Travel Money Card Reviews

Finding the best Credit & Debit Cards for overseas travel.

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Travel Money Card Reviews

Finding the best Credit & Debit Cards for overseas travel.

The Australian travel money card market is becoming increasingly saturated each year with more and more players offering a selection of new products usually a pre paid debit card linked to either Visa or MasterCard and will include a range of the most popular currencies with virtual wallets. It can be quite overwhelming trying to decide which product offers the best value for money with some having a fee for loading money, currency conversion fees and those nasty international transaction fees if not used correctly.

Here we look at most of the products currently being offered in Australia for overseas travellers from all the major banks, the not so major banks and even Australia’s two biggest airlines, QANTAS and Virgin Australia. You may be surprised to learn that the best options out there in the market at the moment are not necessarily the travel money cards that are being marketed to travellers but simple everyday savings and credit card accounts doing the job just as well or better.

QANTAS Cash & Velocity Global Wallet

With a massive market share penetration when it comes to frequent flyer programme subscribers in Australia it was no surprise that both QANTAS with its over 11 million people on its books and Virgin Australia decided to enter the travel money market. They were able to leverage the use of their membership cards and turn them into duel cards serving the purpose of being a debit card and a membership card at the same time.

The offerings from both QANTAS and Virgin Australia are very similar, both travel money cards come standard as part of the respective airline’s frequent flyer programme QANTAS Frequent Flyer and Velocity Frequent Flyer. Once you receive your membership card the onus is then on the member to opt into the service, otherwise the card will remain deactivated.

Both cards offer some of the most commonly used currencies with QANTAS Cash and Velocity Global Wallet allowing users to choose from 11 different types including Australian Dollars. Bother cards offer the same 10 currencies, the point of difference being QANTAS Cash offers the United Arab Emirates Dirham, while Velocity Global Wallet instead offers South African Rand.

QANTAS Cash

Load Fee: $0.00 (Bank Transfer) 1% Instant Load

  • Included with QANTAS Frequent Flyer Membership
  • Earn QANTAS Frequent Flyer points on spend
  • Lock in exchange rate (11 currencies)
  • No domestic ATM fee (fees apply outside Australia)
  • iPhone & Android mobile app
  • Prepaid MasterCard
Supported Currencies
  • AUD – Australian Dollar
  • CAD – Canadian Dollar
  • EUR – Euro
  • HKD – Hong Kong Dollar
  • JPY – Japanese Yen
  • NZD – New Zealand Dollar
  • GBP – Great British Pound
  • SGD – Singapore Dollar
  • THB – Thai Baht
  • USD – United States Dollar
  • AED – United Arab Emirates Dirham

Velocity Global Wallet

Load Fee: $0.00

  • Included with Velocity Frequent Flyer Membership
  • Earn Velocity Frequent Flyer points on spend
  • Lock in exchange rate (11 currencies)
  • No domestic ATM fee (fees apply outside Australia)
  • iPhone & Android mobile app
  • Prepaid Visa
Supported Currencies
  • AUD – Australian Dollar
  • CAD – Canadian Dollar
  • EUR – Euro
  • HKD – Hong Kong Dollar
  • JPY – Japanese Yen
  • NZD – New Zealand Dollar
  • GBP – Great British Pound
  • SGD – Singapore Dollar
  • THB – Thai Baht
  • USD – United States Dollar
  • ZAR – South African Rand

ANZ Rewards Travel Adventures Card

Currently this is my favourite credit card on the market and if used correctly can also be used to withdraw cash for free at ATM’s overseas. The ANZ Rewards Travel Adventures card comes packed full of features for travellers and makes for a great everyday credit card when at home in Australia and also one you can use while on your overseas travels.

In the past I have been critical of the big four Australian banks with what they offer to travelers and the amount of fees they slug for loading money, converting it and having to withdraw it from ATM’s overseas using Travel Money Cards as you’ll see below (including ANZ). This is the same for credit cards being charged exorbitant foreign currency exchange fees for transactions made overseas even when not travelling and simply making a purchase online from an overseas store. However this is not the case with the ANZ Rewards Travel Adventures Card with no overseas transactions fees or cash advance fee when withdrawing from overseas.

*As of 1 March 2017, ANZ have announced that they have severed ties with American Express and will no longer offer the AMEX companion card with any of there products including the Travel Adventures Card. This and all other products will now be a stand alone Visa card, existing customers can still use the AMEX until 5 August 2017.

