The best travel cards, insurance and more: Travel Awards 2017


Published on

Australians are renowned as global jetsetters. Almost 10 million of us travelled abroad last year alone, taking advantage of a strong Aussie dollar and plunging airfares that are making it more affordable to holiday internationally.

But along with your choice of destination, it also pays to plan the financial side of your trip. As part of the Money Travel Awards 2017, we take a look at the essentials, and where the best deals can be found.

For singles taking one trip overseas, Online Travel Insurance (OTI) consistently offers good value, having also taken out this award in 2016.

travel money

OTI's basic cover is extremely affordable, with a premium of around $64 for a 21-year-old planning to spend January in the UK.

This includes unlimited overseas medical expenses and $2.5 million in public liability cover but you're not protected for the cost of missed or cancelled flights.

Nonetheless, it's ideal if you're a "let's see where the road takes me" type of traveller who hasn't pre-booked flights or accommodation.

Travel money cards have revolutionised the way we spend overseas. They work in much the same way as a debit card and can be used at Eftpos and ATMs. But instead of drawing on your transaction account, they are loaded with a set amount of foreign currency before you leave.

The card balance can be checked online, and if funds start to run low it's easy to top up the card using internet banking. Any funds remaining when you return home can be transferred back to your everyday account.

NAB's Traveller Card comes packed with freebies. "With no purchase cost, no reload fee and no overseas ATM withdrawal fee, NAB's Traveller Card was the clear winner," says Bessie Hassan, money expert at Finder.

Do note that the balance on your travel money card won't earn interest - something to bear in mind if you put large sums of cash on the card well ahead of the departure date.

Carrying a credit card while travelling can make sense, even if it's just reserved for emergencies.

But go easy on the plastic. According to Finder, 41% of Australians arrive home owing money on their card, and with the average holiday debt being $2705 it's no surprise one in 10 cardholders take up to 12 months to clear the slate.

Sticking to a low-cost credit card can trim the expense. "ME's simplified frank card has a low interest rate, low ATM and low foreign currency conversion fees," says Finder's Bessie Hassan says.

"When combined with a low cash advance rate ($4 or 2% of the amount involved) and no annual fee, this is the best all-round card for overseas travellers."

The major providers - Telstra, Optus and Vodafone - cover 78% of the mobile market in Australia, and no other providers offer an add-on roaming service, which includes all calls and texts as well as data in the daily fee.

Hassan says that along with a lower daily cost, the big clincher that saw Vodafone take out the award is a far more generous data allowance.

"Both Optus and Telstra offer a measly 100MB per day, which will not last long," she says.

"Vodafone, on the other hand, lets you use your full at-home data allowance while abroad - up to 1.6GB of data, depending on your plan."

RELATED: Behind the Money Travel Awards: the methodology

Get stories like this in our newsletters.

Related Stories


A former Chartered Accountant, Nicola Field has been a regular contributor to Money for 20 years, and writes on personal finance issues for some of Australia's largest financial institutions. She is the author of Investing in Your Child's Future and Baby or Bust, and has collaborated with Paul Clitheroe on a variety of projects including radio scripts, newspaper columns, and several books.
November 23, 2017 5.48am

What about the 28 Degree MasterCard? It has no currency conversion fee or international transaction fee.