Best Cards for Travelling

Best Cards for Travelling

Last Updated: 25 October 2017

Update Notes

  • Grammar/choice of words
  • Mentioned DiviPay at the bottom of TLDR
  • Updated Coles Rewards Mastercard Annual fee to $99

Best Cards for Travelling

Summary/TL;DR

For travelling, it is ideal to have a card that waives international transaction fees. Although you might think...

I have a card that gives me extra points for overseas transactions anyway

It’s only ~3% of the transaction cost!
— You

For context, just consider that the majority of the time when you earn points, you are earning (generally) somewhere between 0.4-2% return. This means most of the time it is not worth "paying" the surcharge for the additional points.

The post below is my longest to date, and is a comprehensive breakdown of alternative (Credit) Card options to the popular 28 Degrees Credit Card. I will do my best to summarise it in a few paragraphs here.

There are several other cards in the market that I believe are superior to the 28 Degrees, each for their own reason. Which card is best for you is dependent on your own personal circumstances. The common theme amongst all the cards discussed below are that they waive international transaction fees.

If you think you will fly domestically at least once a year and be able to plan your travels 60 days in advance, the ANZ Travel Adventures Platinum Card ($225 annual fee) offers amazing value, in addition to Travel Insurances, Rental Excess Cover, and lounge access.

If you simply want the better version of the 28 Degrees, the Bankwest Zero Platinum Mastercard with no annual fee is basically the 28 Degrees but better in all respects. There is no annual fee, it is with a bank with physical branches and you will have a more refined online banking experience. Most notably, the inclusion of Travel Insurance is a particular standout which the 28 Degrees does not and has not ever offered.

If you want the highest points earn rate overall, the Coles Rewards Mastercard ($99 annual fee) provides this at the equivalent of 0.87 Velocity points/$ spent. The other huge advantage of the Coles Rewards Mastercard is being able to access 2 Years Price Protection via its "Account Cover Plus" Insurance, which I will write a separate article about to elaborate on all the nuances of it. However, this insurance can also be accessed via the no annual fee Coles Credit Card.

Amongst the two non-Credit Card options, the Citibank Plus is the better option as it provides you with fee-free ATM withdrawals overseas, unlike the Macquarie Transaction Account.

As the issuers of all cards do not slap on an additional percentage "international transaction fee" surcharge, it can be assumed that all the cards listed above assume the exchange rate of their interchange: Visa/Mastercard.

From my own personal experience, the exchange rates are often comparable to what you'd expect to find at a good money changer in the country/city you are in, and not far off the mid-market rate posted on xe.com.

25Oct Update: Consider DiviPay as another way to avoid international transaction fees, although it is more likely to complement your Credit Card portfolio as you do not get a physical card.

Best Cards for Travelling

Most people know the 28 Degrees Credit Card. In fact, I would say their market penetration is quite impressive when you consider their limited marketing/advertising.

However, I have a five other cards in mind which I believe are superior to the 28 Degrees - each for their own reason and with their own unique value proposition.

The cards are:

The Citibank Plus Transaction Account and Macquarie Transaction accounts are the non-Credit Card options from the ones listed above.

I will discuss each one below with advantages, disadvantages and general comments relative to the 28 Degrees which will highlight why I believe the 28 Degrees is inferior.

The common theme amongst all these cards is that they do not charge any foreign transaction fee on transaction.

Citibank Plus Transaction Account

Official Page

Advantages:

  • Not a Credit Card, i.e. no credit check required and does not occupy a portion of your Credit Limit
  • No ATM withdrawal fee overseas
    • To me, this is a realistic alternative to having to take Australian dollars overseas to convert to the local currency
    • You may be charged an ATM fee by the ATM itself, which will be displayed at the time you withdraw. My experience is most ATMs do not charge though, but give you a generic warning saying "your bank may charge you".. but guess what? Citibank don't!
  • No monthly/annual fees
  • Qualifies for "free wine" promotions at certain restaurants in Australia
  • Priority access to exclusive areas at certain events, such as the Sydney Night Noodle Market (2016 edition) - you get an exclusive seating area with an exclusive bar!
  • Fee free International Money Transfers
  • Instant International Money Transfers to Citibank accounts in certain countries
  • Qualifies for Citibank restaurant promotions overseas (I've mostly seen these in South East Asian Countries - Malaysia, Singapore) where you get a discount off your restaurant bill of a certain percentage. Example
  • Compatible with CitiPay (like Android Pay) and Samsung Pay

Disadvantages:

  • Not a Credit Card, i.e. you have to put your own money in first
  • Citibank Internet Banking and app are not the most user friendly
  • May become inactive if you leave the balance at $0 for over 6 months
    • Leave a $1 balance if you do not wish for this to happen!

