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Best travel money cards

We review 11 travel money cards from the big banks and airlines.

travel money card next to model plane
Last updated: 11 February 2020

Need to know

  • Some travel money cards have high fees so they aren't worth it if you’re only taking a short trip
  • Our top 3 picks are: 7-Eleven Go Visa Prepaid, NAB Traveller card and Qantas Travel Money
  • CHOICE members say that travel money cards are convenient and easy to use

A travel money card can be a convenient tool for frequent travellers. Before leaving for overseas, you load money onto the travel money card account, locking in the exchange rate for foreign currencies at that time. 

You then use the card for purchases and cash withdrawals like a debit or credit card.

Travel money cards are best for longer trips, and usually not worth your while if you're only taking a short trip (use your normal debit card instead).

We looked at the travel money cards on offer from the big banks and airlines to find which were best.

7-eleven just go visa prepaid travel card

The best travel money cards

7-Eleven Just Go Visa Prepaid

Currencies: AUD, USD, GBP, EUR, NZD 

Why we like it: Low-fee card – the only fee that can apply is an inactivity fee after 12 months which you can avoid by cancelling the card.

What we don't like: Smallest number of currencies, so if you want to travel anywhere else or do a stopover in Asia on the way to Europe it won't work for you.

nab traveller mastercard card

NAB Traveller card

Currencies: AUD, USD, NZD, EUR, GBP, SGD, HKD, JPY, CAD, THB

Why we like it: Low-fee card with a good variety of currencies. While it has a $3.75 fee to withdraw leftover funds when you are back in Australia you can avoid that by doing a free transfer to a linked NAB account. 

What we don't like: 4% cross-currency (foreign exchange) fee*  so you need to make a good estimate of how much money you want to load in each currency you need.

qantas frequent flyer travel money card

Qantas Travel Money

Currencies: AUD, USD, NZD, EUR, GBP, SGD, HKD, JPY, CAD, THB, AED

Why we like it: Low-fee card with a good variety of currencies. It has a 0.5% debit card reload fee but you can avoid that by reloading online.

What we don't like: Charges overseas ATM fees, so avoid making a lot of small ATM withdrawals.

commonwealth bank travel money card

Travel money card with the widest range of currencies

Commonwealth Bank Travel Money Card

Currencies: AUD, USD, NZD, EUR, GBP, SGD, HKD, JPY, CAD, THB, AED, VND, CNY

Why we like it: The widest variety of currencies. No purchase fee if you apply via Netbank.

What we don't like: 

  • 5.25% cross-currency (foreign exchange) fee* – the second highest of the cards we looked at – so you need to make a good estimate of how much money you want to load in each currency you need.
  • Charges overseas ATM fees, so avoid making a lot of small ATM withdrawals.
Travelex money card debit card

Travel money card with the best exchange rate 

Travelex Money card

Currencies: AUD, USD, NZD, EUR, GBP, SGD, HKD, JPY, CAD, THB

What we like: While there wasn't a huge difference between the exchange rates on the cards we compared, the Travelex card came out on top over our 10-day test period (in August 2019). It also does not charge ATM fees overseas.

What we don't like: High fees

  • A purchase fee, reload fee if not booked beforehand, closure fee, inactivity fee, ATM fee in Australia 
  • At 5.95%, the highest cross-currency (foreign exchange) fee* of the cards we looked at, so you need to make a good estimate of how much money you want to load in each currency you need. 

Note: There was a cyber-attack on Travelex earlier this year which may affect the availability of this card. Our sister organisation, Which?, has advice on what to do if you are a Travelex customer.

*The cross-currency (conversion) - also called foreign exchange fee - applies when you or the card automatically convert another currency e.g. $AUD to the required currency e.g. $US if you do not have enough funds in the required currency on your card to complete a purchase or ATM withdrawal, for example.

Travel money card tips

  • Make sure the card allows all currencies you need – some currencies such as the Chinese Yuan, South African Rand or Fijian Dollar are only supported by a few cards.
  • Try to load your card with the right currencies and amounts, on a day with a good exchange rate. 
  • Make sure you know how to re-load if you run out of funds while overseas.
  • It may be more convenient to choose a card that has an app which can be linked to your bank account
  • Avoid loading too much on the card as there may be high fees to get the money back that is left over.
  • Remember to cancel the card if it has inactivity fees. 

What do our members think?

The experience of CHOICE members with travel money cards is mostly positive: 

  • Nearly 80% of respondents to a recent survey found travel money cards easy to use and convenient.
  • The great majority of respondents found it easy to load and convert currency on the card and to make a transaction. 
  • A small group of people had problems with the quality of customer service when problems arose.

The pros and cons of travel money cards

Pros

  • Accepted at most places
  • Can be replaced if lost or stolen
  • You can lock in an exchange rate which can be an advantage as long as you are good at estimating currency fluctuations
  • Most allow a large range of currencies
  • Most don't charge a fee if you load and reload them online
  • Some don't charge an overseas ATM fee

Cons

  • Some have purchase or closure fees
  • May charge ATM fees overseas 
  • Additional ATM and other transaction fees can be charged by local merchants or financial institutions
  • Nearly all charge you an ATM or closure fee to withdraw cash left over on the card after your holiday
  • Some have monthly inactivity fees so you need to make sure you cancel them once you get back
  • About half charge a cross-currency fee if you need to convert money to another currency
  • Some only allow you to load amounts of $100 and more which can be a disadvantage at the end of your holiday.
  • Some only allow you to load a selection of the currencies they support at any one time (e.g. 5 currencies out of 11 supported currencies for Westpac and St George)