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Best Travel Card for Australians

By Will Ellis
Last Updated on January 1, 2024
Blue credit card

When you spend money abroad, the fees can quickly make the trip more expensive, especially when using your regular debit card and bank account. T

here are usually foreign currency fees and additional fees when you withdraw money and the exchange rates, too. Using a travel card can reduce the cost of fees when you use one for spending money outside of Australia.

There are three types of travel cards: prepaid travel money cards, travel reward credit cards, and travel debit cards. In this article, you’ll learn all about travel cards, and we’ll introduce you to the best ones on the market.

Table of Contents:

What Is a Travel Card? 💳️

A travel card is a card that is specifically to be used when someone is planning to travel outside of their home country. Travel cards allow you to spend money abroad with lower fees than expected with your everyday bank account. Most travel card providers will tell you about the currency conversion fee, interest rates and other fees before you make a transaction so you know exactly how you could spend abroad on fees.

You can use different types of travel cards; each will depend on your spending needs and financial situation. Before diving into the best travel cards on the market, we’ve provided a list of all three types of travel cards.

There are three types of travel cards:

  • Prepaid travel card: A prepaid travel card is a card you load money onto. You can use a prepaid card wherever Mastercard is accepted. You can use it like your everyday debit card, but it helps you shop safely and stick to a budget, as you can’t spend more than the balance allows. You can load more than one foreign currency onto the card, so it’s perfect for travelling overseas. You simply need to bank transfer money across to the prepaid debit card.
  • Travel debit card: A travel debit card is part of a travel bank account, usually known as a multi-currency account; you can use it just like your everyday bank account, but it’s for travelling. If planning a long trip, you may benefit from opening a travel bank account.
  • Travel credit card: Travel credit cards are similar to credit cards you can apply from your main bank provider. However, they usually offer better currency conversion fees and reward you with travel points or perks for using the credit card and repaying the balance on time. Travel credit cards typically require a good or excellent credit score.

Travel Cards: Pros and Cons ➡️

You may be unsure if a travel card is the right option, so we’ve compiled a list of all the pros and cons of using one for travelling overseas.

Pros ✅️

  • Cheaper foreign transaction fees: Travel cards typically have lower foreign currency conversion fees. Plus, you won’t be charged as much as you were if you used your everyday bank account.
  • Easy access: You can apply for and access your travel money card online. Most prepaid cards allow you to reload money onto the card via an app on your phone.
  • Hold multiple currencies: When you have a travel debit card, you will get a multi-current account, which allows you to hold multiple currencies on one account. You can use this bank account for spending abroad; currency conversion fees are usually the lowest with these types of accounts. Prepaid travel cards also allow you to hold and use multiple currencies on one card.
  • Earn reward points: When you use a travel credit card, you can earn reward points when you use the credit card for spending. You can use the points for travel perks, discounts, cheaper flights, and lounge access.
  • Helps to budget: With a prepaid card, you can only use the balance as there is no credit option. So, if you’re trying to stay on a budget, it’s easier when there is no temptation of an overdraft or credit balance.
  • Locked-in exchange rates: Most prepaid cards have a locked-in exchange rate, so you don’t have to worry about fluctuation of exchange rates when transferring money into a different currency. Some companies may use a live exchange rate; always check with the provider about fees before you use your card abroad.
  • Use just like a debit card: A prepaid debit card allows you to spend and pay for things like your regular debit card. If you choose a prepaid debit card, it will be attached to a bank account that works like your everyday account.
  • Backup card: Most prepaid card providers will send you a backup card if you lose or damage the first one. They will send you two cards together, so keep one separate from the other for safekeeping so you don’t lose them both together.
  • Currency conversion: When you use a travel card overseas, especially a travel debit card, the provider will automatically transfer funds into the currency you’re paying with.

Cons ❌️

  • Potential reload delay: Sometimes, there can be a delay in reloading prepaid cards. To prevent potential delays, try to transfer all the money you need before you travel so you don’t have to worry about it whilst you’re away.
  • Travel money card fees: A travel money card has its own fees, such as account fees, reload fees, and inactivity fees. Some travel credit cards have monthly fees.
  • ATM fees: Depending on the country you visit, there may be overseas ATM withdrawal fees and which ATM operators are used. Some ATMs charge fees when you withdraw cash, so you should look out for that.

