Travelling can be an expensive hobby, folks, so it makes sense to try and save money at every turn you can. While nabbing cheap flights or accommodation are obvious ways to save a buck or two, it can be easy to forget the finer details of travelling, like turning your Aussie dollars into foreign dollars, for example.
When it comes to money and travelling, there are fees lurking almost everywhere, so avoiding them as much as possible is crucial. Here are 6 ways to minimise currency costs while you travel.
Don’t convert money at airports
Those exchange kiosks you see at airports take a big cut of your cash in the process of converting it to a foreign currency, sometimes up to 20%, which is not a small amount when we’re talking about hundreds of dollars.
Not only that, once you factor in the exchange rate, which is, uh, not great against the Euro or US dollar at the moment, you tend to end up with less than you’d like. Avoid these kiosks unless you absolutely MUST use them.
Shop around for cash
Yeah, it sounds weird, but you can absolutely shop around for currency. Jump online and see which places offer the best exchange rates and fees. You can even pre-purchase the cash in Australia and withdraw it when you’re overseas, rather than walking around with wads of cash in your wallet/bags/cute little travel pouch.
When you have your Australian dollars together, keep an eye on the market and try to time your purchase when our dollar is at a high point. Trust me, there’s nothing worse than buying currency only for the dollar to shoot up the next week.
Get cash from ATMs
Most banks will charge you a conversion fee every time you make a purchase in another country, so it can be a better option to get cash from an ATM rather than using your Australian bank card.
It’s way less secure, so if you are wandering around the world with cash money, make sure you keep it somewhere safe and away from the prying hands of pickpockets.
Get yourself a travel card
If holding onto cold hard cash isn’t your jam, you can always opt for a specialised travel card. These work similarly to your normal credit or debit card, but the beauty is you can lock in an exchange rate before you set off, which can be a real advantage if the market’s having a bit of a tanty while you’re away. While this can be a good thing, it’s worth keeping in mind that it can also be annoying if a more favourable rate pops up during your trip, leaving you stuck paying more than you need.
Of course, you’ll still be up for a bit of a fee, but it’s often better than your standard exchange kiosk. These are generally charged as loading fees, so they’ll take a small cut when you whack money onto the card. They can be as small as 1.1% of the loading value, or as high as $15 every time you top up, so shop around for the best deal.
There might also be fees for purchases, but they’ll usually be pretty minimal. Either way, make sure you know what you’re signing up for before you close the deal, and always check to see if fees can be waived. You’ll be surprised what you can get if you just ask.
Suss your bank’s rates
Always check out what your bank offers before you set out on a trip because it could influence how you handle your money abroad. For example, some banks offer better conversion fees on credit cards compared with debit cards, and others might waive fees altogether if you use specific ATMs in other countries.
Make sure you’re armed with all the info you need before you hit the airport, folks. You don’t wanna have a Home Alone moment on the plane where you yell out “BANK FEES” instead of “KEVIN,” because that’d be weird as hell.
Some banks will be worse than others when it comes to things like conversion fees, and if you’re someone who travels a lot, you might wanna consider jumping ship for a better deal with someone else.
If you sign up for a CUA Everyday Snap Account, for example, you can get international ATM withdrawal fees and international card transaction fees refunded to you, which can certainly add up over the course of a trip. Just watch out for other fees though, like, say, the ones charged by those weirdly branded ATMs you find in pubs that slug you 3 bucks for withdrawals, or when sending money to an overseas account. You also need to be depositing $2,000 from an external account and making at least five Visa Debit card transactions each month to qualify, but it’s an everyday account, so if your pay’s going into it, that should be a piece of cake. It’s a good way to avoid walking around with wads of foreign cash on you, as well.
There are plenty of benefits back home, as well, like $0 monthly account fees, unlimited fee-free transactions within Australia, Google Pay™, Apple Pay and Samsung Pay functionality, and savings top-ups between $0.50 and $5 with each CUA Visa Debit card purchase over $10.
Stay safe overseas and avoid those fees, folks. It’s money better spent on having a bloody good time.Image: Friends