Travel money options
Heading overseas? Before jumping on a plane it's worthwhile putting some thought into how you’d like to access your travel money while you’re away.
Tried and true – it’s always worth having some local currency in your wallet when you arrive. That way you can hop in a taxi if you need, or avoid the fuss of finding an ATM that won’t hit you with withdrawal fees. It’s also handy to have some cash with you at other times in case you find yourself somewhere that doesn’t accept travel money, credit or debit cards.
You can arrange your foreign cash online. Just order the amount in the currencies you need and arrange to pick it up at a branch that suits you.
With a debit card you have the benefit of using your own cash. Debit cards are also an ideal way of getting cash out at ATMs while you’re overseas. If you’ve got a Westpac Debit Mastercard you can avoid paying an ATM withdrawal fee by using a Global Alliance ATM.
Before you can get a Westpac Debit Mastercard, you’ll need to open a Westpac Choice account*. If you’re under 31, you may be eligible for a complimentary International Student or Youth Discount Travel Card (saving you $30) when you open a Westpac Choice account. These cards give you access to thousands of share-worthy travel and local experiences. Find out more
There are many reasons why having a credit card when travelling will come in handy beyond just using it for shopping. Some hotels for example will require a deposit or ‘holding fee’ when booking accommodation. Some cards may also offer complimentary travel insurance or rewards points for money spent on the card.
Make sure you let your bank know where you’ll be going so they can keep a look out on your credit card account for suspicious transactions.
Travel money cards
Although travel money cards are something of a new kid on the block, there’s good reason why these prepaid cards have become so popular in recent years.
With a travel money card you can have several different currencies on the one card and lock in an exchange rate in advance at a time that suits you. By having money on your card in the currency you’ll be using while you’re away, you’ll also know exactly how much you have to spend, without having to get your head around converting everything back into Aussie dollars. You’ll also avoid paying a foreign conversion fee when you access the local currency for where you are.
You can use travel money cards to either get out cash at an ATM (remember to use a Global Alliance ATM if you’ve got a Westpac card) or for shopping, accommodation and other activities.
A word about fees and embargo countries
Before choosing which method you’ll use to access cash, make sure you understand any fees and interest rates involved.
There are also a few countries around the world where you won’t be able to use a Westpac credit card, debit card or travel money card due to economic sanctions by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). These countries include Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria.