back to all news

Travel money cards compared: Qantas Cash vs Virgin Australia Global Wallet

By David Flynn     Filed under: qantas, travel money, Virgin Australia

Qantas and Virgin Australia have jumped feet-first into the growing market for travel money cards.

And in theory, Qantas Cash and Virgin Australia’s Velocity Global Wallet are a perfect fit for business travellers and frequent flyers.

These prepaid travel money cards supporting a fistful of foreign currencies for use overseas as well as a central Aussie dollar wallet for day-to-day use here at home – and the opportunity to earn points with every swipe of the plastic.

Because the travel money functionality is included in each airline’s latest frequent flyer card, most of us will end up carrying both the Qantas Cash and Virgin Australia Global Wallet cards in pocket or purse with the option to use either or indeed both as the need arises.

They’ve got plenty in common – the cover most of the same currencies, support tap-and-go payments and smartphone apps to help manage your travel money on the go.

The points-earning capability is also the same: you’ll earn one Qantas or Velocity point for the equivalent of every Aussie dollar spent in foreign currency (including online), and one point for every two dollars spent in Australia.

But there are also some areas of noticeable difference between Qantas Cash and Virgin Australia Global Wallet.

So which of the two airlines’ travel money cards is best? Read on! 

Foreign currencies

Both the Qantas Cash and Virgin Australia Global Wallet cards support multiple foreign currencies in what can be considered a series of ‘virtual wallets’.

These are US, Canadian, NZ, Singapore and Hong Kong dollars; British pounds; Euros, and Japanese Yen.

Virgin Australia’s Global Wallet card also covers the Thai baht.

However, the Virgin Australia card lets you access only five of these virtual wallets at any time – and as the Australian wallet must always remain active, that limits you to four foreign currency wallets on the go.

It’s not a major impost for travellers who fly to just one or two countries, but the more you hop around the globe the more you’ll appreciate that the Qantas Cash card lets you store cash in as many wallets as you want.

Winner: Qantas Cash 

Exchange rates

Next on the list: how to the rates compare when you load your card with Aussie dollars to spend overseas?

It seems to be a mixed bag, with some currencies rating higher under Qantas than Virgin Australia and vice versa.

For example, at the time of writing, Qantas pegged the US dollar exchange rate at 0.8677 against Virgin Australia’s 0.8627, and the New Zealand dollar at 1.1065 versus Virgin’s 1.1037.

But Virgin sold the Euro slightly higher at 0.6534 compared to Qantas’ 0.6465, and the  British Pound at 0.5545 against Qantas’ 0.5526.

None of these are significant differences, especially given the relatively small amounts that travellers deal in.

But as Qantas charges no fee to load money onto the card, while Virgin Australia charges $1 for each for each top-up, the Red Roo has  the edge in this round.

Winner: Qantas Cash

Load and reload

Both Qantas Cash and Virgin Australia Global Wallet can be loaded with money using the BPAY or POLi systems, although these take 2-3 days to process – there’s no way to instantly get money into your card.

By default all money is loaded into your ‘Australian’ wallet, and you then transfer as much as you want into any of your foreign currency wallets.

However, Qantas Cash offers a little extra flexibility by allowing you to temporarily change the default wallet so that a BPAY or POLi funds transfer will be directed straight into that account – saving you the trouble of having to shuffle the money around.

Winner: Qantas Cash

Virtual card for online shopping

This is unique to Virgin Australia’s Global Wallet, and it’s a feature we think will be appreciated by many online shoppers who are careful with – or concerned about – the security of their card’s details.

The Global Wallet lets create a free ‘virtual card’ with its own card number, expiry date and three-digit CVC number.

This is linked to your Global Wallet account, but can be used for online and telephone orders.

The virtual card is created instantly and added to your list of cards, but it can be cancelled at any time and a new virtual card – with a completely different set of numbers – generated in its place.

In other words, you can create a virtual card to place one large online shopping order, and once that’s fulfilled, delete the card to ensure that even if the details were captured by somebody, they couldn’t use them to buy more goods on your account.

Winner: Virgin Australia Global Wallet

ATM withdrawl fees

Most travel money cards will see you charged a withdrawal fee to pull money out of an ATM, and both the Qantas Cash and Virgin Australia Global Wallet cards are no exception.

