Travelling abroad is an exciting way to expand your horizons, discover new people and places… and spend your money. It’s sad but true: holidays seldom come cheap. Which is why it’s worth taking care that you pay for stuff in the cheapest way you can.
That’s why travel money cards are an attractive option. With a special international money card, you no longer have to exchange a large sum of cash, potentially at a bad exchange rate, and nor are you stuck with using your Australian debit card abroad, which could result in lots of extra costs. Instead, you get a card that holds foreign currency, meaning that you can be just as cashless abroad as you are back home.
In Australia, one popular travel money option is provided by Travel Money Oz, a leading supplier of international money products. They used to call their travel card a Key to the World Card, but these days it’s known as the Travel Money Oz Currency Pass. This article will take a look at what it offers. Read on to find out information on the following:
- Exchange rates. What you need to watch out for when exchanging money, and what sorts of rates Travel Money Oz offer.
- Fees & charges. What the Currency Pass card will cost you.
- Currencies available. Which currencies you can load onto the Currency Pass.
- Limits. How much money the card can hold.
- App. What you can do via Travel Money Oz’s app.
- So, is it good? An evaluation of the pros and cons of the card.
- How to get & use a Travel Money Oz Currency Pass card. A guide to how to get hold of one.
- Troubleshooting. Some advice for if things go wrong.
- Tips. Some more general advice on how to get the best value out of your money when travelling overseas.
First up, a word about exchange rates, that every international traveller would be well advised to read.
Why is it so hard to get good value for money when you’re operating in a different currency? Simply put, it’s because of the exchange rate. You’re bound to know that exchange rates - the relative values of international currencies - change all the time, as the markets fluctuate. But you may not realize just how widely the numbers can vary between different providers, even at exactly the same time.
That’s because banks and other currency exchange services all offer their own exchange rate. Those rates are often based on the mid-market rate, which is an average of all the buy and sell rates, but the mid-market rate itself is seldom available. Instead, you’ll be offered a marked-up exchange rate, so that the providers can keep the difference for themselves.
Because of this, it’s not always immediately obvious how good a deal you’re really being offered by a currency exchanger. That’s true as well for Travel Money Oz. You’ll be able to see exchange rates in a variety of currencies on their website,¹ but to find out how good a deal those exchange rates are, you should compare it to an online currency converter like Google, XE or TransferWise. Those all show the real mid-market rate.
Can you ever get the mid-market rate when converting money? Not many providers offer this, but one that does is TransferWise. International money transfers with TransferWise are always made at the real mid-market rate, with the fee clearly stated alongside, so you truly know exactly what you’re paying. And a borderless account with TransferWise is even more useful for travellers: it lets you hold money in multiple international currencies at the same time, again with all conversions done at the mid-market rate. You can also get a linked TransferWise debit card so you can use your AUD balance to pay in stores directly, and beat ATM fees entirely. See if you can get a better deal with TransferWise, today.
Here’s an overview of the fees and charges you’ll have to pay if you use a Travel Money Oz Currency Pass.²
|Getting the card||Free|
|Load money on for the first time||Free|
|Reload via bank transfer or in store||Free|
|Reload using Travel Money Oz logon||Up to 1.1%|
|Reload using BPAY||1%|
|Making a purchase||Free||There may be a fee from the merchant|
|ATM withdrawal||Depends on currency:USD 2.50EUR 2.50GBP 2.00NZD 3.50THB 80CAD 3.50HKD 18JPY 260SGD 3.50AUD 3.50 (for international withdrawals)2.95% of transaction (for domestic withdrawals in AUD)||You’ll be charged AUD 3.50 if you make an ATM withdrawal in a country not covered by any of the supported currencies, or if you don’t have enough money in the currency you’re trying to use.There may also be a fee charged by the ATM operator|
|Replacing your card||AUD 10|
|Cash out||AUD 10||If you take money off your card (but not via ATM)|
|Exchange rate between currencies||“Determined by us”||Travel Money Oz determines its own foreign exchange rate. There’s no additional exchange rate fee if a conversion occurs automatically because of insufficient funds|
Here are a few explanations about some of the fees listed above.
