1. Ability to lock in your exchange rate before travelling
When the Aussie dollar is strong, a travel money card can be a great way to lock in the exchange rate for your trip. It helps you to budget for your holiday by giving you certainty about just how much spending money you will have available. Of course, by locking in a currency well ahead of time, you also risk missing out on any improvements in the exchange rate from now until the time you hop on a plane!
In hindsight, locking in some foreign currency and travelling in 2014, when the Aussie dollar was at parity with the USD, would have been terrific! Hindsight is a beautiful thing. But you should keep travelling anyway, poor exchange rate or not – it’s good for you.
2. Ability to load multiple foreign currencies on one card
A travel money card is a fantastic way to juggle multiple currencies. Our recent research for the travel money card star ratings found a range in maximum number of currencies allowed, from 5 to 13 different currencies. Some of the most common currencies that can be loaded onto a travel money card are:
- Australian Dollar (AUD) (not that you really need this one)
- Canadian Dollar (CAD)
- Chinese Yuan Renminbi (CNY)
- Emirati Dirham (AED)
- Euro (EUR)
- Hong Kong Dollar (HKD)
- Japanese Yen (JPY)
- New Zealand Dollar (NZD)
- Singapore Dollar (SGD)
- South African Rand (ZAR)
- UK Pound (British Pound) (GBP)
- US Dollar (USD)
- Thai Baht (THB)
- Vietnamese Dong (VND)
3. Ability to reload card via your smartphone
Oops – it’s easy to overspend when you travel. But never fear; these days you can reload many travel money cards via an app on your smartphone – provided you have the funds available in your bank account, of course! Not all travel money card providers offer a mobile app, but 11 of the 13 travel money cards in our comparison table do.
That reload may or may not happen instantly, depending on your card. So the choice is yours – would you like to pick one of the 12 out of 13 cards in our comparison table that offer same day reload, or would you like to be stranded for two to three days until the transfer takes effect?
Or you could be really organised and budget well enough that you don’t run out of money at all…
4. Debit card functionality without linking to your bank account
One other significant security benefit of travel money cards is that they are a stand-alone card not linked to your bank accounts. This helps to minimise the risk of financial loss due to fraud or theft.
Other security measures on travel money cards include the chip, PIN code access, and the ability to block a card if stolen. Of course, you should never be complacent about your personal security when you’re travelling – here are some tips on keeping your money safe overseas.
5. Allows you to carry a minimal amount of cash
Cash is the least secure way to carry your holiday spending money. A five-second encounter with a pickpocket can leave you broke – and definitely not in a holiday mood! There will always be some instances where cash is the only payment method accepted, but for most transactions a travel money card does the job.
How to buy a travel money card
Not all travel money cards are created equal, which is where the CANSTAR Travel Money Card star ratings are an invaluable resource. Our most recent comparison of travel money cards has analysed the features, benefits and costs of the following cards:
- ANZ – Travel Card
- Commonwealth Bank – Travel Money Card
- Mastercard – Multi-Currency Cash Passport
- NAB – Traveller Card
- Qantas – Qantas Cash
- St. George – Global Currency Card
- Suncorp Bank – Cash Passport
- Travelex – Cash Passport
- Travel Money Oz – Key to the World
- Velocity Frequent Flyer – Velocity Global
- Westpac – Global Currency Card