Complementary return domestic flight

Once approved and you spend $500 on the card you will then become eligible for a return domestic airfare with Virgin Australia every year. Depending on your departure city you have an array of cities to choose from. I have booked myself a return flight to Cairns from Melbourne using this car and the process was seamless. Just ensure you book you flight more than 60 days prior to departure or they won’t allow it (I tried). To see where you can fly to from your city check out the map on the ANZ site here.

No overseas transaction or cash advance fees

You have peace of mind using this card while overseas without having to worry about being charged fees. No transaction fees are charged for using the card while travelling along with no currency conversion fees and the most surprising feature, no cash advance fee from overseas ATM’s. While travelling to the Middle East I took the ANZ Rewards Travel Adventures card with me and it worked seamlessly at ATM’s. I even pre-loaded cash on the card through a balance transfer and used that cash to withdraw from ATM’s without getting charged once.

Two complementary lounge passes

Once you’ve spent that $500 on the card you will also be eligible to receive two complementary lounge passes from Virgin Australia every year, a great companion to the free return domestic flight. At the time of making your booking for the flight you can also ask for these passes to be sent out to you in the mail.

Earn rewards points

Another thing you don’t usually get to do with a card that has this many features for travellers is to earn rewards points. You’ll be enrolled into the ANZ Rewards programme where you have many options to use your points including transferring them to other rewards programmes. For example ANZ Rewards points can be transferred to Virgin Australia Velocity at the rate of 2:1.

Once you are approved and receive your cards in the mail, it isn’t just a stock standard delivery of your cards stuck to a letter. The ANZ Rewards Travel Adventures Card comes in a travel inspired welcome pack and upon opening your package you not only have your cards and welcome letter, but you also have a booklet in the shape of a passport detailing all the benefits and features of the card as well as a boarding pass shaped piece of paper detailing how you can obtain your complimentary flight with Virgin Australia and your two lounge passes.

On top of the big ticket items attractive to this card are the other complementary items included such as the overseas travel insurance issued by QBE Insurance, extended warranty insurance and something that I love about these types of cards the car rental excess cover. I don’t tend to buy travel insurance for small domestic trips but I force myself to do so if I’m hiring a car to cover me in case an accident happens on the road, now with the ANZ Rewards Travel Adventures Card I don’t have too.

ANZ Rewards Travel Adventures

  • Free return domestic Virgin Australia flight per year
  • Free two Virgin Australia lounge passes per year
  • No international transaction fees
  • Visa Platinum Card
  • 1.5 ANZ Rewards Points per $1 spent
  • Overseas travel & medical insurance supplied by QBE
  • Interstate flight inconvenience insurance
  • Car rental excess cover
  • Extended Warranty Insurance
  • ANZ fraud protection
  • Interest Free Days: 55 Days
  • Annual Fee: $225.00

Citibank Plus Visa Debit & 28 Degrees MasterCard

Firstly we will take a look at the Citibank Plus Visa Debit card. This account is a normal everyday transaction account, so you can use it for your normal everyday spending and you won’t pay any fees ever. In fact you can even use it within Australia at all Citibank, Westpac, St George, Bank of Melbourne and Bank SA ATMs without getting charged a fee for doing so.

The best part about this account is that you will not get charged international transaction fees, no currency conversion fees and you won’t get charged for using an ATM overseas. The only exception to this rule being if the local ATM operator charges a fee.

The other great thing about this account is that you can always keep it open without having to worry about being charged any fees, there is no minimum balance so you can keep the account empty like I do until you plan to go travelling and do your normal banking with your preffered banking provider. You also then have the option to consolidate your banking and just use this account for everyday use if that is what you prefer to do.

When you’re done travelling and you have extra funds left over it is as simple as transferring the money out via internet banking to your normal account and that is it. With travel money cards you are usually liable for a fee to transfer the money out, it can be delayed or in some cases they will charge you to close the travel money account.

The other card to make your travels much easier is the 28 Degrees MasterCard from Latitude Finance. I’ve had this card since it was first called the Wizard Clear Advantage MasterCard years ago and it has been one of the best credit cards for overseas travel particularly as it has a $0 annual fee.

Citibank Plus Visa Debit

  • $0.00 Annual Fee
  • Everyday Transaction Account
  • No Currency Conversion Fee
  • No International Transaction Fees
  • Free Supplementary Card Holder
  • No ATM Fees
  • iPhone & Android app
  • Visa Debit Card

28 Degrees MasterCard

  • $0.00 Annual Fee
  • No International Transaction Fee
  • No Currency Conversion Fee
  • No ATM Fees (Westpac Network)
  • Cash Advance Fee 3%
  • Up to 55 Days Interest Free
  • Free 24/7 Concierge Service
  • $0.95 fee for paying online through BPay.
What about locking in an exchange rate?