But the Qantas Cash card attracts much lower fees, including free withdrawals in Australian ATMs (Virgin levies a $2.95 fee for this).

Pulling out US$ comes with a $1.95 fee under your Qantas Cash card but attracts $2.95 with Virgin; and while Virgin Australia’s Global Wallet charges €2 and £2 for an ATM cash-out in those currencies, Qantas pegs the fee at a lower €1.50 and £1.25.

Winner: Qantas Cash

There are several other features and charges between the Qantas Cash and Virgin Australia Global Wallet cards, so it’s worth checking out their respective FAQ pages:

But in this five-point comparison covering, Qantas Cash comes out streets ahead.

Agree or disagree with our call? What features of these cards are the most important to you, and which do you think represents the better deal?

Get the latest updates for business traveller and frequent flyers: follow @AusBT on Twitter.

 

Profile

About David Flynn

David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

 

Have something to say? Post a comment now!

1 on 3/9/13 by Benjamin

I have been useing my Global Wallet card quite frequently to rack up the extra points on my every day spend that i dont want to put on credit.

I have re-loaded the card a number of times instantly useing the POLI function on the website..... credit is applied litrally instantly and good to go!

2 on 3/9/13 by spentan

Anyone planning on using these, consider the Citibank Plus Transaction Account. No fees for foreign transactions, nor withdrawals at any Citibank ATM worldwide (there are heaps), and no fees for anything else (pretty much).

Exchange rate is awesome too!

1 on 3/9/13 by kikoenaivoice

I second this

2 on 3/9/13 by hutch

I used to bank with Ciitbank and they were great until something went wrong... it took me months to get them to fix the issues. So I'll never bank with them again. Granted that 99.9% will bank with them without dramas.

On my last trip I used the 28 degress mastercard, which was pretty good (although no locking in of rates). Looking forward to trying out these cards.

3 on 3/9/13 by hellok

great article. i have now have both cards, but i think QFF points are so much more valuable that velocity's. it's a no brainer for me on that alone, so it's good to know that the exchanges and fees from Qantas are better.

4 on 3/9/13 by Aarondavis1986

I'm interested in the expiry dates of the credit card functions of the two cards. I have run into a problem with the Velocity program at the moment because I am travelling to europe from the middle of this month until the middle of october.  The review date on my card was the 24th of August, so the expiry date of platinum benefits is set for the 24th of September.  I have racked up enough SCs to re-qualify but under virgin's application of the travel money card, the credit card side of the card also expires in september.  After calling them to query this the call centre said that even if they issue a new card now, the expiry date for the travel money card will remain as September 2013.  They said I have to wait until after september 24th before the expiry date of the travel card can be updated (when I will already be in Europe).

I think it would be easy to be caught out by this when overseas and be left without access to your own money.  It seems a pretty silly oversight on virgin's behalf to me...

5 on 6/9/13 by gippsflyer

Minor quibble, but I'm not sure "feet-first" applies to this rather late entry to the international multiple currencies loadable card market. These products have been around for a while, post-paid even longer, so both Virgin and Qantas have come late to the party. That said, combining a airline status card and a flexible loadable currency card is a new trick, and offers both airlines new revenue streams from kickbacks from card operators. I'll still stick with my 28 degrees card, as its hard to bet for exchange rate conversion.

6 on 7/9/13 by highflyer

Just out of Curiosity...

does your card expire the same time your membership tier expires?  And if you are given a new card due to a drop in tier, will the money on that card be transferred onto your new card?  Or will you lose your money on that card?

7 on 9/9/13 by brzbnkr

These exchange rates and fees are rubbish. Depending of course on how much you spend whilst overseas, the points earn will probably not make up for these. 

As for Qantas vs Virgin winning the forex rate above, I wouldn't say Qantas won that. If you converted A$10k Aussie, at the rates noted above you would get:US: Qantas $8,677 against Virgin $8,627 (Qantas wins $50)€: Virgin €6,534 against Qantas €6,465 (Virgin wins €69)£: Virgin £5,545 against Qantas £5,526 (Virgin wins £19)

By the time you've added in Virgin's slightly higher fees (and the $1 top-up is obviously negligible when considering rate differences), chances are the two cards will come out about equal. Virgin then better if you go to Thailand, Qantas better if you go to more than 4 different currency countries. I would call this one a draw.  

