Qantas Travel Card: Foreign Currency Rates & Fees explained

TransferWise
12.04.19
11 minute read

Qantas Frequent Flyers are able to apply for a travel money card which they can pre-load with any of 11 different currencies, for spending at home and abroad. If you’re not a frequent flyer, you can still sign up and apply for a card if you’re eligible - more on that later. With your Qantas Travel Money card you can make ATM withdrawals, and pay for goods and services more or less anywhere you see the Mastercard logo. You’ll earn Qantas rewards, although it’s smart to check out the fees before you sign up, to make sure the card will work for you.

To help you decide, this gude covers all you need to know, including:

  • The fees, limits and exchange rates used by Qantas Travel Money - and some alternatives to compare them to
  • How to get, activate and use a Qantas card
  • Details of the Qantas app aimed at helping customers manage their money on the go
  • Troubleshooting for common card issues

Exchange rates

When you’re choosing the best way to arrange your travel money, the exchange rates used really matter. Getting a good exchange rate can make your money go much further, while a bad rate can mean your travels are more expensive than you planned.

Exchange rates change all the time, moving up and down with fluctuations in the global currency markets. That can make it tricky to follow the rate you need, and even harder to know if you’re getting a good deal on your travel money.

The best way to keep up to date with the exchange rate for your currency pairing is using an online currency converter or a simple google search. This will give you the mid-market rate for the currency you want to buy. That’s a good benchmark because it’s the rate banks use when trading currency between themselves.

However, many banks and currency exchange services don’t offer the mid-market rate to customers. Instead, they add a markup or margin, which they can then keep as profit. Here’s what Qantas say about their exchange rate:

“Whenever a transaction using Qantas Travel Money results in a foreign exchange transaction (including loading funds that you wish to hold in a non-AUD Currency), a currency exchange rate will be applied. This currency exchange rate will include a margin.”

There are a couple of ways to get the best deal on currency conversion for your travel money. Firstly, it can pay to keep a close eye on the exchange rate, and buy when it looks good. With a pre-paid travel card this is possible, so you’ll know exactly the cost of your foreign currency before you travel. And secondly - to grab an even better deal - you can look for a provider which uses the mid-market rate for currency conversion, so there is no markup to worry about.

One provider offering the mid-market rate with just a low and transparent fee for currency exchange, is TransferWise. You can get a borderless account to hold any of over 40 different currencies, and switch between them easily. Simply top up your account using dollars, and convert to whichever currency you need online. You can spend your foreign currency easily using a linked Mastercard debit card, for in store purchases and ATM withdrawals.

Fees & charges

If you’re thinking of getting a Qantas travel money card, you’ll need to know a bit about the associated fees and charges. The most common costs are set out below, along with a few more details about how to avoid DCC - a tricky fee which can make your travels more costly than they need to be.

It’s also good to know that you may see the pre-paid travel card from Qantas referred to as both Qantas Travel Money, and Qantas Cash. The branding is being changed at present with references to Qantas Cash set to disappear from May 2019.

ServiceFee
Ordering a cardFree
Topping up your cardDebit card loading fee - 0.5% of load amount Bpay loading fee - free Third party fees may also apply when loading, depending on the method used to top up your card
Currency conversion feeThere is no upfront conversion fee, but there may be a margin added to the foreign exchange rate, which is then held by Qantas or Mastercard as profit, as explained above. Here’s what the terms and conditions say: “Mastercard Prepaid Management Services earns foreign exchange revenue on Qantas Travel Money transactions involving a foreign currency conversion”
International ATM withdrawal feeThe charge for using an ATM when abroad will vary according to the country and currency involved. Here are some examples for common currencies: USD1.95NZD2.50SGD2.50GBP1.25EUR1.50 You may also be charged an extra fee by the ATM operator, or because of DCC if you choose to pay using Australian dollars while overseas. More on DCC - dynamic currency conversion - later.

