Five money tips for travelling overseas

Five money tips for travelling overseas

While it is possible to see the world on a shoestring budget, there are several ways that an otherwise perfect overseas holiday can be derailed by money problems, from losing access to your funds, to being charged more than you expected to access your accounts. 

Here are a few simple tips that are worth keeping in mind when planning your next international adventure:

Tell the bank where you’re going

Unless you’re a freewheeling nomad who constantly drifts from one continent to the next, overseas travel requires a bit of planning in advance. One small but important step when organising your overseas travel is to let your bank know the dates you’ll be overseas, and which countries you’ll be visiting.

Usually all it takes is a short and simple phone call – a bit of a hassle to be sure, but one that can make a big difference between being able to make full use of you debit and credit cards, and finding yourself locked out of your own accounts, having to make tricky international phone calls to put things back in order. 

And if your find yourself making spontaneous changes to your travel itinerary – say, popping across a border for the weekend – it may be worth contacting your bank to let them know, just in case. 

Watch out for fees

Using your cards to access your money overseas often involves paying a variety of fees for the privilege. For example, when getting money out from an overseas ATM, you may be charged:

  • A fee from the local ATM provider
  • An ATM withdrawal fee from your own bank
  • A currency conversion fee from your bank
  • An international transaction fee from your bank

This is all in addition to possible finding yourself worse off due to international exchange rates, depending on what country you’re visiting. 

If you expect to be using a lot of cash while overseas, consider using a card with minimal overseas fees and charges, and make your ATM visits strategically, to avoid being charged too many of these fees.

For example, rather than making multiple trips to the ATM and withdrawing small amounts of money as you need it, you could withdraw a large amount of money in one ATM transaction, then split this total up between your travelling companions and/or divide it up between your wallet, pockets, bags and hotel room so there’s always some cash available in case of emergency.

Use local currency

Sometimes when shopping overseas, the shopkeeper will offer to let you pay for your purchases in Australian dollars, rather than the local currency. While this may be a nice concession on their part, and allow you to get a clear idea of exactly how much you’re spending without having to do a bunch of mental calculations, it could end up ultimately costing you more.

This is because the exchange rate used by the retailer may be more expensive than the rate used by your bank and/or credit card provider. Additionally, even though your bank may not be charging you for currency conversion when you pay in Australian dollars while overseas, you may still be charged fees for making international transactions anyway.

Consider the risks of cash versus cards

Every transaction you make, both at home and overseas, carries some degree of risk, where you could lose your money, your financial details, or even your identity. Different payment methods come with different risks, and it’s worth being aware of all of them.

Paying with cash may seem relatively risk-free in a digital age, as only currency is exchanged cash transactions, with little information changing hands.

However, this can come back to bite some travellers, as not only can cash be physically lost or stolen, but cash transactions can be much harder to trace if you find yourself being ripped off – once you lose your cash, you may never get your money back.

Credit cards have different risks, such as card skimming and other scams, which could potentially see thousands of dollars in fraudulent transactions being run up in your name.

That said, most credit card companies use a range of security and encryption measures to protect your transactions, and can provide replacement cards or access to funds if your cards are lost or stolen. Plus, the digital record of your credit card transactions can be helpful when resolving any disputes.

And if the worst happens and you are a victim of fraud, many card providers offer fraud guarantees, where if you diligently report fraudulent transactions in a timely manner, they can be investigated and reimbursed with relatively little fuss. 

One possible third option is the pre-paid travel money card, which can be used similarly to a credit card, but limits you to only spending money you’ve pre-loaded in advance, instead of providing access to credit. While these cards may not offer quite as much flexibility as some other card options, if your travel money card is lost or stolen, only your pre-paid funds should be at risk, rather than your entire credit limit. 

Check if you’re already insured

Did you know that with right credit card, you may not need to organise travel insurance for your trip? Some credit cards (particularly Gold and Platinum-tier cards) offer complimentary access to travel insurance, provided you book your flight and accommodation using the credit card.

Before making any assumptions, it’s important to contact your credit card provider and check exactly what’s required to receive this complimentary travel insurance, and also to confirm what is and isn’t covered, in case there are any areas where you’d like to get some additional insurance. Also, it’s worth checking what excess you’d need to pay for making a claim, and confirm whether any other fees or charges are involved.

Also, keep in mind that some of these cards offer access to other features that could come in handy while travelling overseas, such as 24-hour access to a concierge service that can help you in booking tickets and planning future adventures. 

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Learn more about credit cards

How to get money from a credit card

You can get money from a credit card, but generally it will cost you.

