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Money Overseas - ATM, Trav Cheques or VISA

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Baysider

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Oct 3, 2002
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643
I have regularly used Westpac for withdrawals from savings overseas, and by sticking to the right banks you really can save on fees. Most times I do not even take any foreign cash or travellers cheques, I just do some internet research in advance and confirm that there's an appropriate ATM within the destination airport terminal, and make a withdrawal of foreign cash on arrival.

If you are visiting a place where Westpac does not have a partner bank, however, the fees can be excessive. In the Philippines I copped a $5 foreign ATM fee, a 1.5% transaction fee, and another fee of 1%, which meant I paid $15.58 in fees on a $453 withdrawal, a whopping 3.4%. If you can get hold of an Amex Charge Card (i.e. not a credit card) which has the Express Cash Withdrawal facility, the fees are very low. I have it with my green Amex Corporate Card, but I think the gold personal charge card offers it too. I paid just $2.57 on a $238 withdrawal in Manilla, or 1.1%.
 

stryker

Member
Joined
Sep 28, 2006
Messages
450
Baysider said:
Most times I do not even take any foreign cash or travellers cheques, I just do some internet research in advance and confirm that there's an appropriate ATM within the destination airport terminal, and make a withdrawal of foreign cash on arrival.
I hope your card never has apoplexy.
 

Optics

Member
Joined
Mar 14, 2006
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321
Its been ages since I've had to worry about the best way to do FX transactions. I only ever travel overseas for work, and I just use my corporate Diner's for everything (or my personal MC at those all too frequent establishments that don't take Diners!, then claim back from the company).

However, I am actually taking a holiday in Sept to the US with the family, and so have been doing some research. From this it is evident that TCs are still the most cost effective, especially in the US where they can be used like cash, with no fees for cashing, and get actual USDs as change. I can buy TCs with no commission using my Platinum MC at CBA (plus get FFPs :) ). The only issue with TCs of course, is the hassle of signing them all and needing to carry passport for ID. Having to carry a lot of small denomination TCs to ensure they can be accepted for most purchases makes the hassle worse.

Using the MC overseas is convenient, but the 2.5% commission on each foreign currency transaction, plus the USD2.5 fee for ATM withdrawals (if pre-loaded with credit, so not a cash advance), makes it expensive.

The new CBA Travellers Cash card (pre-load with funds and withdraw through Cirrus ATMs) sounds pretty good, but again it is 1% commission to pre-load funds, and USD2.75 fee per withdrawal.

So, I think I will take TCs, in predominantly USD500/100 denominations. Use them to pay for the hotels, and ensure I get plenty of actual USD cash as change. to be used for other expenditure.

I will always have the MC available if a problem arises, or I run out of TCs (definitely possible as travelling with SWMBO and 2 daughters:D ).
 

drron

AFF Supporter
Joined
Jul 4, 2002
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18,740
I always use TC's in the USA and it is actually rare for them to ask for ID.When they do my drivers licence is always accepted so I never carry my passport on me.
 

serfty

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Optics said:
... However, I am actually taking a holiday in Sept to the US with the family, and so have been doing some research. From this it is evident that TCs are still the most cost effective, especially in the US where they can be used like cash, with no fees for cashing, and get actual USDs as change. ...
For FEE FREE withdrawal in the US, get yourself a Westpac debit card.

You can then use Bank of America ATM's as they are a partner wuth Westpac in the 'Global Alliance Partner group.

More here: Westpac Internet -Accessing your accounts overseas
 

Optics

Member
Joined
Mar 14, 2006
Messages
321
serfty said:
For FEE FREE withdrawal in the US, get yourself a Westpac debit card.

You can then use Bank of America ATM's as they are a partner wuth Westpac in the 'Global Alliance Partner group.

More here: Westpac Internet -Accessing your accounts overseas
Reading this link, it states that "A foreign currency fee is charged to you by Westpac, being 1.5% of the Australian dollar transaction amount."

This sort of fee seems to be common to most of the ATM style accounts, which is why I believe TCs in the US are the most cost effective way of making FX transactions.
 

Febs

Established Member
Joined
Aug 15, 2006
Messages
1,659
Heading to the US for a 5 week holiday (I've probably already mentioned that...probably in this thread too :D ) and this is how I'm planning on best using my money:

- Cash out using the Wizard ClearAdvantage MC. No currency conversion fees, good exchange rates, excellent acceptance and no ATM fees if you're selective about ATMs (same applies in Australia really).

- All purchases using Earth+ AMEX. 1:1 points earning, and 1.5% foreign conversion fee. The QF Amex earns more QFF points, but has (from memory) a 2.5 or 3% conversion fee for purchases.

Anyone see a problem with the above, or would recommend a more effective way? I'm all ears. :)

Cheers,
- Febs.
 

Optics

Member
Joined
Mar 14, 2006
Messages
321
Febs said:
Heading to the US for a 5 week holiday (I've probably already mentioned that...probably in this thread too :D ) and this is how I'm planning on best using my money:

- Cash out using the Wizard ClearAdvantage MC. No currency conversion fees, good exchange rates, excellent acceptance and no ATM fees if you're selective about ATMs (same applies in Australia really).

- All purchases using Earth+ AMEX. 1:1 points earning, and 1.5% foreign conversion fee. The QF Amex earns more QFF points, but has (from memory) a 2.5 or 3% conversion fee for purchases.

Anyone see a problem with the above, or would recommend a more effective way? I'm all ears. :)

Cheers,
- Febs.
The Wizard ClearAdvantage MC sounds like a good option. Speaking to them, you really don't need to be too selective on which ATMs to use, they say any ATM that accepts MC can be used with no fee. You can also load the MC with funds, and so withdraw cash without it being a cash advance. I am very tempted to use this rather than TCs, as it provides more convenience.

Using the Amex for purchases is sensible too. With only a 1.5% conversion fee that is probably just cost effective (20,000 points (MEL-SYD rtn) for $300 fee).
 

Febs

Established Member
Joined
Aug 15, 2006
Messages
1,659
Optics said:
they say any ATM that accepts MC can be used with no fee.
No fee from them (Wizard), but the ATM itself can still charge a fee.
When I was in the States in April, I had no trouble using the card in any ATM (and had credited my balance beforehand, meaning on cash advance charges), but certain ATM charged their own fee ($2USD, possibly even $4USD), just like some ATMs do here in Australia (usually those small portable ones you see in 7-11 etc...)

Stick to ATMs from the bigger banks though, and you should be fine. The ATMs that charge fees warn you beforehand.

Cheers,
- Febs.
 

Optics

Member
Joined
Mar 14, 2006
Messages
321
Febs said:
No fee from them (Wizard), but the ATM itself can still charge a fee.
When I was in the States in April, I had no trouble using the card in any ATM (and had credited my balance beforehand, meaning on cash advance charges), but certain ATM charged their own fee ($2USD, possibly even $4USD), just like some ATMs do here in Australia (usually those small portable ones you see in 7-11 etc...)

Stick to ATMs from the bigger banks though, and you should be fine. The ATMs that charge fees warn you beforehand.

Cheers,
- Febs.
Thanks, I applied for my card yesterday :) .
 
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