Turns out, there are plenty of fees and hidden costs that you might incur if you ever choose to use a travel card.
Their research shows that four in five Australians exceed their holiday budgets, with impulse purchases and nonessential costs being the most common reasons for overspending.
Most people don’t realise that there are more fees than meets the eye. In this article, we present 9 common fees and charges of 12 travel card issuers. Hopefully with the following information you can make an informed decision about travel cards.
Table of Contents
- The cheapest and most expensive travel cards
- Full Breakdown of Fees by Card
- How to avoid fees
- Fees description
The cheapest and most expensive travel cards
|#||Travel money card||Cheapest to most expensive|
|1||Travelex Multi-Currency Cash Passport||A$160.69|
|2||Commonwealth Travel Money Card||A$212.45|
|3||Virgin Velocity Global Wallet||A$218.72|
|4||Australia Post Load&Go||A$219.19|
|5||St. George Global Currency Card||A222.00|
|6||NAB Traveller Card||A$240.09|
|7||ANZ Travel Card||A$242.29|
|8||Qantas Cash Travel Card||A$245.88|
|9||Suncorp Cash Passport||A$253.80|
|10||Mastercard Cash Passport & Bendigo Bank Prepaid Cash Passport||A$260.30|
|11||Westpac Global Currency Card||A$280.00|
Taking the average Australian’s three week holiday budget of A$4,679, we calculated how much it costs to use a travel card.
We based our calulations, conservatively on the following factors:
- Card purchase fee
- Initial load fee
- AUD/USD exchange rate margin
- 9 ATM withdrawals (assuming that 3 withdrawals are made per week)
- Card termination fee
Full Breakdown of Fees by Card
|#||Travel money card||Card purchase||Initial load||Currency conversion fee||Exchange rate margin*||Overseas ATM withdrawal**||Subsequent reloads||Replacement card||Account inactivity^||Card termination|
|1||ANZ Travel Card||A$11||A$0||3%||4.27%||A$3.50||1.1% of value purchased||A$15.00||A$3||A$0|
|2||Australia Post Load&Go||A$0||A$0||3%||4.3%||A$2.00||A$0||A$15.00||A$0||A$0|
|3||Bendigo Bank Prepaid Cash Passport||A$0||A$0||MasterCard rate plus a margin of 5.95%||4.89%||A$3.50||A$0 (online and Bank Transfer) 1% (BPAY)||A$0||A$0||A$0|
|4||Commonwealth Travel Money Card||A$15||A$0||N/A||4.22%||A$0||A$0||A$0||A$0||A$0|
|5||Mastercard Cash Passport||A$0||A$0||MasterCard rate plus a margin of 5.95%||4.89%||A$3.50||A$0||A$0||A$0||A$0|
|6||NAB Traveller Card||A$0||A$0||4%||4.41%||A$3.75||A$0||A$0||A$0||A$0|
|7||Qantas Cash Travel Card||A$0||A$0||N/A||4.488%||A$1.95||A$0 (except for debit, charged at 1%)||A$0||A$0||A$0|
|8||St. George Global Currency Card||A$0||A$0||3%||4.36%||A$2.00||1% of load||A$0||A$0||A$0|
|9||Suncorp Cash Passport||1.1% of initial load or $15 flat fee||1.1% of initial load or $15 flat fee||7 – 9% (MasterCard rate)* plus 5.95%||4.89%||A$0^||$5 flat fee (web and mobile) per reload & 1% (bpay) or $15||A$0||A$4.00||A$10.00|
|10||Travelex Multi-Currency Cash Passport||1.1% of initial load or $15 flat fee||1.1% of initial load or $15 flat fee||7 – 9% (MasterCard rate)* plus 5.95%||2.9%||A$0^||$15 or greater of 1.1% of initial load
or $5 through Cash Passport App
|11||Virgin Velocity Global Wallet||A$0||A$0||3%||4.29%||A$2.00||A$0||A$0||A$1.00||A$0|
|12||Westpac Global Currency Card||A$0||A$0 if payment is made online, BPAY, or bank transfer||3%||5.6%||A$2.00||1% of amount loaded||A$0||A$0||A$0|
*The exchange rate margin is based on AUD/USD
**Average equivalent in AUD
^Charged monthly after 12 months
How to Avoid Fees?
With so many fees and charges that come with the use of a travel card, no doubt you will be wondering how exactly to avoid all those fees. Fret not, because we have some suggestions for you to help you minimise cost on your next trip abroad.
While a travel card may be a more secure and convenient way of bringing money with you abroad, taking cash with you will definitely help you avoid all those costs and fees that come with card use. After all, using cash to buy things overseas won’t cost you anything more than what you paid for.
Use a travel credit card
A travel credit card like the 28Degrees credit card can save you a lot of the hassle and fees that come with travel money cards. Aside from not having to worry so much about your individual currency balances and prepaid travel card reloading times, travel credit cards also tend to eliminate fees such as international transaction and currency conversion fees. Cards like these tend to have a high interest rate though, so choose wisely.