Withdrawing money from a credit card is called a cash advance, as it operates more as a loan than a simple cash withdrawal. Because it is a loan, you may be charged interest on your cash advance as soon as you make the withdrawal. Interest rates are also usually much higher for cash advances than standard credit card purchases.

In addition to the interest rate, you may also be charged a cash advance fee. This could be a flat rate, or a percentage of your total cash advance. If you are considering a cash advance, make sure to add up how much it will cost you before committing.

What does Westpac credit card insurance cover?

If you own a Westpac credit card, one of the perks may be  free travel insurance. If you’re eligible, you may be covered if you get sick while travelling, have lost your luggage, have to cancel a trip or have an accident while you’re on the move.

Besides these standard inclusions, the Westpac credit card insurance policy may also cover you for hospital essentials, emergency dental treatment and alternative transport if your original plans go awry. It may also cover loss of income when you get back home after being sick  overseas and your pets’ boarding costs too.

If you have any queries, the Westpac credit card insurance contact number is 1800 091 710. You can submit a claim online.

 

Does St. George Bank offer any credit card insurance?

Depending on the type of card they hold St. George Bank credit cardholders can benefit from a host of various credit card insurance offerings including:

Complimentary overseas travel insurance, covering:

  • Medical and hospital expenses incurred while travelling overseas, with the exclusion of pre-existing conditions
  • Loss or damage to personal property
  • Legal liabilities
  • Loss or damage to rental vehicles
  • Unexpected cancellation of travel arrangements or any other unforeseen expenses

Complimentary purchase security insurance may be available to level 1 cardholders for four months and three months of complimentary insurance accessed by level 2 cardholders. This type of insurance covers loss, theft, and damage costs to eligible products purchased anywhere around the world, provided that the product was purchased using the St. George Bank credit card. 

Extended warranty insurance may be available to St. George Bank credit cardholders, which extends the manufacturer’s Australian warranty on certain products purchased. For example, if you purchase a pair of headphones that comes with 11 months of warranty, St. George Bank will provide an extended warranty of 11 months, provided the entire purchase is charged to the St. George Bank credit card. 

Select cardholders may be able to take advantage of St. George Bank’s rental vehicle excess insurance, which covers up to $5,500 for any excess or deductible which the cardholder is legally liable to pay during the rental period. 

Can I transfer money from my American Express credit card to my bank account?

If you’re an American Express credit card customer, you may not be able to transfer money from your credit card to your bank account. However, you may be eligible for cash advances, which involves withdrawing money through an ATM. 

To qualify for a cash advance, you’ll likely have to enrol for American Express Membership Rewards. Consider checking your online credit card account to see if you can withdraw a cash advance and, if so, the fees and charges you’ll incur for this transaction. 

You should remember that cash advances are different from balance transfers, which were available with some American Express credit cards earlier. Balance transfers allow customers to consolidate debt from high-interest credit cards to a credit card offering a lower interest rate. If you only recently applied for an American Express credit card, balance transfers may not be available irrespective of the card you own. 

What is the CUA credit card increase limit process?

A credit limit is pre-assigned based on factors like your income, expenses, and debt by the card-issuing company. It varies from time to time based on credit utilisation and changes to your circumstances.

If your income has increased or your liabilities have reduced, you can request for an increase of your CUA credit card limit. You can lodge the request via online banking on the website, or by visiting the closest branch, or by downloading the application form and mailing it. While making the application, you may need to provide information about your income, employment status, desired limit, and the reason for the increase. The card-issuing company will assess your request before approval.

Before you apply for an increase to the credit limit, ensure your bills are paid in full and you aren’t asking for a very steep enhancement.

How does the ANZ credit card instalment plan work?

While you usually need to settle all or part of your credit card dues at the end of your statement period, some credit cards afford you the option of setting up instalment plans. This allows you to settle your credit card debt at a pace that's more convenient for you, paying a fixed amount over a fixed period, thus making it easier to budget your repayments every month.

With the ANZ credit card instalment plan, you can set up a structured repayment schedule for part or all of your balance, or even for specific purchases over a certain value.

Some of the benefits of instalment repayment include: 

  • Structured repayments: You’ll have a fixed sum to pay each month.
  • Easier to budget: A fixed repayment sum makes it easier to make your monthly budget.
  • Account benefits: You might also get benefits such as discounted interest rates or debt-tracking tools.

There are disadvantages of opting for instalment repayment, however, and they include:

  • Less flexibility: You will not be able to pay a smaller amount once you set an instalment plan.
  • Different interest charges: In case the instalment plan only covers part of the balance, different interest charges could apply, making it challenging to budget.
  • Additional fees: You might have to pay fees or penalty charges in case of missed payments.

How can I increase my credit card limit on my American Express card?

