Cash vs Travel Money Cards

33 Discussions

markpk

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 29 Nov 2013

Total posts 412

Hi AusBT community,
I have a couple of weeks of work coming up in the US and usually take a wad of cash and use my AMEX wherever possible.

I've been looking at the various travel money cards and wanted to get some feedback. The ones I've been considering include:
  • Travelex Money Card
  • Cash Passport Platinum by MasterCard
  • Qantas Travel Money - not sure I'll be able to use this as I've lost my Qantas card.

It seems these services offer the convenience of ATM withdrawals overseas by the FX rate is anywhere up to 4c worse off than simply exchanging AUD for USD at a retail outlet like Crown Currency Exchange.

Many of the stated benefits of these cards aren't really relevant for me - I'm not on a budget, I'm not particularly sensitive to FX movements.

What's the general experience of community members? Are they worth the effort to set up?

brettepi

Member since 10 Jul 2017

Total posts 86

why wouldnt you use a debit card that doesnt charge fees?

Brandon Loo

Member since 10 Jul 2018

Total posts 89

Take a look at this article - it might be useful for you.


I use a few of those examples personally, and find it's great that they hold AUD like any other standard debit card, can be used at most ATMs to withdraw cash or for normal purchases without international transaction fees or inflated exchange rates, and don't have monthly account fees.

Greg84

Member since 03 Nov 2014

Total posts 124

Get a Citibank plus savings account. No fees, good exchange rate. It’s a normal savings account so simply transfer cash in & out via normal bank transfer

Dan

Member since 23 Jun 2014

Total posts 7

I have used both Travelex and Qantas travel money in the USA. Generally found Travelex to have slightly better exchange rates. Both easy to set up and use. Didn't have much luck with the free wifi offered by Travelex. Travelex has no ATM fees versus $1.95 fee with Qantas, although I think Qantas has a no ATM fee promotion running currently. This doesn't mean the bank in the USA won't charge you a fee. One thing to take into consideration is that when I went (albeit 2 years ago) I couldn't link up my Travelex or Qantas travel money to Uber. I could link up Travelex to Lyft. Not sure if this has changed since then.

Racala

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 22 May 2018

Total posts 29

Hi Markpk , you have answered your question in the first line.. cash + Amex card.

The suggestion of Greg84 of getting a Citibank account is one I would investigate.

Debit cards overseas can cause you problems eg car rentals, and in some cities eg Amsterdam attractions and public transport only take credit cards. p.s I know that Amsterdam isn't in the US but I know people who have gone to the USA and a debit card in some situations is basically useless.

Dredgy

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 02 Apr 2017

Total posts 162

I’ve always just used my own card overseas and withdrawn from ATMs if I really need cash. A few debit cards don’t charge fees now and it’s not like the fees are generally huge anyway. My Citi card has been great with the exchange rate much better than a travel card.

Had $2000 in emergency cash stolen from a hotel room safe once though so I avoid any significant amount of cash if I can.
Last editedby Dredgy at Apr 09, 2019, 02:49 AM.

s4172249

Jetstar Airways - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 18 Feb 2018

Total posts 30

I use my ING debit card which has (as do all debit cards) a much better exchange rate than all travel money cards, along with no ATM or transaction fees. I also use my debit card to withdraw a small amount of cash when I land in a foreign country, I never exchange cash in Australia. I’ll generally use that system except in countries where it’s mainly a cash economy and more cash is needed and my card is used less - for example Japan.

ji

Member since 14 Jan 2013

Total posts 18

I spend two months per year in the US.

There is only one option in my opinion:
Citi Plus Account for ATM withdrawals - no ATM fee and uses the wholesale rate set by Visa/MC. And debit card transactions if that’s how you want to transact. And....
Bankwest Zero MasterCard for general purchases, hotels, car hire etc - no overseas fee, no annual fee.

I would never use the pre loaded travel money cards. Even AMEX abroad is expensive unless you can somehow justify the point accrual.


Tallfont

Member since 30 Jul 2018

Total posts 7

I concur with a lot of the other replies!

- AMEX Platinum Charge for bigger purchases
- Citibank Plus Debit Mastercard for ATM withdrawals and for other purchases (meals etc)
- Only ever hold a minimal amount of cash (<GBP250 or EUR250 when in Europe)

With the Citibank card I withdraw only from major bank ATM's and have never seen a transaction charge. Exchange rate seems good. Same with EFTPOS.

RR

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 17 Aug 2012

Total posts 44

Qantas cash exchange rates can average 4-5% worse than the daily exchange rate on your credit card, which is usually an average 3% O/S transaction fee. So unless expecting a massive negative (more than 5%) dip in future exchange rates, I don’t use my QF Cash any more. Now use an Amex, and for cash out and where Amex is not taken a Ubank Ultra debit card which charges the standard Visa daily rate, without any O/S transaction fee. As others have noted there are quite a few other debit cards that do the same thing.

markpk

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 29 Nov 2013

Total posts 412

Thanks for the feedback community.

I'm going to run with plan A for this trip (AMEX/Cash) and investigate the UBank and Citibank options as they seem like a smart addition to my wallet.

Concorde1990

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 13 Nov 2018

Total posts 7

Hi AusBT community,
I have a couple of weeks of work coming up in the US and usually take a wad of cash and use my AMEX wherever possible.

I've been looking at the various travel money cards and wanted to get some feedback. The ones I've been considering include:
  • Travelex Money Card
  • Cash Passport Platinum by MasterCard
  • Qantas Travel Money - not sure I'll be able to use this as I've lost my Qantas card.

It seems these services offer the convenience of ATM withdrawals overseas by the FX rate is anywhere up to 4c worse off than simply exchanging AUD for USD at a retail outlet like Crown Currency Exchange.

Many of the stated benefits of these cards aren't really relevant for me - I'm not on a budget, I'm not particularly sensitive to FX movements.

What's the general experience of community members? Are they worth the effort to set up?

USA depends largely on where you go. If you’re in a metro area you can get away with using the Amex almost exclusively (besides tips), if you’re heading out of town... cash is the way to go. Keep in mind: as a tourist or outsider; you are targeted by pickpockets, so cash, rather then atm travel cash card, has its drawbacks.
Personally, if I’m heading away from the metro area, I have enough cash for food and transportation. The rest is safe in a travel atm card.

Metoo

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 25 Nov 2016

Total posts 90

Yes to cash (large bills AUD and USD), travel card (in USD or destination currency) and credit card (you need for hotel room bookings etc. I found it important not to lock yourself into one even two money options when travelling where there can be loss of cards etc, bank outages in Aus or overseas and out of the way destinations that don't have banking access. Debit travel cards linked to your main bank account are easy to use. Bon Voyage

ZT

Member since 07 Jan 2017

Total posts 12

28 Degrees MasterCard is the way to go as fees and charges are concerned. It is a credit card (Emergency use) but can be used as a debit card with a credit balance. You also get free global Wi-Fi

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