General Comments:

I see the Citibank Plus Transaction Account and the associated debit card as being an esssential part of my travel card portfolio. If I'm going overseas, I must have it with me. It's also just good to have anyway, because it is not a Credit Card and has no ongoing fees, so is worth having regardless.

Whilst I am in Australia, I rarely ever use it. But that doesn't matter. It's free to hold onto!

Bankwest Zero Platinum Mastercard

Official Page

Advantages:

  • Free Travel Insurance upon meeting the spending criteria of $500+ of travel expenses being paid for on the card
  • No Annual Fee, just like 28 Degrees
  • Being with a big bank with physical branches means you can go into a branch for assistance, if necessary
  • Compatible with Android Pay
  • Superior Online Banking experience to that of 28 Degrees

Disadvantages:

  • No access to "Price Protection" Insurance, which allows you to claim the price difference between the price you paid and a future sale price if you provide proof. See Coles Rewards Mastercard section to find out more.

General Comments:

The Bankwest Zero Platinum Mastercard is a beefed up version of the 28 Degrees. The key difference being that it includes free Travel Insurance and it's issued by a bank with physical branches.

There are also four variants of this card (Bankwest More Platinum Mastercard, Bankwest More World Mastercard, Bankwest Qantas Platinum Mastercard and Bankwest Qantas World Mastercard) with annual fees of $130, $240, $160 and $270 respectively with slightly differing features which offer rewards points, but relative to the other available options, I do not believe they are worth the annual fee.

The lack of access to the 6 months Price Protection is somewhat unfortunate, but not a deal breaker by any means as access to a superior 2 years Price Protection is still available with no annual fee on the Coles No Annual Fee Mastercard.

Coles Rewards Mastercard

Official Page

Advantages:

  • Cheapest card that allows you to earn Rewards points ($89 annual fee)
  • Earn the equivalent of 0.87 Velocity or 0.8 Etihad points per dollar spent on the Credit Card
  • Free delivery for Coles online orders of $100+ when paying with this card
  • A long interest-free period of up to 62 days (most other cards are 55 days)
  • Access to 2 years of Price Protection via the "Account Cover Plus" insurance
    • This is an amazing perk which I do not believe is rivaled by any other Credit Card, but the nuances of it will be detailed in its own post.
    • Example: If the price of a Samsung Galaxy S8 you've purchased from JB Hi-Fi for $1100 at launch drops to $700 within 2 years of purchasing it, you can claim back the $400 price difference if you can provide the evidence of the price drop.

Disadvantages:

  • $99 Annual fee - but may be worth it if you have enough annual overseas expenditure on your Credit Card

General Comments:

The Coles Rewards Mastercard is issued by the same financial institution as 28 Degrees: Latitude Financial Services (although it does not appear to be listed on their website). It is actually a decent all rounder Credit Card. It has a decent points earn rate on all expenditure whilst still offering you a waiver on international transaction fees. The 2 years Price Protection is an absolutely fantastic feature, unrivalled by any other Credit Card in the Australian market. It's a bit surprising you do not get any bonus points on expenditure at Coles, but it's not a big deal.

If you do not want to pay the annual fee but still want access to 2 years Price Protection, you can get the no annual fee Coles Mastercard, but it earns you points at a quarter of the rate and it does not waive international transaction fees.

