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Travel money cards are a real headache – there are fees to watch, currency conversions to understand and then there is the question of how much cash you take overseas – or do you take a travel credit card or debit card (as long as they don’t charge you international transaction fees!) for your next vacation.

What Are The Best Travel Currency Cards – Prepaid, Debit Or Credit?

It’s easy to get confused and overwhelmed with trying to find the best travel money cards, because there is so much out there! All travelers want is a fair product and the best pricing. Since 2008, things have become far more competitive, which is why I have used different prepaid travel cards, debit cards and credit cards since I started traveling. Because of this, I have worked out which travel currency cards are the best in 2018 – particularly if you want to take a prepaid travel card with funds; or wish to use a debit or credit card which doesn’t charge you the end of the earth to use and access your own money!

Some people in a third option take large sums of cash – I very much advise against this given the benefits of a lot of cards and the stress of carrying sums over $1000 anywhere- even at home! If you travel with cash – don’t take more than $1000 with you in case something happens – it is not insured if you lose it.

The basic rule is always prepare for emergencies/issues by having backup options – that way if your main travel card is skimmed, if you lose a debit or credit card, or even just need a credit card for hotel and car hire holds (which can add up!) – having a back up will ensure you can deal with any issues once you’re home. Not during the trip – when you actually need your money!

So what are your travel card currency options? It’s all about the fine print and knowing which ones offer you the best deals.

For the purpose of this article – I will be focusing on the following prepaid travel cards.

The Best Pre-Paid Travel Cards For Australians

Commonwealth Bank Travel Money Card

ANZ Travel Card

NAB Traveller Card 

Westpac Global Currency Card

Travelex Money Card

Travel Money Oz Currency Pass

Qantas Cash Travel Card

HSBC Global Account Card

Important Information About Converting Currency To A Prepaid Travel Card

Before I start any comparison, it’s important to remember what the base market rates actually are so you know what you’re really getting – and so this comparison can occur as accurately as possible. Do note that things can change. The dollar has been higher and is now dropping. But it doesn’t mean it won’t rise – it just won’t go as high as the amazing over $1 AUD rates 2011-2012 gave us.

This information is my analysis of what I see being the best value travel card options right now – which I have been consistently watching for the past year. So although the rates here may differ to today’s actual rates – the analysis for which travel cards are good or bad will relatively be the same 99% of the time. Bear in mind that new travel cards can appear on the market, and travel cards with horrible rates can choose to become more competitive. Research is the key like anything. But these are the main players people will use.

Also, when a travel card says it has no ATM fees – some ATM operators/banks will charge a fee for using it. (Like the non-bank ATMs here in Australia) Depending on what ATM you’re using – you may still be charged a fee for using that ATM. If you use a travel card where the ATMs are located overseas – always use these ATM’s when you see one (or map it out to find an ATM) to avoid any issues, because they will always be fee free.

It will ultimately be up to you to investigate whether the options listed below are the best for you.

Some people are not comfortable traveling without a pre-loaded travel currency card. Some travelers only travel with a debit travel card or a credit card they use solely for travel. The important thing is, that you’re getting the best rates for the option you are most comfortable. Because we all want our dollars to go far – and don’t want to be charged just to access our money overseas!

Live Market Conversion Rates Against the AUD

The following rates were the standard live market rates offered on the afternoon of August 13, 2018 against the Australian dollar (AUD) as provided by XE – Foreign Exchange Company – my go-to website/ app that I use for checking currency rates. Download it immediately – it’s a livesaver!

Each of these 5 currencies will be used as examples for each currency conversion option to ensure a broad analysis is occurring for global travelers – not just the major ones like the USD.

Currencies:

United States Dollar (USD) – 0.72843 ($1.37 AUD)

Pound Sterling (GBP) – 0.56986 ($1.75 AUD)

Euro (EUR) – 0.63756 ($1.57 AUD)

Canadian Dollar (CAD) – 0.95611 ($1.04 AUD)

New Zealand Dollar (NZD) – 1.10560 (90 cents AUD) 

Visa & Mastercard Currency Conversion Rates

Once you know what the live market rates are for converting currency, you need to look at what the VISA and MASTERCARD rates are in comparison – as many debit and credit cards will use these rates as a basis for how much their card holders will be charged in AUD for their desired currency. The Visa and Mastercard rates are almost what the live rates are, with a little margin of difference – but not much off them as you will see below.

It depends on your card as to whether you are using the Visa or Mastercard rates. Do note that because your debit/ credit card purchases in the local currency (if it is not a pre-paid card); it will convert from your stored AUD balance – thus, the rates listed below are shown the other way around compared to how they appear elsewhere. But the conversion amounts per $1, $50 and $100 will be shown the same in all the examples – so they can actually be compared to all of the other cards.

On the afternoon of August 13, 2018 the Visa currency rates (with 0% fees)  and the Mastercard currency rates (with 0% fees) were:

Live Visa Rates For Converting Currency

USD – at a rate of 1.373866. $1 USD converts into AUD at $1.37. $50 USD converts into AUD at $68.69. $100 USD converts into AUD at $137.38.

GBP – at a rate of 1.754982 . $1 GBP converts into AUD at $1.75. $50 GBP converts into AUD at $87.74. $100 GBP converts into AUD at $175. 49.

