Foreign Currency Cash Cards

You should always take some cash with you, and that amount depends on how safe you feel in that particular country. But you can seldom carry enough to cover your whole holiday, so cash cards or cash passports are as essential as travellers cheques once used to be. These are good if you want to lock in particular exchange rate if you think it’s only going to get worse (this is their major advantage over the Internationl credit cards mentioned in a companion article), and they’re much safer than carrying large amounts of cash around with you. The disadvantages are that you might not get as good an exchange rate as with cash, and there is usually a commission of 1% approx whenever you put money on these. Most charge an initial fee of $5-15 and a closing fee of $0-10 (some charge both), and most charge a monthly inactivity fee if you don’t use them for 12 months ($3-4/month).

There are many cards, but I’ll just concentrate on the ones I consider offer the best rates. These can both be purchased online.

6 comments:

  1. OzForex Travel Card.

    This is very good because it’s the only card that doesn’t charge the load/reload fee (so it’s good for large amounts, or frequent travellers). However you do pay $2.95 per ATM withdrawal, but this can be minimised by mainly using eftpos (especially with cash-out if available), and only occasionally withdrawing cash when needed. They also are the only one that don’t charge a monthly inactivity fee if you don’t use them for 12 months. This card is valid for 3 years.

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    Replies
    1. Unfortunately this card will be discontinued from November 2015.

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  2. Multi-currency cash passport.

    This is a good card because it has no ATM fees, so would be ideal for someone having to do lots of cash-outs where it might not be possible to do this via eftpos. However there is a load/reload fee of 1.1/1%, so you need to balance the fees you save at the ATM v. the commission you pay every time you reload currency. This one charges a monthly inactivity fee. This card is valid for 5 years. From my experience their customer service isn’t brilliant. I filled out the form on their website asking how I could find out their exchange rates before purchasing their card, and after a few days still hadn’t received a reply. I repeated the process and got the same result, nothing!

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  3. Australia Post has a new pre-paid multi-currency Visa cash pasport called a “Load&Go” card. It’s similar to the OzForex Mastercard in that there’s no load or reload fee, however this card only supports 5 currencies (Australian Dollars, New Zealand Dollars, United States Dollars, Euros and British Pounds), compared with OzForexs’ 9 currencies. This card has no establishment fee, but there’s an ATM fee of $2 (in addition to any ATM owners’ fee) for cash withdrawal or balance enquiry (Ozforex is $2.95/$1 for cash/balance), and there’s a $4 fee for live operator telephone customer service call, other than for PIN retrieval (Ozforex is free for the first call or if your card has been lost or stolen or you need to reset your password, otherwise $7.95), and a $15 (or less) closure fee. The website provides none of this useful information, instead in you have to drill down into the PDS at Auspost. If you can live with it’s low number of currencies supported this seems to be on paper as good, if not slightly better than the OzForex card.

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  4. Virgin Cash Card
    Supports 10 currencies on one Card - British Pounds (GBP), Euros (EUR), US Dollars (USD), Australian Dollars (AUD), New Zealand Dollars (NZD), Canadian Dollars (CAD), South African Rand (ZAR), Turkish Lira (TRY), Swiss Franc (CHF), Emirati Dirham (AED).


    Reload fee for GBP is 2%, which is a lot! Reloads/top ups for all other currencies are free.

    ATM Fees (in addition to any the ATM owner charges): £1.50 €1.75 US$2.30 AU$2.30 CA$2.40 NZ$3 ZAR20, TRY5.40, CHF2.20, AED8

    Fees for withdrawing cash over the counter in a bank are about 3 times the ATM fees (but this is not a common action, unless you can't find an ATM).


    Currency transfer fee 5.7% !!! This is not good if you run out of one currency and want to top up from another.Foreign Exchange Margin 5.75%. Most cards don't reveal this, so it's difficult to compare this, but it doesn't look very good.

    Maximum total balance (including all Currencies) 5,000 Pounds, which could be a bit limiting for long holidays

    Max ATM withrawal in 24hrs 500 Pounds


    Can't recommend this due to the large currency transfer fees.

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  5. Velocity Global Wallet
    Supports 11 currencies
    AUD - Australian Dollar, CAD - Canadian Dollar, EUR - Euro, GBP - Pound Sterling, HKD - Hong Kong Dollar, JPY -

    Japanese Yen, NZD - New Zealand Dollar, SGD - Singapore Dollar, THB - Thai Baht, USD - US Dollar, ZAR - South African

    Rand.
    There are no load fees, no foreign exchange fees on overseas purchases when you spend from funds you hold in a wallet in

    the local currency, no fees for Available Balance Enquiry online or via SMS, no fee for Redemption of Available Balance. The

    Fee charged monthly after 12 months of inactivity is only $1.
    The Foreign Exchange Fee (payable whenever a Card is used for a transaction in a currency other than AUD, other than when

    the transaction is completed by using the part of the Available Balance held in a Wallet in that foreign currency) is 3% of the

    AUD amount, which seems fairly standard.
    ATM withdrawal fee is $AUD2.95 equivalent in local currency (and is free in Oz), which is only marginally greater than the

    Australia Post's $2.
    A foreign exchange rate will apply when transferring value between currencies on your Card. This foreign exchange rate will be

    determined by Cuscal at the time of transfer. It's a bit of a worry that this rate isn't linked to the Visa/Mastercard declared FX

    rates. But at least it should display what the rate is prior to accepting a transaction.

    Other nice features:
    For added security, you can also request a Virtual Global Wallet® card, allowing you to make purchases online using the

    funds in your Global Wallet® Account, without having to use your physical card number.
    With Global Wallet®, you will earn Points for shopping in-store and online, locally and overseas. Earn 1 Point per $1 spent

    overseas and 1 Point per $2 spent in Australia.

    On paper this looks like a very good card, with the one reservation being about how the FX rate is calculated, which is only relevant if you do a lot of transactions or large transactions.

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