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5 smart ways to travel overseas with money

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With Easter and school holidays upon us, some might be lucky enough to have an overseas vacation on the cards. If you’ll be hopping around this Easter break, make sure you have your travel finances in order. We’ve outlined five different options for travelling with money.

1.       Cash

It’s always handy to have cash with you when travelling. It provides in-your-pocket convenience and immediacy, particularly for smaller purchases like buying food and coffees, paying for taxis and tipping or if you’re travelling in remote areas that may not accept cards. Not to mention, you won’t need to hunt around for an ATM, which can take time out of your busy holiday schedule and cause immense frustration. To boot, you’ll also avoid those pesky fees and charges that you can incur when you pay with a card.

There are some disadvantages to taking cash on your trip; cash is far more risky than cards or traveller’s cheques. It leaves you more prone to targeted robbery by locals, it can easily be lost, and it’s harder to make a claim for cash on your travel insurance. Not to mention carrying around cash can be cumbersome and stressful.

If you want to take cash with you be sure to shop around for the best exchange rate and fees. These can vary between different institutions; banks often provide competitive exchange rates and fees, but avoid last minute conversions at the airport if you’re looking to save money on this front.

2.       Credit cards

Credit cards are generally the most popular method of payment for international travellers. Most people already have credit cards, which mean they’re an easy and convenient option.

They offer a number of advantages; they are widely accepted, enable you to make cash withdrawals at ATMs, they provide an emergency line of credit, many credit cards offer complimentary extras or the ability to build up reward points, and they save you having to carry large amounts of cash around. From a safety perspective they’re also easy to block, cancel or replace if they’re stolen or misplaced.

However, these benefits can come at a cost. For instance, credit cards have high rates of interest and high rates of exchange, which can cost you hundreds if you’re carrying your balance from month to month. Likewise, withdrawing cash from an ATM overseas can be very costly. You may be hit with a cash advance fee (generally around 3%) and interest will begin accruing as soon as you withdraw the money, on top of the ATM fee and the currency conversion fee.

Don’t forget the added danger that credit cards present; overspending! Readily available funds can mean you over shoot the run way if you’re not prudent.

3.       Travel money cards

Travel money cards are reloadable, pre-paid cards that hold foreign currency. As a card specifically designed to be taken overseas it is a convenient way to travel.

With the ability to load multiple currencies, it is perfect if your trip involves visiting multiple countries. It also means that you’re able to spend in the local currency allowing you to avoid paying a conversion fee every time you make a transaction.

Plus, when you load money onto a travel money card before your trip you’re locking in an exchange rate on that money; eliminating the need to worry about a fluctuating Aussie dollar throughout your travels and allowing you to better budget for your trip.

Travel money cards also offer more security than a credit card or travel debit card because they’re not linked to your usual banking account. If it’s lost or stolen, thieves can’t gain access to your salary or savings. Generally, you are also issued a secondary card, in case your primary card is lost or stolen.

In terms of drawbacks, travel money cards generally have associated fees that can add to your costs. These fees can include issue fees, load and reload fees and fees when cashing out the remaining balance.

If you run out of money on your travel money card there can be a delay in load times, which is unhelpful if you require the money urgently. And if you need to use another currency from the card, be aware that the exchange rate you pay is a live rate, not your original lock in rate.

4.       Travel debit cards

Many Aussies have an everyday transaction account with a linked debit card. Some of these debit cards will allow you to make international transactions making it a great travel buddy.

Using your debit card overseas can be very cost effective. As with credit cards, generally debit cards offer better exchange rates than travel money cards. Not to mention, it’s generally cheaper to withdraw money from an ATM with your debit card than a credit or travel money card.

Using your everyday transaction account also means you’ll have access to online banking so you can easily check balances and transfer money if needed. 

It’s also the best option if you’re prone to overspending on a holiday. You have more control over your spending because you’re using your own funds.

Just be aware of the risk a debit card poses if lost or stolen. It is direct access to your own money, and if you’re a victim of fraud, money can be tied up until the dispute is resolved.

Did you know? Our Edge Account was recently awarded a Mozo Experts Choice Award in the category of Best Value Travel Debit Cards.

5.       Traveller’s cheques

With the prevalence of cards these days, traveller’s cheques are not as widely used anymore. However, they are not without their merits.

Traveller’s cheques are the safest form of currency. If lost or stolen they require photo ID to be cashed in. They are also easily replaced by the issuing organisation in a very quick timeframe unlike a credit, travel or debit card which can take much longer to be replaced. 

Another advantage is the flexibility of being able to convert your traveller’s cheques into any currency you require without a transaction fee. The transaction fee is paid upfront when you apply for the cheques, which can make them a cheaper option than cards.

Despite the safety they provide, traveller’s cheques can present challenges. For instance, they are set for pre-determined amounts so it can be easy to under- or over-estimate what you may need. In addition, they are not widely accepted by businesses these days which means you may need to search for participating banks or exchanges to cash them in. Some banks will charge a fee to cash in your traveller’s cheques so remember to check before hand.

Travelling soon? Consider taking out travel insurance with CGU and go into the draw for a chance to win a $20,000 travel voucher. Whether you can picture yourself on the white sands of Mexico, the busy streets of New York or on the highest mountain in Peru, a $20,000 travel voucher will go a long way in getting you there. All you have to do is purchase an eligible insurance policy with CGU before 5 May 2017. To find out more, click here.

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