EUR – at a rate of 1.570589. 1 EUR converts into AUD at $1.57. 50 EUR converts into AUD at $78.52. $100 EUR converts into AUD at $157.05.

CAD – at a rate of 1.050334. $1 CAD converts into AUD at $1.05. $50 CAD converts into AUD at $52.51. $100 CAD converts into AUD at $105.03.

NZD – at a rate of 0.905276. $1 NZD converts into AUD at $0.90. $50 NZD converts into AUD at $45.26. $100 NZD converts into AUD at $90.52.

Live Mastercard Rates For Converting Currency

USD – at a rate of 1.373064. $1 USD converts into AUD at $1.37. $50 USD converts into AUD at $68.65. $100 USD converts into AUD at $137.31 .

GBP – at a rate of 1.754337 . 1 GBP converts into AUD at $1.75. 50 GBP converts into AUD at $87.72. 100 GBP converts into AUD at $175.43.

EUR – at a rate of 1.570153. 1 EUR converts into AUD at $1.57. 50 EUR converts into AUD at $78.51. 100 EUR converts into AUD at $157.02.

CAD – at a rate of 1.047978. $1 CAD converts into AUD at $1.04. $50 CAD converts into AUD at $52.40. $100 CAD converts into AUD at $104.80.

NZD – at a rate of 0.904641. $1 NZD converts into AUD at $0.90. $50 NZD converts into AUD at $45.23. $100 NZD converts into AUD at $90.46.

Which is the best value company to have a pre-paid card or debit/credit card with? Mastercard by a fraction of cents. But, like anything, a few cents does add up the more you spend. Overall, the rates are pretty on par with each other no matter who you have a card with, so ultimately Visa and Mastercard are both good no matter who you are with – though this matters more for debit and credit cards anyway.

A Look At Pre-Paid Travel Cards In Australia

Commonwealth Bank Travel Money Card

Commonwealth Bank Travel Card

The Commonwealth Bank Travel Money Card is a fair option for those who have loyalty for Commonwealth Bank. But given it is a big 4, Commonwealth Bank don’t offer the best rates or options for travelers compared to others – they are among one of the worst for their conversions!

Here’s what you get:

FEATURES

-A free travel money card (if you order it online in Netbank). It will cost $15 AUD if you purchase it at a branch.

-Load up to 13 currencies on the one card at a locked in rate. The amount you have listed in your account, is the amount you have access to.

$0 reload fee which can be made through Netbank or the Commbank App – The CommBank Retail Foreign Exchange Rate is used for all currency conversions.

-No international transaction fees when using the card – the rate is locked in.

-Currency can be loaded via direct transfer (Netbank/ Comm bank App), BPAY, in branch or by phone.

-SMS alerts are free. You need to opt in to receive them though.

FEES

There are not many fees associated with this card except:

-When a purchase or ATM withdrawal is conducted in a currency that is not loaded on the card, or when a transfer of funds between the currencies on your card takes place; the purchase will be based on the rate set by either Mastercard or Visa (depending on which one your card is) plus 5.75%.

ATM fees are based on the currency you’re using (per transaction):

USD 2.50 – GBP 2.00 – EUR 2.20 – NZD 3.50 – CAD 3.00

ANZ Travel Card

ANZ Travel Money Card

The ANZ Travel Card is another fair option for those who have loyalty for ANZ. But again, given it is a big 4, ANZ don’t offer the best rates or options for travelers compared to others either – though they certainly are one of the better options if buying through a bank!

Here’s what you get:

FEATURES

-A free Visa travel card whether you order online (takes 5 business days) or at a branch.

-Load up to 10 currencies on the one card at a locked in rate. The amount you have listed in your account, is the amount you have access to.

$0 reload fee which can be made online or through the ANZ App – ANZ use their rate for all currency conversions based off the current live rates.

-No international transaction fees when using the card – the rate is locked in.

-Currency can be loaded via direct transfer, BPAY, in branch or by phone. (BPAY rate is confirmed once the money has been received – which can take 3 days.)

-They do offer Cash Packs – should you want smaller notes before you go in cash. Exchange rates for foreign cash look to be same as the travel card rates.

FEES

There are not many fees associated with this card except:

-SMS alerts are 0.35 cents.

-When a purchase or ATM withdrawal is conducted in a currency that is not loaded on the card, or when a transfer of funds between the currencies on your card takes place; the purchase will be based on the rate set by Visa, plus 4%.

ATM fees are based on the currency you’re using (per transaction):

USD 2.50 – GBP 2.00 – EUR 2.20 – NZD 4.50 – CAD 3.00

NAB Traveller Card

NAB Travel Card

NAB are another of the big 4 bank options. It is on par with the others, but does have some fee free options which helps its desirability.

Here’s what you get:

FEATURES

-A free Mastercard travel card whether you order online or at a branch.

-Load up to 10 currencies on the one card at a locked in rate. The amount you have listed in your account, is the amount you have access to.

$0 reload fee which can be made online or through the NAB App – NAB use their rate for all currency conversions based off the current live rates.

-No international transaction fees when using the card – the rate is locked in. No ATM fees for international withdrawals.

-Currency can be loaded via direct transfer, BPAY, in branch or by phone. (BPAY rate is confirmed once the money has been received – which can take 3 days.)