Best Travel Cards: Reviews 🔎️

As there are three types of travel credit cards, we’ve provided a list of the top three of each type so you can pick which card suits your needs the best.

1. Travelex Money Card: Award-Winning Prepaid Travel Card

  • Exchange rates: Locked-in exchange rates that vary between foreign currencies
  • Currency conversion fees: None
  • Loading money fee: Free online AUD load and top-ups
  • ATM fees: There are no ATM fees outside of Australia

With the Travelex Money Card, you can load up to 15 currencies onto the card, including AUD, GBP, EUR, UDS, NZD, CAV, TJB, SGB, JPY and HKD. There are no fees for cash withdrawals overseas. However, you may be charged for withdrawals in Australia using this card. The prepaid card is accepted at millions of locations worldwide; look out for the Mastercard logo, and you can use your prepaid card at that location.

There is currently an offer online that offers free online AUS load funds and top-ups. If you apply for a prepaid card in-store, there will be a 1.1% fee of 1% of the transaction amount for adding AUD. However, if you load a foreign currency, the top-ups are free. If your prepaid card is inactive for over 12 months, there will be AU$4 monthly inactivity fees.

The minimum top-up amount is AU$50, and the maximum you can load on initial purchase is AU$5,000 so if you want to add a large sum of money to the card, you will have to do it once you’ve applied for the card and already have funds on it. The maximum balance during any 12 months is AU$75,000.

Benefits of this prepaid card include free Wi-Fi worldwide; you can reduce your data usage without worrying about roaming fees with on-the-go internet access using free Boingo Wi-Fi. If your card is lost or stolen, Travelex offers 24/7 global assistance to help replace the card or provide emergency cash so you’re not stuck without money when travelling. You can also add an optional additional emergency card at checkout.

2. Australia Post Travel Platinum Mastercard: A Low Fee Prepaid Travel Card

  • Exchange rates: The exchange rate will vary between each foreign currency
  • International transaction fees: None
  • Loading money fee: Free for bank transfer, but there is a 1.1% for instore and 1% for BPAY
  • ATM fees: $3.50 for international cash withdrawals and 2.95% for domestic cash withdrawals

The Australia Post Travel Platinum Mastercard is a prepaid card that allows you to load with 11 different foreign currencies and easily switch between currencies as you travel. There are fixed exchange rates, but they may vary depending on the currency you’re converting. You can manage and load your prepaid card on the go by accessing your ‘My account’ on the website or using the Australia Post Travel Platinum Mastercard app.

There is no direct link to your bank account, and your prepaid card is Mastercard’s Zero liability protection against fraudulent and unauthorised transactions; you can travel and spend safely without worrying about compromised data or funds.

Benefits include three months of access to millions of Wi-Fi hotspots worldwide when you reload $100 onto your card. You can reload money onto your prepaid card at any Australia Post Branch or online in the app.

3. Qantas Money Travel Money Card: Earn Reward Points With a Prepaid Travel Money Card

  • Exchange rates: Locked in
  • Currency Conversion fees: 0%
  • Loading money fee: Fee-free load options; otherwise, a 0.5% debit card instant load fee
  • ATM fees: $1.95

To make the most of a prepaid card, you can earn Qantas points with the Qantas Travel Money Card. You can load up to 10 foreign currencies, lock in exchange rates before you travel, and transfer between currencies.

Using the prepaid card, you earn 1.5 Qantas Points for every AU$1 spent in a foreign currency. You’ll earn 1 Qantas Points for every AU$4 spent in Australian dollars. You can earn double points when you spend with Qantas Frequent Flyer program partners using Qantas Travel Money. If you load over AU$1,500 equivalent of foreign currency by 20 November, you can earn up to 10,000 bonus points. For shopping discounts, you can use your Qantas Points for cheaper travel at select airlines or popular retailers.

If you lose your card or it’s stolen, you can temporarily lock it and access emergency funds while travelling. You’ll also have access to the 24/7 Mastercard Global Support team, who can help you if you have any issues or are seeking help while travelling. You will also receive fraud protection against unauthorised transactions.