As others have said here, the 28 degrees card (or Citibank, but I don't have this so can't comment) has significantly better exchange rates and zero fees.

Also as already mentioned, the downside with those cards however is that you're not locking in rates - which I'll be the first to put my hand up and say has cost me over the last few months, but that's just bad luck as far as timing goes (it doesn't happen too often that the AUD drops >10% in such a short period).

If you're putting enough into the Virgin/Qantas cards to last many months ahead, the poorer exchange rates and fees may be worth it. But if you're going on a quick 2-4 week hop, I would continue to take my chances on the AUD. 

8 on 9/9/13 by Chillmyster

I am heading to Europe mid next year for 12+weeks holiday.  The qantas card looks pretty good to buy euro now and leave there till I leave, I have money in an account saved so would only lose on interest but may gain it back on locking the cash rate and the long term projection maybe for the euro to drop further (maybe high 50s). 

I'm definately no expert in this area so intersted in opinions?

1 on 9/9/13 by brzbnkr

Chillmyster, in my opinion that is the best scenario for the use of these cards. The exchange rate isn't as good as some credit cards that are marketed specifically for overseas travel (eg 28 degrees), but you are locking in the rate. If you are happy to part with your AU$ now, to hedge against risk of the AUD going lower again before you go away next year, then the cost of the current rate offered by Qantas/Virgin (vs today's market spot rate) is worth it. Particularly given you're going for 12+ weeks - so you'll no doubt have a fairly sizeable amount of cash to need to convert. 

Hopefully my explanation is clear enough. :)

2 on 10/9/13 by David

Chillmyster: working that far ahead, it's all about the risk - will the Euro indeed head south by then, or might it enjoy an uptick over the current rate (at which you could buy up big) before dorpping again? It's all about the risk!

1 on 10/9/13 by brzbnkr

Well now that's crystal ball stuff!! If anyone knew for sure where the dollar was going to go in the next year, they would become very very rich. Having said that, the Reserve Bank has publicly made it clear that they think the AUD is too high, so if it doesn't come down by itself they'll try to bring it down - but they can only do so much, the market is stronger than they are. 

As you say, it's all about the risk - so if you don't want to risk your costs blowing out by 10% or more, then you should probably seriously consider hedging. 

9 on 18/9/13 by tasmarshall

I just received my new QF card in the mail today, and the only problem with what appears to be a genuinely useful product is that you can't change the PIN number on the card. I've been able to change all my other pre-paid card's PIN's (including Virgin's). I even called the service centre and they confirmed it couldn't be done. Irritating.

10 on 15/11/13 by jwallace

WARNING - DONT GET THE QANTAS CARD !!

My partner received a pre-offer as a Qantas Club Member... As we were going to the USA for 4 weeks, we wanted to lock in the exchange rate and the PDS stated we could use the card for purchases anywhere MasterCard was display... We previously have used Cash Password without any problems... So being loyal to Qantas we decided to support the Qantas Card Card...

In short, our card was scammed within 12 days and we were ripped off USD $1308....leaving us with only $197 in CASH which we could not access because the card was voided. In other words we then had to use our credit cards for the rest of the holiday incurring further exchange and bank fees.  

When contacting the QANTAS worldwide number on the Card it took us nearly an hour to sort out what was happening.. result = international telephone bill from hotel USD $174... that's becuase the worldwide number is an australian numner !!!! - Ridiculous !!!

In addition, we found on our intial attempt to use the card, the card did not work at all merchants displaying mastercard facility as stated in the offer document....which meant we had to use our credit card... we got wise and then withdrew cash from the card to cover this up to the date it was scammed....( I guess this was just as well otherwise we would have been scammed for more money)

We lodged the appropriate claim form with QANTAS when we got back including a request for reimbursement of the telephone and additional credit card charges we incurred plus the loss of frequent flyer points on purchases (also a stated benefit on using the card for merchant purchases)....

