One of the most common questions sent to us is ‘Where can I find the international and foreign currency conversion fees for each provider?’
The credit card is a great travelling companion. It’s welcome when paying for flights and hotels, can offer perks both in the air and on the ground, and it’s a secure way to take your money overseas. But what’s not so welcome are the fees and charges that come when you transact in a currency other than Australian dollars.
There’s a number of these fees: currency conversion fees, foreign transaction fees, international ATM charges and cash advance fees, and we’re accustomed to paying them. Forking out to cover currency conversion fees, for instance, is pretty much ingrained in the in the experience of using your credit card in a foreign country.
It’s your hard earned money you’re giving to your card provider, so it’s important to know how much you’re getting charged and why.
To help in your education, we’ve stockpiled all the major bank’s currency conversion fees and international ATM charges.
Pretty much every financial provider will change you when you use your card overseas, but there are a few products out there that do not charge currency conversion and international ATM fees. Following our comparison of these fees and charges, we’ll have a quick look at the cards that are suited to overseas travel.
Comparison of No Foreign Currency Exchange Fee Credit CardsRates last updated March 27th, 2015
Overseas transaction fees & charges comparison
|Overseas Transaction Charges & Foreign Currency Conversion||Overseas ATM Withdrawal Fee||Overseas ATM Balance Check||Overseas Cash Advance Fee|
Compare Bankwest Credit Cards
|(0% Foreign Transaction Fees for Bankwest Platinum Cards, including the Bankwest Zero Platinum)||$4||$0||Greater of 2% or $4.00 (whichever is greater)|
Review of 28 Degrees MasterCard
|0%||$0||$0||3% of the cash advance or $4 (whichever is greater)|
Compare ANZ Credit Cards
|3% for Visa and MasterCard3% for American Express||$4||$0||The greater of 2% of the cash advance amount or minimum $0|
Compare Commonwealth Bank Credit Cards
|3% for MasterCard and Visa2% for American Express2.00% for transaction overseas in Australian dollars||$4||$1.25||$2.50 or 2% of the transaction amount (whichever is gre (whichever is greater)|
Compare NAB Credit Cards
|3% multi currency for Visa3% multi currency for MasterCard3% multi currency for American Express||$4||$0||1.75% of the cash advance amount or minimum fee of $1.75 (whichever is greater)|
Compare St.George Credit Cards
|3% for Visa or MasterCard||$5||$0||2% of the cash advance amount or $2.50 (whichever is greater)|
Compare Suncorp Credit Cards
|3.4%1.0% is paid to Visa; and2.4% is paid to Citigroup||$5||$0||1.50% of Transaction amount|
Compare Bendigo Bank Credit Cards
|2%||$5||$1.50||$3.25 or 0.5% of the transaction amount (whichever is greater)|
Compare Westpac Credit Cards
|3% Visa & Mastercard3.5% AMEX Credit Cards||$5||$0||2.00% of the cash advance amount or $2.50 (whichever is greater, capped at $150)|
Compare HSBC Credit Cards
|3%||$4.50||$0||(whichever is greater)|
Compare GE Money Credit Cards
|3%||$4||$0||3.00% of the cash advance amount or greater of $1.95 (whichever is greater), plus international cash advance fees of $4.00 ATM / $5.00 over the counter|
Compare Bank of Queensland Credit Cards
|3.4%||$5||$2||2% of the cash advance amount or minimum of $4 (whichever is greater)|
Compare American Express Credit Cards
|3%||$1.50||$1.50||Cash advances currently not available on American Express credit cards|
Compare Citibank Credit Cards
|3.4% for MasterCard
3.3% for Visa
Compare ME Bank Credit Cards
A better understanding of foreign currency & international fees
What is a foreign currency conversion fee?
This is the largest charge you’re going to incur when you use your card overseas. A cross currency conversion fee is a charge for converting Australian dollars into a foreign currency when you make a purchase — usually somewhere between 2 and 3% of the value of the transaction depending on your card provider.
Why is it charged?
Since you own an Australian credit card, your balance and credit is automatically in Australian dollars. When you transact in a foreign currency, the money must be charged from one currency to the other. Your financial institution and the card scheme (Visa, MasterCard and American Express) will handle this conversion for you, but they’ll charge you a fee for doing so.
Visa and MasterCard automatically charge a 1-2% fee on foreign currency exchange, so this minimum can at least be expected. Anything in excess is generally a small margin of profit for the bank.
What is an overseas transaction charge?
Regardless of the currency and whether it’s a purchase or cash advance, a couple of providers impose an overseas transaction charge, which takes a clean 1-3% figure off the total transaction amount. This is generally listed separately from the currency conversion fee.
Even if you are using your own money when you withdraw cash from your credit card, there will still be a charge for using an ATM. The use of overseas and/or local ATM’s would normally come at a cost, and can be up to $5 for each transaction and have the potential to blow the budget, these international ATM fees can be avoided with a little planning. Some major Australian banks have a range of ‘global alliance partners’ that allow Australians to withdraw money from international ATMs without incurring a fee. Westpac, for instance, are partnered with Barclays Bank, which has a robust international ATM network. All you have to do is take some time to plan where you’re going to be and look out for your bank or lender’s global ATM partner.
What is a cash advance fee? (international)
It’s general credit card knowledge that cash advances are expensive, even domestically. Once you begin using your credit card overseas, withdrawing cash will only increase the amount you get charged. On top of the normal interest rate and lack of interest free days, you can be imposed a $1-$10 / 1%-4% fee (whichever is higher) every time you carry out an overseas cash advance. You will also be charged the standard cash advance rate for your credit card (as well as the international cash advance fee).
Before you go overseas make sure you check what rate your credit card issuer will charge you for foreign transactions and currency conversion. Make sure you do a thorough comparison before you jet off to ensure you get the best bang for your buck.
What fees will I pay when I…
To help our users understand exactly what they’ll be up for when they use their card overseas, we thought we’d break down the fees and charges when you use your card in a couple of different situations. The actual fees and charges will vary depending on the card you use, but you can refer to the comparison table above to calculate your expenses.
Withdraw cash from an ATM?
If you use your credit card to withdraw from an overseas ATM, the following fees and charges will apply:
- International ATM fee (see above);
- Cash advance fee (Some lenders will waive this fee if you’ve preloaded your own funds onto the card); and
- Currency conversion fee (this amount is calculated based on the total of the international ATM fee and the amount being withdrawn).
- Local ATM operator fee (this can be avoided by using an ATM with your bank’s overseas ATM Alliance [if they have one]);
- The cash advance rate of interest will apply from the day the transaction takes place.
Make a purchase?
Purchases are a little more forgiving on the hip pocket than an overseas cash advance.
This applies to everything from booking a hotel or a flight while abroad through to buying goods from overseas from the comfort of your living room back home.
- Currency conversion fee;
- Purchase rate of interest (excluding interest free days).
Are you looking to travel prepaid?
If you’re interested in keeping your travelling budget within your current or future savings, you might be interested in considering the prepaid option.
ANZ Travel Money Card
The ANZ Travel Card is a prepaid card that can be loaded with up to 10 foreign currencies to make purchases overseas at over 36 million locations.
- Lock in your exchange rates and know how much money you have to spend
- No transaction fees for electronic purchases in Australia and overseas
- Multiple reload options - online, over the phone or in person
- Manage your money online or over phone 24/7
- Spare card if in case one is lost or stolen
A comparison of travel money cards
Rates last updated March 27th, 2015