01.Beware of hidden costs this holiday season
If you prefer to carry a minimal amount of cash when travelling and have a bit more of a safeguard against identity fraud, a prepaid travel money card may be just the thing for your next trip.
You can buy one before you leave and load it with the currency you need, then top up online via BPAY while you’re overseas. The cards are available from banks, Australia Post and travel exchange outlets, and are widely accepted as they are either a Visa or MasterCard. Your bank account is not linked to the card, so the most you can lose is whatever you’ve loaded onto the card.
Although convenient, beware the range of fees charged for these cards and the different restrictions that apply to their use (such as daily and yearly reload limits). Some of the charges are not transparent; the Travelex Cash Passport, for example, includes a service charge within its exchange rates. They may not be a good deal when you need to use a currency that isn’t preloaded onto your card; the Travelex Cash Passport, for example, charges a foreign exchange margin of 5.95% for a card loaded with Australian dollars, and 8.45% for a card loaded with other currencies.
Please note: this information was current as of December 2009 but is still a useful guide to today's market. For more recent information, see our Travel money cards 2012.
||More than one currency on one card?
||Card purchase fee / initial load fee
||Maximum initial load
||Currency transfer fee*
||Monthly inactivity fee**
|ANZ Travel Card
||Canadian ($C), euros (€), GB (£), Hong Kong ($HK), Indian (Rs), NZ ($NZ), US ($US)
||$11 / -
||$C2.80, €2.10, £1.25, $HK19.25, Rs122, $NZ3.50, $US2.20
||$C17,000, €12,000, £8,000, $HK110,000, Rs.700,000, $NZ20,000, $US15,000 (B)
||1.1% of reload value
||$US3, £1.50, €2.50, $NZ4, $C3.40, $HK22, Rs.140
|Australia Post/Travelex Cash Passport
||Australian ($A), euros, GB, NZ, US
||- / (A)
||$A3.75, €2.20, £1.50, $NZ4, $US2.25
||$A25,000, €15,000, £10,000, $NZ27,000, $US20,000
||1.1% of the reload value (C), 1% via BPAY
||$A4, $US2, £1.50, €2, $NZ4.80
|CBA Travel Money Card
||Australian, Canadian, euros, GB, NZ, US
||$15 / -
||$A3.50, $C3, €2.20, £2, $NZ4.50, $US2.50
||A$25,000 or foreign currency equivalent
||1% of reload value
||2% of transaction value
||$A3, $US2, £1.50, € 2, $NZ4, $C2.50
* When a transaction is conducted in a currency not loaded on your card.
** After 12 months in which no transaction has been made.
(A) 1.1% of load value, plus Travelex charges an administration load fee for an $A card. When purchasing a foreign currency Card at Australia Post, the exchange rate may include a service charge.
(B) This may differ depending on how the card is purchased.
(C) You will be charged an administration load fee by Travelex for the reloads of an AUD denominated Card. When reloading a foreign currency card at Australia Post, the exchange rate may include a service charge.
(D) You will be subject to an exchange rate conversion - that is, the amount of your transaction will be converted using a wholesale exchange rate selected by Visa on the day.
(E) A foreign exchange margin applies if the card is used for purchases or withdrawals in any currency other than the currency of the card. The applicable margin is 5.95% for a card loaded with AUD and 8.45% for a foreign currency card.
- You can find a more comprehensive guide to travel money here.
smartraveller.gov.au is a website by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.