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Travelling overseas? Hidden fees & charges could be the end of your budget

Travelling overseas? Hidden fees & charges could be the end of your budget

Looking across the water for your next travel destination? You’re not alone.

New research from Roy Morgan’s State of the Nation Report on Travel shows that nearly 8-in-10 Australians would like to take a holiday in the next 12 months.

Research shows the number of Australians looking to travel domestically is down 5 percentage points since 2001/02, whilst almost half of Australians are now looking to get their travel fix overseas, up 7.5 percentage points since 2001/02.

The consumer landscape has changed…

The proliferation of online comparison and booking sites have empowered consumers to compare flight and accommodation rates and find great deals, at the best times, for a range of overseas destinations.

On the surface, it may seem you get more ‘bang for your buck’ with a trip abroad, but the potential hidden fees and charges you accumulate when spending money in a foreign country could end your budget.

Credit cards; friend or foe?

If you’re a reliable and disciplined spender, a travel credit card might be the perfect travel partner for you.


However, if you are not a disciplined spender, struggle to pay bills on time, and use your card without thinking each purchase through, you could be in for ‘bill shock’ when you return home.

There are some clear positives to travel credit cards, and these include the ability to track spending, special offers and discounts such as free travel insurance or discounted entertainment, and even a level of protection cash doesn’t have. For instance, if you lose a credit card or it’s stolen, it can be cancelled and replaced. With cash, when it’s gone, it’s gone for good.

Credit cards may come with fees, and if you’re overseas at the time, replacement cards can get expensive, costing as much as $200 USD to replace. 

However those protections could provide a reason to consider a card over carrying cash instead. 

Let’s compare…

To show you these fees and charges in more detail, we’ve compared a range of credit cards that can be used when travelling to a foreign country with low interest rates or no/low overseas fees.

Credit cards with low interest rates/no overseas transaction fees

Credit card

Fees & min. credit

Interest rate

Overseas charges

Macquarie Bank – Platinum Card

Annual Fee: $99 for the 1st year, then $199/year
Min Credit: $6000

 (up to 55 days Interest Free*)

Cash advance: 20.7% interest + $5 OR 3% currency conversion fee (whichever is greater)
Purchases: 20.7% p.a.
Replacement card: $200 overseas delivery – subject to approval

Westpac – Westpac Lite Card

Monthly Fee: $9
Min Credit: $500

(up to 45 Days Interest Free*)

Purchases: 9.9%
Replacement Card: FREE Overseas Replacement Card

Flexigroup – SkyeCard

Annual Fee: $99
Min Credit: $1000

(up to 90 days interest Free*)

Cash advance: 25.99% + $3 or 3% (whichever is greater)
Purchases: 23.99%
Replacement card: $20 – $200 (depending on where overseas you need the card delivered)

G&C Mutual – Low Rate Visa Credit Card

Annual Fee: $50
Min Credit: $1000

(up to 50 Days Interest Free*)

Cash advance: 12.99% + $5 + 3% currency conversion fee
Purchases: 8.99% + 3% currency conversion fee
Replacement card: $15 + $35 overseas delivery fee

Auswide Bank – Low Rate Visa Card

Annual Fee: $50 (free – under 25s)
Min Credit: $500

(up to 55 Days Interest Free*)

Cash advance: 8.95% + 3% currency conversion fee
Purchases: 8.95% + 3% currency conversion fee
Replacement card: $10 – no overseas delivery fee.

MOVE Bank –
Low Rate Credit Card

Annual Fee: $59 (free – first year)
Min Credit: $1000

(up to 45 Days Interest Free*)

Cash advance: 12.99% + $5 + 2% currency conversion fee
Purchases: 8.99% + 2% currency conversion fee
Replacement card: $200us – payable to visa

Notes: Data accurate as of 18th July 2019
*On purchases only, when you pay your balance (including fees) in full each month. 

Bank Accounts: the better option?

Enjoy shopping while you travel?

Not so disciplined when it comes to repaying your debts?


A transaction account with no overseas fees may be a better option for you.

You will need to save your spending money before your trip, but it means you’re not creating a debt that you will need to repay upon your return.

Unlike credit cards, you’re only spending your money, so once you go through what you have, that’s it, and means you may want to budget accordingly. No one wants to end up on the other side of the world with nothing left to spend, even if those spends can be tracked online. 

Let’s compare…

To make your choice easier, here are three bank accounts with low/no transaction fees that could help you make the most of your money.

Bank account

Overseas fees & charges

Features & Benefits

HSBC – Everyday Global Account

$0 monthly fee
$0 transaction fees
$0 ATM fees*
$2.50 staff assisted telephone banking
0% overseas transaction charges.

– Send & receive different currencies
– VISA payWave, Apple Pay & Google Pay
– Online real time currency exchange rates
-Visa zero liability protection for unauthorised purchases

Citibank – Global Currency Account

$0 monthly fee
$0 transfer fees
No ATM fees when you withdraw in local currency.
2.5% foreign exchange fee when the money you withdraw is different to the currency of the account**

– Send & receive different currencies
– Free bottle of wine when using your Citibank card at a Dining program partner
– Online real time currency exchange rates
-Visa zero liability protection for unauthorised purchases

ING – Orange Everyday

$0 monthly fees
ATM fee rebate worldwide within 5 days of purchase.
$0 ING international transaction fees (2.5% international transaction fee is charged, but you will receive 100% rebate when you deposit $1000/month + make 5 card purchases, settled each month)

– VISA payWave, Apple Pay & Google Pay
– Verified by VISA protection
– Free phone support 24/7
– Free replacement card
– 100% rebate of ING international transaction fee  (2.5% of the amount of the international transaction if conditions of deposit & purchases are met)

*No HSBC ATM fees worldwide excluding Argentina and Mexico. The receiving bank or ATM may charge a fee.

Notes: Data accurate as of 18th July 2019

A few things to watch out for…

  • As with any financial product, the “best” option will vary based on your individual situation. Be sure to make the right decision for YOU by doing your research.
  • Look at the terms and conditions and the fees and charges available on the lender’s website before applying for an account or credit card.
  • ALWAYS bring two cards with you when travelling overseas, in case you lose one.
  • Some overseas banks or ATM providers might also charge you a processing fee. This fee may be charged in the foreign currency and is not counted as a bank fee.

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This article was reviewed by Personal Finance Editor Alex Ritchie before it was published as part of RateCity's Fact Check process.



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