American Express is releasing its own pre-paid travel card this week with travellers able to load the card up in US dollars, UK pounds and Euros and reload as often as needed.
Dubbed the American Express GlobalTravel Card, it can be used online and to withdraw funds from overseas ATMs, and also at retailers where standard American Express cards are accepted.
The card has no inactivity fees or expiry period so you can load up as much foreign currency as you wish at the current exchange rate.
The initial load fee is A$15 (though this is waived if you buy it through Australia Post). Reloads are charged at 1% of your reload amount or A$10, whichever is smaller.
Fees for ATM withdrawls are US$2, £1.25 and €2.20, on top of which American Express warns that "some ATM owners may charge an additional fee when the Card is used. This fee is determined and charged by the ATM owner and is not retained by us."
You also need to bear in mind that when using an American Express card (even a prepaid money card) you might be subject to surcharges at some shops, as merchants seek to cover the higher fees charged to them by American Express. (This is officially not allowed in the US, where American Express has contracts with shops that preclude them from charging an Amex surcharge, but some shops will still try to charge it.)
The card also provides access to the Global Assist emergency assistance service for help with replacing lost passports, translation services and emergency legal and medical referrals.
The card will be available thsi week at most Australia Post offices in addition to American Express’ own foreign exchange services offices. For more information visit americanexpress.com.au/globaltravel.
How it compares to other travel money cards
See our extensive comparison article: Best travel money cards in Australia