This is a point that some people may agree with and others may not agree with at all. Personally the exchange rate doesn’t matter, it is going to change everyday and there is nothing you can do to control it. I would much rather pay less fees and have the currency conversion done instantly via Visa and MasterCard at their wholesale prices than anyone else. If you look at the exchange rates by two credit card companies they are usually way better than what you will get from locking it in on a travel money card and are certainly better than the rates you get from the likes of Travelex or any currency converter on the street.

Big Four Banks Travel Money Cards

When comparing the big banks’ travel money cards the first thing that comes to mind is fees, fees and more fees. They seem to have found a way of charging a fee for every single scenario and while the main drawcard for these cards is the convenience of having multiple currencies locked in at an exchange rate before you leave home, you have to wonder if it is really necessary to lock in an exchange rate when you end up being slugged in so many other ways.

ANZ Travel Card
  • Load Fee: 1.1%
  • Card Issue Fee $11.00
  • ATM Withdrawal Fee (various)
  • Lock in exchange rates
  • Choose 10 different currencies
  • 3% Currency Conversion Fee
  • Replacement Card $35
  • Prepaid Visa
NAB Traveller Card
  • Load Fee: $0.00
  • Free Secondary Card
  • Free Replacement Card
  • Lock in exchange rates
  • Choose 10 different currencies
  • 4% Currency Conversion Fee
  • No ATM Fee when used Overseas
  • Prepaid MasterCard
Commonwealth Bank Travel Money Card
  • Load Fee: $0.00
  • Card Issue Fee $15
  • Replacement Card $15
  • Lock in exchange rates
  • Choose 13 different currencies
  • ATM Withdrawal Fee (various)
  • No Currency Conversion Fee
  • Prepaid MasterCard
Westpac Global Currency Card
  • Load Fee: 1%
  • Card Issue Fee $0
  • Replacement Card $15
  • Lock in exchange rates
  • Choose 11 different currencies
  • Free ATM Westpac Alliance
  • Currency Conversion Fee 3%
  • Prepaid Visa
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Put simply, the three products above are a waste of space. When the NAB Traveller Card launched in April 2013 it was a few days before I departed for my two month trip to Europe, it was and still is the better product out of ANZ and Commonwealth Bank so I decided to use this as a back up. In the end I didn’t really need it at all and was finding myself trying to manage my money so I could clean the card out before returning home.

The only reason the CommBank card would come out in front is if you needed the additional three currencies on offer. But with the initial card fee of $15, this is where the CommBank Travel Money Card fails. The Westpac Global Currency Card also offers South African Rand, which no other card offers as one of its currencies.

The notion that you need to pay $15 to simply purchase the card is ridiculous, why not use the free cards that are issued by the two airlines when joining their respective programmes as it is free anyway (QANTAS via Woolworths Everyday Rewards membership). The products they are then offering is substantially better anyway even if you exclude the fact you can earn frequent flyer points on the purchases made with the cards.

When it comes to the big banks, stay well clear of these travel money cards and don’t get fooled into thinking that it will be convenient to stick with your bank because you do your everyday banking with them.

Other Travel Money Cards

The news doesn’t get much better outside of the big bank travel money card scene with the Cash Passport offerings from the smaller players in the market. Many independent retailers will sell the Cash Passport card from Australia Post, Travelex and others as well as the ability to buy the Cash Passport directly online. No matter where you purchase your Cash Passport card, the fees, charges and conditions all remain the same.

Australia Post not only sells the Cash Passport, but they also offer their own inferior product called Load&Go. This only offers 5 currencies and it’s not even really worth considering.

Load&Go
  • $0 load fee (over $100)
  • Transaction Fee $0.09
  • Replacement Card Fee $15
  • Lock in exchange rates
  • Choose 5 different currencies
  • ATM Fee $2.00
  • Currency Conversion Fee 3%
  • Prepaid Visa
Cash Passport
  • 1.1% load fee (max $15)
  • Free Secondary Card
  • Free Replacement Card
  • Lock in exchange rates
  • Choose 10 different currencies
  • No ATM Fee Overseas
  • Currency Conversion Fee 5.95%
  • Prepaid MasterCard
Travelex Money Card
  • 1.1% load fee (max $15)
  • Free Secondary Card
  • Free Replacement Card
  • Lock in exchange rates
  • Choose 10 different currencies
  • No ATM Fee Overseas
  • Currency Conversion Fee 5.95%
  • Prepaid MasterCard

The above cards are just as worse as the four offered by the major banks, steer clear of these also and stick to the QANTAS Cash or Velocity Global Wallet cards if you need to have the security of locking in an exchange rate.