Best ways to travel with money

Are travel cards the best option?

When planning a holiday, we often budget for the big items – airfares, accommodation, car rentals and attractions. But what about the small, hidden expenses?

Currency conversion rates, ATM withdrawal fees and mobile phone charges can quickly drain your funds but can be avoided if you travel smart.

RACQ Head of Bank Product Gary Souprounovich said there are three ways to travel with money including cash, a preloaded travel card or credit/debit card. Each have pros and cons.

“Travel cards are a good secure option but do have conversion costs,” Mr Souprounovich said.

“Whilst they are generally accepted in large hotels, international bank ATMS, they can’t pay a food vendor at the local market or tip your hotel porter.”

Mr Souprounovich said the downside to travelling with a preloaded travel card is if you load too much of one currency on your card, you may need to convert to another currency or back to Australian dollars, incurring more conversions costs.

“Typically, a mixture of the three options is advisable,” Mr Souprounovich said.

“But, it is up to the individual traveller to decided what proportion of their spending should be taken in the various options.”

“Assess what your needs are and the risk and security of each option – some options are much more convenient but come with higher risks.

“Most definitely, you will need some foreign cash but should also consider having some funds in more secure methods like credit cards and pre-loaded cards.”

Option 1 – Cash

 Using physical cash or foreign currency comes with conversion charges but is the most readily-accepted for money. Carrying large amounts of foreign currency or cash on hand can be dangerous though and it is not recommended.

Option 2 – Pre-loaded travel card

Using a pre-loaded card (like a cash passport) gives you’re the security of a pin-protected card that allows you to withdraw cash as required. Loading and re-loading with funds can be done over the internet, but conversion fees do apply.

Option 3 – Bank credit or debit card

Using your bank credit or debit card is extremely convenient as you don’t need to borrow/convert money upfront, but your bank will likely charge conversion and foreign purchase/withdrawal fees – these may be more expensive than a preloaded card or the costs of foreign cash conversion.

Discover all of the options available with RACQ Bank for taking your finances abroad.