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!!!
- 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 nomadwallet.com:
- 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 Amazon.ca 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…