Both Qantas and Virgin Australia offer pre-paid travel money cards – with Qantas, that’s Qantas Cash, and with Virgin, the Velocity Global Wallet – but how do these cards compare when it comes to earning frequent flyer points, exchange rates, fees and usage limits?
Australian Business Traveller pits the popular travel cards against each other to see how they stack up.
Qantas Cash vs Velocity Global Wallet: earning frequent flyer points
Whip out your Qantas Cash card overseas and you’ll fetch 1.5 Qantas Points per Aussie dollar spent (or the equivalent in foreign currency): but use the card to make purchases in Australia and you’ll get only 0.25 Qantas Points per dollar spent.
The Velocity Global Wallet card instead offers a higher two Velocity points per dollar spent abroad – 33% more points than Qantas Cash on the same spend – and 0.33 Velocity points per dollar spent in Australia: 32% higher than the Qantas Cash earn rate.
Neither card awards points on ATM cash withdrawals: only on purchases, such as using your card to buy goods or services.
Winner: Velocity Global Wallet
Of course, it must be said that neither card has a particularly impressive earn rate on domestic spend, given that these products are primarily designed for use overseas.
Savvy spenders hoping to maximise their points but minimise fees could instead consider using credit cards like the Qantas American Express Discovery Card and the American Express Velocity Escape Card for domestic transactions to earn one point per dollar spent, with no annual fees to pay.
Qantas Cash vs Velocity Global Wallet: supported pre-load currencies
Want to store money on your card in a foreign currency ahead of your trip to lock-in the exchange rate?
Both Qantas Cash and Velocity Global Wallet support balances in US dollars (USD), pound sterling (GBP), Singapore dollars (SGD), euros (EUR), New Zealand dollars (NZD), Hong Kong dollars (HKD), Japanese yen (JPY), Canadian dollars (CAD) and Thai baht (THB).
Qantas Cash also supports Emirati dirhams (AED) – currency of the United Arab Emirates, which includes the Emirate of Dubai, home to Qantas partner Emirates – while Velocity Global Wallet instead supports South African Rand (ZAR), useful if visiting the country on Virgin Australia partner South African Airways.
A separate balance in Australian dollars is also supported by both products. Cardholders can still spend in currencies other than the above (funding the transaction from one of their currency balances), but cannot store funds in currencies other than those listed.
Winner: We’re calling this one a draw
Qantas Cash vs Velocity Global Wallet: exchange rates
One of the most important aspects of any travel card are the exchange rates used when loading foreign currency onto that card, because it directly affects how much overseas dosh your Australian dollar will buy.
Here’s how Qantas Cash and Velocity Global Wallet compared across a selection of mutually-supported currencies when loading-up an international currency balance, based on rates obtained on September 5 2017 at 5:20pm AEST:
Qantas Cash was the most competitive for travellers heading to the United States and New Zealand, with A$1,000 buying US$760.40 and NZ$1,063.90 – whereas the same conversion through Velocity Global wallet would have fetched a marginally lower US$757.44 and NZ$1,055.16.
In all other currencies, Velocity Global Wallet's rates were more generous than Qantas, giving travellers 0.3-1.1% more foreign cash to spend from the same starting amount.
However, keep in mind that exchange rates can change from day to day and even minute-by-minute, so our advice is
1. always check and compare the rate that's on offer when loading up on foreign cash, and
2. confirm whether the rate you're seeing is a quote or merely an indication that's subject to change between the time you send your money across and the time it arrives.
Winner: For Asia, Europe and Canada, it's Velocity Global Wallet – but for USA and New Zealand, Qantas Cash had the more favourable rates based on those compared.
(Exchange rates that apply when funding a purchase in one currency with money stored in another currency don't form part of this comparison.)
Qantas Cash vs Velocity Global Wallet: fees
While exchange rates are important, so are the fees you’ll pay – or avoid – along the way. Here’s how they compare.
When loading money onto your card, both Qantas Cash and Velocity Global Wallet provide free top-ups using EFT (bank transfer) and apply a 1% fee for top-ups funded by a debit card, although Qantas Cash also accepts top-ups via BPAY at no charge, whereas Velocity Global Wallet charges a 0.5% fee for this when loading Australian dollars (no BPAY fee applies when directly loading a foreign currency, however).
To withdraw money at an ATM in Australia, Qantas Cash also has no fees, while Velocity Global Wallet charges $1.95 per withdrawal, in addition to any charges imposed by ATM operators which apply to both cards.
When you spend in a currency not loaded onto your card, Qantas Cash again has no currency conversion fee (but uses a less-generous exchange rate than when loading funds onto your card in that same currency), although Velocity Global Wallet levies a 2.25% currency conversion fee.
Withdrawing money from an overseas ATM attracts a fixed A$1.95 charge with Velocity Global Wallet in any currency, while with Qantas Cash, the fee ranges from A$1.83 to $2.65 (using exchange rates as at September 4 2017) for currencies where balances are supported by the card.
For withdrawals in all other currencies, Qantas Cash applies a fixed $1.95 charge.
If you only use your card when you travel, note that Velocity Global Wallet applies a $1.95/month inactivity fee when you’ve made no transactions in any rolling 12-month period. Qantas Cash has no comparable fee.
Winner: Although some overseas ATM withdrawals using Qantas Cash attract marginally more fees than with Velocity Global Wallet, the overall balance of fees and charges swings this in Qantas’ favour.
Qantas Cash vs Velocity Global Wallet: usage limits
Qantas Cash allows its users to hold a maximum balance of A$100,000 across all currencies, while with Velocity Global Wallet, the maximum you can have in your account at any one time is just a quarter of that, being A$25,000 across all currencies.
Both cards also limit the amount of money you can load to $100,000 in any rolling 12-month period, while additionally, Qantas Cash caps top-ups at $20,000 per 24-hour period.
When it comes to spending your cash, Velocity Global Wallet limits ATM withdrawals to A$2,500 (or foreign currency equivalent) per 24 hours, but appears to have no limit on purchases within the card’s maximum balance limit of A$25,000.
Qantas Cash instead restricts cash withdrawals to A$3,000 per 24-hour period and purchases to A$15,000 per 24-hour period – which means that even if you have A$20,000 in your account (or the equivalent in foreign currency), you’re capped at spending $15,000 per day.
Winner: With Qantas Cash having higher maximum balance and ATM withdrawal limits, and Velocity Global Wallet having a higher per-day spending limit and a higher top-up threshold ($25,000 vs $20,000), we’re calling this one a draw – although many travellers won’t find the limits of either card to be a problem.