One of the most important things to plan as you are getting ready to head overseas is your money. Gone are the days when you only had the choice of cash or travellers’ cheques, today there is a multitude of ways to access your funds while travelling.
It’s one of the questions I’m asked most often so I thought I’d give you a run through of how I manage my money overseas.
Pre-Paid Cash Cards vs. Credit Cards
Move over travellers’ cheques, today plastic is fantastic. It’s the great debate for many young travellers – should I get a credit card or settle with a pre-paid cash card?
I’ll let you in on a secret: three years ago I put all my credit cards on hold. As much as I love earning points with every purchase I really dislike the annual fees, transaction fees and all the other hidden fees. Today, I only have one credit card but even that is rarely used.
Since then, I’ve tested six different pre-paid cash cards. Right now I’m using Australia Post’s Multi-currency Cash Passport. You can load up to 10 different currencies onto the card locked-in exchange rates. That means there are no surprises or need to ‘shop’ the currency exchange stores when you arrive on your holiday and get down to enjoying the good stuff – exploring! Better still, there are no fees for withdrawals at ATMs or for transactions where you spend in the currency loaded on your Cash Passport!
The Multi-currency Cash Passport also comes with a 24/7 global emergency assistance contact number should the worst happen, and you can manage your card from your smartphone via an app!
Whether it’s withdrawing money for day-to-day purchases from an ATM or paying for something through EFTPOS, the Multi-currency Cash Passport can be used anywhere MasterCard is accepted, making it a card with global usage.
While I do have my Multi-Currency Cash Passport, I also travel with a debit card ‘just in case’. Since I was a teen I’ve had a Westpac Debit Mastercard. It’s my go-to card in Australia and with their Global Alliance, a collection of around 50 banks who waive ATM fees for account holders, which makes it easy to withdraw when I’m overseas. While there are no ATM fees, there is a 3% transaction fee is charged for each withdrawal. So be sure to keep your pre-paid cash card topped up and only use your debit card when necessary!
While there are no ATM fees, my one complaint is that there is a 3% transaction fee charged for each withdrawal. While not huge, it can add up quickly. So be sure to keep your pre-paid cash card topped up!
Cash is king so pick up a few hundred dollars in local currency before you leave for those little purchases where your card might not be accepted or so you don’t have to rush around trying to find an ATM when you land. I also pick up a few hundred US dollars because it’s easy to exchange and some countries (such as Russia) accept it when paying.
Exchanging money before I travel is something I need to get better at because I’ve been stung more than once at the airport currency exchange where the exchange rates are crazy high. Forget that, get online and order your cash with 0% commission through Australia Post. Yep, no nasty fees!
You can arrange foreign cash for 60 countries through their online booking platform or order in-store in a range of denominations. What I really like is that you can choose if you want small, large or a mix of denominations! There’s even the option to order Travellers Cheques if you are feeling old school. Once you’ve paid and received confirmation your cash has arrived, head into your nearest Australia Post shop to pick it up – simple!
I am working with Australia Post to test their Multi-Currency Cash Passport,
however, I was impressed with the range of Travel Essentials they offer making travellers’ lives easier!
All thoughts and options are, as always, my own.