Which Debit Card is Best to Use When Travelling Overseas

Information verified correct on August 28th, 2015

Take the right debit card overseas to save on international transaction fees

Record numbers of Australians are heading abroad. And finding the best way to take your money overseas can be a challenge.

There are a range of personal finance products that are geared towards international travel due to reduced or waived international transaction fees: credit cards, travel cards and debit cards all offer something different. You can find a comparison of travel friendly credit cards and travel cards by reading our travel money guide. The following article will examine which debit card is the best to use when you’re overseas

Citibank Plus Everyday Account

Debit Card for Spending Overseas

Enjoy free international money transfers from Australia to any account, anywhere in the world. No monthly fees, no ATM fee. Fee free Overseas ATM withdrawals.

  • Enjoy fee free ATM withdrawals
  • Fee free everyday bank account
  • Transfer money overseas for free

    Travel debit card comparison

    Rates last updated August 28th, 2015
    Maximum Variable Rate p.a. Standard Variable Rate p.a. Bonus Interest p.a. Fees Min Bal / Min Deposit Interest Earned
    Citibank Plus Everyday Account
    Enjoy international money transfers from Australia to any account, anywhere in the world. No monthly fees, no ATM fees.
    0.00% 0.00% 0.00% $0 $0 / $0 Open More
    Bankwest Qantas Transaction Account
    Earn Qantas Points on your account balance 365 days a year, plus access to Australia's largest bank ATM network.
    0.01% 0.01% $6 $0 / $0 Open More

    Debit card, credit card or travel card?

    There are a number of ways you can take your money overseas with you. You have the option of taking a credit card, travel money card, debit card or traveller’s cheques.

    Usually a combination of the aforementioned products works best, but it’s not a hard and fast rule. For some, a travel money card to pay for their day to day spending and a credit card for emergencies is a safe option; while others are happy using just their Australian transaction account. The best way to take money overseas comes down to how comfortable you are paying additional fees and charges to access your money while you’re on holiday.

    If you want to avoid paying extra to access your cash, a credit card, debit card with no foreign transaction fees is the way to go.

    You can find a detailed comparison of all the options for taking your money overseas on this page. The following section of the article will briefly highlight some of the pros and cons of the different types of travel money you can take overseas with you.

    Travel Money TypeProsCons
    Debit CardIt’s linked to your own account

    Unlike a credit card, these accounts mostly have no annual fees.It’s linked to your own account;

    Funds must be converted from Australian dollars to complete an overseas transaction – this will incur a fee with most cards.Credit CardThey are widely accepted;

    They give emergency access to cash.Banks can block transaction if you have not notified them of your travel plans;

    Currency conversion and ATM withdrawal fees can add up.Travel Money CardAllows you to load multiple currencies onto the card;

    Comes with a backup card in case the first is lost or stolen.There may be issue with card acceptance at some merchants;

    It can take a number of days to load funds onto the card and there are reload fees in most cases.Traveller’s ChequesThey are a very secure form of travel money. Each cheque has a unique number and can be replaced if lost or stolen.They are bulky to carry around;

    You will need to change the cheques to cash in order to use the funds.

    What’s the best debit card to take overseas?

    The word ‘best’ is a subjective term. For the sake of this article, the best debit card to take overseas is the debit card that costs least to transact in a foreign currency. And there are a number of debit cards on the market, but less than a handful allow you to spend overseas without charging a foreign currency conversion fee. We refer to these types of transaction accounts as ‘travel friendly debit cards’, or ‘travel friendly transaction accounts’.

    What are the features of a travel debit card?

    Transaction accounts with a debit card have a number of common features. You can use the debit card to access the money in your transaction account, shop online and you can make purchases over the counter. The thing that separates a ‘travel friendly transaction account’ from a ‘regular, everyday account’ is the currency conversion fee.

    The best transaction accounts to take overseas will waive the currency conversion fee

    Much like when you use your credit card to make a purchase in a currency other than Australian dollars, most transaction accounts will charge a fee when you make an international purchase. At the time of writing there is only one transaction account in Australian that does not charge a fee of 2-3% (industry average) when you carry out a transaction in a currency other than Australian dollars.

    In addition to waiving the foreign currency conversion fee, the Citibank Plus Everyday Account also offers another handy feature in the form of fee free international money transfers to any account in the world.

    The ING DIRECT Orange Everyday Transaction Account also deserves a mention. Although this account does charge international transaction fees when you make a purchase or cash transaction in a currency other than Australian dollars, the ING DIRECT debit card account does offer customers something back in the form of cash back on payWave purchases and free ATM transactions when you withdraw over $200 or more.

    Debit cards & travel: John Arnott: ING DIRECT

    To cut down on fees, look for your bank’s ATM alliance

    The Orange Everyday Account’s fee free ATM withdrawal offer is a handy feature for travellers. When you’re abroad it’s common to withdraw large amounts of cash at a time. And there’s a real benefit knowing you can use any ATM for free. But what if you don’t have an Orange Everyday Account? Some banks have global ATM alliances where you can make ATM withdrawals for free.

    Transaction account providers like Westpac, ANZ and the Commonwealth Bank have partner ATMs in a number of countries in Asia and Europe. For example, Westpac have an ATM alliance with Barclays Bank. Westpac cardholders can make free ATM withdrawals at all Barclays branded ATMs in the U.K., Spain and Portugal to name a few places; while the Commonwealth Bank has ATMs in Vietnam and throughout Asia.

