The fee-free 28 Degrees Global Platinum Mastercard is one of the best credit cards for overseas travel and online shopping. It’s one of a range of Australian credit cards with no international transaction fees – some of which even award frequent flyer points.
When travelling overseas or paying in a foreign currency online, it’s prudent to use a credit card that charges no international transaction fees. Most Australian credit cards add a 3% international transaction fee – in addition to any margin the bank is making on the exchange rate – when you buy something in a foreign currency. This can really add up over time!
Best Credit Cards with No International Transaction Fees
There are a handful of Australian credit cards without any international transaction fees. Some of these credit cards even have no annual fees. There is also a selection of credit cards without forex fees that award frequent flyer points – although most of these cards have annual fees.
A possible exception is the CommBank Ultimate Awards card. This has a $35 monthly fee which is waived if you spend at least $2,500/month on the card.
Credit cards with no annual fees
Latitude 28 Degrees Global Platinum Mastercard
The popular Latitude 28 Degrees Global Platinum Mastercard has no annual fees and no international transaction fees, making it an ideal credit card for overseas travel and online shopping.
In addition, the 28 Degrees Mastercard comes with some unique benefits for travellers. You’ll receive free Boingo wifi hotspot access around the world. The 28 Degrees wifi benefit even allows for free in-flight internet access when flying on certain airlines, including Lufthansa.
The 28 Degrees credit card also offers complimentary lounge passes if your flight is delayed by more than two hours, thanks to the Flight Delay Pass service. So this is a great fee-free card to keep in your wallet when travelling overseas.
Bankwest Zero Platinum
As an alternative to the Latitude 28 Degrees Global Platinum card, Bankwest’s Zero Platinum card also has no annual or foreign transaction fees. As an added bonus, this card comes with complimentary international travel insurance. This is a benefit that the fee-free 28 Degrees Mastercard does not offer.
Points-earning credit cards
CommBank Ultiamte Awards
The CommBank Ultimate Awards credit card was launched in January 2020 and offers no foreign transaction fees on international purchases. With this card, you’ll earn 3 CommBank Awards points per $1 spent overseas. CommBank Awards points can be transferred to Velocity Frequent Flyer at a 2:1 rate, so that’s an equivalent of earning 1.5 Velocity points per dollar. Alternatively, you can opt-in to earning Qantas points (2.5 CommBank Awards points = 1 Qantas point) for an extra $30/year. Or, you can transfer CommBank Awards points to a range of other frequent flyer programs – albeit at relatively unfavourable rates.
Unfortunately, you’ll only earn points at the full rate for the first $10,000 spent per month. After this, the earn rate halves (as of May 2020). Also, this card is a poor earner for transactions in Australian Dollars, earning only 1 CommBank Awards point per dollar at the full rate. There is a $35 monthly fee which is waived if you spend at least $2,500 on the card each month.
Coles Rewards Mastercard
The Coles Rewards Mastercard has an annual fee of $99, but awards an uncapped 2 Flybuys points per dollar spent in Australia or overseas. Flybuys points can be converted to Virgin Australia Velocity points at a rate of 500 Velocity points for every 1,000 Flybuys points. This is very much a no-frills credit card, but the Velocity earn rate is competitive given the lack of foreign transaction fees.
Bankwest Qantas Platinum & Bankwest Qantas World
The Bankwest Qantas Platinum and World cards both award Qantas Frequent Flyer points while waiving all forex fees on international purchases. The Bankwest Qantas Platinum card, with a $160 annual fee, earns 0.75 Qantas points per dollar up to the first $2,500 per month, after which the earn rate drops to 0.3 points per dollar. For serious overseas spenders, the $270/year Bankwest Qantas World card awards 1 Qantas points per dollar for the first $5,000 spent each month, reverting to half of that rate above that amount.
Overall, Bankwest Qantas World is the best credit card in Australia to earn Qantas points on fee-free overseas transactions.
Macquarie Black & Macquarie Platinum
Since 1 July 2019, Macquarie Bank no longer charges foreign transaction fees on any of its credit cards. Both the Macquarie Black and Macquarie Platinum Visa cards award Qantas points. So these could be another option if you want to earn Qantas points on overseas purchases.
Both credit cards award 1 Qantas point per dollar spent, but this is capped at $1,000/month on the Macquarie Platinum card and $4,000/month for Macquarie Black. After this point, the earn rates are reduced to 0.5 Qantas points per dollar. The Macquarie Platinum and Black cards have annual fees of $99 and $149, respectively.
ANZ Rewards Travel Adventures
The ANZ Rewards Travel Adventures card has an annual fee of $120. Like the 28 Degrees and other credit cards featured in this article, there are no international transaction fees. This card previously also came with a complimentary return Virgin Australia domestic flight and two Virgin Australia lounge passes every year, but these benefits were removed in December 2020.
You’ll earn 1.5 ANZ Rewards points per dollar spent, which can normally be transferred at a 2:1 rate to Velocity (however Velocity transfers remain temporarily suspended as of January 2021) or a 3:1 rate to Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles or Air New Zealand Airpoints. Note that the earn rate is reduced by two-thirds after you spend over $2,000 per month on this card.
