28 degrees MasterCard: the best card to take overseas?

By danwarne, April 14 2011
28 degrees MasterCard: the best card to take overseas?

Executive Traveller may receive a commission when you apply for these credit cards via our links.

You should seek independent advice and consider your own personal circumstances before applying for any financial product.

A little-known credit card, "28 degrees", by GE Finance, is a fantastic card for travellers -- it offers foreign transactions with no surcharges.

It's unique on the Australian market -- the only credit card offering foreign purchases and ATM cash withdrawals at the MasterCard wholesale exchange rate, with no bank fees tacked on.

Typically, credit cards charge 3 - 3.5% on top of any purchase made in foreign currency ($30 - $35 on a $1,000 purchase), and charge $4-$5 plus 2-3% for an ATM cash withdrawal overseas ($24 - $35 for a $1,000 withdrawal).

However, the GE Finance 28 Degrees MasterCard (previously known as the Wizard Clear Advantage) charges no surcharge for international transactions, making it a money-saver for both travel and online shopping at foreign websites.

The card interest rate is aligned with 'reward' cards -- 20.24%, which suggests that GE Finance hopes to earn interest on carried balances to cover the international exchange fees it absorbs.

That being said, there is no annual fee -- something that is rare amongst reward cards.

The only other card on the market that Australian Business Traveller is aware of that offers no-fee international purchases and ATM withdrawals is the NAB Gold Visa Debit card, however that has a $10 per month fee unless you deposit $5,000 into it each month.

Of course, prepaid travel money cards are another way to do fee free foreign purchases and low-fee overseas ATM withdrawals, but even they have a fee to purchase the card, load money on to the card, and withdraw money at ATMs -- all of which are free on the 28 degrees MasterCard.

The best way to make use of the 28 degrees MasterCard from a money-saving perspective is to treat it like a prepaid travel money card -- deposit money into it before spending it, so the card is in credit, and spend only your own money, without dipping into debit.

For example, you could pay $3,000 into the card before leaving on a trip, spend $1,500 on hotel accommodation and withdraw three lots of $500, and you wouldn't have to pay any interest on it, as you'd be spending your own money.

The only fees you would risk incurring while overseas would be fees directly charged by ATM operators (which can be considerable -- Australian Business Traveller staff have been stung by an undisclosed $15 fee charged by a English-language ATM in the lobby of a five star hotel in China).

Unlike travel money cards, which we've already exhaustively compared, you wouldn't lose 1% of the amount you paid into the card. The 28 degrees card is simply a credit card payment, not a "travel money card reload".


Executive Traveller may receive a commission when you apply for these credit cards via our links.

You should seek independent advice and consider your own personal circumstances before applying for any financial product.

I truly love my NAB Gold Banking account for travel.

Not only does it not charge you any overseas ATM usage fee there’s also no conversion fee.

- “As a NAB Gold Banking customer, we don't charge fees when you use overseas ATMs (just check for the PLUS sign) or for transactions in foreign currencies.”

- “If you use your NAB Visa Debit card overseas the NAB fees are: $4 per withdrawal at an overseas ATM, $1 per balance enquiry at an overseas ATM, 2% transaction fee for all foreign currency transactions (calculated in Australian dollars using Visa's exchange rate at the time).

These NAB fees don't apply if you have a NAB Gold Banking account, NAB Flexiplus Mortgage, NAB Choice Package or Private Tailored Package.” I may sound like a NAB employee (I’m not associated with NAB in any way aside from being a customer), but the benefits don’t end there. You also get the following:

- NAB Gold Overseas Travel Insurance

- NAB Gold Purchase Protection Insurance (90 days of protection against loss, theft or accidental damage)

- NAB Gold Extended Warranty Insurance (up to 12 months extra warranty) The fact that this is a debit card makes the offer especially attractive to those who may not be eligible for a credit card (or simply don’t want one). There’s one additional benefit I find handy:

- “You can attach a second NAB Visa Debit card to your account at no extra charge. This lets a second person access the account with their own card. If you have a NAB Gold Banking account, you can attach two additional NAB Visa Debit cards at no extra charge.” This additional card can be in your own name. It’s not an additional card like you might get on a credit card (with the same number), it’s a card with its own card number.

What this means is that you can have a backup card (kept separate from your main card) which is fully functional even if you have to report your “main” card lost or stolen. As you can see, I do love this account.

Arggh, all my paragraphs disappeared :(

15 Mar 2012

Total posts 1

28 degrees Mastercard sounds great! Not mentioned in this article, but doesn't GE convert most transactions twice (first into USD then into AUD), with two consequent conversion losses? It would seem that every transaction then would cost 3% more than a similar purchase involving only one currency conversion (3% being the difference between the official rate and the best rate you can get from a converting agency, therefore two such transactions would be 6%?). Would appreciate anyone else's view on this. Cheers

21 Apr 2012

Total posts 2

I used 28 degrees card for a month in US and Canada in Dec/Jan 2012.  I used it in stores, hotels, restaurants etc and since coming home, have used it for online overseas purchases.  There have been NO currency conversion charges on any transactions.  The card is an absolute gem, and exactly as advertised.  My daughter used her card in Bali and Thailand - again, no conversion charges at all.  Online application is quick and easy.  Highly recommended..

04 May 2012

Total posts 1

I also loved my NAB gold debit card , expecaly in slavic countrys as some only let you make small withdrawls ..ATM fees can add up quick 

but sadly NAB is closeing this card in August !!! 

I run my own busness so my personal account looks poor  .. 28 deg  denied me a card even though i hold a platinum visa card and martercard .  have a big limit . 

NAB have stopped selling the Gold Visa Debit account, and from Aug will charge $4 + 2% on ATM wdls overseas, and 2% on international purchases.

NAB have introduced a "Travelcard" which has no NAB ATM fee for overseas wdls, but does have a huge 4% conversion fee on both wdls and purchases.

I have opened a 28degress MC and will test it out in Singapore this coming week, having "BPay" money to it already to use it in credit as people have suggested.

23 Oct 2013

Total posts 1

Update - GE Money have announced a "3% Cash Advance Fee" effective from the 1 Jan 2014.

So while it's still great for credit transactions, any ATM withdrawls will now be faced with a 3% fee + local ATM fee..

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Jul 2016

Total posts 2

I was under the impression that they no longer offered fee free cash out abroad, as I received notification from them a few years ago that they were withdrawing it.  I now have a Citibank debit card which also offers fee free overseas banking including cash out, so I use the two, one for credit and one for debit

Hi Pauline, this article was published over five years ago and may not reflect the latest information.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Jul 2016

Total posts 2

Aah, that explains it then!!!  Thank you.  I thought it was a new article!

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