Travel money cards


We take a closer look and compare cards from the big banks and airlines.

Pick a card


If your head hurts after pondering the prepaid travel money card market, you're not alone. 

Whether you're better off with a travel money card or using the bank card linked to your transaction account depends on many factors. 

We compare both options so you can choose what's best for you.

In this article:

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Do I really need a travel money card?

If you're travelling for a couple of weeks or more and are planning to shop, a travel money card may be a good idea. You'll know the exchange rates (minus a fairly hefty margin applied by the travel card provider) and overseas charges in advance – both of which may be lower than the bank card linked to your transaction account.

If it's a quick jaunt and your total spend outside of hotels and air travel will be limited to $1000 or so – and your ATM use will be minimal – a travel money card probably won't be cost-effective. 

  • Making 10 x $100 overseas ATM withdrawals with an Australia Post card and then closing the account, for instance, will cost you $35.
  • Spending $1000 using a Commonwealth Bank bank card, including two $250 overseas ATM withdrawals, will cost you $25.

Exchange rates: what we found

We tracked and compared the exchange rates for the US dollar, New Zealand dollar, British pound and the Euro offered on the 11 travel money cards in the table below for 10 business days.

What we found confirmed the conclusion we reached in earlier investigations of the travel money card market – while there's variation in rates between the cards from day to day, no one card stands out from the others by consistently offering a substantially better exchange rate that's not offset by other fees. 

Travelex Money Card consistently offered a slightly better exchange rate over the 10-day test period. For example, on one test day we found:

  • Travelex Money Card gave us $US728.20 when converting $AU1000 to $US1000.
  • Travel Money Oz Currency Pass was the worst exchange rate performer, giving us $US704.80 for the same conversion ($23.40 less than the Cash Passport).
  • Travelex Money Card gave us £574.10 for our $AU1000.
  • Travel Money Oz Currency Pass gave us £562.00 for our $AU1000, making for a difference of £12.10.

But the savings with the Travelex Money Card are offset by other fees that cards with slightly worse exchange rates don't charge, such as a 1.1% (or minimum $15) initial loading charge and a closure fee (see table below for details).

So the $10,000 Travelex Money Card load would cost you $110, taking a hefty chunk out of your exchange rate savings. 

And both the Travelex Money Card and the Travel Money Oz Currency Pass have the highest cross-currency conversion fees (a whopping 5.95%) in our comparison.

To its credit, the Travelex Money Card doesn't charge overseas ATM fees (though the local ATM operator almost certainly does).

Make sure the wheels don't fall off when you're travelling. See our carry-on luggage reviews.

Exchange rate margin mayhem

Bear the exchange rate margin in mind. That's the amount you pay the card provider above and beyond the official exchange rate and is one of the ways the travel money card providers make money. 

On the day we checked:

  • The exchange rates on offer from Commonwealth Bank and ANZ were better than those offered by the Travelex Money Card – even after factoring in the 3% big bank currency conversion charge.
  • NAB and Westpac offered significantly worse rates than the Travelex Money Card.
  • You would've saved roughly $30 or pounds on a $AU1000 conversion with the CBA or ANZ card as compared to the Travelex Money Card.

The exchange rates on offer with travel money cards are pretty ordinary, but there may be an argument for locking in a comparatively favourable official exchange rate, wearing the margin, and ending up in a good place should the exchange rate for the currency in question become less favourable while you're travelling. You'd have to be good at predicting exchange rate fluctuations.

Fees to watch out for

Fees for the card itself

  • Initial card purchase fee
  • Supplementary card fee
  • Replacement card fee

Fees for using (or not using) the card

  • Loading fee – charged for loading currencies on your card
  • Reload fee – charged for reloading currencies on your card (Important: some providers cap this at $10 while others take 1% or 1.1% of the amount you reload with no limit when using BPay or a debit card)
  • Transaction fees for currencies not loaded on the card – or cross-currency conversion – charged when you buy something in a country whose currency you haven't loaded or don't have enough of
  • ATM and other transaction fees charged by local merchants or financial institutions (a promise of free ATM is unlikely to cover overseas ATM operators)
  • Closure fees

Be sure to read the product disclosure statement (PDS) of the card in question for fees not included in our table.

