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Travel Forums Europe Travel cards

1. Posted by Kris and Kayla (Budding Member 13 posts) 1y

Hi,

Just looking at travel cards and was wondering if anyone can recommend any good, low fee costing travel cards to use on my trip to Europe in May.

I'm from Australia and have looked into the ANZ travel card, Cash Passport, Citibank visa debit card and the 28 degree MasterCard. The fees are killing me, but I know I can't avoid them altogether.

If I was to get a 28 Degree MasterCard - could I load it with money (to be in the positive and avoid credit) and avoid fees? I'm confused with this detail. I can't seem to find a concrete answer on any website or forum. I know there's a cash advance fee of 3% or $4 - is that correct? - every time I use this feature. And no purchase fee.

Any advice on this topic would be must appreciated.

2. Posted by berner256 (Travel Guru 528 posts) 1y

I'm not an Australian, so I don't know the ins and outs of your banks. But, generally, it's best to have both a credit card and a debit card while traveling. In fact, it's best to have a back up of both, just in case an ATM (cash machine) eats one, or the card somehow doesn't work. Use the credit card to pay for major purchases, such as hotels and flights. Use the debit card to get cash out of ATMs. It's vital that you notify your banks that you will be using your cards overseas -- before you travel. I can't stress this enough. Double-check that they know this before you leave for the airport.

I went online and saw that the 28 Degree MasterCard has no foreign transaction fee and no currency conversion fee. That's good for traveling. It also has a pin and chip security feature that's widely used in Europe. I pay my entire credit-card balance each month, so I incur no fees or interest. The payments are made automatically from my checking account. I monitor my accounts online to check accuracy, even when I'm overseas, which is about six to seven months each year. I'll be on the road again next month.

Now, if you don't have an automatic payment arrangement with your credit card -- and you're traveling for an extended period -- you could simply make an advance payment on the card to cover your anticipated expenditures. Or, simply pay the balance online while on the road, using a laptop or tablet.

It's fair to say that most bank debit cards charge fees for withdrawing money, as well as converting currencies. Some banks charge less than others. Some banks even waive the fees. My bank does the latter, so I carry two of its debit cards to get cash worldwide. Happily, they are Visa debit cards. Visa is accepted at more places than MasterCard. You'll encounter no problems using a MasterCard in Europe; but if you're in West Africa, that's another matter. So check around to see what your banks offer. I suspect the Citibank Visa debit card comes with fees. But that shouldn't be a deterrent, since you're not likely to pull a lot of cash out of ATMs, particularly if you're joining a tour with accommodations and transportation already prepaid. So any fees you incur for withdrawing cash are likely to be modest.

I don't know if Australian banks charge interest on credit-card cash advances. But U.S. banks do, usually at double-digit interest rates, plus fees.

Before using an ATM, know much you want to withdraw in local currency. Don't try to figure this out in front of the machine, because if you take too much time, some ATMs will "eat" your card. I discovered this once. Also, it's safer to withdraw funds at a machine attached to a bank office. Withdrawal limits can vary from bank to bank and country to country.

There are various travel cash cards, including ones with new features. But I don't use them. I don't need to.

It's wise to carry some cash. I always have U.S. dollars and euros, carried in more than one place, just to be safe. Make sure the bills are newer, with no writing, tears and excessive folds. Otherwise you might not be able to exchange them, or you'll get a poorer rate. Hope this helps.

[ Edit: Edited on 15-Mar-2015, at 04:56 by berner256 ]

3. Posted by Kris and Kayla (Budding Member 13 posts) 1y

Thanks heaps for taking the time to comment on this! Appreciate it