Travel SOS: Does PayPass work overseas?

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Erin doesn’t want to fuss around with travel cards and foreign currency, so she’s asked if the PayPass (tap-and-go) chip on her credit card will work overseas.


Q. Erin
Instead of having to buy foreign currency and walk around with a pocket full of cash, or picking up one of those cash passports from the post office, I was hoping I could just use the PayPass on my normal bank card. Does it work overseas?

A. It depends on where you’re going. In most countries in the Asia Pacific region, the UK and most of Europe, chipped cards are the norm and you should be able to use the tap payment system. However, although chipped cards are becoming more commonplace in the US, this country is a little backward when it comes to tap-and-go payments and, even if they accept the chipped card (instead of having to swipe, which you may have to do in most places you visit there), you may still have to sign, enter a PIN or hit ‘enter’ to make purchases.

Your best bet is to contact your bank and ask them specifically about the country you’re visiting.

Read more about other travellers’ experience at

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca is a voracious reader who loves words. You'll often find him spending time in galleries, writing, designing, painting, drawing, or photographing and documenting street art. He has a publishing and graphic design background and loves movies and music, but then, who doesn’t?



Total Comments: 11
  1. 0

    It really does depend where you go. Cash is king in many countries but if you go to Europe then a visa or MasterCard is so easy to use. Try to obtain a credit card that doesn’t add the international conversion fee back to aud on your card. 28 degrees is agreat card to use. It is free! Withdrawals from atm’s and cashing in aud for local currency are expensive ways to travel so the appropriate card can help a lot. Remember to always have a plan b if your card is misplaced or stolen. A handy ‘second’ card could be a Qantas cash card which preloaded in your chosen currency if you need.

  2. 0

    Most credit cards, including Visa & MasterCard do have an international conversion fee back to $A, and they are mighty expensive if you let your travel debt build up and don’t pay it off by the end of the month. Also I know from experience that American Express is not widely accepted in France and Belgium. In Europe it is still not easy to travel completely cash-less. Indeed it is not that easy in Australia either. Best to have one of the travel money cards, pre-loaded with the foreign currencies you will need. You can get any necessary cash out of a foreign ATM and you can top them up on-line from your funds in Australia if you run out. Whichever way you go, the bank, both Australian and foreign, always wins.

  3. 0

    We have not found Cash to be King in the countries that we have travelled in. ATMs are getting harder to find in many countries- Eastern European, Scandunavian. Most retailers prefer card. In India not all ATMs would accept all our cards and prepaid cash cards were not accepted. If you take cards with MasterCard, Visa and UnionPay you cover all bases. In China there are generally ATMs but most transactions are via Alipay or WeeChatPay.
    If you are travelling through several countries you can waste a lot of money with pre loaded currency cards.
    Work out the cost of using your normal bank debit card. It is a small percentage of your total trip cost and you pay for convenience.
    Be careful when travelling with a partner using linked cards. If one is lost or stolen both will be blocked.
    Of course you should always let banks know where you are travelling to avoid them blocking your card.

  4. 0

    Go with ING . ATM s are Free

  5. 0

    Why would you use your ‘normal’ bank Visa or Master card?

    I have 2 reasons not to:
    1 It will cost you the earth in conversion fees.
    2 You’ll still have to pay the balance off at the end of the month, so if your spending gets out of hand, you’ll be in big trouble.

    I’ve researched the benefits/costs of most of the Prepaid cards in the market, and have found my top 3 cards – the Virgin Velocity, QANTAS and ANZ (applied for over the internet @ a cost of $11 for 2 cards, picked up in branch in around 5 days) cards. All 3 have your name on them and either 10 or 11 currencies. The Virgin & QANTAS ones charge you $10 for an extra card.

    I’ve actually used the Australia Post card, and found it to be adequate for travel. The only problem with the prepaid cards is that ‘most’ car hire companies won’t accept them, unless the card has your name on it. This is where the above 3 cards come into play. I was held up @ Heathrow for 3 hours explaining that I didn’t have any other funds than what was on my prepaid card to pay for the ‘other’ charges which would drop off in around 10 days time. In the end they relented and used my prepaid card and gave us an upgrade due to the time it took to sort out the problem. I’d prepaid for the hire of the car in Australia and they didn’t know that the hire car companies wouldn’t take prepaid cards, as they said that I would need to present the card that I used to pay for the hire (which was the prepaid card without my name on it).

    In the end, it’s up to the traveller – do you want to have all your funds on a prepaid card which you’ve already paid one conversion fee, or do you want to have to continually pay conversion fees which can change from day to day? It’s your choice.

  6. 0

    You can win or lose in currency conversions. It does not matter if you do it in one lump sum before your trip or several while you are away. That is unless you have inside knowledge about future currency fluctuations.

    You would use a Visa or Mastercard because retailers will accept them. They do not always accept other cards. Set up automatic payment or preload money into your credit card if you think that you will forget to pay the bill

  7. 0

    28 Degree card great for o/seas credit card purchases.

    Citibank Debit card the way to go o/seas when wanting local currency from an ATM. Load it up and away you go. You can also just transfer money in from your Oz bank account when your funds are low, but give yourself 24 hours. Google to read of the benefits.

  8. 0

    Cash Passport is the best bet! It can be loaded with different Currencies and you can withdraw the Balance left on return to Australia!
    NEVER rely on one type of Card! All ATMs are free in UK1
    And Cash Passport usually attract a Fee!

    • 0

      I must correct you here, rob101. All MAIN UK BANK ATM’s are free but you are likely to be charged a fee, which you must be told of (and the amount) before you proceed with the transaction if you use other ATM’s.
      And I have been told that a Fee will continue on a Cash Passport Card until you hand it back to cancel it, so beware.
      In my opinion, one should carry at least two Credit Cards (each with no issue charge, no yearly service fee, no foreign transaction and no ATM fees) each as a backup but to be sure to pay the full account amount at it arises.

  9. 0

    I would just point out that there is a £30 per transaction limit using a ‘tap and go’ card in UK.



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