Compare the Best Credit Cards for Overseas Purchases
To help you compare credit cards, we’ve put together a list of the best Australian credit cards for overseas travel in order from lowest to highest annual fee. This list was accurate as at 1 January 2021:
|Credit card||Annual fee||Interest rate||Travel insurance||Points earned per $1||Other benefits|
|Latitude 28 Degrees Global Platinum||$0||21.99%||No||–||Global wifi hotspot access |
Flight Delay Pass
|Bankwest Zero Platinum||$0||17.99%||Yes||–||–|
|CommBank Ultimate Awards||$0-4501||20.24%||Yes||3 CommBank Awards points2||–|
|Coles Rewards Mastercard||$99||19.99%||No||2 Flybuys points3||–|
|Bankwest Qantas Platinum||$160||20.49%||Yes||0.75 Qantas points4||–|
|ANZ Rewards Travel Adventures||$120||20.24%||Yes||1.5 ANZ Rewards points5||–|
|Macquarie Platinum||$99||20.70%||Yes||1 Qantas point6||–|
|Bankwest Qantas World||$270||20.49%||Yes||1 Qantas point7||–|
|Macquarie Black||$149||20.70%||Yes||1 Qantas point8||–|
- The CommBank Ultimate Awards card has a $35 annual fee which is waived for every month that you spend at least $2,500 on the card. There is also a $30 annual fee to opt in to Qantas Frequent Flyer Direct (mandatory for earning Qantas points).
- 3 CommBank Awards points are equal to 1.5 Velocity points or 1.2 Qantas points.
- 2 Flybuys points is equal to 0.87 Velocity points. You may transfer a maximum of 138,000 Flybuys points to Velocity Frequent Flyer each year.
- The earn rate reduces to 0.3 Qantas points per dollar for expenditure above $2,500/month.
- The earn rate reduces to 0.5 ANZ Rewards points per $1 after spending $2,000/month. 1.5 ANZ Rewards points are worth 0.75 Velocity points, 0.5 KrisFlyer miles, 0.5 Asia Miles or 0.0075 Airpoints Dollars.
- The earn rate reduces to 0.5 Qatnas points per dollar for expenditure over $1,000/month, and you can only earn Qantas points on the first $200,000 spent on the card each year.
- The earn rate reduces to 0.5 Qantas points per dollar for expenditure above $5,000/month.
- The earn rate reduces to 0.5 Qantas points per dollar for expenditure above $4,000/month.
Travel Money Cards
If you’re travelling overseas, an alternative is to use a travel money card such as Qantas Travel Money. These allow you to pre-load foreign currency and lock-in the exchange rate before you depart Australia. However, the value of travel money cards is questionable.
Although most travel money cards do not charge any ongoing fees, you’ll often receive a worse exchange rate than you would with a credit card such as the 28 Degrees card. The ability to lock in an exchange rate in advance could work in your favour if the currency devalues… but it could just as easily work against you, so this is not necessarily an advantage. Plus, the exchange rates used by travel money cards typically include a high margin.
Many travel money cards charge a non-native currency fee if you pay using a currency not pre-loaded onto the card. And if you overestimate your spend and have money left over on your travel money card at the end of your trip, you’ll be paying a second time to convert the foreign currency back to Australian dollars. That’s we prepaid travel cards are not necessarily the best value option.
Recommended by the Australian Frequent Flyer
Travel money cards are not suitable for hotel and car rental pre-authorisations as this will block you from accessing a certain amount of your own money for a period of time. For pre-authorisations, it is much better to use a credit card.
Earning points with a travel money card
If you wish to use a travel money card, the Qantas Travel Money product isn’t too bad. The key advantage is the ability to earn frequent flyer points. You’ll earn 1.5 Qantas points per $1 spent in foreign currency with the Qantas Travel Money card (formerly Qantas Cash).
Fee-Free Overseas ATM Withdrawals
If you need to access cash in a foreign currency while you’re travelling, there are some great fee-free debit cards in Australia that offer no foreign transaction fees and unlimited overseas ATM withdrawals at no cost.
Instead of exchanging cash at the airport, you can withdraw cash as you need it from overseas ATMs without paying any fees. You’ll most likely get a better exchange rate, too.
The Citibank Plus Everyday transaction account is a popular option among Australian Frequent Flyer members because there are no account fees, no international transaction fees and no overseas ATM withdrawal fees. This means you can store Australian Dollars in your transaction account and withdraw money from any overseas ATM as required. You’ll get a good exchange rate and won’t pay any fees, other than any fees that may be charged by the ATM operator. (Many ATM operators do not charge any fees, either.) However, you will earn a very low interest rate on any money stored in this account.
For overseas cash withdrawals, this is a better option that using a credit card. This is because even credit cards with no international transaction fees on purchases, such as the 28 Degrees card, may charge a forex fee on cash withdrawals – which also tend to be treated as a cash advance (with high interest payable).
There is a lengthy discussion about the Citibank Plus Everyday transaction account, including a spreadsheet containing information about overseas ATM fees, on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Citibank Plus – No Fee No Overseas Transaction Fee Account
The HSBC Everyday Global account, UBank USaver Ultra transaction account and ING Orange Everyday account also do not charge any forex or overseas ATM withdrawal fees. The ING Orange Everyday card will even refund any fees charged by overseas ATM operators, however there are some minimum deposit and transaction requirements to avoid paying account fees.
When withdrawing money or making a purchase overseas, beware of Dynamic Currency Conversion. Always pay in the local currency!
Would you like to learn more about credit cards?
Frequent Flyer Solutions has an entire training course on Credit Cards! This course will teach you about maximising credit card points and help you to choose the credit card that’s right for you. View course →
There’s also a unit on Travel Money, Debit & Credit Cards in Course 10 of the Frequent Flyer Solutions training which may be of interest to you. As with the first unit of every Frequent Flyer Solutions course, this unit is freely available to all Frequent Flyer Solutions members.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended as financial advice. Consider your personal circumstances before applying for any type of credit.