ANZ travel card: Foreign currency rates and fees explained
It’s an age-old problem if you’re going abroad: how do you pay for stuff in a foreign currency? The traditional way - buying some hard cash before your trip - feels old-fashioned in our increasingly cashless world. But if you use your Australian credit or debit card when you’re out of the country, you might end up paying all sorts of extra charges.
That’s why travel money cards are so useful: a travel money card lets you hold money in multiple international currencies, making life easier for you during your trip - and potentially saving you money. There are many on the market, but you might well be tempted by the one offered by ANZ - especially if you already bank with them.
Before you get started, a word.
Banks often charge hefty fees for foreign and multi-currency accounts. And if you’ve already tried managing multiple accounts in multiple countries, you know it’s rarely simple.
TransferWise could help. With TransferWise, it’s free to open a borderless multi-currency account with no monthly fees. There, you can manage and send dozens of different currencies all from the same account. All around the world. (Likely, for a lot cheaper than your bank.)
Give it a try. Check out TransferWise today.
Now, back to what you came here to read.
So here’s a look at how ANZ’s travel card works. Read on to find out:
- Exchange rates: how does ANZ convert your money to the foreign currency, and how good a deal is it
- Fees & charges: what will the card cost you
- Currencies available
- Limits: how much money you can put on the card, and how much you can spend
- App: an introduction to ANZ’s app
- So, is it good?: an evaluation of the ANZ travel card
- How to get & use an ANZ travel card
Let’s start with the basics. Why is it so difficult to get a good deal on foreign currency? Two words: exchange rates.
You probably know that foreign exchange rates change all the time, as the international markets go up and down. But it’s still surprising that you can get such widely differing exchange rates - even at the same time.
When a bank or specialist exchange service converts your money, they can set the exchange rate themselves. It’ll be based on the mid-market rate - an average of all the buy and sell rates currently in use - but in most cases it’ll be an adjusted, “marked up” version. They’ll likely use an exchange rate that simply allows them to give you less money, and keep more of it for themselves, compared to if they’d used the mid-market rate.
There’s nothing forcing them to do this, other than making money: it’s possible to offer customers the markup-free mid-market rate, like TransferWise does on all its international transfers. But if you use a bank, you probably won’t get it.
With a travel card, you can spend less of your holiday time worrying about the exchange rate. Because the card holds money in foreign currencies, you can
simply make one big currency exchange at the start of your trip. It reduces uncertainty, and - if you get a good exchange rate initially - it could potentially reduce costs, too.
In any case, it means you don’t have to travel with loads of cash.
The exchange rate you’ll get from ANZ will be set by ANZ itself, whether you’re buying a card for the first time or topping it up with more money¹,². So you’ll need to check directly with them.
It’s always a good idea to check the exchange rate you’re offered against the mid-market rate. Online currency converters display this rate - you can simply check Google, XE or TransferWise to find out what your money is really worth in the foreign currency. If you’re not happy with the deal you’re being offered, don’t be afraid to look around. The exchange rate can make just as much of a difference as fixed fees.
Here’s the big one. What will an ANZ travel card cost you? Again, check with ANZ for full details, but here’s an overview.
|ANZ travel card fee||Description and amount|
|Top-up fee (“reload” fee)³||None|
|ATM withdrawal fee³||Depends on the currency:|
|“Unsupported currency fee”⁴||If you make a transaction in a currency that isn’t one of the 10 listed above, ANZ converts the money you hold on your card in whatever currency. The charge is an exchange rate marked up by 4%|
|Activity alert⁴||AUD 0.35 when they send you an SMS about activity on your account|
|Other³,⁴||ANZ also notes that you might be liable for any government duties, taxes, rates, and so on as well.|
Compared to some competitors, that’s a fairly short list of costs. Watch out for those ATM withdrawal fees, though.
ANZ offers 10 currencies on its travel card:
- Australian dollars (AUD)
- US dollars (USD)
- British pounds (GBP)
- Euros (EUR)
- New Zealand dollars (NZD)
- Canadian dollars (CAD)
- Hong Kong dollars (HKD)
- Singapore dollars (SGD)
- Thai baht (THB)
- Japanese yen (JPY)
That’s also what they call the “Stored Value Currency Order”: if ANZ needs to convert the money on your card between currencies, it’ll convert them in that order of priority².
Bear the following limits in mind:
|Minimum load amount²||AUD 200|
|Maximum load amount²||AUD 50,000|
|Maximum total on card (across all currencies)²||AUD 50,000|
|Daily ATM withdrawal limit⁵||AUD 3,000 (or foreign equivalent)|
|Daily transaction limit⁵||AUD 6,000 (or foreign equivalent)|
There are a few other limits depending on exactly how you load your card: for instance, if you buy it online you can initially load only up to AUD 25,000. Check with ANZ for the complete limits.
ANZ doesn’t have a dedicated app for travel money cards, although it does have a special online portal at anz.com/travelcard where you can buy, register and manage your card.
You can check your details and balances via the portal and also convert money between currencies⁶,⁷.
