Best card for travelling overseas?

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Nutcase

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Careful!

The Citibank Visa and Mastercards are not equiped with a Chip. Chip and PIN technology has been implemented in the UK and Europe lately (2006) as a way of reducing fraud. Whilst most EFTPOS devices can handle both Magnetic strip (citibank) cards and CHIP, in many cases a PIN will be required.

Credit Cards & Visa Debit - ANZ Chip Card

Subsequently you will have difficulty using your Non Chip-PIN card in parts of Europe and the UK

Chips are down on magnetic strips | The Australian

The reader, who wishes to remain anonymous, says that a gold credit card from the NAB was rejected in a grocery store, two petrol stations and at lunch in a large chain of fish restaurants.
The petrol stations, all part of a national chain, had the sign "No chip, no pin, no sale".
Through internet forums there are other reports of cards being rejected in France, Denmark, The Netherlands and Switzerland.

Whilst there should be no problem in theory, you may have difficulty convinving the merchant that his payment will still be processed and we all know how temperamental the French can be!

ANZ is already using Chip and PIN, Westpac have decided to follow suit. NAB have indicated compliance (but will not reveal a date) and no comment from CBA.

Im afraid to say that there is a reason why the Citbank gold card is free. Not only is there no Chip, there are very high fees (Nearly 4%) for foreign currency transactions. Dont forget also that depending on which scheme (Mastercard or Visa) that the transaction is first converted into USD then converted into the local currency. The Scheme controls BOTH of these swaps and the exchnage rate that they give.

This problem is not seen as an issue with Australian banks for a couple of reasons

1) Foreign spend is less than 3% of total scheme spend for Australian issued cards (97% of spend is local AUD)
2) Skimming fraud is seen as manageable
3) The cost of change to Chip and PIN far outweighs the amount of fraud

In other words, youre being hung out to dry.

Happy trails

Nutcase
 

Alanslegal

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for me, the Wizard Clear Advantage MC is the best value card for making purchases overseas!

i'll give you a current comparision Wizard Clear Vs. Anz Gold......

On 2 October 2007, I made 2 purchases online from American sites...so they charge in USD.

(According to the RBA website, on 2 October 2007, the $1aud was buying $0.8860USD)

On my Wizard card I put through $62USD and when converted to AUD it was $70.34 , this is about 0.88143.....

On my ANZ Gold Card, I put through $185.97USD and the amount I got charged was $215.40AUD (this includes a $5.25aud conversion fee)....

SO, $185.97USD = $215.40AUD , we are looking at 0.863370.

(ANZ Gold has a 2.5% conversion fee) so if you look at CB or Amex with a slightly higher conversion fee, I'm sure you know which one works out favourably!
 

JohnK

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Alanslegal said:
(ANZ Gold has a 2.5% conversion fee) so if you look at CB or Amex with a slightly higher conversion fee, I'm sure you know which one works out favourably!
Actually Amex charges 2.5% currency conversion fee and I am almost certain that Citibank is the same but cannot confirm from the statement as it does not list the commission separately.
 

JohnK

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I am not sure that we will ever be able to reconcile the actual exchange rate used against any of the websites. Most credit cards do mention that they use a mixture of interbank rates and their own rates on the day prior to the transaction date.

So the only proof I have that Amex charges 2.5% commission on exchange rates is the commission amount that is reported on the statement, eg Hilton Mainz, 113 is converted to A$188.20 + A$4.70 commission fee (2.497%).
 

serfty

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JohnK said:
I am not sure that we will ever be able to reconcile the actual exchange rate used against any of the websites. ...
Therein is the rub. I believe XE rates are often specified in interbank contracts but the dates/times can vary.

I did to Amex comparisons, one for USD9.99 and it came out at 2.573%, another two months earlier for 99.99 and is showed as 2.632%.
 

Nutcase

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On a pure "transaction" basis, of course, you are right - however currency conversion isnt that simple. Given that Mastercard and Visa are setting the rates, the rate has a lot to do with their long and short positions on the day (and within the day)

Secondly, dont forget that different cards have differnt rules with regard to charge back. God forbid that you should need to use this facility, but if you did, you are going to be better off with an Amex compared with a Visa or Mastercard. Chargebacks happen if your goods dont arrive and you can have the merchant "charged back" for the item so you dont have to pay. Amex have a completely differnt regime with this and it works in the favour of the customer NOT the merchant, unlike the sheme cards. They also charge you if, after investigation, they find in favour of the merchant (in many cases)

There are also insurance products etc etc etc.