Dynamic currency conversion - which is usually shortened to DCC - is a tricky cost which often catches travellers unaware. If you use a credit, debit or pre-paid card overseas, you may be asked if you’d rather pay in Australian dollars instead of the local currency. Banks and merchants sell this as a service - it makes it easier to manage your money when you see the cost of an overseas purchase in dollars straight away. But there’s a catch. Paying in dollars will often cost you more, as you may get a poor exchange rate, or be charged a fee for the service. Instead, opt to pay in the local currency wherever you are, to get the best price.

Currencies available

You’ll be able to top up and spend in any of the following currencies using your Qantas travel money card:

  • Australian dollars (AUD)
  • United States dollars (USD)
  • Great British pounds (GBP)
  • Euros (EUR)
  • Thai baht (THB)
  • New Zealand dollars (NZD)
  • Singapore dollars (SGD)
  • Hong Kong dollars (HKD)
  • Canadian dollars (CAD)
  • Japanese yen (JPY)
  • United Arab Emirates dirham (AED)

Limits

Here are some of the facility limits you need to know about, if you’re considering getting a Qantas travel card for yourself.

Minimum load amountAUD50
Maximum load amount per 24 hour periodAUD20,000
Maximum debit card loadIn 24 hours: AUD15,000 In 7 days: AUD30,000 In 30 days: AUD60,000
Maximum ATM withdrawal per 24 hour periodAUD3,000 Some ATM providers may set their own, lower, limits
Maximum cash over the counter withdrawal per 24 hour periodAUD350 Some institutions may set their own, lower, limits
Maximum card spend per 24 hour periodAUD15,000
Maximum that can be held on the card at one time, and maximum aggregate held in a 12 month periodAUD100,000

App

You can get an app to manage your Qantas travel money online from your android or Apple device. You’ll be able to log in and securely exchange funds, check transactions or report a lost or stolen card. You can also top up your money, or make a transfer from your account to another Qantas card holder.

If you’re interested in using the app, it’s worth checking out the reviews which are available in App Store or the Google Play Store. The user scores are not particularly high at the time of writing - hitting 2.7/5 on Google Play, for example. Bear in mind, though, that the ratings are dynamic and change as new features and functionality is added, so it makes sense to check again when you’re considering whether or not to manage your Qantas card using the app.

So, is it good?

The Qantas card has some features which make it suitable for customers who travel regularly, including 11 different currencies, and worldwide accessibility. You can also earn Qantas points as you spend in both foreign currency and dollars.

This type of pre-paid card is becoming increasingly popular with travellers, especially younger males, and is considered a convenient and relatively safe way to manage your foreign spending. There’s no need to carry a large amount of foreign cash with you when you travel, and because your travel card isn’t linked to your main bank account there is no way that a thief or fraudster could use it to access your regular funds.

When you’re deciding how to arrange your travel money when you’re abroad, it makes sense to check out a few alternatives. Different pre-paid cards have different features and fees, so it’s important to find the right one for your needs. For example, if you’re intending on using international ATMs a lot then looking for a low withdrawal fee is a smart idea - while convenient top ups may matter more if you’re away for a long time and need to add more money are you travel.

It’s also well worth comparing pre-paid travel cards against other options like the borderless account from TransferWise. This smart new type of account comes with a linked debit card for ease, and lets you hold money in over 40 different currencies all in the same place. You just need to add money to your account and then convert it to the currency cou need - much like using a pre-paid card. However, unlike many pre-paid travel cards, all currency conversion done through TransferWise uses the mid-market exchange rate, with just a low upfront fee to pay.

See if you can save time and money with a borderless account, and make more of your trip abroad.

How to get & use a Qantas travel card

Here’s the lowdown on getting started with a Qantas travel card.

Order

To get your Qantas travel card you’ll need to be a Qantas Frequent Flyer. If you’re already an active frequent flyer but don’t have a travel card yet, you can apply for one by logging into your frequent flyer account, or calling the service centre.

If you’re not registered as a Qantas Frequent Flyer, you can get started by signing up if you’re an Australian resident aged over 16. Then you just need to apply to activate your travel card option online or by using the phone number given below.

Activation

The easiest way to activate your Qantas travel money card is online via the Qantas Travel Money website. You can’t activate the card through the app.

