How to manage your money while you travel
Planning
1 March, 2019 - 09:19 AM GMT

How to manage your money while you travel

You’re heading off overseas on a round the world jaunt, the last thing you want to think about is managing your money. Yet seasoned travellers know that having the right cards and enough cash can be the difference between a good trip and a great one. YBI reports.

Whether you’re planning an overseas trip with family and friends or flying solo, getting your finances sorted before you touch down is vital to ensure everything runs smoothly while you are away. From currency exchange to loading up travel cards – YBI gives you the low down on what to think about before and after you take off.

Currency exchange

We may be moving to an increasingly cashless society but it still pays to have so local currency to take with you, especially if traveling to somewhere remote. A good rule of thumb is to exchange enough Aussie dollars for a couple of days expenses, so you aren’t caught short. So when and how should you exchange your hard-earned dosh for other currency?

Bank exchange

Banks will generally give you a reasonably good rate of exchange, though there will still be some difference between what you get on exchange and the market rate.  Generally, for every $1000 dollars you would expect to pay around $25-30 in fees and commissions. Don’t wait til the day you are heading off overseas to exchange your money especially if you are going somewhere exotic as the bank may have to order in the currency you need.

Changing money at the airport

You’ve left it too late to go to the bank, never fear, there will be a currency exchange at the airport where you can change your funds for foreign notes. However, there is a downside, the fees to exchange are usually higher (up to 8-10 per cent) and the rate is usally not as competitive as you’d get at a bank.

Pop your money in a prepaid travel card

In recent years many of the major banks (and even some airline operators) offer the option of loading up a ‘travel card’ with cash. You can then use these cards much the same way as you would a debit or credit card. The benefit is if you are heading to a single destination it is easy to lock in an exchange rate with your card provider when you load the card up – so you are not at the whims of the exchange rate. However, make sure to read the fine print. If you are travelling to multiple destinations be certain to load different currencies on your card or you can be hit with large transaction fees.

Use your existing credit card

Of course, one of the simplest ways to pay for your purchases whist travelling is to use your existing credit card. BUT this can come at a cost. Credit card providers often build in margins and fees to any transactions and these can change based on the day’s exchange rate, plus there is a chance of overseas ATM fees which can vary between card providers. Don’t forget if you are using your credit card you are also racking up interest at the same time! Check out a comparison site such as finder.com.au to find the best card for your needs.

What about debit cards?

You’ve saved hard for your holiday and don’t want to come away with a credit card debt – then consider using your existing debit card. Most banks can provide a VISA debit or Mastercard debit card that can be used for overseas transactions. This will ensure your are making purchases with your own funds and avoiding interest in the process. Just watch out for overseas transaction fees – avoid racking these up by withdrawing larger sums of money rather than lots of small withdrawals.

What is this DDC thing?

DDC, or dynamic currency conversion is not as fancy as it sounds. It simply means the hotel or store you are using your card at will can provide the option for you to pay in the local currency or in $AUD. While it might be tempting to say pay in Aussie dollars – avoid this at all costs. A small hotel will not offer you the same exchange rate as a big bank and you can also be hit with double fees. It’s better to use your card to pay In the local currency and let Visa, Amex or Mastercard apply the exchange rate for you.

And there you have it! Now we’ve explained your choices, it’s over to you! Enjoy your trip knowing you’re using the card or cash option that works best for you!