HOW TO MIND YOUR MOOLAH

Sunday Herald Sun - Escape - - FLYING LONG-HAUL - CE­LESTE MITCHELL

Dosh, dough, cab­bage, coin, moolah … what­ever you call it, it’s a great source of worry for many trav­ellers, es­pe­cially first-timers, when head­ing over­seas. What’s the best strat­egy: travel card, credit card, cash or all three? Should you take your ev­ery­day debit card? And how can you en­sure you’re not getting com­pletely screwed? Mo Money, Mo Prob­lems, right? From my first over­seas trip to Bali, when trav­eller’s che­ques were still a thing, to my lat­est trip to Stock­holm, which is es­sen­tially op­er­at­ing in a cash­less econ­omy, I’ve tried many a money hack to keep fees down.

On an ex­tended trip ear­lier this year, I thought I was devoted to my Qan­tas Travel Money card – ex­chang­ing into “wal­lets” for GBP, EUR and USD when the rates were favourable – but in the end, I ditched it for my ev­ery­day ING ac­count.

The con­ver­sion rates were on par, if not bet­ter, there was no lag time be­tween load­ing money and hav­ing ac­cess. And not only does ING waive in­ter­na­tional con­ver­sion fees (if you meet some sim­ple re­quire­ments), while I was away, they started re­fund­ing any fees in­curred from for­eign ATMs.

Which makes me won­der, are travel cards start­ing to go the way of trav­eller’s che­ques?

I de­cided to check in with fi­nance guru Scott Pape, aka The Bare­foot In­vestor, to get his take.

“For many years the banks’ travel

SPEND­ING ABROAD

cards offered fairly good ways to lock in your rates,” Scott says.

“There were no sur­prises; you go to the bank, you buy a cer­tain amount of cur­rency, they’d screw you on the rate, but you’re like, you know what, I can live with that. And re­cently what we’ve seen is a num­ber of banks drop­ping their in­ter­na­tional cur­rency con­ver­sion fees.”

Fin­der.com.au re­cently put ev­ery­day trans­ac­tion ac­counts through their paces when it comes to spend­ing abroad and found as well as the ING Or­ange Ev­ery­day Ac­count, the HSBC Ev­ery­day Global Ac­count, Citi Global Cur­rency Ac­count and NAB Clas­sic Bank­ing with Plat­inum Visa Debit Card all of­fer no for­eign trans­ac­tion fees, how­ever there are a few con­di­tions.

“Peo­ple tend to get re­ally fo­cused on the cur­rency rate that they get … what you need to be watch­ing out for are the ad­di­tional fees and charges that the banks will put on,” Scott says.

PIC­TURE: IS­TOCK

Travel cards look less use­ful since banks started drop­ping cur­rency con­ver­sion fees.

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