4. Wise Travel Money Card: Travel Debit Card and Multi-Currency Account

  • Exchange rates: Competitive exchange rate
  • Currency conversion fees: From 0.43%, fees vary by currency
  • Loading money fee: $2
  • ATM fees: 2 free ATM withdrawals per month up to AU$350

With the Wise card and multi-currency account, you can spend and withdraw money in over 40 currencies at a live exchange rate. You can transfer money between banks, use the wise debit card overseas, receive and add money to your account and hold different currencies in one account. It’s free to register for a Wise account.

The wise card works just like your regular debit card, but it’s designed to help make spending money abroad cheaper. The card costs $10, but you also get a free digital card that you can use on your smartphone to spend online, in-store and overseas safely with Apple Pay and Google Pay.

So, while waiting for your debit card to be delivered, you can start spending using your virtual card. There are no markups, monthly or hidden fees; you can spend overseas with the real exchange rate. You’ll know how much each transaction will cost upfront.

The application process is simple; you can create an account and order a card within five minutes. So, if you’re travelling soon, you still have time to order a wise travel debit card. With the account and card, you can manage your finances from the Wise app. On the app, you can freeze and unfreeze your card whenever you want, generate digital cards and get notifications for all your transitions to keep in control of your spending.

5. Revolut Travel Money Card: Low Fee Travel Debit Card

  • Exchange rates: Competitive rates
  • International transaction fees: None
  • Loading money fee: No loading fee
  • ATM fees: Fee-free for withdrawals up to $350 every 30 days

There are over 30 currencies available with the Revolut Travel Money Card, that you can spend in over 150 currencies. You can spend overseas with one of the best exchange rates globally. With this travel debit card, there are no fees. You simply pay the exchange rate and for any additional cash withdrawals above the free amount with the standard free plan. You can transfer money across borders at low rates, and the transactions are quick to complete no matter where in the world you are.

You can choose the colour of your Revolut travel debit card and even personalise it. With a Revolut account and card, you can create one-use virtual cards to help make shopping online more secure. Additionally, if you want to control your spending whilst travelling, you can set up spending limits and freeze your card immediately if you lose it.

Revolut offers paid plans, but they’re optional. If you want to invest in cryptocurrency and save more globally, you can apply for the Premium account for $9.99 monthly. Additionally, if you want all available benefits, plus earning cashback and getting a metal card, you can pay A$24.99 monthly for the Metal plan. Whatever your budget, you can still benefit from the Revolut debit travel card.

6. HSBC Everyday Global Account Debit Card: Banking for Home and Overseas

  • Exchange rates: Competitive real-time exchange rates
  • International transaction fees: None
  • Loading money fee: None
  • ATM fees: None for ATMs with a VISA or VISA plus logo

If you’re looking for a bank account that you can use at home and on your travels, the HSBC Everyday Global Account allows you to do fee-free everyday banking across 10 currencies. You don’t need to pay a monthly HSBC ATM or transaction fees. You can switch between 10 currencies seamlessly with the HSBC Mobile Banking App; available currencies are EUR, GBP, AUD, USD HKD, CAD, JPY, NZD, SGD, and CNY (with some restrictions with CNY).

If you’re sending money overseas, there are no HSBC fees for you to worry about. You don’t have to worry about ATM fees either. When you’re in Australia, you can get free cash withdrawals from HSBC ATMs, and when you’re overseas, you have to look out for ATMs with the VISA logo.

You can earn up to 2% cashback for contactless payments under $100, so you can earn money just by using your travel debit card to make purchases when you’re home in Australia. You can use your card with Visa payWave, Apple Pay, and Google Pay.

7. Bankwest Breeze Platinum Credit Card: Complimentary Travel Insurance

  • Annual fees: No annual fee for the first year, then $69 yearly
  • Interest rates: 12.99% after the introductory period
  • Foreign transaction fees: None
  • Minimum credit limit: $6,000

If you’re looking for a travel credit card with low-interest rates, consider Bankwest’s Breeze Platinum credit card. You can spend interest-free for the first 55 interest-free days on purchases if the balance is repaid in full and on time, then you’ll only have to pay 12.99%. When using your credit card overseas, there are no foreign transaction fees, so you can spend knowing there won’t be additional fees to pay. You can use the credit card anywhere that accepts Mastercard.