QANTAS's response... repaid amount scammed, no apology, did not reimburse anything else.... We now have to pay an additional fee of 3% to get our money off the card (thats where they put the reimbursement)....

Well done QANTAS.... they issued a card that was completely unsecure then think by simply reimbursing the scammed amount they have satisfied there legal requirement.  Not so QANTAS.... ASIC & A Curent Affait here we come... False and Misleading Statements in the PDS and no international contact facilities costing clients financial loss when things go wrong)...

John

11 on 13/1/14 by Robyn

Having recently returned from South Africa I can only praise the Virgin Global Wallet.  We also carried an Ozforex Travel Card which is a Mastercard and had numerous times where ATMs and store machines would only accept Visa.  Thank goodness we had our Global Wallet as well. Not only did it always work, you received a confirmation email with the purchasee details and your account balance within seconds of making a transaction.  This was invaluable.   We have now also signed up for the Qantas Cash card but have yet to use it overseas.  But again it is a Mastercard so you can be limited in where it works.  We have also experienced problems with Mastercard at some European ATMs.

We also carry the 28 degrees card which is excellent for exchange rates and no bank fees - it comes in handy for use in online overseas purchases as well.

12 on 9/2/14 by Jacqui

Anyone considering using this card overseas really needs to reconsider. I was left stranded in Japan for 2 weeks with no access to my money when my card failed to work in any international ATM in Hakuba. Customer service refused to believe me until I sent them a video, refused to let me close my account and have the money returned to my bank account so I could use it and then transferred $2000 of it without my consent to a bank 3 hours away from where I was. 34 days later and I'm still trying to get my money back from them. Never, ever again. 

1 on 9/2/14 by Jacqui

Just clarifying it was the Velocity Global Wallet not Quantas

13 on 13/2/14 by Bill_Hols

THE QANTAS CASH CARD IS A DISASTER - STAY CLEAR!!

I was overseas in November - January on holiday in Japan, Thailand and Malaysia. Holiday of a lifetime. I thought I would use the Qantascash facility. My Qantas frequent flyer card was due to expire in November but the Qantascash linked to the card was not due to expire until January. I was travelling so would not be able to get my frequent flyer card. I was worried about putting cash on my card so I rang and specifically asked if the fact that the Qantas requent Flyer Card expiring would be a problem for getting cash out. They told me it would not be a problem because the Qantascash expiry date would not come into effect until end of January when I would be home. So I put $5000 on the card losing money on the exchange rate putting money into those currencies. But then when I went to use it in Japan the card would not work.

 My frequent flyer card expired so I couldn't get the cash out.

I was frozen out of the account so couldn't get in to do anything. Extremely frustrating trying to get through to their help desk, especially because their computer system thought my account was expired just because my frequent flyer card was out of date. The help people kept telling me that my Qantascash card was still valid. They kept claiming it was valid and that I was doing something wrong. Eventually they found out that it was unusable because my frequent flyer card was expired. They did not know what to do and gave me bad advice.

 I had to get friends to pay my bills using their credit cards over the phone. Massively embarrassing.

 Finally got them to release all the money via a Western Union outlet in Bangkok losing money on the exchange rate because the Japanese and Malaysian currency had to be converted to Thai. I’d already travelled through Japan with insufficient money.

I complained when I got back and asked whether I could get a copy of the tape recording because I want to make an accurate statement of the facts. They said they would respond within 14 days. After two weeks they came back with the following comment; "I would like to explain that for our cardholders security, all call recordings are encrypted. We are currently working with our Telephony team towards a resolution which will enable you to listen to the calls in full." Do you believe that? Neither do I! They could provide a typed transcript. The recordings are a one sided scam, for their benefit. No interest in being open about their mistakes. Just trying to hide their errors.

They told me I could complain to the Ombudsman. I sent back an email asking them to confirm some of the details so that I could write to the Ombudsman with exactly what happened. That was a few weeks ago and they have not responded.

I have lost hundreds of dollars, had my holiday ruined because my frequent flyer card was out of date. It was sent to my Australian address while I was travelling. I feel I have been ignored by their complaints people.

They have lost their way as an airline and now they want to dabble with banking.

My advice is to stay away from them.

