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Travel Money Guide: Travel Debit and Credit Cards for Australians
This is not a paid review post, there are no affiliate links. I just got sick of fees and went looking for a better deal. This has really bugged me, there is heaps of info for foreigners coming to Australia on how to minimise fees with their accounts in their home country or by opening [...]
Tuesday April 6 2010
This is not a paid review post, there are no affiliate links. I just got sick of fees and went looking for a better deal.
This has really bugged me, there is heaps of info for foreigners coming to Australia on how to minimise fees with their accounts in their home country or by opening a traveller’s account in Australia. There are not a lot of options for Australians who are trying to be savvy with their money while travelling though.
I’ve been digging through forums, credit card sites and more to find what the best deals are and I think I’ve found a few really good ones.
There is a hands down winner when it comes to credit cards.
The Wizard Clear Advantage Mastercard has no conversion fee, no transaction fee and no cash advance fee on international transactions it also has no annual fee and gives as good a forex rate as you could hope for. They don’t advertise this anywhere on the site but I’ve confirmed the lack of fees in this forum. Most of these travellers are using it as if it were a debit card by loading their own money onto it to avoid the conversion and overseas ATM fees. As far as using a credit card overseas goes you can’t really ask for anything more. Be aware of daily withdrawal limits and that this card won’t work in a few countries, like North Korea… yeah.
If you can’t get a credit card or prefer to avoid them altogether the next best thing is a debit card.
NAB’s Gold Banking includes a Visa debit card and waives conversion and overseas transaction fees like the Wizard credit card but there is a $10 monthly account fee. NAB accounts also have free access to Redibank ATMs in Australia so you can save at home too. Even with the monthly fee if you are travelling for a while you’ll save more than enough money with the Nab or Wizard card(s) to make it worth it. One or booth is as close to a perfect solution as you will find right now.
Some people might like to consider these but in my eyes they don’t offer much value. You can load them with a limited number of currencies; you are charged $15 or 1% of what you load, whichever is higher. You are charged a transaction fee and a conversion fee calculated as %, if you withdraw in a currency other than the one you loaded it with you’ll be hit with an even higher conversion fee rate. All this makes Travel Cards/Passports no better than your regular bank card or credit card, probably even worse. Steer clear of them, travellers cheques are a better option.
For further information here are a few resources I used for this article.
- Choice.com.au’s comparison of the three types of cards I’ve looked at here.
- Creditcardfinder’s Guide to Travel Money and Currency Conversion and the Foreign Currency and International Fees applied to credit cards.
Regardless of the way you access your money to avoid fees, if you are using an ATM overseas you will probably be charged a transaction fee by the foreign bank. In some countries all banks will charge foreign cards, in others only some banks will do it, it’s worth checking this info out for your destinations to help minimise fees where possible. Simply make larger less frequent withdrawals to minimise these charges.
Eg, all Thailand’s banks now charge 150Baht(+/-$5AUD) on foreign cards for each transaction.
As for Frequent Flyer style cards they are best used for making purchases in Australia, compared to American programs ours completely suck. Check out the Travel Rewards and Frequent Flyer Credit Card sections on creditcardfinder.com.au, with these cards you just have to find the right one for you. Also head over to frequentflyer.com.au for advice on cards and how to maximise rewards.