So no frills means no frills and you could get caught out. Wizard is a GE product and you are at the mercy of that company. Do you really think that Wizard are going to care about your fraudulent USD transaction and know how to handle it?

The reason why there are no foreign transaciton fees on a wizard card is that Wizard customers tend not to travel too extensively - Interesting that the other cards in the market are aimed at travellers. Yes they cost a bit, but you get what you pay for.

Then there is the "tip tray test". This is where you take your friends out for dinner and see the look of horror on their faces when you put down your lurid orange Wizard card to pay for dinner.

So, for the few bucks that you may be saving - Is it really worth it? By the looks of your investigation - it is for you but for me, peace of mind isnt worth the $100 a year ish (tax deductable) that you would save.
 

JohnK

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serfty said:
Therein is the rub. I believe XE rates are often specified in interbank contracts but the dates/times can vary.
Doesn't XE specify mid market rates? Again I am almost certain that credit card companies will use the lowest rate for that day. Where we get to see accurate interbank rates?

I had a lengthy discussion with an Amex customer service agent on this subject one time and I decided to give up in the end. Even he had no idea which rate is used and actually referred me to OANDA for comparison. But I was never able to reconcile using that website either. Who knows they are probably skimming on the exchange rate before applying the commission anyway. These days I am happy if the rate looks close enough.
 

Starship

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Nutcase said:
Careful!
http://www.anz.com/aus/ind/creditcard/chipcard.asp
Subsequently you will have difficulty using your Non Chip-PIN card in parts of Europe and the UK

Nutcase

I was caught earlier this year at an outlying Frankfurt train station (Langen - after a meeting with DFS [Deutsche Flugsicherung / German Air Traffic Control]) trying to use the automatic ticket vending machine. It would not take my NAB card as there was no chip, and the machine would not accept my 20 euro note as the fare was too small.

I was lucky there were two friendly people on the station, who between them found change of the e20 note, and then helped me interpret the machine.
 

Starship

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Nutcase said:
So, for the few bucks that you may be saving - Is it really worth it? By the looks of your investigation - it is for you but for me, peace of mind isnt worth the $100 a year ish (tax deductable) that you would save.

I agree, (after my wallet was stolen in Brussels), NAB had switched off the card and were replacing it with a new one, alerted by the fraudulent spending, before I had even reported it stolen. In fact, the NAB agent rang me to ask me where i wanted my card sent whilst i was standing at the counter of the police station waiting for the officer to record my claim.

As noted earlier, the Wizard card for fee free cash withdrawals is a good option.
 

NM

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serfty said:
Therein is the rub. I believe XE rates are often specified in interbank contracts but the dates/times can vary.

I did to Amex comparisons, one for USD9.99 and it came out at 2.573%, another two months earlier for 99.99 and is showed as 2.632%.
The rates on xe.com are updated every 5 mins or so, and this appears to be on a 24 hour basis. So when using xe.com to see what the rate was on a previous day, it can only show as either the rate at the end of the day (in which timezone?) or an average rate for that date.

As such, I believe rates published on xe.com can only be used a guideline as to what the exchange was for a particular day.
 

Fifa

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A few observations I have made on my recently acquired Wizard Clear Advantage Mastercard:

I first used the card in late August to buy 4 x flights via Priceline from NYC to BCN. Within approximately one minute of the on-line purchase going through I got a call from GE Finance to ensure it was not a fraudulent transaction!

I made a BPay payment on 1 October to cover some US travel purchases above my credit limit. It did not show up on-line until 4 October.

The balance for our Transatlantic cruise was processed on 1 October and the exchange rate was .8855.

I am extremely happy with the exchange rate I have received, but will carry additional cards overseas "just in case".
 

Alanslegal

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Nutcase said:
So no frills means no frills and you could get caught out. Wizard is a GE product and you are at the mercy of that company. Do you really think that Wizard are going to care about your fraudulent USD transaction and know how to handle it?
I'm confident that they would care about fraudulent transactions, just like most institutions would be.......