ANZ’s travel money card is a Prepaid Visa, which means it can be used very widely around the world. It’s designed for use in the 10 currencies listed above, but, as the table shows, it can be used elsewhere too, if you pay the “unsupported currency fee”.
The ANZ travel card’s list of fees is lower than that of many competitors. There are no punitive fees for inactivity or account closure, and it’s handy that you get a backup card automatically at no extra cost.
However, if you’re looking into getting a travel money card because of the high ATM fees you’d face using your normal Australian debit card, this might not be the best option for you. Every ATM withdrawal will cost the equivalent of a few dollars.
“Reloading” the card may take a while. Unless you’re near an ANZ foreign exchange centre in Australia, you’ll need to allow up to 3 working days. So really you need to be sure you have enough on the card before you travel abroad - otherwise, you might be stuck for a few days.
However, if correctly managed, the ANZ card could certainly be useful for frequent travelers, and it’s especially competitive if you’re heading somewhere you can make the vast majority of payments with a card.
What about the exchange rates it offers? As mentioned above, they’ll generally be set by ANZ, so are unlikely to be the mid-market rate. You can get yourself the all new TransfreWise travel money card with which you will be able to convert your funds at the real mid-market rate. As far as exchange rates go, that’s the best deal out there. Check out a TransferWise borderless account, too, if you need to store money in a foreign currency - it’s an easy way to do just that.
Here are some pointers on the more practical side of the ANZ travel card.
You can order an ANZ travel card online via ANZ’s website, or you can get one at an ANZ branch or foreign exchange centre (within Australia). You don’t have to be an ANZ customer.
If you order online, you’ll have to go into a branch to prove your ID and collect the card⁴.
If you’ve bought an ANZ travel card from a branch or exchange centre, you don’t need to activate it - it’ll automatically start working before the end of the next (business) day.
If you order it online, though, you’ll need to register it - either online or by phone⁵.
This card is like any other Prepaid Visa card - so it can be used pretty widely, both for ATM cash withdrawal and for card purchases. Select the Credit or CR button on the ATM or terminal to access your funds⁵.
There are three ways you can top up, or “reload”, as ANZ calls it:
- With BPAY, online or on the phone
- At Australia Post using Post Billpay
- At an ANZ foreign exchange centre in Australia
For the first two options above, you’ll need to allow up to 3 working days before the funds appear on your card. The third option is immediate - but, obviously, not a huge amount of use if you’re out of the country².
Which means you shouldn’t rely on topping up during your trip, if you’re in a rush. Better to put enough on the card before you go. And don’t forget - the minimum top-up amount is AUD 200.
You might find yourself with some money to spare at the end of your trip. In that case, of course you can hold on to your ANZ travel card for future use - or even continue to use it back in Australia, if you fancy it. Or you can close it, and get your money put back in your regular account.
Of course, the money will probably have to be exchanged back into Australian dollars, so (assuming you don’t get the mid-market rate) you’ll lose out a little on this transaction⁵.
ANZ’s phone number for their travel card is available on their website - or of course you can head into an ANZ branch⁵.
Something wrong? Here are some tips.
Give ANZ a call as soon as possible if you lose your card or it’s stolen - that’s also the best course of action if your card is so damaged that it’s not working⁵.
Don’t forget, though - you should have been given a backup card, which you can continue to use. Very handy. Just don’t keep the 2 cards in the same place.
As with any card, there are various reasons why your card might be declined. Here are a few questions to check:
- Is there enough money in the account?
- Was your PIN right?
- Have you hit a max withdrawal or spending limit?
- Does the retailer accept Prepaid Visa?
If it’s still being declined, or it’s a problem you can’t fix, you might have to get in touch with ANZ.
If you forget your PIN, call ANZ for advice⁵.
If your card’s been blocked, check through the questions under “Declined” above. If necessary, get in touch with ANZ.
Nothing lasts forever. Like all cards, your ANZ travel card will expire one day. That day will be printed clearly on the card itself.
You should be notified in plenty of time before your card expires. If it expires during your trip, you won’t be able to use it afterwards⁵.
Here’s some advice it always pays to bear in mind, whether you get an ANZ travel card or not.
- Check the smallprint. There’s always smallprint. When banks are involved, lots of it. Unfortunately, it’s often worth reading, so you’re not caught out. Check out ANZ’s travel card terms and conditions, or, to warm up, the FAQs.
- Don’t exchange money at airports. A cliche that’s true: you’ll be hard pushed to find a decent exchange rate at an airport. Can you wait until you’re in the city? It might be in your interest.
- Order online if you can. Exchange rates can differ very widely indeed. Online services are often better value - take a look.
- Always use the local currency. Picture the scene. You’re at a foreign ATM. It asks you, very politely, if you want to use the local currency or the home currency. How nice, you might think - but don’t be fooled. Always choose the local currency. If you choose your home currency, the machine will convert your money via its own exchange rate, calculated via “Dynamic Currency Conversion”. Which is never a good deal. Ever. Don’t do it.
Of course, the most important thing when you’re traveling is to have peace of mind. If the ANZ travel card will give you that, then you should go for it. Just make sure, when you’re choosing, that you’re getting a deal you’re happy with.
This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
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