Be travel money savvy

Tom ChapmanThe Kimberley Echo
Shop around for foreign money before you travel.
Camera IconShop around for foreign money before you travel. Credit: Alex Segre/Getty Images

Did you know you’ll pay more when buying foreign cash at the airport than at any other location?

Also, debit or credit cards are usually the cheapest option for buying things overseas.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission research, to help us with foreign money purchase decisions, found:

Consumers who bought $US200 in foreign cash in February could have saved $40 if they bought from the cheapest supplier at a non-airport location. And the big four banks are consistently more expensive, especially for common currencies, such as British pounds or US dollars.

A customer who used a debit or credit card from one of the big four banks with no international transaction fees could save $13 on a $US200 purchase, compared to using a travel money card. With international transaction fees, it would be a saving of $5.

A holder of a travel money card from one of the big four banks withdrawing the equivalent of $100 in pounds (GBP) from an overseas ATM in May 2019, who had not pre-loaded GBP onto the travel money card, would be charged $8.90.

That’s almost nine per cent of the transaction amount in ATM and currency conversion fees.

Shop around for foreign money before you travel — loyalty to your usual supplier, the big four banks or a last-minute purchase at the airport is going to cost more.

Remember, buying currency online in advance is an option. Compare the total price including the exchange rate and fees.

Think about best payment methods when travelling overseas — what’s accepted, certainty of price or total cost, convenience and what if it’s lost or stolen?

Beware travel money card fees as well as costs incurred for loading Australian dollars but paying in, or drawing out, another currency.

Read more at accc.gov.au.

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