Online activation is available if you have an Australian drivers license or passport. If you don’t have these documents you may need to visit a branch of Australia Post to show your documents and get verified.

Using it

Once you have activated your card you should be able to use it anywhere you see the Mastercard symbol displayed, with just a few exceptions.

Your card can be used in most countries, but there are a couple of regions where it will not function, often due to the existence of global economic sanctions. Your Qantas card can not be used for gambling or adult entertainment, and some merchants might choose not to accept a pre-paid card for services such as car hire. If you have any doubts about the validity of your card, check before you agree a purchase.

Top-up

To add funds to your account you’ll need to go to Qantas Travel Money’s website, or your own online banking. You can transfer funds using BPay or a debit card - although there are fees to consider when you’re choosing which method will work best for you. The process is simple, whichever payment method you go for - just follow the prompts on screen and you’re done.

Buy back

If you find you have foreign currency left on your card after a trip, you can convert it to another currency from those available through Qantas Travel Money, switch it back to dollars, or save it for the next time you travel.

If you convert your money back to dollars you’ll want to check both the fees and the exchange rate available. As the rates change over time, you may get back an amount which is different to what you spent in the first place.

Contact information

If you need to contact Qantas Travel Money, you can speak to a team member using the following details.

  • Call on 1300 825 302 from in Australia, or +61 1300 825 302 from abroad
  • Log into your Qantas account online or via the app to manage currencies or report issues
  • Connect on social media, including Facebook and Twitter

Troubleshooting

Running into issues with your travel money is enough to ruin even the most relaxing of breaks. However, it’s often easy enough to sort out common problems if you know how. Here are some guidelines.

Lost or damaged card

If your card is lost or stolen, you’ll have to report it right away to Mastercard Qantas Travel Money Global Support. The card will be blocked, and a new one will be issued to you to allow you to access your funds. Depending on the circumstances you might be asked to confirm the details of the loss in writing, and assist the police and Qantas in recovering the card if possible.

In the case of a damaged card, you’ll also need to report the issue to have a new card dispatched to you. The card will be sent by mail to your registered address so you can go on using your account.

Declined card

If your card is declined, it’s a good idea to first check that you have sufficient available funds, and have not hit any of the the card limits which are set out above. If you can’t see a reason for your card to be declined, it’s time to call the Qantas customer service team to ask for help.

Forgotten PIN or blocked card

If you forget your PIN number, you can retrieve it online at the qantas Travel Money website, or by calling the customer support team. However, if you enter the incorrect PIN when using your card, you may find that it is suspended or blocked until you contact customer services. This is to protect you against fraudulent use of your card. If you find that your card has been suspended, call the contact centre to have it reset.

Expired card

Your Qantas travel card will have an expiry date printed on it for reference, and you’ll automatically be sent a replacement close to this date. When you get your new card you’ll have to destroy your old Qantas card, and activate the new one to ensure your service is uninterrupted.

Tips

Ready to get started? Here are a few last tips to make sure you get the best deal on your travel money.

  • A pre-paid travel card lets you lock in the exchange rate when you buy foreign currency. This means that it can pay to watch the exchange rate and then buy your travel money when it looks good. Get an online currency conversion tool, or set up a rate alert, to catch the best rates when they come up
  • Check out the small print of the card you choose.You may find that you pay fees which you weren’t expecting, if you skip over reading the terms and conditions
  • See if you can save by opening a TransferWise borderless account. You’ll be able to hold any of dozens of different currencies, and spend easily using your linked debit card. Just top up your account in dollars and switch to whichever currency you need using the mid-market rate every time
  • Avoid DCC - always pay using the local currency to make sure you don’t get stuck with a poor exchange rate and high fees when using a card for payments and cash withdrawals abroad

Sorting out your travel money isn’t the most exciting thing about planning your trip abroad. But getting a good deal gives you peace of mind and means you can do more while you travel. Do a bit of research before you choose which travel money options are right for you, and don’t forget to look at traditional routes such as carrying cash, common solutions such as credit, debit and pre-paid cards, and modern alternatives like the TransferWise borderless account. You’re sure to find the one that works for you.

All sources correct as of 13 March 2019


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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