When it comes to spending abroad, not all credit cards are created equal.
It’s easy to be stung by international transaction fees upwards of 3.4%, but a few cards charm and delight travellers with either no forex fees or bonus frequent flyer points on their foreign spend.
Depending on how much coin you drop and how many points you’d like to pocket, chances are the perfect credit card is just waiting for you to pop in and say hello.
Assuming you always pay off the closing balance and avoid those hefty interest charges, here are four of the best Aussie credit cards that are just vying for a place in your passport wallet…
Earn no points but pay no fees: GE Money’s 28 Degrees MasterCard
Whether you travel oversees but once a year or even once a week, GE Money’s 28 Degrees MasterCard packs a real punch.
There aren’t any fees levied on your foreign spend, so although you won’t reel in any frequent flyer points, you’ll instead be rewarded with a smaller bill on your return home.
You’ll also pay no annual fee, which makes the card perfect for occasional travellers to whip out for their annual holiday, or for business travellers to use every time they have their passport stamped.
Read more: 28 Degrees MasterCard review
Earn points without forex fees: Bankwest’s Qantas Platinum MasterCard
A sure contender for the wallets of frequent travellers, the Bankwest Qantas Platinum MasterCard serves up 0.75 Qantas Points per Aussie dollar spent, and like the 28 Degrees MasterCard, there aren’t any overseas transaction fees to be found here either.
While not ideal for earning points on home soil, a reasonable $160 annual fee sees the card paying for itself after shelling out A$10,667 each year – which gets you 8,000 Qantas Points, enough for a one-way Sydney-Melbourne flight.
As an added bonus, hold a return ticket and charge at least A$500 of your “prepaid (international) travel costs” to the card – that’s anything from your flights and hotels through to guided tours, transfers and theatre tickets – and you’ll enjoy free travel insurance.
Read more: Bankwest Qantas Platinum MasterCard review
Cards that work both at home and away: Westpac’s Earth and Altitude Black cards
If you’d rather not flood your wallet with plastic from different banks, Westpac’s Earth and Altitude Black cards fill the middle ground quite nicely for earning points with either Qantas Frequent Flyer (Earth Black) or Velocity, Asia Miles, KrisFlyer, Airpoints or Enrich (Altitude Black).
With only one bill every month, both accounts come with an American Express and a MasterCard. On the AMEX, you’ll earn a high 1.5 points per A$1 spent with either Qantas or Velocity, while the MasterCard plates up 0.625 points per A$1 spent on home soil.
What we like most about these cards is that the MasterCard earning rates are boosted to 1.5 points per A$1 spent overseas, along with a forex fee of just 3% as opposed to 3.5% on the AMEX.
That’s particularly handy in places where American Express isn’t as widely accepted, and when combined with other perks such as free lounge access, free travel insurance and Gold status with Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) after staying for just one night, the $395 annual fee could easily be worth it.
Enjoy some of Australia’s best earning rates: HSBC’s Qantas Platinum Visa
Dishing out a staggering two Qantas Points for every A$1 spent on your travels is the HSBC Qantas Platinum Visa.
NOTE: Since publication this card now awards one Qantas Point per A$1 spent overseas.
Like Westpac’s Black MasterCards, there’s a 3% foreign transaction fee – but with Qantas Points worth up to 5.4 cents each when upgrading to business class from Sydney to London, a 10.8% return on your 3% ‘investment’ isn’t anything to be sniffed at.
Also solid enough to double as your everyday credit card at home, you’ll earn one Qantas Point per $1 spent, which is quite good for a Visa card.
If that's not enough, you'll score two Qantas lounge passes each year, valid in any domestic Qantas Club or international business class lounge – including the Red Roo’s standout lounges in Singapore and Hong Kong.
Read more: HSBC Qantas Platinum Visa review
Do you agree with our top picks, or do you have a favourite credit card of your own? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
More on credit cards
- Five tips for using your credit cards overseas
- New Emirates Citibank World MasterCard with 40,000 free Skywards miles
- Five credit card strategies to maximise your frequent flyer points
- Grab 50,000 free Qantas Points plus Qantas Club lounge access with ANZ
- Five little-known credit card perks that you'll want to use
- Pick up 40,000 Qantas Points with Commonwealth Bank credit cards
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Receive 50,000 bonus Membership Rewards points when you apply online, are approved and spend $3,000 on your new Card in the first 3 months from the Card approval date.
- Receive 50,000 Membership Rewards Bonus Points when you apply online, are approved and spend $3,000 on your new Card within the first 3 months. This offer is available to new Card Members, as well as Bank-issued American Express companion cardholders
- Start exploring with a $400 Travel Credit every year
- Enjoy two complimentary entries per year to the American Express Lounge, located at Sydney International Airport or Melbourne International Airport
- 0% p.a. on balance transfers for the first 12 months — A one-off credit plan establishment fee of 1% applies
- No cap on earn rate. You can earn up to 2 Membership Rewards points per $1 spent, no matter how much you spend each month
- Transfer your points to a choice of 8 Airline Partner Programs including Virgin Australia and Singapore Airlines
- Spend more and earn more points by getting up to 4 Supplementary Cards for family members at no additional fee
- Travel with peace of mind knowing that you'll also enjoy extensive protection for you and your partner and dependent children when you pay for travel on your American Express Explorer® Credit Card