FEES

-When a purchase or ATM withdrawal is conducted in a currency that is not loaded on the card, or when a transfer of funds between the currencies on your card takes place; the purchase will be based on the rate set by Mastercard, plus 4%.

ATM fees – there are none. But, if an ATM charges a fee for use overseas – then you may not be exempt from these fees (even though your card has no ATM fees).

Westpac Global Currency Card

Westpac Travel Money Card

The Westpac Global Currency Card is the last of the big 4 banks to be analyzed. Like the other big 4’s, it’s a standard option but still on par with what the other 3 offer.

Here’s what you get:

FEATURES

-A free Visa travel card when you order online.

-Load up to 5 currencies on the one card at a locked in rate. The amount you have listed in your account, is the amount you have access to.

$0 reload fee – Westpac use their rate for all currency conversions based off the current live rates.

-No international transaction fees when using the card – the rate is locked in.

-Currency can be loaded via the Westpac Live Online Banking, direct transfer and BPAY.

FEES

-When a purchase or ATM withdrawal is conducted in a currency that is not loaded on the card, or when a transfer of funds between the currencies on your card takes place; the purchase will be based on the rate set by Mastercard, plus 3% of the total transaction.

ATM fees –  (including balance inquiries)

– USD 2.00 – GBP 1.50 – EUR 2.00 – NZD 3.00 – CAD 2.50

Travellex Money Card

Travellex Travel Card

Unlike the big 4, Travellex offer a great alternative to travelers wanting a pre-loaded card – with some of the most competitive rates around.

Here’s what you get:

FEATURES

-A free Mastercard travel card (online or in store).

-Load up to 10 currencies on the one card at a locked in rate with the Travellex Money Card. The amount you have listed in your account, is the amount you have access to.

$0 reload fee for all international currencies which can be made online or in store. Fees apply for AUD reloads. – Travellex use their rate for all currency conversions based off the current live rates.

-No international transaction fees when using the card – the rate is locked in. No ATM fees at Travellex ATM’s and most ATM’s- unless operators charge their own. Fees apply for AUD withdrawals in Australia.

FEES

-Additional Card $5.00 AUD.

-When a purchase or ATM withdrawal is conducted in a currency that is not loaded on the card, or when a transfer of funds between the currencies on your card takes place; the fee will be based on the rate set by Mastercard, plus 2.95% of the total transaction.

-Inactivity fee after 12 months of no use – unless closed is $4 AUD a month.

$10 AUD to close account and cash it out.

Travel Money Oz Currency Pass

Travel Money Oz Travel Card

Travel Money Oz, is the main competitor against Travellex. They too offer a great alternative to travelers wanting a pre-loaded card – with competitive rates. However, Travel Money Oz will PRICE BEAT any advertised rate – as long as you show proof of the day’s rate. I use them when converting currency – as I know I will always get the best price available in Australia.

Here’s what you get:

FEATURES

-A free Mastercard travel card (online or in store).

-Load up to 10 currencies on the one card at a locked in rate with the Travel Money Oz Cash Passport. The amount you have listed in your account, is the amount you have access to.

$0 reload fee when reloading in store or via direct transfer. Fees apply for BPAY, debit and credit re-loads. Travel Money Oz use their rate for all currency conversions based off the current live rates. They do PRICE BEAT.

-No international transaction fees when using the card – the rate is locked in.

FEES

-When a purchase or ATM withdrawal is conducted in a currency that is not loaded on the card, or when a transfer of funds between the currencies on your card takes place; the fee will be based on the rate set by Mastercard.

ATM fees –

– USD 2.50 – GBP 2.00 – EUR 2.50 – NZD 3.50 – CAD 3.50

$10 AUD to close account and cash it out.

Qantas Cash

Qantas Cash Travel Card

When it comes to points, Qantas Cash allows Qantas Frequent Flyers to build points with their transactions. The rate earned varies if you are purchasing internationally (1.5 points per dollar) or domestically (4 points per dollar) – only with approved transactions. However, the rates on this card are still in line with the big 4 – so points aside it’s rates are not very competitive overall – which is a worry since many Aussies are using this card. Please do your research – most airlines offer sub par rates for conversion. There is better out there! But if you are wanting to build points, and don’t care about the rates being 3-4 cents lower than many of the rest, then this card is more than fine to use.

Here’s what you get:

FEATURES

-A free Mastercard travel card (online application only).

-Load up to 11 currencies on the one card at a locked in rate with the Qantas Cash card. The amount you have listed in your account, is the amount you have access to.

$0 reload fee when reloading via direct transfer or BPAY. Qantas Cash use their rate for all currency conversions based off the current live rates.

-No international transaction fees when using the card – the rate is locked in.

FEES

-Instant cash reloads incur a 0.5% fee of total transaction.

-Direct Debit reloads incur a 0.5% fee of total transaction.

-When a purchase or ATM withdrawal is conducted in a currency that is not loaded on the card, or when a transfer of funds between the currencies on your card takes place; the fee will be based on the rate set by Mastercard.

ATM fees –

– USD 1.95 – GBP 1.25 – EUR 1.50 – NZD 2.50 – CAD 2.00

Currency Conversion Rates For Pre-Paid Travel Cards

Listed below are the rates for each pre-paid card within each currency: USD, GBP, EUR, NZD, & CAD.

