Two cards you must have while travelling to access your money

Cards for cash and credit Cards for cash and credit

How to access your money on the road is one of the first questions you’ll ask yourself when planning your big trip. The key things you’ll want are:

  • Fee free transactions (including cash withdrawals)
  • No ATM fees
  • No currency conversion fees
  • No annual fees
  • Basically no fees whatsoever!!!

If you’re from Australia, as we are, your options are very, very limited. But I actually think that’s a pretty good thing. You know when you go to a restaurant and the menu’s 10 pages long, I find that a real pain in the backside. I like my menu to have 5-10 mains, and 3-4 entrees and desserts to choose from. Easy, simple, quick! Well, it’s the same when trying to solve your money access dilemma, although here in Australia, you only have one choice…split into two parts! Here’s two cards you must have while travelling:

First you’ll need to get a 28 Degrees MasterCard. Here’s why:

  • No international transaction fees on purchases
  • No currency conversion fees
  • No annual fee
  • 55 interest free days
  • You can use it as a credit card, or deposit your own money into it

It used to be even better when you could make fee free cash advances, but as of January 1, 2014 you’ll now have to pay 3% or $4 (whichever is greater) whether your withdrawing your own money or not. So you need to get this card to make most of your incidental credit card payments while on the road, buy a shirt, pay for dinner, etc. And if you pay the balance within the billing cycle, you’ll never pay a fee. Bazinga!!!

Because there is now a charge for cash advances using the 28 Degrees MasterCard, you need to open a Citibank Plus Visa Debit Card. Here’s why:

  • No cash withdrawal fees
  • No ATM fees (be aware if you don’t use a Citibank owned ATM you made be charged fees by the owner)
  • Free international money transfers from Australia to any account, anywhere in the world
  • A smart phone app (to find those Citibank owned ATM’s)

While we’re away if we need to pay for day-to-day items with a credit card, we’ll use the 28 Degrees MasterCard. If we need to get cash out of an ATM we’ll use our Citibank card. And if we need to make bigger purchases (i.e. flights, online hotel bookings, etc.), we’ll use our current Westpac Earth Platinum Credit Card. Why will we use our Westpac credit card? We earn frequent flyer miles every time we use it. For the past two years we’ve been paying for everything using our credit cards, and we’ve set up an automatic payment with Westpac so the balance paid before any interest is accrued. Brilliant! And in those two years we’ve accumulated enough points to get the three of us from Melbourne to Ho Chi Minh City, Mumbai to Dubai, Dubai to Istanbul, and Barcelona to New York. FREE FLIGHTS (apart from taxes which, along with death, we can’t avoid)!

If you’re not a Westpac customer and sign up for the Earth Platinum Card (sounds fancy, but it’s really their standard card) you get 20,000 frequent flyer miles FREE. You can fly from Mumbai to Dubai for only 12,000 points!

To find out the best rewards card for you (to supplement the 28 Degrees MasterCard and Citibank Plus Visa Debit Card – you must have these), click on one of a number of  credit card comparison sites. Choose the best card for your needs that gives you a heap of frequent flyer miles when you sign up!

Of course, these suggestions are for Australians, so here’s some advice for other nationalities from

  • Americans are spoilt for choice, but many travellers prefer Discover and Capital One — both don’t charge foreign transaction fees on their credit cards.
  • Brits also have many choices, but I’ve heard especially good things about the Halifax Clarity MasterCard — it doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees or cash advance fees.
  • Canadians don’t have as many options, but at least there are some Chase credit cards that waive the foreign transaction fee. Check out the Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Visa card and the Chase Rewards Visa card.
  • New Zealanders, sadly, don’t have any credit card without foreign transaction fees. Your best bet is a prepaid card, the Air New Zealand OneSmart MasterCard. You can read more about it on this blog post by a savvy Kiwi.

Do you know of any other cards that don’t charge any fees from your country that aren’t mentioned here? Leave a comment, we’d love to find out more…

4 Comments on Two cards you must have while travelling to access your money

  1. Nick Murphy // August 6, 2014 at 11:17 am //

    Hey guys – loving my emailed updates, they are the most exciting emails I get these days (apart from the mysterious Nigerian Prince with $50M). We’re planning an O/S trip (so hopefully you see this post) and was wondering how the different card/cash management options have worked out in the first few months on the road? Would you change your recommendations or are you happy with how they are working out?



    • Hi Nick, I’m so excited for you! Of all the people in the world for the Nigerian Prince to share his wealth with, he chose you. Who cares which card you go for!!! Seriously though the two cards we use have been great. We pay the 28 Degrees card off each month automatically so there’s no interest accrued and of course no other fees, so it’s basically a free to use credit card. The Citibank card is also great, although depending on where you’re going you need to plan ahead to ensure there’s either an ATM you can use, or you’ve withdrawal enough money from the previous Citibank ATM to get you through to the next Citibank ATM. The negative is Citibank branches aren’t necessarily able to help you in other countries. We’ve tried to get help with our account in Vietnam and India and they couldn’t help us. This isn’t great given they’re supposed to be a global bank! The only other global bank is HSBC, so maybe check them out. I’m not sure of their fee situation though, while Citibank have no fees at all! What sort of overseas trip are you planning? Hope this helps.

  2. Nick Murphy // August 6, 2014 at 1:24 pm //

    We’re planning a short jaunt through the US of around 2 weeks +/- so we won’t have major currency issues. I just don’t like the thought of handing over extra fees to the banks. The Citibank options seems like a good one – I had considered a Qantas cash card but while the fees are low, the exchange rates are not the best based on what I’ve seen and read.

    Its great to get some real world feedback on how these options work!

    Looking forward to my next update (perhaps you can ask Sarah to arrange a marriage for Toby 😉 )

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