If you want to increase the credit limit on your American Express (AMEX) credit card, you will need to apply through the AMEX Online Services, or by calling the number on the back of your card. You may need to share personal information that the bank can use to assess whether the requested limit is suitable for you and your current financial status. Once your application is approved, your new limit will be ready for use within an hour.

What is a credit card?

A credit card is a payment method which lets you pay for goods and services without using your own money. It’s essentially a short-term loan which lets you borrow the bank’s money to pay for things which you can pay back – potentially with interest – at a later date. Credit cards can also be used to withdraw money from an ATM, which is known as a cash advance. Because you’re borrowing money from a bank, credit cards charge you interest on the money you use (unless you repay the entire debt during the interest-free period). When you apply for a credit card, the bank gives you a credit limit which sets the maximum amount you can borrow using your card. Credit cards are one of the most popular methods of payments and can be a convenient way of paying for goods and services in store, online and all around the globe.

How do you use a credit card?

Credit cards are a quick and convenient way to pay for items in store, online or over the phone. You can use a credit card as a cashless way to pay for goods or services, both locally and overseas. You can also use a credit card to make a cash advance, which gives you the flexibility to withdraw cash from your credit card account. Because a credit card uses the bank’s funds instead of your own, you will be charged interest on the money you spend – unless you pay off the entire debt within the interest-free period. If you pay the minimum monthly repayment, you will be charged interest. There are many different credit card options on the market, all offering different interest rates and reward options.

How do you use credit cards?

A credit card can be an easy way to make purchases online, in person or over the phone. When used properly, a credit card can even help you manage your cash flow. But before applying for a credit card, it’s good to know how they work. A credit card is essentially a personal line of credit which lets you buy things and pay for them later. As a card holder, you’ll be given a credit limit and (potentially) charged interest on the money the bank lends you. At the end of each billing period, the bank will send you a statement which shows your outstanding balance and the minimum amount you need to pay back. If you don’t pay back the full balance amount, the bank will begin charging you interest.

How do credit cards work?

Think of credit cards as a short-term loan where you use the bank’s money to buy something up front and then pay for it later. Unlike a debit card which uses your own money to pay, a credit card essentially borrows the bank’s money to fund the purchase. When you apply for a credit card, the bank assesses your income and assigns you a credit limit based on what you can afford to pay back. At the end of each billing cycle, which is usually monthly, the bank will send you a statement showing the minimum amount you have to pay back, including any interest payable on the balance.

How to get cash with just a credit card number

Banks and merchants usually will not allow you to access cash without a physical card, because doing so would open up opportunities for fraudulent activities. Even most non-cash credit card transactions (such as shopping online) require you to know the expiry date and CVV on your credit card in addition to the card number.

However, some banks offer cardless cash for transaction accounts. Using a secure app installed on your mobile phone, you can log onto an ATM and withdraw the money you need. This could be a practical and secure solution if you don’t have a card and need cash.

Do I get HSBC credit card insurance on purchases I make?

As an HSBC credit card (HSBC Platinum, HSBC Platinum Qantas and HSBC Premier World) cardholder, you may be entitled to complimentary international and domestic travel insurance. This HSBC credit card insurance covers you for hospital stays and medical expenses, flight cancellations or delays, as well as lost luggage or personal items.

To be eligible for the insurance, you should have paid for at least 90 per cent of your overseas return travel ticket with your HSBC credit card. The cover is automatically activated without a need to contact HSBC. However, it’s always best to let your card issuer know when you travel overseas. If you have pre-existing medical conditions, you’ll need to contact Allianz directly to organise cover for these as they aren’t covered by the insurance. You can call Allianz on 1800 648 093.

The complimentary international travel insurance that comes with your HSBC Platinum credit card is valid for up to four months from the date of your departure from Australia. Your HSBC credit card insurance cover also covers your spouse and dependent children if 90 per cent of their travel ticket is purchased using your HSBC card.

 

Does ING increase credit card limits?

You may want to increase your credit card limit for many reasons, such as having access to more spending money. However, if you are using the Orange One credit card issued by ING, you may not be able to do so. 

ING customers can choose a credit limit of their preference when applying for the Orange One credit card. Depending on your financial situation, this limit can be anywhere between $1,000 and $30,000. If you qualify for a Rewards Platinum card, the minimum credit card limit will likely be $6,000. 

Ideally, you should set your credit card limit knowing how much you can afford to repay each month and keep your expenses lower than this level. With most credit cards, you should have the option of requesting a credit card limit increase at a later time, although you will need to qualify for any increase. With an ING credit card, limit increases are out of the question (at the time this was published), which means you may want to apply for a higher credit card limit from the beginning. Remember that you have the option of decreasing your ING credit card limit at a later time.