These cards are: Commonwealth Bank, ANZ, NAB, Westpac, Travellex, Travel Money Oz and Qantas Cash.

Information is correct as of the afternoon of 13 August, 2018, against the AUD. All comparisons are listed based on their $1 per $1 price – and the cents difference that is evident.

Please note the LIVE market rates which are the bench mark for what all companies base their sell prices on to see just how much more you are paying – compared to these rates.

UNITED STATES DOLLAR (USD)

Live Rate: 0.72843 (1.37 AUD)

COMMONWEALTH BANK

USD – 0.69640 = $1 USD = $1.44 AUD   $50 USD = $71.80 AUD    $100 USD – $143.60 AUD

Difference:  7 cents between Comm Bank rate and the Live rates per $1 USD bought.

ANZ

USD – 0.7037 = $1 USD = $1.42 AUD   $50 USD = $71.05 AUD    $100 USD – $142.11 AUD

Difference: 5 cents between ANZ rate and the Live rates per $1 USD bought.

NAB

USD – 0.6953 = $1 USD = $1.44 AUD   $50 USD = $71.91 AUD    $100 USD – $143.82 AUD

Difference: 7 cents between NAB rate and the Live rates per $1 USD bought.

WESTPAC

USD – 0.6978 = $1 USD = $1.43 AUD   $50 USD = $71.65 AUD    $100 USD – $143.31 AUD

Difference: 6 cents between Westpac rate and the Live rates per $1 USD bought.

TRAVELLEX

USD – 0.7068 = $1 USD = $1.41 AUD   $50 USD = $70.74 AUD    $100 USD – $141.48 AUD

(If purchasing $1999 AUD in one purchase, the rate changes to 0.7082.)

Difference: 4 cents between Travellex rate and the Live rates per $1 USD bought.

TRAVEL MONEY OZ

USD – 0.7071 = $1 USD = $1.41 AUD   $50 USD = $70.71 AUD    $100 USD – $141.42 AUD

Difference: 4 cents between Travel Money Oz rate and the Live rates per $1 USD bought. – Price Beat is available with Travel Money Oz.

QANTAS CASH

USD – 0.6939 = $1 USD = $1.44 AUD   $50 USD = $72.06 AUD  $100 USD = $144.11 AUD

Difference: 7 cents between Qantas Cash rate and the Live rates per $1 USD bought. – Qantas Points can be earned with each transaction and when using the card.

The Verdict

With a Live rate of $1.37 AUD per $1 USD – the best value options are Travel Money Oz and Travellex. Because Travel Money Oz price beat, this gives them an edge over Travellex. Though Travellex have the option of free ATM withdrawals on most ATMs, and Travel Money Oz do not. The big 4 and Qantas are not bad options; with most not having ATM withdrawal or loading fees depending on how you load – but with majority of them sitting at 6-7 cents outside the Live rate – this is a huge difference when there are cards with a 4 cent difference available – making your money go further.

To put this in perspective – $1000 USD will cost $1436 AUD with anyone around 7 cents. For those at 4 cents, $1000 USD will only cost $1414 AUD – that’s a saving of $22 AUD per $1000 you convert in USD. Times that by 10 if you need that much for a family – and it is a saving of $220 AUDfor your holiday!

NOTE: When it comes to the USA, your money will go further. Most good meals are $15 or less – and the meals are huge – often they can be shared or taken home- don’t forget to tip around 20% or more if you have good service. Convenience stores don’t price gouge like they do in Australia – so you can find snacks and drinks for $1-2 (and pay buy card for them!) if you’re on a roadtrip or need something small before dinner. Even theme parks aren’t too expensive with food and snacks compared to what i am used to. You may pay more with the dollar dropping, but honestly, it still takes you really far – even if you’re on a budget. If you are unsure about Tipping – please click here to read everything you need to know about it in hotels, airports, restaurants and so forth.

POUND STERLING (GBP)

Live Rate: 0.56986 (1.75 AUD)

COMMONWEALTH BANK

GBP – 0.54350 = 1 GBP = $1.84 AUD   50 GBP  = $92 AUD    100 GBP – $183.99 AUD

Difference:  9 cents between Comm Bank rate and the Live rates per 1 GBP bought.

ANZ

GBP – 0.5486 = 1 GBP = $1.82 AUD   50 GBP = $91.14 AUD    100 GBP – $182.28 AUD

Difference: 7 cents between ANZ rate and the Live rates per 1 GBP bought.

NAB

GBP – 0.5411 = 1 GBP = $1.85 AUD   50 GBP = $92.40 AUD    100 GBP – $184.81 AUD

Difference: 10 cents between NAB rate and the Live rates per 1 GBP bought.

WESTPAC

GBP – 0.5475 = 1 GBP = $1.83 AUD   50 GBP = $91.32 AUD    100 GBP – $182.65 AUD

Difference: 8 cents between Westpac rate and the Live rates per 1 GBP bought.

TRAVELLEX

GBP – 0.5464 = 1 GBP = $1.83 AUD   50 GBP = $91.51 AUD    100 GBP – $183.02 AUD

(If purchasing $1999 AUD in one purchase, the rate changes to 0.5486.)

Difference: 8 cents between Travellex rate and the Live rates per 1 GBP bought.