It’s free to get the card in the first place, and there’s no fee for your initial load of funds. You do have to pay to top your balance up, however, if you do so via Travel Money Oz logon or BPAY. It’s free to top up via bank transfer or in store.
If you are charged a reload fee, it’ll be a percentage of the amount you’re loading: up to 1.1%.
This is a key benefit: if you use your card to make a purchase, there’s no fee from Travel Money Oz. As ever, there might be a fee from the merchant.
The world isn’t yet completely cashless: you may well still need to get some cash out during your trip. If you use the Travel Money Oz Currency Pass, though, you should probably try to limit your ATM withdrawals, because there’s always a fee attached.
Because of the 2.95% fee for domestic withdrawals in Australia, it’s advisable to avoid using this card as a substitute for your normal Australian ATM card.
You’ll be charged AUD 10 if you order a replacement card from Travel Money Oz, and also if you “cash out” and remove money from your card, perhaps if you want to close your account.
The good news, though, is that there’s no “inactivity fee”. Some travel money cards penalize you if you don’t use your card for an extended period of time, often with a monthly fee, which can get pretty costly. But Travel Money Oz don’t do that. There’s no fee, either, if you get a negative balance.
One of the great things about having a multi-currency card is that you can switch money between the currencies: ideal if you’re travelling between multiple countries. When you do this with Travel Money Oz, you’ll have to do so at their own exchange rate, which you can see on their website (although it’ll change often).
If you try to make a payment in a currency in which you don’t have enough funds, your card will automatically convert some money you have stored on the card in a different currency. For example, say you have USD 10 and EUR 50 on your card, and try and spend USD 20. The card will automatically convert some of your euros into dollars so that you can pay the full amount.
Some travel money cards charge you a penalty fee if that happens, but the Travel Money Oz Currency Pass doesn’t.
The following currencies are available on the Travel Money Oz Currency Pass:
- US dollars
- British pounds
- New Zealand dollars
- Canadian dollars
- Hong Kong dollars
- Japanese yen
- Singapore dollars
- Thai baht
- Australian dollars
If you use the card in a currency not listed above, it’s much like using your Australian debit card abroad: usually possible, but not necessarily great value. You’ll have to pay AUD 3.50 for ATM withdrawals.²
There are maximum and minimum amounts that affect your account balance. Here are the key figures:²
|Minimum load/reload amount||AUD 20 or equivalent||Every time you reload, it has to be this much or more|
|Maximum daily BPAY reload amount||AUD 25,000 or equivalent||Using BPAY, this is the most you can reload with each day|
|Maximum balance across all currencies||AUD 100,000 or equivalent||This is the largest amount you can have in your account, across all the currencies combined, at any one time or across a 12-month period. It’s also the maximum load/reload amount|
|Maximum daily ATM withdrawal amount||AUD 3,000 or equivalent||But some ATM operators might have their own limits|
|Maximum daily amount from EFTPOS transactions||AUD 15,000||The maximum value of electronic payment transactions you can have on your account within 24 hours|
The Travel Money Oz app, which replaces the older Key to the World app, is available in both the App Store for iPhone users and the Google Play store for those on Android.
You can use the app to manage your card online, reload, and transfer between currencies, so it could prove the most convenient way to keep your balance topped up during your trip. At the time of writing, its ratings are 1.8 in the App Store and 2.1 in Google Play store.³,⁴
Key to the World app users will be pleased to know that their account details should work just fine in the new app.⁵
The Travel Money Oz Currency Pass is a worthy contender among the various travel money cards available in Australia. Its best features include the low minimum top-up amount, and the lack of some punitive fees such as the inactivity fee. On the other hand, the ATM fees could be off-putting if you’re going somewhere you’re likely to need a lot of cash.
If you might need to do a lot of converting between currencies, take a close look at the exchange rates Travel Money Oz advertise to see if you’re satisfied with the value it offers you.
Overall, the card could be useful for anyone travelling internationally, especially to any of the countries whose currencies are supported, and if they’re not likely to need a lot of cash during the trip.
