Cash vs Travel Money Cards

By guesswho2000 | Apr 10, 2019, 04:31 PM
I generally use ANZ Rewards Travel Adventures and Coles Rewards Platinum credit cards. They've got annual fees, the ANZ fee being waived as part of my mortgage, so that needs considering.

Both offer rewards points (0.75 and 0.87 Velocity/$1 equivalent), no forex fees and the ANZ card has no cash advance fees outside Australia (although you will be hit with interest on cash, but it's a small amount if you pay it off quickly).

I always use credit cards, if there's any issue with cards being stolen, cloned, or any other kind of fraud, it's the bank's money, not mine, which the thieves have access to.
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By boris | Apr 10, 2019, 05:56 PM
For some time now we have used 28 Degrees Mastercard for credit purchases with no fees and an exchange rate close to the published rates. Cash withdrawals are with Citibank debit Mastercard which also has no fees and a good exchange rate. We got an HSBC debit Visa card recently, which also has no fees. On a recent trip, we withdrew Yen and Euros on both debit cards at the same time and Citibank won each time by a small margin, about 0.5%. We didn't take out the ING debit card (despite being a customer for our home loan) as they have a requirement for regular deposits which we can't meet. We will keep the HSBC card as a back up and also to use in Japan where several stores offer 5% discount for paying with Visa, but not Mastercard.

Car rentals and hotels are almost always paid with the 28 Degrees Mastercard with no issues. Of course you always need to pay it off in full by the due date.
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By good one | Apr 10, 2019, 06:05 PM
I spend two months per year in the US.

There is only one option in my opinion:
Citi Plus Account for ATM withdrawals - no ATM fee and uses the wholesale rate set by Visa/MC. And debit card transactions if that’s how you want to transact. And....
Bankwest Zero MasterCard for general purchases, hotels, car hire etc - no overseas fee, no annual fee.

I would never use the pre loaded travel money cards. Even AMEX abroad is expensive unless you can somehow justify the point accrual.


The ING orange card is even better as they refund the ATM fee as well on all wdls regardless of location. Excellent rate too.
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By giantbird | Apr 10, 2019, 06:32 PM
I did the maths on the Qantas Cash card and found that even though they advertise there is no foreign currency fee there is in fact a 5% surcharge on the exchange rate to load the card compared to the rate for the day on a normal MasterCard credit card transaction rate. 5% is a big movement in exchange rates. Does not make it a very attractive alternative in most instances they are holding your money and charging you 5% for the privilege. Really only attractive if you are fairly certain there is going to be at least a 5% unfavourable movement in exchange rate before you spend the money.

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By Flying mermaid | Apr 10, 2019, 08:58 PM
28 degrees (credit)+ Citibank plus (cash) Used this combination all over the world including places like Kenya and Rwanda and it has worked beautifully. Both are fee free to hold and no Fx fees.
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By kimshep | Apr 11, 2019, 01:04 PM

If you're looking towards a Debit Card, Westpac has a Global Alliance worldwide with a range of European, US, Canadian, South American and Asian banks that provide bank ATM access free of charge.

In the USA, use your Westpac ATM card to withdraw cash from ANY Bank Of America ATM without ATM fees. You will pay 3% on your foreign transaction, but you state you are fairly immune to FX variations etc. I have personally never had a problem using this network arrangement in Europe, UK, South America, Canada, Asia or the USA.


Keep in mind that privately owned ATM's are prevalent in convenience stores and some hotels. You will be warned that the owner levies an ATM charge, usually between USD $5.00-9.00 per transaction, so avoid these like the plague. Similarly, trying to play the FX lock-in rate with Travel Cards can bite you, along with their add-on fees and restrictions ie: moving your money between different transaction currency wallets on the same card.

I travel the USA extensively 3-4 times a year and a month at a time .. and the only state I have found where BoA is lacking a presence is Nebraska. Elsewhere, they cover the entire USA.

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By EdS | Apr 12, 2019, 03:42 PM

All very well for OZZIES but others e.g. NZ, are severly limited in what we can do (unless someone can advise better). Cash Passport + credit card+cash is the best option for me.

For business, some cash and credit card is all I require for short trips (week or so), but anything longer options are limited.

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By patrickk | Apr 14, 2019, 04:11 AM
I did some homework last year and Citibank was slightly cheaper than qantas cash. So I use qantas cash for shorter trips and Citibank for longer ones. Setting up an Australian Citibank account is easy the counterpart one in the US less so but possible. This was for a six month trip so worked out fine.
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By BJ01 | Apr 14, 2019, 07:02 AM
I use my ING debit card which has (as do all debit cards) a much better exchange rate than all travel money cards, along with no ATM or transaction fees. I also use my debit card to withdraw a small amount of cash when I land in a foreign country, I never exchange cash in Australia. I’ll generally use that system except in countries where it’s mainly a cash economy and more cash is needed and my card is used less - for example Japan.