TRAVEL MONEY OZ

GBP – 0.548 = 1 GBP = $1.82 AUD   50 GBP = $91.24 AUD    100 GBP – $182.48 AUD

Difference: 7 cents between Travel Money Oz rate and the Live rates per 1 GBP bought. – Price Beat is available with Travel Money Oz.

QANTAS CASH

GBP – 0.5396 = 1 GBP = $1.85 AUD   50 GBP = $92.66 AUD  $100 GBP = $185.32 AUD

Difference: 10 cents between Qantas Cash rate and the Live rates per 1 GBP bought – Qantas Points can be earned with each transaction and when using the card.

The Verdict

The Pound Sterling is far less competitive when it comes to pre-loaded travel cards. The fact no travel card is below 7 cents difference to Live rates highlights this – and makes a debit/credit card far more worthwhile in this currency. (See further down for these cards). Some cards are 10 cents different which is horrific. If you’re visiting the UK and want to take a pre-loaded travel card the best options are again Travel Money Oz and ANZ – though both of them have ATM fees.

EURO (EUR)

Live Rate: 0.63756 (1.57 AUD)

COMMONWEALTH BANK

EUR – 0.60760 = 1 EUR = $1.65 AUD   50 EUR  = $82.29 AUD    100 EUR – $164.58 AUD

Difference:  8 cents between Comm Bank rate and the Live rates per 1 EUR bought.

ANZ

EUR – 0.6130 = 1 EUR = $1.63 AUD   50 EUR = $81.35 AUD    100 EUR – $162.71 AUD

Difference: 6 cents between ANZ rate and the Live rates per 1 EUR bought.

NAB

EUR – 0.6050 = 1 EUR = $1.65 AUD   50 EUR = $82.64 AUD    100 EUR – $165.29 AUD

Difference: 8 cents between NAB rate and the Live rates per 1 EUR bought.

WESTPAC

EUR – 0.6135 = 1 EUR = $1.63 AUD   50 EUR = $81.50 AUD    100 EUR – $163 AUD

Difference: 6 cents between Westpac rate and the Live rates per 1 EUR bought.

TRAVELLEX

EUR – 0.6109 = 1 EUR = $1.64 AUD   50 EUR = $81.85 AUD    100 EUR – $163.69 AUD

(If purchasing $1999 AUD in one purchase, the rate changes to 0.6133.)

Difference: 7 cents between Travellex rate and the Live rates per 1 EUR bought.

TRAVEL MONEY OZ

EUR – 0.6012 = 1 EUR = $1.66 AUD   50 EUR = $83.17 AUD    100 EUR – $166.33 AUD

Difference: 9 cents between Travel Money Oz rate and the Live rates per 1 EUR bought. – Price Beat is available with Travel Money Oz.

QANTAS CASH

EUR – 0.6048 = 1 EUR = $1.65 AUD   50 EUR = $82.67 AUD  $100 EUR = $165.34 AUD

Difference: 8 cents between Qantas Cash rate and the Live rates per 1 EUR bought – Qantas Points can be earned with each transaction and when using the card.

The Verdict

Like the Pound, the Euro is quite a stretch from the Live Rates when it comes to pre-loaded travel cards. But there are still some better options out there within the debit/credit realm. If you have to go pre-loaded, the best options are ANZ and Westpac followed by Travellex. But, you can easily shave 3 cents off the Travel Money Oz rate if you take the better rates to them in store.

CANADIAN DOLLAR (CAD)

Live Rate: 0.95611 (1.04 AUD)

COMMONWEALTH BANK

CAD – 0.90580 = $1 CAD = $1.10 AUD   $50 CAD  = $55.20 AUD    $100 CAD – $110.40 AUD

Difference:  6 cents between Comm Bank rate and the Live rates per $1 CAD bought.

ANZ

CAD – 0.9249 = $1 CAD = $1.08 AUD   $50 CAD = $54.06 AUD    $100 CAD – $108.12 AUD

Difference: 4 cents between ANZ rate and the Live rates per $1 CAD bought.

NAB

CAD – 0.9032 = $1 CAD = $1.11 AUD   $50 CAD = $55.36 AUD    $100 CAD – $110.72 AUD

Difference: 7 cents between NAB rate and the Live rates per $1 CAD bought.

WESTPAC

CAD – 0.9182 = $1 CAD = $1.09 AUD   $50 CAD = $54.45 AUD    $100 CAD – $108.91 AUD

Difference: 5 cents between Westpac rate and the Live rates per $1 CAD bought.

TRAVELLEX

CAD – 0.9015 = $1 CAD = $1.11 AUD   $50 CAD = $55.46 AUD    $100 CAD – $110.93 AUD

(If purchasing $1999 AUD in one purchase, the rate does not change.)

Difference: 7 cents between Travellex rate and the Live rates per $1 CAD bought.

TRAVEL MONEY OZ

CAD – 0.8965 = $1 CAD = $1.12 AUD   $50 CAD = $55.77 AUD    $100 CAD – $111.54 AUD

Difference: 8 cents between Travel Money Oz rate and the Live rates per $1 CAD bought. – Price Beat is available with Travel Money Oz.

QANTAS CASH

CAD – 0.9046 = $1 CAD = $1.11 AUD   $50 CAD = $55.27 AUD  $100 CAD = $110.55 AUD

Difference: cents between Qantas Cash rate and the Live rates per $1 CAD bought – Qantas Points can be earned with each transaction and when using the card.

