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When I travel overseas, I generally don't like to carry too much cash. Historically I've used a travel money card, which allowed me to buy a certain number of US/Canadian/other country dollars loaded onto a Mastercard before leaving Australia. Specifically, the Commonwealth Bank Travel Money Card.

I haven't had too much trouble with explicit fees on this travel card, but there's the implicit fee of a less than inspiring exchange rate that they give when loading the card. Also when I get back to Australia and want to cash out what's left, I'm hit again by a less than inspiring exchange rate. So I am interested, either in cards specifically designed for Australians travelling internationally or some other general international travel money card that is low cost. And by that I mean, the provider doesn't build in a huge profit margin on the exchange rate and other fees are kept to a minimum.

Can anyone recommend a good low cost travel money card?

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Just to clarify, where are you planning on travelling? –  Mark Mayo Dec 16 '12 at 9:08
    
For now, the USA –  Bryce Thomas Dec 16 '12 at 11:41
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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Two options I've used extensively are :

NAB Gold Banking - This products used to have fee-free access from overseas ATMs, at fairly standard ATM exchange rates. However based on their website it looks like this product is no longer offered. It would be worth talking to NAB to see if they have a similar product. NAB are also able to issue multiple distinct cards against the same account, such as an ATM cards plus a Visa Debit card, or even 2 ATM cards with access to the same accounts, which gives the benefit that if you lose one it can be canceled without affecting the other card.

28 Degrees Mastercard - This is a credit card from GE Money with NO international fees, and good exchange rates. You will get a PIN number and it can be used at ATMs world-wide, however any money withdrawn will be treated as a cash advance, and interest charged from day 1. There is a very simply way to get around this - simply transfer money into your account (ie, "pay" your credit card, even though you owe nothing!) and get it into credit. Then, when you withdraw money you are accessing your own money, and there are NO fees or charges in any form! If your balance is running low whilst traveling you can simply transfer/bpay more money into the account to keep it in a positive balance.

I've had a 28 Degrees Mastercard for over 5 years now, and have used it in more countries than I'd care to count (probably about 20?!) both for purchases and withdrawals and never had a single problem with it. Exchange rates are as good as with any card I've used, and I've never been charged a fee of any type. As far as I know they will only issue a single card so you should not rely on this as your own means of money.

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