Which is the best travel money card?

Taking all the above caveats into account, there are a couple of cards that stand out from the crowd on paper. But it should be noted that user experience will vary, and we've seen quite negative customer service reviews for both cards. It seems to be a case-by-case thing.

A couple of standouts
Card
What we like
What's not so great
NAB Traveller Card
No overseas ATM fees;
no purchase, reload or closure fees;
free 24/7 global emergency assistance
4% cross-currency charge is on the high side
Travelex Money Card
No overseas ATM fees;
best exchange rates over our 10 day test
High purchase fee ($15 or 1.1% of initial load, whichever is greater);
$10 closure fee; high cross-currency charge at 5.95%

Comparing all pre-paid travel money cards

Provider Product Currencies available Purchase fee ($) Reload fee Closure fee Cross currency conversion Minimum load ($) Maximum amount ($) Replacement fee ($) Monthly inactivity fee ($) USD ATM withdrawal fee AUD ATM withdrawal fee GBP ATM withdrawal fee EUR ATM withdrawal fee NZD ATM withdrawal fee CAD ATM withdrawal fee JPY ATM withdrawal fee SGD ATM withdrawal fee HKD ATM withdrawal fee THB ATM withdrawal fee Other benefits Other restrictions
ANZ Travel Card AUD/ USD/ NZD/ EUR/ GBP/ SGD/ HKD/ JPY/ CAD/ THB $11 ($0 for existing ANZ customers who apply in branch) 1.1% 0.00 3%
AUD|200 AUD|80000 AUD|0 AUD|3.00 USD|2.50 AUD|3.50 GBP|2.00 EUR|2.20 NZD|4.50 CAD|3.00 JPY|260 SGD|4.00 HKD|20 THB|95

Australia Post Load&Go Travel Card AUD/ USD/ NZD/ EUR/ GBP 0.00 0.00 15.00 3%
AUD|100 AUD|10000 AUD|15 AUD|0 AUD|2.00 AUD|2.00 AUD|2.00 AUD|2.00 AUD|2.00 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a

Commonwealth Bank Travel Money Card AUD/ USD/ NZD/ EUR/ GBP/ SGD/ HKD/ JPY/ CAD/ THB/ AED/ VND/ CNY 15.00 0.00 0.00 5.25% AUD|1 AUD|50000 AUD|15 AUD|0 USD|2.50 AUD|3.50 GBP|2.00 EUR|2.20 NZD|3.50 CAD|3.00 JPY|220 SGD|3.50 HKD|17 THB|80

Travel Money Oz
Currency Pass
AUD/ USD/ NZD/ EUR/ GBP/ SGD/ HKD/ JPY/ CAD/ THB 0.00 1.1% up to a maximum of $10 (1% using BPay)
10.00 5.95%
AUD|100 AUD|100000 AUD|10 AUD|0 USD|2.50 2.95%
GBP|2.00 EUR|2.50 NZD|3.50 CAD|3.50 JPY|260 SGD|3.50 HKD|18 THB|80

NAB Traveller Card AUD/ USD/ NZD/ EUR/ GBP/ SGD/ HKD/ JPY/ CAD/ THB 0.00 0.00 0.00 4%
AUD|50 AUD|45000 AUD|0 AUD|0 AUD|0 AUD|3.75 AUD|0 AUD|0 AUD|0 AUD|0 AUD|0 AUD|0 AUD|0 AUD|0 No charge for 24/7 Global emergency assistance.
Qantas Card
Qantas Card with Qantas Cash AUD/ USD/ NZD/ EUR/ GBP/ SGD/ HKD/ JPY/ CAD/ THB/ AED. 0.00 $0 (1% using debit card) 0.00 0% AUD|50 AUD|100000 AUD|0 AUD|0 USD|1.95 AUD|1.95 GBP|1.25 EUR|1.50 NZD|2.50 CAD|2.00 JPY|160 SGD|2.50 HKD|15 THB|70 Earn 1.5 Qantas Point per AUD $1 equivalent spent internationally and 1 point per $4 spent in Australia.
St.George Global Currency Card AUD/ USD/ NZD/ EUR/ GBP/ SGD/ HKD/ JPY/ CAD/ THB/ ZAR 0.00 0.00
0.00 3%
AUD|100 AUD|50000 AUD|0 AUD|0 USD|2.00 AUD|2.00 GBP|1.50 EUR|2.00 NZD|3.00 CAD|2.50 JPY|200 SGD|3.00 HKD|15 THB|75

