Credit Cards

Travel Tip Background Info:
I have previously travelled using a cash passport, cash and/or a visa debit card. Since discovering two travel-friendly credit cards I really like, I travel with both credit cards (each in a different bag) and a cash passport to make cheap cash withdrawals – I do always carry my visa debit and some cash in case of emergency.

Factors to Consider:

  • Annual Fee
  • Foreign Transaction Fees – this refers to any fee you may get charged for an international purchase eg. some cards charge 3% if the purchase was made in a foreign currency
  • Cash Advance Fees
  • ATM fees
  • Interest Rate & Interest Free Days
  • Interest on cash advance
  • Complimentary Travel Insurance?

Tips:

  • Be savvy in your card usage.
  • Generally the biggest hit to you financially is withdrawing cash: determine which card option will cost you the least in fees and use that card to withdraw a reasonable chunk of money
  • Make sure that your credit card bill is paid by the end of the month to avoid insane interest rates.

Travel-Friendly Credit Cards:

My two favourite cards are the 28 Degrees and the BankWest Zero Platinum MasterCards.

Product Name Annual Fee Foreign Transaction Cash Advance Interest
28 Degrees MasterCard $0 $0 3% or $4 – whichever is greater 20.99% on purchases and cash advances.Up to 55 days interest free.
Cash Advances immediately start accruing interest.
BankWest Zero MasterCard (Platinum) #6 months complimentary travel insurance ** $0 $0 2% or $4 – whichever is greater 17.99% on purchases21.99% on cash advance

Up to 55 days interest free

No Fee Travel-Friendly Credit Cards are generally only beneficial if you can ensure that they are paid at the end of every month, because their interest rates are very high.
If you are unlikely to pay on time, then I would recommend investigating low-rate credit cards, cash passports or debit cards.

Cash Passports:

Cash passports are generally encouraged by banks as a good option for  travelling, I never used to be a fan but recently have changed my mind. For cash withdrawals, the cash passport is considerably cheaper than a cash withdrawal from a credit card.
(I’m currently using the Travelex Multi-Currency Cash Passport)

Some things to consider about the cash passport, which I have found frustrating, include

  • You have to choose a specific currency and load up the card
  • You get charged load fees (these vary from company to company, I’m paying 1%)
  • If you switch the loaded money from one currency to another once it is on the card, you get charged
  • If you use the card for an unsupported currency you get charged extra (assuming the transaction goes through)

If you want to juggle multiple cards for different purposes and are going to places which use the currencies supported by the cash passport, then it is handy for reducing your expenses when withdrawing cash.

Prior to Departure:

Make sure you contact your bank prior to departure to let them know what country(s) you are travelling to. If they detect activity which they assume to be fraudulent they may block your card, which can happen when they don’t know you have left the country.

# The non-Platinum Zero Mastercards also have $0 annual fee, but they don’t necessarily have the other perks.

** The BankWest Zero Platinum MasterCard offers 6 months of complimentary travel insurance, which sounds attractive but typically doesn’t cover much. There are also special clauses which may or may not entitle you to this insurance. I recommend having a look at my page on Travel Insurance.

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