The Verdict

The Canadian Dollar has one of the best exchange rates with the AUD, and most cards are close enough together to keep it competitive. Unlike some of the other cards, ANZ actually lead the pack on this with 4 cents difference, followed closely by Westpac and Commonwealth Bank at 5 and 6 cents difference. Do bear in mind Travel Money Oz at 8 cents difference do offer a price beat guarantee, so this card can level the top tier field if you barter a rate in store.

NEW ZEALAND DOLLAR (NZD)

Live Rate: 1.10560 (90 Cents AUD)

COMMONWEALTH BANK

NZD – 1.105700 = $1 NZD = 0.95 AUD   $50 NZD  = $47.30 AUD    $100 NZD – $94.61 AUD

Difference:  5 cents between Comm Bank rate and the Live rates per $1 NZD bought.

ANZ

NZD – 1.0602 = $1 NZD = $0.94 AUD   $50 EUR = $46.79 AUD    $100 EUR – $93.58 AUD

Difference: 4 cents between ANZ rate and the Live rates per $1 NZD bought.

NAB

NZD – 1.0561 = $1 NZD = $0.95 AUD   $50 NZD = $47.34 AUD    $100 NZD – $94.69 AUD

Difference: 5 cents between NAB rate and the Live rates per $1 NZD bought.

WESTPAC

NZD – 1.0605 = $1 NZD = $0.94 AUD   $50 NZD = $47.15 AUD    $100 NZD – $94.30 AUD

Difference: 4 cents between Westpac rate and the Live rates per $1 NZD bought.

TRAVELLEX

NZD – 1.0693 = $1 NZD = $0.94 AUD   $50 NZD = $46.76 AUD    $100 NZD – $93.52 AUD

(If purchasing $1999 AUD in one purchase, there is no rate change.)

Difference: 4 cents between Travellex rate and the Live rates per $1 NZD bought.

TRAVEL MONEY OZ

NZD – 1.0483 = $1 NZD = $0.95 AUD   $50 NZD = $47.70 AUD    $100 NZD – $101.73 AUD

Difference: 5 cents between Travel Money Oz rate and the Live rates per $1 NZD bought. – Price Beat is available with Travel Money Oz.

QANTAS CASH

NZF – 01.0592 = $1 NZD = $0.94 AUD   $50 EUR = $47.21 AUD  $100 NZD = $94.41 AUD

Difference: cents between Qantas Cash rate and the Live rates per $1 NZD bought – Qantas Points can be earned with each transaction and when using the card.

The Verdict

The New Zealand dollar is understandably very competitive. The rates are so close to live rates – better than almost all the others. Ultimately, ANZ, Westpac and Travellex have the best rates at 4 cents difference. However, Travel Money Oz do have the price beat guarantee which adds this into the mix. If you’re traveling to New Zealand, the rates are largely good for pre-loaded travel cards. So it ultimately comes down to which of the cards have the least amount of fees if we really knuckle it down – which based on the top choices is Travellex.

What Debit / Credit Cards Are Best For Travel?

Pre-loaded cards are not the only option out there.

I will also be focusing on the following DEBIT/ CREDIT card offerings – the ones which you do not pre-load but take from your Australian bank account – cards that I have and ACTUALLY USE.

To some, this is a risky move. Why? Because there is nothing locked in and the rate can dip – but it can also go up. What is important to remember here is that these cards follow either the Visa or Mastercard rates – which upon review were practically the same as the LIVE rates.

Thus, if there is a 4 cent difference with USD for purchasing currency on a pre-loaded card – any dip that happens before you head away won’t actually matter as much as people think, even if its as much as 3-4 cents because you will still get the live rate – or as close to it as possible which is still 4 cents more than the best pre-loaded rate. If the Aussie dollar starts dramatically falling, then of course buy something as you notice it. But don’t stress about it too much. Just make sure you are getting the best rate on the day if you do pre-load. Based on our economy, it is good for us for the dollar to drop to strengthen our own tourism sector and value – so please don’t get too disheartened by dips in the rate. Your money will go much farther overseas in most cases than it will in Australia anyway.

But if you are ok with trusting the market, and prefer to get the BEST rate possibly available to you in Australia – then these options will be the best options overall for ALL travel cards – even better than pre-loaded cards.

So which debit/credit cards ones are worth considering?

Debit/ Credit Cards That Are Best For International Travel

-28 Degrees Mastercard

-Citibank Everyday Debit / Credit Card

-Bankwest Platinum Credit Card

-ING Debit /Credit Cards

-HSBC Everyday Global Account (Debit card – but you can also pre-load on the same card with currency.)

28 Degrees Mastercard

28 Degrees Mastercard Travel Card

Here’s what you get:

FEATURES

-A free Mastercard when you order online.

-No annual fees

-No international transaction fees

-55 days interest free

$6000 AUD minimum credit

INCLUSIONS

-Free worldwide card replacement 

-Free Global Wifi through Boingo hotspots worldwide

FEES

There are not many fees associated with this card except:

21.99% interest rate on purchases.

21.99% interest rate on cash advances.

-Payment service fees $2.50 AUD (in person), $0.95 (BPAY). You can avoid this fee by making your payments via mail, direct debit transfer or via the Online Service Centre.

