2012 - 2013

Travel Money

For most of my overseas trips, I have used the Commonwealth Banks prepaid “Travel Money Card”, but my last trip was an exception.

As part of my usual research I came across the NAB “Gold Card” (or something like that).
This worked out better because it wasn’t prepaid, there was a monthly fee (of which I would only ever have to pay once) and it was free to open, close, convert currency, etc.
Well it turns out that product has been discontinued, in favour of the NABs prepaid “Traveller Card”.

Another suggestion was the JetStar Travel Card, which have a special on at the moment where they are waiving the initial load fee. Comparing the three, here is how the fees are structured:

FeeNAB Traveller CardCBA Travel Money CardJetStar Travel Card
Open accountFree$15Free
Close accountFreeFree$10
Initial load1%FreeFree
(normally $15)
(max $15)
Currency conversion4%FreeFree
ATM withdrawal in JapanFree220 YenFree
(normally 325 Yen)
ATM withdrawal in Australia$3.75Free from CBA ATMs
($3.50 otherwise)

As JetStar are currently having a sale, their option seems to be the most cost effective, otherwise the CBA Travel Money Card would probably be the best option.

A (possibly) better option

Robert Filippone mentioned a Citibank account that may be suitable, so I went down to the Melbourne branch to ask some questions. They way I understand it, it turns out their “Citibank Plus” account is very similar to the product I had from the NAB before they discontinued it. They claim to have “no fees”… at all.

It is not designed specifically for travel, but being a Visa card, it’s accepted all over the world. This also means that we just load up Aussie dollars, and we get the exchange rate for that day, which could be better or worse depending on the rate at the time.

In terms of fees, well its free to open, free to close, free to transfer money to and from the account, free to exchange currencies (i.e. no fee for withdrawing cash in a foreign country’s currency via an ATM) unless I was to use a third parties ATM, then the third party would charge an ATM fee, but it seems Citibank have their own ATM’s in Japan, so if we use them, even that is free.

I’ve opened an account with them, and I’m hoping it is all setup and ready to go before the trip. The guy at the branch said he could organise express delivery, so hopefully it all goes well.

My plan is to use this account for Japan, then re-evaluate my own everyday banking.
If if the account works well, having this convenience in my everyday banking account will mean one less thing to organise for my next overseas trip.
Hopefully the lack of Citibank branches won’t prove to be a problem!