I've been looking at ING - I need to do something different. The international fee rebates all look good and your experience has been a good exchange rate consistently?
And a cash withdrawal o/s using the card is also competitive?
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By vincent88 | Apr 15, 2019, 02:04 PM
Payment by credit cards is the norm for most purchases in the US. 28 Degrees credit card works well, as do Citibank Plus debit card and Qantas Travel Money debit card for payments and cash (assuming you have converted AUD to USD on the Qantas card before you head off to the US). 28 Degrees (credit use only) and Citibank Plus FX rates are usually more favourable. But if you want to use a debit card to pay for petrol (gas) at service stations you'll need to get pre-authorisation inside at the cashier. Credit card payment at the pump ("swipe and go") is the go at gas stations. A small amount of cash ($50 in small bills) for the ubiquitous tipping culture is always handy.
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By MC66 | Apr 15, 2019, 03:19 PM
I travel OS 3 or 4 times a year, mainly Europe, US & Asia. I have for the last 5 years used a combination of Citibank Debit Mastercard (to access cash) & either ANZ Travel Rewards or Bankwest Zero Platinum Mastercard which both have 0% foreign fee. (for hotels, rental cars etc). I always take both credit cards and leave one in the safe at hotel as a backup in case wallet stolen. The ANZ card does have a fee, however it earns points and you get 1 included Virgin Australia domestic flight per year and 2 invites to the lounge so that sort of negates that.
I have never had an issue with these cards anywhere and both the debit card and both credit cards give a much better exchange rate than what is available on pre-loaded cash cards from my research and experience.
I always like to have the second credit card as an emergency back up and since the Bankwest costs nothing to have it is a cheap and simple safety net.
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By NiallG | Apr 15, 2019, 04:03 PM
Hey -

I didn't see it get mentioned here - but the best card to get now is from new boutique bank called 'Up'
(backed by Bendigo Bank). This is a MC 'debit' card offers the wholesale cross conversion Mastercard rates + the 0% currency conversion commission (as per Bankwest Zero + 28 degrees).

However, the huge thing with this card is that it allows you to withdraw cash from an overseas atm WITHOUT forcing you to pay the 3% cash advance fee (given its a debit card you need to preload your cash in beforehand). As is the case with any other cards, you of course need to pay various fixed ATM withdrawal fee charged by local atm operator (ie. ~$2-$4).

I just used this on a recent trip to Bali - planning to use it again for the USA when I go there in May.

Other really awesome things about this too are :
- you can download the iOS/Android app and sign up on the spot/really quickly (takes about 10 minutes).
- once you sign up - you immediately get access to your card via ApplePay (yes it works with this). The physical card is issued as per normal so that can take 5-10 working days to receive.
- they support Osko/PayId - so loading in cash (to the paired savings account) is 100% instant - no waiting up to 3 days/weekend to top it up like the other BPay based cards.
- also... when you make purchases (ie. at restaurant overseas etc) or withdrawals you get an instant notification on your phone with full amount (in AUD) + full name of establishment (no 'Pending transaction' rubbish) - so very handy if you are dubious of who you are handing your card to and want to know if any problems.

Anyhow have been hugely happy with it so far on past trip last month - have used all the 0% cards in the past + travel cards before that - this is definitely the new way to go and not be ripped off with fees or crappy 'retail' conversion rates.

Niall
Last edited by NiallG at Apr 15, 2019, 04.08 PM.
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By deanr | Apr 15, 2019, 04:56 PM
Up may have no percentage-based international transaction fees, but it still hits customers with a $5 (aud) international ATM withdrawal fee, and that's on top of whatever the ATM operator charges.

You also get charged $1.50 (aud) to check your balance at a foreign ATM, again on top of any operator charges.

I don't know about you, but I'm generally not withdrawing wads of cash overseas, only what I need for each trip as I'll use my credit card whenever I can, so I'm lucky to withdraw the equivalent of $20 aud at a time. Tack a $5 withdrawal fee onto that and it's effectively a 25% surcharge unless I withdraw a lot more cash (which means forgoing credit card points on some purchases to use that cash up instead, or converting back and taking a currency loss), so as a current Citibank customer, that gives me zero incentive to change banks and try Up, when Citi waives both international transaction and international ATM withdrawal fees.
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By NiallG | Apr 15, 2019, 05:10 PM
Up may have no percentage-based international transaction fees, but it still hits customers with a $5 (aud) international ATM withdrawal fee, and that's on top of whatever the ATM operator charges.

You also get charged $1.50 (aud) to check your balance at a foreign ATM, again on top of any operator charges.

I don't know about you, but I'm generally not withdrawing wads of cash overseas, only what I need for each trip as I'll use my credit card whenever I can, so I'm lucky to withdraw the equivalent of $20 aud at a time. Tack a $5 withdrawal fee onto that and it's effectively a 25% surcharge unless I withdraw a lot more cash (which means forgoing credit card points on some purchases to use that cash up instead, or converting back and taking a currency loss), so as a current Citibank customer, that gives me zero incentive to change banks and try Up, when Citi waives both international transaction and international ATM withdrawal fees.

I normally grab a big wad of cash when I arrive (at airport ATM) - ie. $500-$1000 worth and then just stick it in the hotel safe while I'm there (and take smaller amounts of cash out with me each day) - so that fee isn't a big deal for me at all (and drops to <1%). If you are only taking out tiny amounts like $20 then yes - those fixed fees will make it not worthwhile in your case (even the local atm fee will be a huge % for you).

I would always use my iPhone App to check balance etc - so wouldn't ever get my ATM to tell me (am too paranoid of being robbed if someone saw balance too).

The other features I've mentioned are very handy + not offered all together by most of rivals (ApplePay + PayId/Osko + Instant Notifications of any withdrawals or usage + the super easy sign up).

I also use this in conjunction with my Bankwest Zero + 28 degree cards (they are used for hotel deposits etc + larger amounts if I want to delay payment). So like anything you wouldn't only use Up and nothing else - use it in addition to whatever other cards you have + get the best of all worlds. (there are no annual fees or sign up fees - so why not).



Last edited by NiallG at Apr 15, 2019, 05.11 PM.
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By Vulch | May 20, 2019, 03:05 PM
Agreed, I often check the exchange rate between my Qantas cash card and Mastercard, and the later is always better. The Qantas card is no better than taking cash.

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