Travelex Money Card
AUD/ USD/ NZD/ EUR/ GBP/ SGD/ HKD/ JPY/ CAD/ THB Greater of 1.1% of initial load amount or minimum $15
1% using BPay $5 using debit card 10.00 5.95%
AUD|100 AUD|100000 AUD|0 AUD|0 AUD|0 2.95%
AUD|0 AUD|0 AUD|0 AUD|0 AUD|0 AUD|0 AUD|0 AUD|0

Velocity Frequent Flyer Global Wallet AUD/ USD/ NZD/ EUR/ GBP/ SGD/ HKD/ JPY/ CAD/ THB/ ZAR 0.00 0.00 0.00 2.25%
AUD|1 AUD|25000 AUD|0 AUD|1 USD|1.95 AUD|1.95 GBP|1.25 EUR|1.50 NZD|2.50 CAD|2.00 JPY|160 SGD|2.50 HKY|15 THB|60 Earn 1 Velocity Point per AUD $1 equivalent spent internationally and 1 point per $2 spent in Australia. Monthly inactivity fee charged if you have not used card in the previous 12 months. Maximum of 4 foreign currencies can be held at any one time.
Westpac Global Currency Card AUD/ USD/ NZD/ EUR/ GBP/ SGD/ HKD/ JPY/ CAD/ THB/ ZAR $0 online (1% of initial load up to a maximum of $10 in branch) 0.00
0.00 3%
AUD|100 AUD|50000 AUD|0 AUD|0 USD|2.00 AUD|2.00 GBP|1.50 EUR|2.00 NZD|3.00 CAD|2.50 JPY|200 SGD|3.00 HKD|15 THB|75

Source: mozo.com.au

What happens to money left on the card?

In October 2014, ASIC convinced the Commonwealth Bank to make $2.2 million available to about 45,000 customers who had money left on expired Commonwealth Bank Travel Money Cards. But it was up to the cardholders to get in touch with the bank and ask for a refund, not the other way around. 

In August 2015, ASIC completed an industry-wide review and obliged card issuers who forced cardholders to forfeit leftover funds (which the ANZ, Westpac and Australia Post cards did at the time) to change their terms and conditions.

If it weren't for ASIC's intervention, $3.5m sitting on expired ANZ cards in amounts less than $500 would have been turned over to the bank after three years. Now cardholders can reclaim funds on all expired travel money cards.

In the Commonwealth Bank case, leftover money had to be claimed by card customers within three years after the card had expired, after which it would go into the government's unclaimed money fund (officially called the Commonwealth of Australia Consolidated Revenue Fund).

You can attempt to reclaim money from this fund any time, but you'll need to prove you're entitled to it (and you can only search for amounts of $500 or more on ASIC's unclaimed money finder).

Using your regular bank account card

If you're just heading overseas for a matter of weeks and want to use the bank or credit union card that's linked to your transaction account, be prepared to pay a fairly punishing exchange rate margin with every transaction along with other overseas charges (see table below for a full breakdown of bank cards).

With the big four banks – Commonwealth Bank, ANZ, NAB and Westpac – it's $5 per ATM withdrawal and 3% currency conversion charge for purchases (so if you spent $1000 on your card, you'll pay a $30 charge).

