HOW TO MIND YOUR MOOLAH
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
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.
Travel cards look less useful since banks started dropping currency conversion fees.