Currency exchange - question for Aussies

Aug 3rd, 2011, 01:02 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 1,249
Currency exchange - question for Aussies

Last time we travelled to Europe we paid a fortune in bank fees and this time I'd like to do better. We are Australians travelling to Europe.

The purpose of this post is to hopefully confirm that I've understood the currency charges and options.

As I understand it, if I use my debit or credit card to withdraw euros from an ATM I will be charged 3% conversion fee plus around $5 per transaction (if I don't use an affiliated bank). If I make a purchase, I'll have to pay the 3% conversion. Are there any other fees?

If I buy a travel card loaded with euro (e.g. Travelex, Cash Passport) there is a small charge for loading it, I get the exchange rate at the time, and there are no fees for either ATM withdrawals or purchases.

Is that right? Any advice? Impossible to predict future exchange rates but hopefully I can minimise the fees.
dreamon is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2011, 01:31 AM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 12,269
The catch on the currency cards is they shaft you

on the exchange rate always a bad deal. for correct current FOREX rate

AUD/EU varies daily ATM CCs DCs

required to give you this by law from Big Bank ATMs.

Debit cards are risky for travel because if they get your

PIN and your card is linked to your main account they can

clean you out and you are liable not your bank so

set up a separate account for travel with debit card.

From Oz the Wiz Clear Advantage Card used to be best

no liability low/no exchange fee but do not think you

can get that any more WestPac cards said by some to be

best on but for me Visa CC always best no

liability always get the best exchange.

Do be aware that on all cards ATM withdrawals are

treated like cash withdrawals accrue 1-2% per month

from day you withdraw do get on line pay off quickly

to avoid interest rates of 20% on all cards the deceptive

way they make their money off you....

Any way Visa CC taken widest Venture for me

get double FF miles no foreign fees no liability

can dispute any transaction...

Very complex issue but Travelex is the worst usually

they clip clueless folks up to 30%

on money change at the airports they are scammers avoid

Big Banks for change ATM only for me everywhere

for fair rates. Happy Travels!
qwovadis is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2011, 01:37 AM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 12,269
Actually my identity was stolen in CR by Colombian web site
changed my address ran up $150,000 in 3 mos while I was abroad.
II was not liable Chase had to eat it all.

If that had happened with my debit card I would have had to pay

So I do not travel with debit card.

Rare but know one guy who lost $300000 on a margin brokerage

account linked to his credit card who was a victim of

debit card "skimming" while traveling so be very careful.

Separate account the only way to go for debit card for me.
qwovadis is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2011, 01:40 AM
Join Date: Jun 2008
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sorry the guy who lost $300000 had a DEBIT card

Had he had a credit card he would not have been liable

for the skimming/fraud.
qwovadis is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2011, 02:32 AM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 2,123
There’s a new card being advertised that supposably has no fees attached for overseas withdrawals; a girlfriend got one and raves about it. You don't earn points or anything but she says it saves her a fortune. I'll find out what it was and get back to you if you like?

We like to earn the points so 'suck' up the fees.
aussiedreamer is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2011, 03:23 AM
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 71

the main thing to verify when asking your gf is the exchange rate is the same as that of a standard debit card etc.
As qwovadis mentioned, there may be no fees, but the shaft you with the exchange rate.
greenerpastures is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2011, 03:31 AM
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 330
We are also Australian. My understanding was that it is 2% conversion fee + ATM fee[around $5] for an ATM withdrawal, and 3% conversion fee on credit cards. The problem with ATM withdrawals is that while you may have a limit per day and can do it in one transaction here, each withdrawal limit elsewhere is restricted. We have found it to be 300euro per transaction in France and 250euro in Italy. Not sure if this is standard or set by our bank.
The banks push their travel cards, but I am not sure how much they save. Our bank offers one which costs $15 for the initial set up with no conversion fee- the catch is that the exchange rate is not great and to convert unused euro back to $AU is even worse. Used as a credit card it then attracts no further fees, but there is still an ATM fee[less than $5] for withdrawals.
I have read on other forums that there are other cards available that appear to have less fees-for some you have to ensure there are certain amounts moving through the account each month. Can I be bothered? Bank fees are a real pain. But when we are spending thousands on a trip[ and we are fairly economical travellers-stay in rentals and only eat out a couple of times a week] we just wear the fees[usually less than $200 on a nine week trip]
Good luck.
rhon is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2011, 03:53 AM
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 298
I had the new travelex cash passport card for travelling and got a better rate from that than i did from my bank plus i didnt get charged for withdrawing cash when i ordered directly from them and they appear to be available world wide
fredandgingermad is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2011, 04:17 AM
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 88
Check directly with your bank about their charges. Banks differ--and different types of accounts in the same bank can have different charges as well.