-Late Fee $20 AUD

-Paper Statement $2.50 AUD

I use this card when I travel. I can vouch for it and I love what it offers me as an international traveler – especially with the Boingo complimentary wifi incentive. 

Citibank Plus Everyday Card

Citibank Everyday Travel Card

Here’s what you get:

FEATURES

-A free Mastercard when you order online or in person.

-You use your own money.

-No annual fees or monthly fees.

-No international transaction fees

-No ATM fees -Citibank ATM’s are available in many countries. These ATM’s will not charge you a fee to use. But, if an ATM charges a fee for use – then you may not be exempt from these fees (even though your card has no ATM fees).

-Citibank are a global brand – should you need a replacement it will be far easier to get than from an Australian company.

-Citibank Dining Program Offers

-Secure App – uses fingerprint technology to login on your phone.

FEES

There are no fees associated with this card beyond possible ATM fees with some operators.

I use this card when I travel. I love what it offers me as an international traveler, because I know that the rate I am using is the best rate possible – and it’s my own money! Plus, no fees besides ‘possible’ ATM fees.

ING Orange Everyday Debit Card

ING Orange Everyday Travel Card

Here’s what you get:

FEATURES

-A free Visa card when you order online.

-You use your own money.

-No annual fees or monthly fees.

-No international transaction fees – if you meet the conditions. Otherwise the rate on purchases are 2.5% of the total.

-NO ATM fees.

FEES

There are not many fees associated with this card but there are conditions of USE.

To quality for a fee-free experience, you must:

Deposit $1000 AUD into the account every 30 days.

-Make 5 transactions with the card per month which are settled – not pending.

-All fees which are waived will still be listed on your transactions within your account – but these fees will then be rebated back into your account as long as you qualify under their terms of use. Please note – that if you do not meet the terms of use for 1 month, you will have to pay fees for that 30 day period; until you can resume a fee-free month the following month.

*If this card is being used as a travel card only, these conditions may not work for you.

Do Note – if you have a home loan with ING – you can qualify for this card – completely fee free (without the need to meet any additional conditions). So if you have a home loan with them – be sure to use this card when traveling.

Additionally to this debit card, there is an ING Orange One Credit Card and Orange One Platinum Card which both offer free fee options – as long as your Orange Everyday Debit account inclusions are met.

The Orange One Card is 11.99% on purchases at 45 days interest free. The Platinum card is 16.99% on purchases at 45 days interest free. So there are a few decent options with ING if you actually bank with them.

I know many people who use this card – but they already bank with ING due to the conditions. The rebate option is a money saver – as ING will refund all fees if you meet the requirements. Most other cards are ATM free (if you use their ATM’s) but will still incur an operator fee on top of this. ING is a really strong card, particularly if you bank with them. Strong rates and no fees.

Bankwest Platinum Credit Card

Bankwest Platinum Travel Card

Here’s what you get:

FEATURES

-A free Mastercard when you order online or in branch.

-No annual fees

-No international transaction fees

-55 days interest free

FEES

There are not many fees associated with this card except:

17.99% interest rate on purchases.

21.99% interest rate on cash advances.

INCLUSION

-Complimentary travel insurance (terms and conditions apply)

-Contactless travel ring (which you wear on your hand)

The Bankwest Card is a strong contender. No fees, a contactless ring for more secure payment choices, and solid rates based off Mastercard. The complimentary travel insurance is a real incentive for this card too.

HSBC EVERYDAY GLOBAL DEBIT CARD

HSBC Everyday Global Card

Visa

-No ATM, international transaction or account keeping fees. (No ATM fees unless the operator of the ATM you use charges one). There is no minimum deposits for using this card like others have.

-You use your own money at the HSBC conversion rate – but AUD is the controlled or default currency for this card.

-You can pre-load any amount on the card in another currency to lock in that currency for when you visit.

-This card allows for the loading of 10 selected currencies only – which may not work for all travelers that need/ travel using other currencies not included for this card. Other currencies are available for ATM cash withdrawals and purchases with the card, but these funds will be deducted from your AUD account and exchanged into the local currency at the HSBC rate.

-Competitive rates for currency conversion (whether debited or pre-loaded onto the card) –

-USD (2 cents off live Visa rates)
-GBP (2 cents off live Visa rates)
-EUR (2 cents off live Visa rates)
-CAD (3 cents off live Visa rates)
-NZD (3 cents off live Visa rates)

Which Of These Debit /Credit Cards Are The Best Options?

Some things to consider-

The Visa and Mastercard rates per each currency, which highlights that Mastercard is generally a fraction better against Visa – but BOTH are as close to LIVE rates unlike any other card on offer.

How Do They Compare If Their Rates Are Comparable?

28 DEGREES

Mastercard

21.99% at 55 days interest free.

-No ATM, international or account keeping fees.

BONUS – Boingo Complimentary Wifi Hotspot Account.

CITIBANK

Mastercard

-No ATM, international or account keeping fees.

-You use your own money.

-BONUS Citibank Dining Programfree bottle of wine at selected restaurants when using the card.

ING

Visa

-No ATM, international or account keeping fees.

-You use your own money.

-Everyday Debit$1000 AUD deposited in per month. 5 settled transactions to bypass fees.