1 on 28/3/14 by Alexander

Thanks for the heads up on this. I was tossing up between using the Qantas or Virgin card on an upcoming trip, and you've just helped me decide on Virgin.

I fly QF pretty much exclusively, but have my phone with Virgin Mobile so earn some Velocity points through that which add up over time. I was thinking about using Virgin anyway because that would help boost that account, and my partner used her Global Wallet in Europe and couldn't stop raving about it, and a positive review was making me lean that way as I'm a bit 'uncertain' about these cards. 

My Qantas status year ends while I'm away I don't want to be locked out of my money, so Virgin it is. As you say, this is a silly oversight, especially as the expiry date on the card isn't for another two months

14 on 6/5/14 by rorlalnd

I loaded up $2,000 cash on to the card for travelling over to Europe on 27 Mar 14. Before I even left the country the Balance was $1,860.00 (30 Mar 14) . I repeat, I had not used the card for any purchases and my balance was $140 less. What a joke and a scam. I complained to QANTAS who are investigating. My advice - don't bother with this.

15 on 6/6/14 by markoz1956

OK I've read enough from real time users of the QANTAS card to convince me it's just another QFF scam.

I'll take the advice from others here and take my overseas cashcard business elsewhere.

16 on 10/6/14 by John

Leaving international issues to one side, using the Qantas card domestically is simply a pain in the neck.

Every BPay loading requires a new payee, because the biller number and refence changes every time. This also means, using CBA, a new SMS message and number.

Getting into the website to initiate this procedure requires your frequent flyer number, and an absurd password system of silly complexity.

On top of all this, a simple thing like changing to a PIN that suits you cannot be done.

It is all so "Qantas," everything for the corporation, to hell with the customers.

The Virgin card by comparison suffers from none of these objections, and can be reloaded directly from a saved netbank transaction, no other login needed.

Qantas, I'm sure, would say, if questioned that this constipated mess is all to do with security, and the catch all weasel word of "safety." I doubt it is really any more secure for the user than the Virgin card, so I suspect any difference would be about Qantas' security, not the users.

17 on 9/7/14 by Joffie

Obtained both cards when they came out.  Took both to Hawaii last year.  The Qantas card was rejected by many EFTPOS terminals, even in large department stores, whereas the Virgin card was accepted everywhere.  Pehaps due to Qantas being Mastercard and Virgin a Visa card??  In addition, the Virgin card gives you an instant SMS to your phone confirming the transaction amount and balance remaining.  Great feature and very comforting to have the confirmation of amount debited when travelling as well as always knowing funds remaining.  For these two reasons, I have not bothered using the Qantas card on subsequent trips.

18 on 9/7/14 by Joffie

Obtained both cards when they came out.  Took both to Hawaii last year.  The Qantas card was rejected by many EFTPOS terminals, even in large department stores, whereas the Virgin card was accepted everywhere.  Pehaps due to Qantas being Mastercard and Virgin a Visa card??  In addition, the Virgin card gives you an instant SMS to your phone confirming the transaction amount and balance remaining.  Great feature and very comforting to have the confirmation of amount debited when travelling as well as always knowing funds remaining.  For these two reasons, I have not bothered using the Qantas card on subsequent trips.

19 on 13/7/14 by John

I put in a rant early on about how bad in practise was the Qantas card, others have followed up with points that I missed, particularly the excellent Velocity feature of an automatic email with the balance every time it is used.

Well, guess what, unbelievably, it just gets worse. Some new points:

The "Amount of funds" field, alongside the currency selector, simply does not work on a Mac Book pro. I have to use the phone, and wade through the ridiculous sign in process all over again.

Then, there is a new "easier" transfer facility! But, there is a BSB, and an account number, and a reference number. Does nobody in Qantas know that reference numbers are not part of transfers? They are a part of BPay transactions, so this "new" easy system is neither fish nor fowl, neither BPay, nor Transfer.

I bailed out at that point, and I will no longer use the card, at home or abroad. The final insult, to communicate this to Qantas take three seperate messages, because their contact form has only space for about 2 1/2 lines of text.

 

Related News Items

   

Australian business traveller newsletter

Get Updates as they happen, tailored to your preferences, right in your inbox

|

What topics interest you?