Money passport foreign currency airport


How to access your cash overseas

Published April 7th, 2014

If you’re heading overseas on holiday, unless you’re Girls’ Jessa Johansson or some equally louche trust-fund baby, chances are you already have the know-how and impressive willpower to budget and pay for your big trip. But what about when you get there? What’s the best way to bankroll your stay/play/vacay?  You already know the saying about not putting all your eggs in the one basket and it’s not a good idea to stash all your cash there either. Conventional wisdom states that you should spread your dough around in multiple formats so you’ve got a backup plan for any worst-case scenarios.  Here we break down the best ways to take your money on an overseas trip.


Flashing your cash in the airport is not really recommended...



Mix it up –  don't carry all your money as cold, hard cash. If you stick your wallet in your back pocket like you do at home, all it takes is one light-fingered pickpocket and you’ll be noticeable lighter for the rest of your trip. While it’s a good idea to have some foreign currency on hand when you first arrive at your destination and for snacks, tips, whatever, don’t make paper money the bulk of your holiday funds. Also, familiarise yourself with the denominations before you go, especially in places where the paper money is of a similar colour and size.



The most convenient way to access your funds on the go, wherever you are, your trusty ATM card will need to be authorised for overseas use, and your bank can hook you up with that. Make sure your savings card is linked to a worldwide network like Maestro, Cirrus or Visa Plus so you can easily access your dosh at machines around the world. Be aware that you will likely incur a cash advance fee and foreign currency conversion fee for using your Aussie card in an overseas machine.


Debit/credit card:

It’s also a good idea to have more than one card with you when you travel – if one card is not accepted, you can try another.  Look for a credit or debit card with no annual fees or international transaction fees.  If you want to stay within budget and spend your own cash from your own account, but also charge it like a credit card, consider a debit credit card like Visa. Want less limitations? A Visa credit card allows you to withdraw cash and make purchases on holiday then pay it off over several months when you get back. You can also get 24/7 global assistance with Visa, plus you’ll be protected against any unauthorised purchases made on your card.


Prepaid travel money card:

Handy, secure and replaceable, a prepaid travel money card offers you all the convenience of cash with the security of chip and pin-protected plastic. Like a debit card, you’ll only be spending your own money and the money card is also reloadable. Visa Prepaid allows you to load up to 10 foreign currencies on the one card plus you’ll get a backup card too. Check the fees on your travel money card to avoid racking up incidental charges for accessing your cash.


Travellers cheques:

Available in wide range of major currencies with the security of a signature, the once-popular travellers cheques have pretty much been superseded by travel money cards and the availability of ATMs. A plus for travellers cheques is emergency assistance where any lost or stolen cheques are replaced free of charge, usually within 24 hours. A minus is the limited places that accept them - if you’re heading to remote areas or travelling around small villages, your best bet is cash. American Express and Thomas Cook are the most widely used.


And if you have had a cash crisis while travelling overseas, why not turn that misfortune into a windfall? Share your tale of money mishaps on your travels here and be in running to win one of three $20,ooo Visa Holiday Replays to right that wrong!

Cassandra Laffey

Consumed with unrequited wanderlust, I get my fix in 24/7 cities and hippie retreats. I'm still looking for the ultimate combo of secluded beach and major metropolis, and my happy place is a 5-star hotel room all to myself - sigh.