-CreditOrange One – 11.99% at 45 days interest free. Orange One Platinum – 16.99% at 45 days interest free. Must adhere to conditions of Orange Everyday Card.

BANKWEST

Mastercard

-No ATM, international or account keeping fees.

17.99% at 55 days interest free

Complimentary travel insurance (conditions will apply)

17.99% interest rate on purchases.

21.99% interest rate on cash advances.

HSBC EVERYDAY GLOBAL DEBIT CARD

Visa

-No ATM,international transaction or account keeping fees. (No ATM fees unless the operator of the ATM you use charges one).

-There are no minimum deposits for using this card like others have.

-You use your own money at the Visa market rate. AUD is the controlled or default currency for this card.

-You can pre-load an amount on the card in another currency to lock in that currency.

-Competitive rates for currency conversion.

The Verdict

Based on all of this – and the most valuable incentives for each card, it is really hard to go past the Citibank Everyday Card as a general debit/travel card. It is a Mastercard which is generally a better rate than Visa; you use your own money; Citi are a global bank in case issues arise and you need to visit a branch and there are no fees for using the card. What separates it from ING’s debit travel card, is that there are no conditions of use. You can use this card whenever you travel – not be forced to use it everyday as a debit card if you bank with someone else. A new competitor remains the HSBC Everyday Global Card – which allows users to have an AUD bank account alongside the multiple currencies that can be loaded at quite competitive rates. For ease this is a great option – but it is a few cents off the live Visa rates which allows Citi to still be that more viable option – just.

Additionally, Bankwest and ING have competitive credit cards against 28 Degrees as well. However, the travel insurance option is a winner for those wanting to save money. Where 28 degrees pips it at the post however is through the complimentary Boingo wifi – which majority of airports and public spaces use as a carrier. This fee alone ensures when you are traveling – particularly within the USA, you have access to PREMIUM wifi – not just complimentary and basic services that majority of airports have. It is for this reason – even though the purchase rate is the highest for 28 Degrees, that this card is the most value for money based on the international traveler.

With any credit card the key is to pay it all off in full before the date of repayment lapses – otherwise you will pay additional fees you don’t have to. So the purchase rate should not matter as much if you can do this.

How Do These Cards Compare To Pre-Loaded Travel Cards?

Going back to my original example of how you can save between 7 cents and 4 cents per $100 spent, It is important to compare these figures to the debit and credit cards for scope.

I will share one example to give you an idea on the little differences.

For $1000 USD

If 7 cents difference costs $1436 AUD with Commonwealth Bank, and 4 cents difference costs $1414 AUD ($22 AUD difference) with Travel Money Oz – the Visa and Mastercard rate would see this $1000 USD purchase as $1370 AUD ($44 difference).

Thus, the Visa/Mastercard rate will always be better – even if the dollar dips a couple of cents, as the live rate balances out any dips which happen – because it is so good in comparison.

Final Thoughts On Travel Cards

Ultimately, what you decide to use is up to you.

But based on this evidence and my strong knowledge of each institution the basics are clear – the big 4 banks are rarely the best options. Sure some have no international transaction fees or ATM fees – but the rates for some currencies are almost eye watering. The only exception to the rule here is ANZ – who are more often than not at least somewhat competitive with their overall rates.

The front runners for pre-loaded cards are Travellex and Travel Money Oz – don’t forget they price beat guarantee! But HSBC does beat them by 1-2 cents on the pre-loaded front – and you can still use this as a debit card too.

Regarding credit cards – 28 Degrees mastercard have the best rates, and the most beneficial incentives that travelers would appreciate. If wifi is not a necessity for you – then the Bankwest Credit Card is the next one worth looking at through it’s travel insurance add on.

What Cards Do I Use?

When I travel I take the following:
-$500 in cold hard cash – this way I have money for tips the minute I land and I don’t need an ATM for the first week at least.
-I don’t pre-load funds onto cards anymore. If I did I would take the Travel Money Oz or HSBC options as they are the best value for money.
-I do take my Citibank Debit card and 28 Degrees Mastercard with me. I use my Citi card for general spending and my 28 Degrees for holds and any additional expenses I come up against.

I also pre-pay every hotel I book (unless there is no option to advance purchase); using my 28 Degrees card. I pay this off each month in full as I only use this for non AUD purchases. I do have a Virgin Credit Card that builds points (It also gave me 60K in bonus points in the first 3 months). But I don’t use it internationally because the international transaction fees are not worth the points and I can fare far better with other cards.

I truly hope this article has been helpful in at least opening your eyes to what your options are as an Australian traveler. If you are heading to the USA don’t forget to join my travel group here. I share all of this and more there to help people travel in a country I have explored over the past decade.

Do bear in mind information may change between publishing this and when you read it – but overall, things will remain pretty on par with what i’ve written as the trends have not really changed much at all. It will depend on the currency for how competitive companies get.

If you need any further tips be sure to message me or comment below. I am always here to help people if they ask for it!

If you are looking for advice on HOW TO TIP you can find this here

If you are wondering about ESTA’s (visa waiver’s) and general how-tos before you head to the USA, you can find this here

If you’re looking for an engaged, knowledgeable and helpful community to join on Facebook – click here to join my fast-growing US Travel group.

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 Best Travel Cards For Aussies