Do a bank transfer to the country you are visiting
This really only applies if you have family or friends in the country you plan on visiting. While the international fund transfer will cost you money, you get to avoid all the subsequent costs that you may incur per transaction if you were to use a travel card. If you have access to a local debit or credit card, that gives you the same level of convenience and security as a travel card, without as much of the cost.
Travel Card Fees: What You Need To Know
Card purchase fee
The majority of travel cards available on the market today have done away with a Card Purchase Fee, meaning that prior to loading and using the card either abroad or in Australia, the card is issued to you at no charge. There are exceptions to this rule, however. The ANZ Travel Card, for instance, has an $11 Card Purchase Fee that can be waived if you are an existing ANZ customer and you apply for the card at a bank branch. The Commonwealth Travel Money Card also has a $15 Card Issuance Fee.
Initial load fee
Similar to the Card Purchase Fee, most travel cards don’t charge a fee for the initial load. Some travel card providers do impose an Initial Load Fee, however. Westpac charges 1% of the initial load up to a maximum of $10 if you load the card at a Westpac branch. This fee is waived if you load the card on Westpac Online Banking, either through funds transfer or BPAY. The Qantas Cash Travel Card also charges a 1% load fee on all reloads, including the initial load.
Currency conversion fee
Some cards may charge a Currency Conversion Fee if you are paying in a currency you either haven’t loaded or have not loaded enough into your card. While some travel cards, such as the Mastercard Cash Passport don’t impose any Currency Conversion Fee, other cards do. Cards like the ANZ Travel Card, Westpac Global Currency Card or the Virgin Velocity Global Wallet do, usually up to 3% of the Australian Dollar value of the conversion, while the Australia Post Multi-currency Cash Passport imposes a fee up to 5.95% of the transacted value.
The majority of the cost of using a travel card tends to result in the exchange rates that you will experience in loading the card with foreign currencies. Most of the exchange rates that are offered to you will tend to be higher than the actual market exchange rate for these currencies, and if you are planning to load up thousands of dollars’ worth of currencies in there, even small differences in exchange rates will cost you a lot of money.
Overseas ATM cash withdrawal fee
Different cards have different rates for overseas ATM cash withdrawals, which are charged in the local currency where you are using an ATM. This is in addition to a usage fee that may be incurred every time you use an ATM in a foreign country. While the Australia Post Multi-currency Cash Passport levy no fees for foreign ATM cash withdrawal, other cards do, and this fee can vary from A$1.95 for the Qantas Cash Travel Card to A$3.50 for the ANZ Travel Card.
Subsequent reload fee
While most travel cards don’t impose an Initial Reload Fee, subsequent reloads are usually subject to a fee. This may depend on your method of reload. For example, the Mastercard Cash Passport provides free reloads if you do it either online or through bank transfer, but imposes a 1% fee on the reload value if you do it through BPAY. The Commonwealth Travel Money Card and the NAB Traveller Card impose no subsequent reload fees at all, while most other cards usually impose a fee of 1% of the reload value.
Emergency load fee
Emergency Load Fees can apply if you need cash after losing your travel card. Some travel cards, like the Commonwealth Travel Money Card, do not impose an Emergency Load Fee, and it’s important to know which ones do, so that you are aware if the need for an emergency cash transfer arises. For instance, the Virgin Velocity Global Wallet imposes a flat A$15 fee for emergency transfers, while the St George Travel Money Card imposes a fee depending on how much you need, to a maximum of A$30 for a $3,000 transfer.
Negative balance fee
Given that most travel cards are prepaid debit cards, they don’t allow you to spend below the balance that is already loaded in the card. However, some cards allow you to temporarily go below the balance, although a Negative Balance Fee applies. Cards like the Mastercard Cash Passport, as well as the Virgin Velocity Global Wallet do not impose Negative Balance Fees, while cards like the Australia Post Multi-currency Cash Passport charge a flat fee to the tune of A$20.
Account inactivity fee
If you haven’t kept your travel card active in the last 12 months, you may face an Account Inactivity Fee, depending on the travel card you have. The Australia Post Multi-currency Cash Passport and the Virgin Velocity Global Wallet will charge you A$4 and A$1 a year respectively, while the Commonwealth Travel Money Card and the NAB Traveller Card don’t impose any Account Inactivity Fee whatsoever.
Card replacement fee
A Card Replacement Fee may apply if you have lost your initial travel card and would like to request for a replacement, although most travel cards provide one for free. Certain providers like ANZ will give you a secondary card at the time of issuance for no additional charge, which means you may forgo the need for a replacement. One card that does charge for a replacement is Australia Post Load&Go travel card, where a replacement card costs A$15.
Card termination fee
Most travel cards do not come with a Card Termination Fee. However, if you do have an outstanding loaded balance at the time you close your travel card account, the money will be converted back to Australian Dollars and returned to you, based on prevailing exchange rates. If exchange rates have deteriorated since you loaded any foreign currency onto your travel card, you could incur some cost there.
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