Cards like travelex do give you "the exchange rate at the time," but it an exchange rate that they set, not the interbank rate that you get using an ATM card at a bank ATM.
PaulHahn is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2011, 06:37 AM
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 31
We travelled through Europe recently with a 28Degrees Mastercard (used to be a Wizard mastercard). Its fantastic. No currency conversion fees or transaction fees and their currency conversion rate is always pretty spot on. Also had an ING Everyday debit card which we could use anywhere and had nominal ATM fees. My son is presently travelling in Europe and used a debit card issued by a major aussie bank. For a withdrawal equivilent to about $AUD 300 in London he was charged $15! The travelex cash passport card is also good for locking in exchange rates. They do charge you however for each ATM withdrawal - about 4 euros I think for a euro currency card.
ozziegal is offline  
Aug 4th, 2011, 10:20 PM
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Thanks for all the advice. It's easy to find out the exchange rate for travel cards but seems to be very difficult to find out the rate used by Visa or Mastercard. I'll look into some of the suggestions above.

Starting to think I should just suck it up. Would rather spend a few hundred dollars on good food and wine but...

And the Aussie dollar just had a downward slide against the euro and US dollar. Oh for a crystal ball!
dreamon is offline  
Aug 4th, 2011, 11:00 PM
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You can buy travel cards from ANZ bank, loaded with euro. ANZ will give you an exchange rate equivalent to the exchange, less about 3 or 4% - take a look at their web site. You will also be charged three euro per cash withdrawal, but no fee if you use the card at a merchant. Once you buy the travel card and load it, then the exchange rate is locked in. There are no further % transfer fees.

We were able to withdraw 500 euro at a single hit, but this may vary from bank to bank. We have used these cards for two trips, each trip for a couple of months.

It sounds as the poster above, rhon, may have used the ANZ card.
Peter_S_Aus is online now  
Aug 4th, 2011, 11:30 PM
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 6
I looked at the travelex cards, but didn't like the fact they charge each time you load.
I have a gold debit Visa with the NAB. It allowed me to load money onto it and i could use it to withdraw money with no fees (but i had to press credit rather than savings when at the ATM). Not sure what the rate was (they told me it was their daily rate, which obviously fluctuates). Also used it at merchants (again using the credit function).
Worked well for me throughout Europe.
thertein is offline  
Aug 4th, 2011, 11:39 PM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 1,141
I too have been looking at the best options for withdrawing money for our trip next month.
Two years ago we just used our debit card everywhere with no problems, good rate but always a transaction fee.
The Commonwealth Bank travel card has the advantage of loading multiple currencys on the one card. So if going to Europe and the UK maybe a good option. But as mentioned before you get the exchange rate at time of purchase (who knows whether it will go up or down), However they do charge a $16 load fee and the exchange rate is not as good as say purchasing cash through Australia Post who do not charge fees and have a very good rate.
As previously mention the 28 degrees cc card gets great reviews. You put the card in credit and withdraw cash at ATMs. Of course making sure you do not withdraw more than you have in credit.
aussie_10 is offline  
Aug 5th, 2011, 12:00 AM
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 646
Last time we (also Aussies) travelled to Europe we used the ANZ card preloaded with Euros and found it very good. We didn't think the exchange rate was too bad and the initial load is fee free. We also took our ATM cards for extra cash or as a backup, and of course the good old credit card for large expenses is always useful.

We will be travelling again at the end of this year and seem to have just missed the Aussie dollar high. Just waiting to see if it will go up again and plan to preload an ANZ travel card again.

Also look into ING Direct. I got some advertising literature the other day where they claim to be cheaper for debit card transactions than other major banks. Not sure how accurate this is, but I will also be looking into that as an option.
PRLCH is offline  
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