreign transaction fee. This applies for any purchases where a foreign currency is converted into Australian Dollars (which is more than likely what’s happened here), or for any purchase where the accepting company is based overseas.

      Cheers
      Marc.

    • Default Gravatar
      ChrisNovember 5, 2013

      Well, the article says “It is worth noting that if the transaction is paying in Australian dollars to an oversees merchant, the fee will be 2%”
      I’m confused. Will my NAB flybuy rewards charge these fee as well? it’s not mentioned on their website.

      Thanks a lot

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JacobNovember 6, 2013Staff

      Hi Chris.

      Thanks for your question.

      You can find the currency conversion fee for NAB and other lenders listed on this page.

      I hope this helps.

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