Travel smart with our money tips

You need money management options that are quick, convenient, straightforward and secure. Preferably nothing that makes you calculate exchange rates and fees every time you make a purchase. Don’t get left high and dry if the worst happens and you're robbed, or your cards are frozen.

Know your choices

The main options for overseas money management:

  • cash (in the local currency)
  • your everyday credit or debit card
  • a travel card
  • traveller’s cheques (yes, they still exist).

Cash

Pro: Technology isn't perfect – cards can fail, and systems can go down. It's a good idea to exchange money before you go. A little bit of cash may mean the difference between being stranded at an airport and being able to grab a taxi to your hotel to get the money situation sorted.

Con: Riskier, and if you lose it or it's stolen, it's gone for good. It can be easier to be ripped off when your handing over physical bills because you might be put on the spot to calculate exchange rates and not know what's fair.

Tip: When you get back from your trip, you can exchange any unused traveller's cheques or cash for Australian Dollars at QBANK. Don't wait until you get to the airport to exchange your money – you'll pay higher fees and won’t get as good an exchange rate.

Everyday debit card

Pro: You’re using your own money You know the pin, know how to use your card. Most cards these days are accepted across the globe.

Con: If your card is compromised, all your funds are at risk. The fees can add up: currency conversion costs, ATM fees etc.

Tip: If you're going to use your debit card, stash some money away in a linked account that isn't the primary account. If your card is lost or stolen, this could mean the difference between all your money being gone, and being able to access some online through the linked account.

Everyday credit card

Pro: Most cards these days are accepted across the globe.

Con: You’re likely to be charged currency conversion fees. If you’re using a credit card and need to make a cash withdrawal, you’ll be charged a cash advance fee and start incurring extra interest, just like you would at home.

Tip: Let your bank know before you travel overseas. Most banks have systems in place to prevent fraud and keep your money secure – so if they start seeing overseas transactions, this could raise a red flag, and your card may be suspended. Don't risk it – let them know. Also, have the details on hand of how to contact your bank from your destination just in case there’s an issue.

Travel card

Pro: You can load a multi currency travel card up before you go. Use it just like a credit or debit card everywhere you go and translates across any currency. Load it up before you go and have access to add more funds, cancel it, change your pin etc. You lock in an exchange rate when you get the card, and it's protected by a secure chip and PIN just like a regular card.

Con: Be realistic about how much you can afford to top up your card. Have a plan B of some cash in case of emergency, especially if you're travelling to a remote location where you might not have access to ATMs or card terminals.

Tip: Look for a travel card connected to an app for extra convenience, with online access to manage your money, and lets you cash out the balance when you get home.

Traveller’s cheques

Pros: Can work for you in isolated areas where there's no nearby ATMs or card terminals. Unlike cash, you can replace them if they’re lost or stolen. You can get them refunded if you don’t use them.

Con: A lot of banks don’t issue traveller’s cheques anymore, and lots of places around the globe won’t accept them as payment.

Tip: Find out where you can exchange the cheques when you get to your destination before you go. Keep a record of the serial numbers for extra peace of mind.

So, what’s the best choice?

Break it up. Your best bet for overseas travel is to have a couple of options for accessing funds. Ideally, have a main source of finance on a multi-currency travel card you can preload and then manage online, and cash back up. You might not plan on using your usual debit or credit cards, but let your bank know you're travelling just in case you need to use them. Don't risk getting cut off as they try to keep you secure.

Smart travel tips

  • Even if your money is sorted with a convenient option, don't lose track of exchange rates. Be aware of what you’re spending in Australian dollars, and have a budget worked out before you go to keep yourself on track. You don’t want to run out of money before the end of the holiday and spend the last few days slumming it.
  • Know the local culture – in some countries, cash for tips is expected as part of service.
  • If you’re taking the kids with you a trip, it's an excellent way to teach them about money and different currencies. See if they can help you calculate the exchange rate, and let them pay for something with some foreign cash.
  • Do your research before you go about your destination – particularly if you’re headed somewhere remote.

Help in an emergency

If you get in a jam overseas, the Australian Government provides 24-hour consular assistance for emergencies.

Money sorted? Bon voyage!

The trip of a lifetime or regular travel for work or family visits? Get your money organised before you go and travel stress free. Talk to QBANK. Call 13 77 28.

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