Don’t forget that there are plenty of alternative travel money cards out there, some of which might be better suited to your particular needs. There are also plenty of other ways to pay for stuff abroad, from the traditional method of exchanging cash, to more modern options such as making an international transfer to a close friend or family member.
You could even just use your domestic card abroad. Do check in with your Australian bank and confirm what they’d charge you for using your card overseas.
Here’s a guide to how to actually get one of these cards, and how to get the most out of it.
To get the card, you have 2 options: order it in a store or online.
In a store, you can get it straight away if you’re OK with an “instant issue” card, or the alternative is to order one with your name printed on it, which can be sent to you at home. Online, the card might take up to 2 weeks to be delivered, and you can’t order it less than 14 days before your trip. So make sure you plan ahead.
Either way, there’s an ID check involved. In store, bring your passport or driver’s license.¹
You need to activate your card before you can use it. You can do that in store, or if it’s come through the post you can register and log in via the Travel Money Oz website. You can also phone, if you prefer. The number in Australia is 1800 098 231.
After you’ve done that, the card should be ready to use within 2 hours.²
Once it’s active, you can use it much like you can any other Mastercard, which is in a big majority of retail outlets. There might be sanctions in a few countries including Iran and North Korea, but apart from that you can use it very widely.⁶
As noted above, you can use the card to make electronic payments and also withdraw money at ATMs.
Traditionally, if you got foreign cash for your trip and came back with a few notes left over, you could go back to your currency exchanger and they’d “buy it back” from you.
With a card, the situation is a little different. It’s valid for 5 years, so you could just save any money left over for your next trip away. Alternatively, you can “cash out” your card and get your money refunded to your bank account. You need to go to a store or call them up to do this, and the process can take up to 10 business days.⁶ The “cash out” fee is AUD 10.²
To get in touch with Travel Money Oz, you can call them on 1300 452 353, or visit one of their many stores. If you want to send an email, you’ll need to use the contact form on their website.⁷
There’s always a chance something will go wrong. Here are some tips on what to do in a few common situations.
If something bad happens to your card, you’ll need a new one. Give Travel Money Oz a call on +61 (2) 89740856 (from abroad), or contact them online. Lost cards can be suspended and stolen cards can be closed. There will be emergency fund options as well, if you’re eligible.⁶
One possibility if your card is declined is that you don’t have enough money on your card.² If that’s the case, try topping up with your credit or debit card, as those funds should be available instantly.⁶
You can actually see your PIN in the Travel Money Oz Portal, so just log in online and take a look. Still no luck? You’ll need to call them.⁶
If your card is blocked, it could be because Travel Money Oz thinks that you’re doing something illegal.² To resolve that sort of problem, it’ll be best to have a chat with them.
Your card’s expiry date will be printed on it, so be sure to check. After it’s expired, the card can’t be used, but you can still get your money back. You could have to pay for it, though.²
Here are some extra pointers on how to get value for money during your trip, however you’re paying for yourself.
- If you’re looking to exchange cash while abroad, avoid tourist hotspots like airports and hotels. You’ll often get inferior exchange rates there, and can probably find better deals online or in the city.
- Read the small print! Whatever you end up doing to get your foreign money, make sure you have the full picture. It can be worth putting on your reading glasses and having some downtime with the T&Cs.
- Sometimes, foreign ATMs or even retailers will ask you whether you want to do a transaction using the local currency, or your home currency. This might sound friendly, but you should always choose the local currency. If you choose Australian dollars, your money will probably be converted via a method called Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC), which gives you a notoriously bad exchange rate. The better value option is to use the local currency.
- Make a backup plan before your trip begins. For instance, you should find out what your bank charges you for overseas transactions, even if you plan on using the Travel Money Oz card, just in case something goes wrong.
Overall, the Travel Money Oz Currency Pass, like the Key to the World Currency Card before it, is an option that can help travellers concentrate on what really matters during their trip: enjoying their time abroad without worrying about costly foreign transaction fees.
It’s not the only option, however, and it’s important to know what it really costs. Don’t forget to do your research, and make sure you’re happy with things like the exchange rate on offer. Happy travelling!
All sources checked 10-12 May 2019.
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