ANZ Travel Adventures Platinum Credit Card

Official Page

Advantages:

  • Provides you with a free domestic flight on Virgin Australia (inc. 23kg luggage and food) including East Coast to West Coast (PER to BNE/MEL/SYD) and vice versa per card year
    • Although this sounds like quite a good perk, there are several restrictions around this which you should be aware of. Most notably, the flight must be booked 60 days in advance and must be booked in the name of the Primary Cardholder.
  • [From 5 August 2017] Earn 1.5 ANZ Rewards Points/$ (equivalent to 0.75 Velocity Points, 0.5 Asia Miles, 0.5 KrisFlyer) for the first $2000 per statement period
    • Earn 0.5 ANZ Rewards Points/$ above $2000 expenditure
    • Pre-5 August 2017, the earn rate is 1.5 ANZ Rewards Points uncapped
  • Two complimentary Virgin Australia lounge passes per year
  • Free Travel Insurance upon meeting the spending criteria of $250+ of travel expenses being paid for on the card, including Interstate Travel Insurance cover for travel within Australia of up to 14 days
  • Free Rental Excess Cover (Car Hire/Rental cover for the expensive excess)
  • Compatible with Samsung Pay, Apple Pay, Android Pay

Disadvantages:

  • $225 Annual Fee, of which the value is very dependent on being able to realistically and reasonably use the free flight within the somewhat strict rules

General Comments:

Provided you can use the free flight on this card, then you've got a card that gives you amazing value. The 2 Virgin Australia lounge passes are a nice icing on the cake which you can use with your free flight and the free Travel Insurance (including Domestic Travel Insurance) + Rental Car Hire insurance are also particularly good bonuses that are not common on many cards.

Macquarie Classic/Platinum Transaction Account

Official Page

Advantages:

  • Not a Credit Card, i.e. no credit check required and does not occupy a portion of your Credit Limit
  • No monthly/annual fees
  • No ATM withdrawal fees at all ATMs in Australia (with no qualifying criteria)
    • The two other banks that currently offer this in Australia are MEBank and ING Direct. However, ING Direct has a qualifying criteria which requires you to have a $1000+ cumulative credit into your account in the preceding calendar month to have this perk activated in the following calendar month.
  • 50c reward for cash outs of $100+ per year
  • A great, intuitive banking app (have personally used the Android version)
  • Compatible with Apply Pay
  • [Platinum only] $500 to cover your losses if your wallet gets stolen
  • [Platinum only] Emergency travel assistance in case you get sick/injured whilst on holiday

Disadvantages:

  • Not a Credit Card, i.e. you have to put your own money in first
  • [Relative to Citibank Plus] Overseas ATM withdrawals cost $5
    • In my opinion, this is actually a huge drawback of this card. If it weren't for this, this card could replace the Citibank Plus and your usual domestic ATM card because of the nationwide ATM waiver.

General Comments:

The major negative of this relative to some of the other options above is the $5 overseas ATM withdrawal fee, otherwise I would actually highly recommend this card because it would then be a realistic replacement for both your everyday Australian debit card with its nationwide ATM waiver and the Citibank Plus.

It's another "doesn't hurt to have" card, but the combination of the Citibank Plus + a Credit Card from above should have your overseas expenses 100% covered.

Note that there are two versions of this account: Classic and Platinum. The Classic does not have any minimum deposit requirements, whilst the Platinum requires a $4000 deposit monthly. I am not sure what would happen if you were to open a Platinum and not meet the minimum deposit. I would assume your account "status" in the subsequent calendar month would be determined by whether you had a $4000 cumulative deposit in the preceding calendar month. If how the other banks operate is anything to go by, you can simply transfer $4000 from another account and transfer it back out immediately.


I apologise for the length of this post. I went on a lot longer than I had expected to, but as you can see there was a lot of detail to cover and I don't even felt like I covered the cards above extensively enough!

As this post has been particularly long and I feel does not do the features of each of the respective cards justice, I intend to post an individual article on each of the cards mentioned so each of the cards get an individual extensive summary.

As usual, feel free to leave comments with your own experiences or with any questions you may have!

Don't forget to subscribe and share my post if you like my content!

Credit Cards give you "free money"

Credit Cards give you "free money"

Blogging Schedule, Posting Style, Content, New Features

Blogging Schedule, Posting Style, Content, New Features