All up, these bank card charges can easily exceed the costs of a travel money card, but the convenience may outweigh the costs. It will depend how often you use your bank card. The less, the better.

Comparing regular bank cards

To see how your bank card sizes up, check our comparison table. Not surprisingly, the Big Four banks hit you with some of the highest overseas charges. And be forewarned: the ATM fees listed don't include fees charged by overseas non-network ATMs, which can be steep.

Regular bank card comparisons
Provider name Name Overseas ATM fee ($) Overseas purchase fee ($) Overseas transaction fee ($)
AMP Access Account 5.50 1.50 2.50
ANZ Access Advantage 5.00 0.00 3.00
Arab Bank Australia Statement Account 5.00 5.00 2.50
Australian Military Bank Access Savings 4.50 0.00 2.95
Australian Military Bank Military Rewards Account 4.50 0.00 2.95
Australian Unity Transaction Account 4.00 0.00 3.00
Auswide Bank Everyday Access Account 5.00 0.00 3.00
Auswide Bank Everyday Choice Account 5.00 0.00 3.00
B&E Personal Banking Everyday Advantage 5.00 0.00 2.50
B&E Personal Banking iAdvantage 5.00 0.00 2.50
Bank Australia Everyday Access 3.50 0.00 3.00
Bank of Melbourne Complete Freedom Account 5.00 0.00 3.00
Bank of Melbourne Express Freedom Account 5.00 0.00 3.00
Bank of Melbourne Sense Account 5.00 0.00 3.00
Bank of Queensland Day2Day Plus Account 5.00 0.00 3.00
Bank of Queensland Reverse Charges Account 5.00 0.00 3.00
Bank of Sydney Everyday Saver Account 5.00 0.00 3.00
BankSA Complete Freedom Account 5.00 0.00 3.00
BankSA Express Freedom Account 5.00 0.00 3.00
BankSA Sense Account 5.00 0.00 3.00
BankVic Ezepay 4.00 0.00 3.65
Bankwest Easy Transaction Account 5.00 0.00 2.95
Bankwest Hero Transaction Account 5.00 0.00 2.95
Bankwest Lite Direct Transaction Account 5.00 0.00 2.95
Bankwest Qantas Transaction Account 0.00 0.00 2.95
Bankwest Rewards Transaction Account 0.00 0.00 2.95
BCU Access Account 0.00 0.00 3.65
BCU Basic Access Account 0.00 0.00 3.65
Bendigo Bank Everyday Account 5.00 0.00 3.00
Beyond Bank Access Savings Account 4.50 0.00 3.00
Big Sky Everyday Banking Account 4.00 0.00 3.00
BOQ Specialist One Account 5.00 0.00 2.95
Catalyst Money Everyday 0.00 0.00 3.00
Catalyst Money Everyday Lite 0.00 0.00 3.00
Citibank Plus Transaction Account 0.00 2.50 2.50
Commonwealth Bank Smart Access 5.00 0.00 3.00
Community First Credit Union Access 5.00 0.00 3.00
Credit Union SA Access Account 0.00 0.00 3.00
CUA Everyday Account 5.00 0.00 2.75
CUA Everyday Youth Account 5.00 0.00 2.75
Defence Bank Everyday Access 4.10 0.00 3.00
Defence Bank National Access 4.10 0.00 3.00
Defence Bank Salary Saver 4.10 0.00 3.00
Delphi Bank Liberty Account 5.00 0.00 2.00
Delphi Bank Savings Account 5.00 0.00 2.00
G&C Mutual Bank Access Account 5.00 0.00 2.85
G&C Mutual Bank Reward Me Saver 5.00 0.00 2.85
Gateway Credit Union Edge Account 3.50 0.00 2.00
Gateway Credit Union Everyday Savings 3.50 0.00 2.00
Greater Bank Access Account 5.00 0.00 3.00
Greater Bank Ultimate Access Account 5.00 0.00 3.00
Heritage Bank Money Manager 5.00 0.00 3.00
Heritage Bank Simply Access 5.00 0.00 3.00
HSBC Day to Day Account 4.50 0.00 3.00
Hume Bank All Purpose 0.00 0.00 2.85
Hume Bank Essential 0.00 0.00 2.85
