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What Is an International Transaction Fee?

Rates and fees last updated on

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

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.

Comparison of no foreign currency exchange fee credit cards

Rates last updated September 23rd, 2017
Name Product Foreign Currency Conversion Fee (MC) Foreign Currency Conversion Fee (VISA) Overseas ATM Withdrawal Fee Overseas Cash Advance Fee Annual fee Product Description
Bankwest Zero Platinum Mastercard
0% of transaction value
$0
The greater of 2% or $4
$0 p.a.
Receive complimentary international travel insurance, access to a 24/7 concierge service and 0% foreign transaction fees.
ANZ Rewards Travel Adventures card
0% of transaction value
$0
$225 p.a.
Receive 40,000 bonus Velocity Points when you spend $500 on eligible purchases in the first three months.
28 Degrees Platinum Mastercard
0% of transaction value
$0
3% of the cash advance or $4 (whichever is greater)
$0 p.a.
Designed for travel, benefit from no international transaction fees on purchases and no currency conversion fees.
Bankwest Breeze Platinum Mastercard
0% of transaction value
$0
Greater of 2% or $4.00
$99 p.a.
Offers an introductory balance transfer rate of 0% p.a. for 13 months with a 2% BT fee, plus platinum perks.
Bankwest More Platinum Mastercard
0% of transaction value
$5
2% or $4, whichever is greater
$160 p.a.
No fees on overseas ATM withdrawal, no foreign transaction fees and earn 75,000 bonus More rewards points.

Compare up to 4 providers

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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

Rates last updated September 23rd, 2017
Available Currencies ATM Withdrawal Fee Reload Fee Initial Load Fee
NAB Traveller Card
NAB Traveller Card
AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD

Overseas: $0 per withdrawal via international ATMs

Domestic: $3.75 fee applies

$0 $0 Go to site More
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% $0 Go to site More
Qantas Cash
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
Cash Passport Mastercard
Cash Passport Mastercard
AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD USD 2.50, EUR 2.50, GBP 2.00, NZD 3.50, THB 80.00, CAD 3.50, HKD 18.00, JPY 260.00, SGD 3.50, AUD 3.50 $0 $0 Go to site More
Australia Post Multi-currency Cash Passport
Australia Post Multi-currency Cash Passport
AUD, NZD, USD, EUR, GBP, THB, SGD, CAD, HKD, JPY Overseas: $0

Domestic: 2.95% of the amount withdrawn

$5 $0 Go to site More
Rates last updated September 23rd, 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. International transaction fee still applies.
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. International transaction fee still applies.
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
Bankwest Qantas Transaction Account
$0 Overseas ATM withdrawal fees charged by Bankwest. Third 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
Macquarie Transaction Account
$0 International transaction fees. Overseas ATM fee still applies.
Mastercard $0 $0 Free access to all domestic ATMs in Australia including the rediATM network. More
Macquarie Platinum Transaction Account
$0 International transaction fees. Overseas ATM fee still applies.
Mastercard $0 Free access to the rediATM network More
Citibank Plus Everyday Account
$0 International transaction fees and $0 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
Rates last updated September 23rd, 2017
Name Product Foreign Currency Conversion Fee (MC) Foreign Currency Conversion Fee (VISA) Overseas ATM Withdrawal Fee Overseas Cash Advance Fee Annual fee Product Description
Bankwest Qantas Platinum Mastercard
0% of transaction value
2% or $4, whichever is greater
$160 p.a.
Enjoy a high credit limit with complimentary travel insurances and earn 0.5 Qantas Points per $1 spent on eligible purchases.
Bankwest Qantas World Mastercard
0% of transaction value
$270 p.a.
Earn uncapped Qantas Points per $1 spent on eligible purchases and receive complimentary travel insurance.
Bankwest More Platinum Mastercard
0% of transaction value
$5
2% or $4, whichever is greater
$160 p.a.
No foreign transaction fees plus complimentary insurance cover.

Compare up to 4 providers

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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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Amy Bradney-George

Amy is a Senior Writer at finder.com.au with more than 10 years experience covering credit cards, personal finance and various lifestyle topics. When she’s not sharing her knowledge on money matters, Amy spends her time as an actress.

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8 Responses

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      JonathanMay 12, 2015Staff

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

    I assume there is not GST?

    • Staff
      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?

    • Staff
      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

    • Staff
      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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