Travel SOS: Which credit card is best for travel?

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Edith is planning an overseas trip next year and is wondering about the best way to handle her finances.


Q. Edith
I have a South American holiday booked for next year (coronavirus permitting) and wanted to know about the best way to access cash while travelling. I was hoping I could get away with just my normal credit card, currently I am with the NAB. Is there a particular credit card that works well when travelling?

A. There are so many credit cards on the market, all offering different rewards, so it can be difficult to know which one to choose.

Truthfully, there is no one perfect card as the different benefits on offer suit different needs.

So, what should you look for when choosing a credit card?

Complimentary international travel insurance is a standard feature in many cards on the market today. Platinum and gold cards, frequent flyer cards and rewards credit cards all generally feature a range of insurances designed to keep you, your family and your possessions safe and secure. These cards have a higher annual fee than the standard or low rate credit cards, but make up for it with the money you’ll save from not having to take out an insurance policy while abroad.

If spending is more your thing, you’ll want to avoid foreign currency conversion fees.

A foreign currency conversion fee is a two to three per cent charge (depending on the card issuer) and this can add up when big purchases are involved. There are a number of cards on the market that do not charge this fee, so these are usually the ones you want to look for to use once you are overseas.

If the bells and whistles that come with credit cards are more your thing, then you’ll want to consider a platinum credit card. As well as offering things such as complimentary airport lounge access and exclusive member benefits, cardholders have access to a 24/7 worldwide concierge. This service gives cardholders insider knowledge in every city they visit – no more fumbling through a foreign language book to order seats at a show or struggling with directions from a guy on the street.

So, determine what benefits are important to you and then choose the credit card that will provide you with what you need most.

Are you happy with the rewards you receive from your credit card? What benefits have you received from using your credit card?

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Total Comments: 11
  1. 0

    Which platinum credit card offers complimentary airport lounge access ?? Hope someone knows ??

  2. 0

    Watch the Credit Card Travel Insurance schemes now, many have reduced their coverage significantly, lower amounts and shorter coverage periods.

  3. 0

    I wouldn’t use a ‘Credit’ card for purchasing or withdrawing cash overseas. There’s interest charged on the account from the date of purchase.

    I’d use instead, a Visa or Mastercard ‘Debit’ card where you put your funds onto the card and purchase and withdraw cash from this card WITHOUT interest accruing from the date of purchase, as the funds you have on these cards are your own and not the bank’s. ‘Usually’ there’s no interest paid to you on these cards.

    Here’s a good URL for South American travel and funds:

    Here’s one from Canstar for Brazil:

    • 0

      I use a credit card for accommodation, train and ferry tickets overseas. Still have a money belt with cash on me, in Asia large $US notes were the best for exchange, take small ones as well for tips and small purchases.
      Used a debit card from Australia in Hawaii, got stung with every withdrawal and on return found that all withdrawals cost me another $A10 here plus an exchange rate fee. Won’t do that again.

    • 0

      Mariner – find a better debit card, they don’t all charge fees. I have a CitiBank VISA Debit Card, use it in any CitiBank ATM for free plus many other banks. Also has a Foreign Currency Account that it works off so you can load US dollars before you go and add to it by online backing if need be.

      No fees at all, open account, close account, ATMs, EFTPOS, all free.

    • 0

      Thanks Greg, shall look into that. Wife has one of those accounts. No living in the big city she deals with the post office to load funds, has never tried the ATMs but uses the account for payments over the phone.

  4. 0

    Not much research done by the author of this article, useless!

  5. 0

    Check out ING Visa Debit card for withdrawing money from ATM’s overseas.
    Tried a few other card options over many years, I find this as good I can find.

  6. 0

    Visa or Mastercard ‘Debit’ card where you put your funds onto the card and purchase and withdraw cash from this card WITHOUT interest accruing from the date of purchase, as the funds you have on these cards are your own and not the walmart onewire bank’s. ‘Usually’ there’s no interest paid to you on these cards. survey survey



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