The 4 Best Debit Cards for Australians Travelling Overseas - 2022

Here is a list of the 4 best debit cards you can take with you on your travels and the positives and negatives for each one.

As Australians, we love to travel. Almost 10 million of us took to the skies last year, mostly to our neighbours in New Zealand and Indonesia, but also further away to the US and Europe.

While we travel, we also need safe access to cash. It's not the most glamorous part of our travel plans, but it's equally important to decide on the best travel money option for us, so we're not left worried at any stage of our trip.

What are Travel Debit Cards?

Travel debit cards are a good alternative to carrying cash. They also offer the convenience of a credit card, but work differently.

When you use your debit card overseas, you're drawing money directly from your bank account when you make a purchase. It's designed for everyday money transactions and means you're not accumulating debt.

Debit cards are a great option if you've saved money specially for your trip and if you want to budget your overseas spending. We also suggest bringing a back-up debit card and a separate credit card for peace of mind and greater flexibility on your trip.

Wise is our best value travel debit card

With this card:

  • It's very easy to set up and order
  • You can receive foreign currency into a free multi-currency account linked to the card
  • Pay with your Wise card in most places overseas where debit cards are accepted
  • You can transfer money to a bank account overseas

It's not all good news though

  • There is a 2% ATM withdrawal fee when you withdraw over $350 during a month
  • It takes 7-14 days for delivery

Click here to see the full list of cards and how Wise compares

  • No annual fee, hidden transaction fees, exchange rate markups
  • No minimum balance requirements
  • Allows you to make payments and withdrawals wherever you are in the world in over 40 currencies
  • Local bank account details in Australia (AUD), the UK (GBP), the USA (USD), Europe (EUR), Canada (CAD) and New Zealand (NZD)
  • Available in the US, UK, Europe, Australia, Singapore, Japan and New Zealand
  • It takes 7-14 business days to receive the card
  • Can't always access local technical support depending on where you are
  • Free cash withdrawals limited to under $350 every 30 days

Revolut is our best multi-currency travel card

With this card:

  • No purchase fee, load fee, reload fee, exchange rate margin or minimum balance requirements
  • Unlike other Travel Cards, its free and easy to use the balance of your currency or convert it back to AUD
  • The exchange rates are unbeatable. They use the same rate you see on XE or Google with no hidden mark-up

It's not all good news though

  • For the free Standard account, there is a 2% ATM withdrawal fee when you withdraw over $350 during a month
  • The premium account costs $10.99 a month, which can really add up if you are not using it often

Click here to see the full list of cards and how Revolut compares

  • Very easy to use app
  • Free to set up
  • No hidden fees or exchange rate mark-ups (except on weekends)
  • You can use it to transfer money to a bank account overseas
  • Additional fees for using the card on a weekend
  • 2% ATM fee once you withdraw more than $350 in any 30 day period
  • 3-4 business days before you receive your card
  • Ongoing subscription fee for Premium and Metal cards

Citibank Saver Plus is our best bank travel card.

The Citibank Plus Everyday Account is our best value debit card. With this card you can:

  • withdraw money for free at over 3000 ATMs Australia-wide and overseas
  • take advantage of no foreign transaction fees, monthly fees, or minimum opening balance
  • transfer money to friends and family anywhere in the world for free

We think this is the ideal debit card whether you're staying local in Oz or travelling to destinations in Asia or Europe.

  • No international ATM or transaction fees
  • Fee-free international money transfers to any account worldwide
  • SMS notifications through Citi Alert
  • Cash deposits available within 24-48 hours
  • Can’t have two cards active at the same time
  • $5 account closure

The HSBC Everyday Global Debit Card is our best cash back travel debit card

With this card you can:

  • Buy, hold and spend in 10 currencies
  • Earn up to $50/month cash back on eligible tap and pay purchases
  • Make ATM withdrawals overseas with no HSBC charges
  • Spend on the go using Visa payWave, Google Pay and Apple Pay
  • Exchange between currencies in your account instantly with the HSBC banking app

It’s not all good news though:

  • Currency exchange may incur a fee in the form of a marked up exchange rate
  • Not the broadest range of currencies available
  • Eligibility restrictions may apply to unlock some features - you’ll have to deposit your salary to the account to get cash back

If you’re looking for a travel debit card backed with a multi-currency account from a major global banking brand, the HSBC Everyday Global Debit Card could suit you.

If you're looking for an alternative to traditional banking, then Wise debit card or Revolut card can be a good choice.

  • No monthly fees and no HSBC transaction fees
  • Easy to use everyday account for a range of foreign currencies
  • No foreign transaction fees applied
  • $8 international transfer fee can work out quite steep for lower value payments
  • Currency exchange may include a margin or markup
  • You’ll need to deposit at least $2,000 a month to get cash back
  • Limitations apply to the ways you can use CNY currency within the account

Pros and cons of travel debit cards

For many people, holding a specific travel debit card alongside one or more regular credit or debit cards can make spending on holiday easier and cheaper. With multi-currency accounts you’ll be able to top up in dollars and switch to the currency you need online or via an app. That gives you total control of your budget and lets you see exactly how much you have available for spending at any one time.

  • No monthly fees and no HSBC transaction fees
  • Easy to use everyday account for a range of foreign currencies
  • No foreign transaction fees applied
  • $8 international transfer fee can work out quite steep for lower value payments
  • Currency exchange may include a margin or markup
  • You’ll need to deposit at least $2,000 a month to get cash back
  • Limitations apply to the ways you can use CNY currency within the account

FAQ

What is a travel debit card?

A travel debit card is intended to make travel spending more convenient and often cheaper. You’ll be able to add funds to your account in AUD and switch to different currencies supported by your travel debit card, to spend when you travel more easily.

How to choose a debit card for overseas travel?

Before you decide which travel debit card suits you, think about how you’ll use the card, and compare the features and fees on offer from different providers. Picking a card with no ongoing fees and no minimum balance will be important if you don’t expect to travel so frequently. However, upgrading to a card which comes with a monthly fee might be worthwhile if the fees unlock features you value. Take your time to decide - the perfect travel debit card for you is out there somewhere.

Which debit card is best for travel?

The right travel debit card for you depends on your specific needs and preferences. Some cards offer a really broad range of currencies with easy, low fee conversion. Others have travel friendly perks like free insurance or cash back. By considering the types of transactions you’ll make, and comparing a few options like those picked out above, you’ll be able to find the best travel debit card for your needs.

What is the best way to pay when travelling abroad?

Carrying cash when you travel isn’t always convenient - and it can also be risky. For many people, paying for their travel with a small amount of cash, backed up with a good travel debit card and one or two additional credit or debit cards can work well. Use your cards to make payments and withdrawals whenever you need to, with the knowledge you can instantly cancel or freeze the card if you’re ever concerned about their security.

By Natalie Robertson Updated May 26th, 2022