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    84 Responses to Which Debit Card is Best to Use When Travelling Overseas

    1. Default Gravatar
      florentia | August 26, 2015

      I want to work at Canada bt i don’t have a credit card that can be recognised at oversea, so i would lyk to knw how to apply for one nd what are the requirements and fees in terms i decide for it

    2. Default Gravatar
      Darren | August 17, 2015

      I have an ANZ debit Visa card. What are the partner banks/atm to use in New Zealand?

      • Staff
        Jonathan | August 18, 2015

        Hi Darren,

        Thanks for your inquiry.

        ANZ has a network of branches and ATMs all over New Zealand. To locate a branch or ATM nearest to your location in New Zealand, kindly refer to the link that I sent to your email address.

        I hope this has helped.



    3. Default Gravatar
      Jordy | August 12, 2015

      My partner and I are travelling to Vanuatu for our honeymoon, what is the best option regarding debit cards for use in Port Vila?

      • Staff
        Sally | August 13, 2015

        Hi Jordy,

        Thank you for your inquiry.

        Please note that finder.com.au is an online comparison service and is not in a position to recommend specific products, providers and services. For a debit cards comparison, kindly refer on this page.

        I hope this helps.



    4. Default Gravatar
      Brett | August 4, 2015

      What would the best option be re debit or credit card for use in China – Beijing & Shanghai in particular. Westpac don’t seem to have an option for me over there.

      • Staff
        Sally | August 5, 2015

        Hi Brett,

        Thanks for your inquiry.

        Please note that finder.com.au is an online comparison service and is not in a position to recommend specific products, providers and services. The ‘best’ option will always depend on the user’s individual financial circumstances and needs. For more travel credit or debit cards for China, you may want to compare from this page.

        I hope this has helped.



    5. Default Gravatar
      stephen | July 17, 2015

      We are going to turkey in September and want to use a Citibank debit card to access cash. Do Citibank have atms/branches in Turkey? I have checked Citibank (and rang Citibank), but have had no luck.

      Thank you,


      • Staff
        Jonathan | July 20, 2015

        Hi Stephen,

        Thanks for your question.

        Unfortunately Citi does not currently have any ATM’s nor branches in Turkey. I have emailed you the link for a list of branches for Citibank worldwide.

        I hope this helps.



    6. Default Gravatar
      James | July 2, 2015

      Hi Jonathan,

      Are you able to advise the best card for my Fiancé and I. We are getting married in Santorini Greece August this year after which we’ll be traveling through Europe for our honeymoon.
      As we will have many expense’s in Santorini such as the wedding venue and suppliers we have been told due to the uncertainty of Greece at the moment we will need to pay by cash. The embassy has assured us that Australian credit/debit cards will not have any withdrawal restrictions although there’s no guarantee there will be money in the ATM’s
      Are you able to advise the best credit/debit card for our situation where we would need to deposit/withdrawal large amounts of cash as well as being suitable for our honeymoon through Europe?

      Thank you in advanced

      • Staff
        Jonathan | July 8, 2015

        Hi James, thanks for your inquiry and congratulations!

        At this point of time the supply and availability of cash is limited in Greece. With the closure of some banks and a quota on the amount available for withdrawal per person, having pre-loaded currency on a pre-paid travel card and cash may be an ideal combination for your trip. Please refer to the following link for a travel money guide on Greece.



    7. Default Gravatar
      | June 3, 2015

      Looking for a Debit card that allows you to withdraw across all ATM’s without fees, low foreign fees and if possible offers Frequent Flyer points or the like.


      • Staff
        Jonathan | June 3, 2015

        Hi Michael, thanks for your inquiry!

        You may like to refer to the following link for a list of debit cards. Unfortunately at this point of time no debit cards on the market offer frequent flyer points. Please see this page for a list of frequent flyer credit cards which feature no annual fees and low foreign fees.



    8. Default Gravatar
      mitch | March 18, 2015

      Hi, my girlfriend and I are planning to travel latin america for a year or so and I was considering citibank as they have a heavy presence there, however I have heard some terrible reviews of their customer service and just service in general. Can anyone shine any light on this for me

      • Staff
        Jonathan | March 18, 2015

        Hi Mitch, thanks for your inquiry!

        Unfortunately we can not comment on the customer service quality of Citibank as we are an independent comparison service. For tips on travel money in South America from one of our staff who have visited please see this page.



    9. Default Gravatar
      Stewart | March 16, 2015

      From reading above it looks like a Citibank Plus Everyday Account with associated Visa Debit Card would avoid most of the fees that providers apply to get a share of your overseas spending dollar. There would be an exchange rate cost but I suspect that would be relatively minor and somewhat unavoidable.
      That leaves the problem of you wanting to withdraw cash from a non-Citi ATM which may involve a nasty fee.
      My question is, can you withdraw cash from supermarkets without fees like you do in Australia?
      I am mainly interested in Spain.

      • Staff
        Jonathan | March 17, 2015

        Hi Stewart,

        There is no charge applicable for international ATM’s as per Citibank’s terms and conditions. Supermarket cash withdrawals would qualify under an ATM withdrawal, but to be entirely sure it would be best to contact Citibank directly either through online chat, phone or local branch.



    10. Default Gravatar
      Janine | March 16, 2015

      Citibank plus. What I understand is I have to use a Citibank arm or branch to not be charged fees. But what about currency conversion fees?

      • Staff
        Jonathan | March 17, 2015

        Hi Janine, thanks for your inquiry!

        The terms and conditions state “Citibank Australia does not charge Citibank Plus everyday account holders a fee when they withdraw funds from an international ATM or use their Visa Debit card to make in-store purchases overseas. Customers may be charged by the third party provider, which Citibank Australia does not control.”



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