Illawarra Credit Union Everyday 0.00 0.00 3.00
Illawarra Credit Union Everyday Lite 0.00 0.00 3.00
IMB Bank Everyday Account 5.00 0.00 2.50
IMB Bank Everyday Unlimited Account 5.00 0.00 2.50
ING DIRECT Orange Everyday 0.00 0.00 0.00
Macquarie Platinum Transaction Account 5.00 0.00 0.00
Macquarie Transaction Account 5.00 0.00 0.00
Maritime Mining & Power Credit Union Access Saving Account 0.00 0.00 3.00
ME Everyday Transaction Account 4.00 0.00 2.30
ME InterestMe Savings Account 4.00 0.00 2.30
MyState Access Account 5.00 0.00 3.00
NAB Classic Banking Account 5.00 0.00 3.00
Newcastle Permanent Everyday Account 5.00 0.00 3.00
Newcastle Permanent Statement Savings Account 5.00 0.00 3.00
P&N Bank Budgeting Account 5.00 0.00 3.00
P&N Bank Easypay Access Account 5.00 0.00 3.00
People's Choice Credit Union Activate Account 5.00 0.00 3.00
People's Choice Credit Union Everyday Account 5.00 0.00 3.00
People's Choice Credit Union Zip Account 5.00 0.00 3.00
Police Bank Easy Access Account 3.80 0.00 3.00
Police Credit Union RediAccess Account 4.00 1.36 3.00
QBANK Everyday Plus Transaction Account 5.00 0.00 3.65
QBANK On Call 5.00 0.00 3.65
QT Mutual Bank Current Account 4.50 0.00 3.00
QT Mutual Bank Everyday Account 4.50 0.00 3.00
Qudos Bank General Savings Account 2.00 0.00 3.65
Queensland Country Credit Union All Access 4.00 0.00 3.65
Queenslanders Credit Union Action Account 2.00 2.00 5.00
Queenslanders Credit Union Basic Account 2.00 2.00 5.00
Queenslanders Credit Union LiveFree Account 2.00 2.00 5.00
RAMS (at affiliated ATMs & terminals) Action Account 0.00 0.00 0.00
Regional Australia Bank Access Savings Account 0.00 0.00 2.00
Regional Australia Bank Community Partnership Account 0.00 0.00 2.00
Regional Australia Bank eFree 0.00 0.00 2.00
Rural Bank Everyday Account 4.00 0.00 2.00
SCU Access Savings 4.00 3.00 2.00
St.George Complete Freedom Account 5.00 0.00 3.00
St.George Express Freedom Account 5.00 0.00 3.00
St.George SENSE Account 5.00 0.00 3.00
Suncorp Everyday Basics 5.00 0.00 3.00
Suncorp Everyday Options 5.00 0.00 3.00
Teachers Mutual Bank Everyday Direct Account 4.00 0.00 2.45
The Rock Fee Cruncher Account 5.00 0.00 3.00
The Rock Only Account 5.00 0.00 3.00
UBank USaver Ultra Transaction Account 4.00 0.00 2.00
UniBank Everyday Direct Account 4.00 0.00 2.45
Victoria Teachers Mutual Bank Everyday 2.50 0.00 2.00
Westpac Choice 5.00 0.00 3.00
Source: mozo.com.au

Other things to consider

It should be noted that CHOICE has heard more than a few travel money card horror stories featuring travellers temporarily stuck without funds far from home because, among other things, the re-loading process didn't work as advertised and customer service proved hard to reach and not particularly helpful.

These appear to be isolated incidents that have more to do with whichever customer rep happened to be on the job at the time rather than a serial problem with certain card providers, but it's something to bear in mind when making a travel money decision.

It also doesn't help that hotels generally won't accept travel money cards because these cards don't offer a credit function, which means hotels can't keep the details on hand for any additional charges you may rack up.


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