The reason why there are no foreign transaciton fees on a wizard card is that Wizard customers tend not to travel too extensively - Interesting that the other cards in the market are aimed at travellers. Yes they cost a bit, but you get what you pay for.
Regardless of frequency of travel, I use my Wizard card primarily to purchase items from US eBay... I spend around $4k USD each month and if I am saving (say) a net 2%, that is around $80USD per month, multple that per year and I have saved $960USD p.a by using Wizard......

Then there is the "tip tray test". This is where you take your friends out for dinner and see the look of horror on their faces when you put down your lurid orange Wizard card to pay for dinner.
As I only use this card overseas, I'm not really bothered about the colour of the card and most of my friends also have a Wizard card too for the same reason.......

So, for the few bucks that you may be saving - Is it really worth it? By the looks of your investigation - it is for you but for me, peace of mind isnt worth the $100 a year ish (tax deductable) that you would save.

IME yes it is worth it, I have saved money & I have never had any problems with the Wizard card in almost 3 years of usage.........except when I tried using the Wizard Card at a Red Lobster in Hawaii and they were surprised as they've never seen this card before and assumed it was a fake card. (i then had to show my driver's license to prove I was the actual cardholder)..............and just recently I tried using the card at a Lacoste store in Bangkok, and they wouldn't accept it as it didn't have the Chip technology yet.........
 

Alanslegal

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Fifa said:
I first used the card in late August to buy 4 x flights via Priceline from NYC to BCN. Within approximately one minute of the on-line purchase going through I got a call from GE Finance to ensure it was not a fraudulent transaction!

I am extremely happy with the exchange rate I have received, but will carry additional cards overseas "just in case".

it must be the "Falcon" that has spotted this possible irregular spending (hence the initial phone call)......that's their fraud protection system like on many other cards......
 

kpc

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I'm another Wizard MC fan...it gives one of the best exchange rates, and I don't have to run around trying to change cash. I only use the card overseas or for online foreign currency purchases. In particular, I use it primarily to obtain local cash at the "best" available rate without any commission, by putting the card into positive balance using BPay (takes 2 working days). So far I've used it in NZ, Malaysia, Singapore, Germany, Austria without any problems. I'll be testing it again in China and HK in 2 weeks.

Of course, like others have said, I have other backup cards (HSBC ATM card, Citibank Visa:oops: and Diners) and carry some emergency US$ cash (as opposed to AUD$), which can be exchaged any where in the world easily, but not necessarily at the best rate.

In terms of fraud, while a little annoying, GE seem to monitor overseas transactions very carefully!

The funniest conversation I had went along these lines: "Sir, I have to report some suspicious activity on your card in Malaysia. There was a charge of a hotel accommodation in Penang, shopping at departmental stores, restaurants etc". I replied "I don't think that is suspicious!:mrgreen:". "Why not?" he asked "Well, I was in Penang at that time..." I said. "Oh, I see!! Anyway, I think we shall cancel your card and replace it with a new one!" "Why?" I asked.

"Well, Malaysia is a high risk country and it is our policy to change the card when it has been used in Malaysia!!". "I see, does it mean that I need to change my card again after my trip to Malaysia in 3 weeks?" I replied. "Oh, do you go to Malaysia often". I replied "Yes, once / twice per year". He replied "Don't worry then!"

Feeling a little concerned now, I said "Are you not concerned about my card then?" I got a reassuring answer "Just be careful where you use your card, and immediately report any suspicious activity!":?::idea:
 

Nutcase

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$48,000 USD and you save $960USD . Well done. But you get nothing for it.

With the right AMEX you would get the around 90,000 frequent flyer points. This could equate to the difference between flying first and business class or economy or business depending on your destination. Given the fact that your USD 960 is a deductable cost of doing buiness your Net cost would be around say $500 AUD.

You do the maths.

Now, the next point it in you post is around Red Lobster. This explains everything.

Happy bargain hunting.

Nutcase


Alanslegal said:
I'm confident that they would care about fraudulent transactions, just like most institutions would be.......


Regardless of frequency of travel, I use my Wizard card primarily to purchase items from US eBay... I spend around $4k USD each month and if I am saving (say) a net 2%, that is around $80USD per month, multple that per year and I have saved $960USD p.a by using Wizard......


