What you need to know about fees and charges when you use your credit card overseas.
Although it’s convenient, using your credit card overseas can be expensive. If you have an international holiday coming up or regularly use your credit card for online shopping with overseas merchants, use this guide to understand exactly when you’ll be charged and how you can keep your fees to a minimum.
What fees will I pay when using my credit card overseas?
International credit card fees and charges vary depending on how you’re using your card. Some of the common charges that apply when using your card online or overseas include:
- Currency conversion fee. When you use your card to make purchases in a currency other than Australian dollars, you could be charged a currency conversion fee. The specific fee will vary depending on your card, but you can expect it to sit between 3% and 5% of the purchase or withdrawal amount.
- Foreign transaction fee. While some credit cards only apply a fee when the currency is converted from Australian dollars, others may apply a fee to all transactions made with an overseas merchant, even when they are in AUD. This is usually between 2% to 3.5% of the total transaction amount.
- Cash advance fees. ATM withdrawals using your credit card are considered a cash advance transaction, so they’ll attract a cash advance fee and the cash advance rate of interest. Expect to pay between $2 and up to 3.5% of the transaction value, and interest of between 18% and 22% for an international cash advance. Note that cash advance transactions are ineligible for interest free days and accrue interest immediately.
- ATM withdrawal fees. Unless your bank belongs to an ATM alliance, you can expect to be charged a withdrawal fee when using your card at an ATM overseas. Some banks also charge for balance enquiries as well as withdrawals. Please note that local ATM fees may also apply.
- Emergency overseas card replacement. If your card is lost, damaged or stolen overseas and needs to be replaced, you might have to pay as much as $200 for a fast-tracked replacement. Some banks do offer complimentary emergency card replacement, so make sure you know the procedure for requesting a new card before you go overseas.
- Emergency Visa or MasterCard cash request. This is a charge incurred when you request emergency cash from Visa or MasterCard. Cash advance charges may also apply if you make an international emergency cash request.
Comparison of No Foreign Currency Exchange Fee Credit Cards
What does my bank charge when I use my credit card overseas?
The following table outlines how much Australia’s biggest financial institutions charge when you use your credit card overseas.
|Currency conversion||ATM withdrawal||ATM balance enquiry||Overseas cash advance fee||Emergency card /Overseas cash request|
|ANZ||3%||$5||$5||The greater of 2% or $4||-|
|Bankwest||2.95%||$0||$0||The greater of 2% or $4||-|
|Bank of Melbourne||3%||$5||$0||2%||$52.50|
|Bank of Queensland||3.4%||$5||$2||2% or a minimum of $4||-|
|BankSA||3%||$5||$2.50||The greater of 2% or $2.50||$52.50|
|Commonwealth||3% (Visa and MasterCard)||$5||$1.25||$2.50 or 2%||-|
|HSBC||3% (2% for HSBC Premier with Qantas Rewards)||$5||$5||The greater of $4 or 3%||$200|
|NAB||3%||$5||$1||The greater of 2% or $2.50||-|
|Westpac||3%||$5||$0||2%||$0 (Plus courier costs $40)|
How to avoid fees when using your credit card overseas
While most banks charge fees for using your credit card overseas, there are some tips and tricks you can use to avoid them. These include:
International ATM withdrawal fees
While you generally shouldn’t be using your credit card for ATM withdrawals if you want to avoid high cash advance interest fees, some of the tips are:
- No ATM withdrawal fees. Although using your credit card to get cash from the ATM can be expensive, some banks waive the fee for international ATM withdrawals. For example, Bankwest Platinum credit cards feature no fee for international ATM withdrawals and no fee for currency conversion. You may also be able to avoid currency conversion charges, cash advance rate of interest, fees and the international ATM charges preloading your credit card with a positive balance. Be aware local ATM fees may still apply and you may void anti-fraud guarantees. Alternatively, if you want to avoid ATM withdrawal and cash advance fees, you might want to consider using a debit card or prepaid card when travelling overseas.
- Use an international partner ATM. If you’re a Westpac, St.George, Bank of Melbourne or BankSA cardholder, you can avoid the international ATM withdrawal fee if you use Westpac Alliance partner ATMs. Westpac are partnered with some of the biggest financial institutions in the world including BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank, Barclays Bank and Bank of America. This can save you as much as $5 every time you get cash. Note that cash advance fees and interest charges will still apply if you’re withdrawing money using your credit card.
Currency conversion fees
Currency cards can eat into your travel budget when using your card, so here are some tips and alternatives to help you avoid it:
- No currency conversion fee cards. Look for a credit card that doesn’t charge currency conversion fees when making a foreign transaction. A number of different cards, including rewards cards and no annual fee cards, have no currency conversion fees, so it’s important to compare your options before you travel or shop with international merchants online.
- Multiple currency prepaid cards. If you’re travelling overseas and know which currencies you’ll need to spend in, a multi-currency prepaid card could be a convenient way to access cash and avoid currency conversion fees. You can load Australian dollars onto the card and then transfer them into one of several supported foreign currencies on the card. As long as the local currency is one of the supported currencies and you have sufficient funds loaded on your card, you can avoid the currency conversion fee.
Credit cards and international travel go hand in hand, but so can high charges for overseas purchases and cash advances. By learning more about the different fees that can apply, and comparing credit cards before you go overseas, you’ll be able to save on card fees and charges so your budget goes further when you’re on holiday.