There is no annual fee for the first year; after the first year, there is a $69 annual fee. A perk of the Breeze Platinum card is complimentary overseas travel insurance, interstate flight inconvenience insurance and 90-day purchase security insurance. Additionally, new customers will benefit from a 2% balance transfer fee.

To be eligible for this credit card, you must be a permanent Australian resident over 18 with a regular income of over $15,000.

8. ING Orange One Low Rate Credit Card: No Annual Fee Travel Credit Card

  • Annual fees: No annual fee
  • Interest rates: 11.99% variable
  • Foreign transaction fees: No international transaction fees
  • Minimum credit limit: $1,000

The ING Orange One Low Rate credit cards are ideal if you’re concerned about additional fees when spending overseas. There are two Low Rate cards, classic and platinum, to choose from. Both cards have no annual costs, and there are no international transaction fees either.

To benefit from no international transaction fees, you need to make a $1,000 monthly deposit to any of your ING accounts (Super and Orange One accounts not included) and make more than five credit card purchases that are settled each month.

The most significant difference with the cards is credit limits. With the Low Rate Classic, the credit limit ranges from $1,000 to $5,999. The Low Rate Platinum has a credit limit range of $6,000 to $30,000. The interest rate is 11.99%, but if you use instalment plans to pay off your purchases, you can lock in a lower interest rate plus manage your repayments to ensure they’re on time.

To be eligible for this credit card, you will need to be aged 18+, be an Australian citizen, New Zealand or Australian permanent resident, earn $36,000 or more a year, have a good credit rating and have an active Orange Everyday account (or you can open one alongside your credit card application).

9. 28 Degrees Platinum Mastercard: Low Fee Travel Credit Card

  • Annual fees: No annual fee
  • Interest rates: 26.99% after the introductory period
  • Foreign transaction fees: None
  • Minimum credit limit: $1,000

The 28 Degrees Platinum Mastercard has low fees, with no annual fee, no overseas purchase fee, currency conversion fee or foreign transaction fee. So, you can use your card without worrying about payments racking up. With this travel credit card, you get 55 days interest-free on purchases and access to free 24/7 concierge service.

Perks of this credit card include a complimentary Flight Delay Pass and Global Data Roaming. Additionally, you can get a discount on upcoming trips with 10% discounts on selected hotels at Wotif and Expedia when you have your 28 Degree card before 30 September 2024 and when you stay before 31 December 2024. If you lose your card whilst on holiday, 28 Degrees offers worldwide emergency card replacement.

To be eligible for this credit card, you must be 18 years old and over and be a permanent Australian resident.

Leading Travel Cards for Australians: The Verdict 💡️

Using a travel card for your spending abroad can help you stick to a budget, avoiding credit options to reduce debts, and you can use one just like your debit card so you can seamlessly spend whilst on your adventure overseas. You don’t need to meet any specific requirements to get a travel prepaid card, so that you can get one with little to no fuss.

Frequently Asked Questions 📢️

What Is the Difference Between a Prepaid Travel Card and a Travel Debit Card?

A prepaid travel card is a card you load money onto. You can use a prepaid card wherever Mastercard is accepted. You can load more than one foreign currency onto the card and transfer money to the prepaid card. A travel debit card is part of a travel bank account, usually a multi-currency account; you can use it just like your everyday bank account, but it’s for travelling.

What Are the Benefits of Travel Money Cards?

There are many benefits to travel cards, the main benefits include:

  • Lower foreign currency conversion fees, as you won’t be charged as much as you were if you used your everyday bank account.
  • Most travel cards will allow you to hold multiple currencies, so if you’re travelling to a few different countries with different currencies, you can hold more than one at a time.
  • Most prepaid travel cards have a locked-in exchange rate, so you don’t have to worry about fluctuating exchange rates when transferring money into a different currency.

What Fees Are There for Using a Travel Money Card?

The fees involved for a travel money card will depend on the type of travel card you have. In general, a travel money card will have costs for annual or monthly fees, exchange rates, currency conversion fees, interest rates, and international transaction fees. How high the fees are will vary from card type and provider.

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