As I only use this card overseas, I'm not really bothered about the colour of the card and most of my friends also have a Wizard card too for the same reason.......



IME yes it is worth it, I have saved money & I have never had any problems with the Wizard card in almost 3 years of usage.........except when I tried using the Wizard Card at a Red Lobster in Hawaii and they were surprised as they've never seen this card before and assumed it was a fake card. (i then had to show my driver's license to prove I was the actual cardholder)..............and just recently I tried using the card at a Lacoste store in Bangkok, and they wouldn't accept it as it didn't have the Chip technology yet.........
 
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Harriet Vane

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Has anyone had any experience with the ANZ Travel Card? We mostly want to pay for things in cash rather than on the credit card, so ATM access without a huge amount of fees is our major concern. We're only planning to put things like the hotel and hire car on the plastic.
 

Baysider

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I have been using the Wizard Clear Advantage Mastercard for foreign cash withdrawals for about 6 months now. There are no fees, the conversion rate is superior to my Amex and my Westpac Gold Visa, and it has worked readily in the Philippines, Hong Kong, Canada and the USA. The only catch to watch is that both electronic (BPAY) transfers into the card account and overseas cash withdrawals take up to 4 days to show up in the online statement, so your calculations need to be good to ensure you keep it in credit and avoid interest charges.
 

Nutcase

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Baysider said:
I have been using the Wizard Clear Advantage Mastercard for foreign cash withdrawals for about 6 months now. There are no fees, the conversion rate is superior to my Amex and my Westpac Gold Visa, and it has worked readily in the Philippines, Hong Kong, Canada and the USA. The only catch to watch is that both electronic (BPAY) transfers into the card account and overseas cash withdrawals take up to 4 days to show up in the online statement, so your calculations need to be good to ensure you keep it in credit and avoid interest charges.

I think that Ive posted this before but it may be worth revisiting.

Britain (and other European countries) have moved to a Chip and Pin based "signature" for Credit cards to reduce fraud

Chips are down on magnetic strips | NEWS.com.au

What this means is that unless your Card has a chip in it (Wizard does not yet) then you MAY struggle to use it in some cases. Usually in machines and in some places outside of capital cities. Whilst merchants can still process magnetic stripe enabled cards (like most of the ones in Australia) they have been instructed not to (unless there is no chip present). What this has been translated into is that some cards have been declined.

At this stage ANZ, Westpac and CBA (I think) are issuing Chip Cards. NAB is soon to follow. No news yet on Citi, St George and other 2nd and 3rd tier banks. Other players (GE for the Wizard card) have been silent given the small volume of Overseas transactions - the high cost of conversion and the potential up side which is marginal at best.

So the message is - Be Careful.

The other card worth considering in this space is the new NAB Gold Visa debit. It has no ATM fees anywhere in the world. It does have a 2% conversion fee though. The monthly fee is waived if you have your (substantial) salary credited to to it. You also get free travel insurance if you pay for your trip on the card.

NAB - NAB Gold Banking

Amex issue chip cards in other geographies, but there is no mention of what their policy is on this.

Happy trails
 

JohnK

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I used my Citibank readicredit card for cash advances in Thailand in March and when I looked at the statement recently noticed that the exchange rate used was very poor. On previous trips I noted that Citibank were already applying the 2.5% commission on foreign exchange transactions but it looks like now they are applying a further 2.5% commission on foreign exchange transactions.

The exchange rate used by Citibank for the cash advances worked out to 27.33 THB/A$. There was a few Amex transactions around the same time and these ranged from 28.03 THB/A$ to 28.10 THB/A$. The difference is ~2.5%. For what it's worth the exchange rate at the foreign exchange kiosks got as high as 28.4 THB/A$ with the lowest at around 28.1 THB/A$. The exchange rate from Citibank is definitely not worth it even allowing for the convenience factor.

Has anyone else noticed this recent change? Has there been a letter from Citibank, that I may not have read, informing of any changes to foreign currency commissions? Not happy with this recent change. I may have to resort to using cash only or the Wizard Mastercard for foreign currency cash advances but that would mean applying for yet another credit card.
 
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