Accessing Money on The Road

Deciding the best way to access money on the road is an important decision for travellers.  You want your money to go as far as possible, and being slugged $2-10 every time you take money from the ATM can quickly add up!  (eg. taking out $200 4 times a week could = $40/ and over 1 year = $ 2080)

So if you think about it, banks are making big bucks just charging us to take our own money out of the bank.

I have been researching this topic for awhile now and these are my top 4 choices below.


Citibank Plus Account

Citibank Plus is actually a normal bank account with Bsb and account number.  This account gives you a a visa debit card to access money overseas. There are no ATM withdrawal fees charged and if you look for Citibank or partner ATM’s (plus logo ATM’s) then your transactions are completely fee free.

The Citibank Plus has no currency conversion fees, and the exchange rate used is the current currency rate for the day.  There are also no account keeping fees, no monthly transaction fees actually no fee’s whatsoever.

The only negatives of this account is that the application process can be painful, and it pays to apply for the account at least 6 weeks before you are planning on travelling to make sure you get your cards etc on time.

Multi Currency Cash Passport Card

Cash Passport allows 10 different currencies onto the card.  You can preload the card before travel to lock in the exchange rate.  There are no ATM fees charged overseas, however a fee may be imposed by the ATM owner.   There is a however a 2.95% fee charged to take money out of an Australia ATM.

There is no initial currency load fee.  You can reload online and you will pay 1% per transaction and can put up to $100.000 onto the card. The currency conversion rate on this card is 5.95%.  There are also a few other fees with this account including a monthly inactivity fee of $4 and an account closure fee of $10.

There are a couple of negatives for me of this card, one being the cost of getting your money out at an Australian ATM after travelling.  For example if you had $800 left on your card when you come home then it will cost you $23.60 to get it out.  The other is the currency conversion fee.  5.95% is huge!  So for example if pay $1000 for airplane tickets in USA but do not have sufficient funds in that currency loaded on the card we will be charged $59.50

Commonwealth Bank Money Travel Card

Commonwealth Travel Money Card has 13 different currencies that you use.  You will however have to manage the money on each currency to make sure you have enough to make purchases in whatever country you are in.

You can also load and lock in the exchange rate before you leave.  You can load up to $100,000, and reloading the card is available in store or by Bpay.  The fees on this card are between $3.00-$5.00 to withdraw money from ATM’s overseas, and you may also be charged a fee from the owners of the ATM.  There is a 1% reload fee but there is no initial load fee.

If you are an existing Commonwealth Bank customer transfers from your accounts to the card are available in as little as 12 hours.

There are no other fees associated with this account except for the card issue fee of $15 and a card replacement fee of $15 if your card is lost or stolen.

28 Degrees MasterCard

You can get up to 55 days interest free with a 28 degrees MasterCard.  There are no currency conversion fees and no international transaction fees charged on purchases.

However the 28 Degrees MasterCard does charge 20.99% cash advance fee, and the current interest rate on the card is 20.99%. This card would be great for international purchases only and making sure you pay the money back before the end of the 55 days interest free period.

What did we decide to do?

Let me first start off by saying I am not a financial advisor, so it would prudent to make sure you do your own research on these products.  After analysing our choices we decided the best way of accessing money on the road would be to take the Citibank Plus Account Visa Debit card.  Actually our Visa Debit cards just came in the mail today and I’m so excited!

We decided to choose this account as this product just made the most sense.  It was the product with the least amount of fees (actually no fees at all if you can find Citibank or Citibank partner ATM’s overseas) and as it is a normal bank account we can use it for normal banking etc as well.  It really suits our needs and will save us a bit of cash on the road.  We found a way of accessing money internationally for free!

I was originally going to go with the Multi Currency Cash Passport or the Commonwealth Bank Travel Card as I though these were the best options for travelling overseas, but I am so glad that I researched a bit more and found the Citibank Plus Account.

Do you have any tips or advice on other cards that may be better?  Share in the comments below.




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