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Published August 9, 2023
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8 Tips For Using A Credit Card Overseas

Follow best practices when using a credit card overseas, like using a travel money card, carrying cash and leveraging frequent flyer points.

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Many Australians take advantage of credit cards to fly for free, enjoy luxurious layovers in airport lounges, travel with the safety of insurance and avoid fees on international purchases. Here’s how to get more from your next trip for less when using a credit card overseas. 

1. Pick the right card

Many products on the market feel like just a utility rather than solutions that genuinely support our financial lives. Still, some types of credit cards can seriously improve your experience when travelling. When overseas, consider

You can choose just one for your wallet or opt to carry several different kinds of cards. For example, it may be wise to have two cards — one for points and one for no-fee transactions — as long as you can confidently handle the credit on both. 

2. Claim a sign-on bonus 

Start maximising travel benefits before your trip by applying for a travel credit card with a generous sign-on offer, like a large number of bonus points rewards. Used strategically, this can reduce the cost of future travel. 

For example, if approved for a rewards card with a welcome offer of 90,000 Qantas points, you could get a free return flight from Sydney-Los Angeles and still have points to spare. 

Just make sure to review the terms and conditions of the offer, as minimum spending requirements may apply and will delay how quickly you’ll receive the bonus. 

3. Look for travel perks and lounge access

Travel cards and rewards credit cards sometimes include specialised perks suitable for travellers. Look for complimentary benefits, like travel insurance, airport lounge access and the ability to earn rewards and frequent flyer points.

You can redeem frequent flyer points for flight upgrades, hotels and travel gear. These things can save money and make your trip more relaxing — especially for long-haul flights from Australia. 

Do that 24-hour flight in business class with points at least once in your life. With the long distances you have to travel from Australia to international destinations, you deserve to travel in the most comfortable way you can. 

4. Plan to avoid fees while overseas 

You’ll want to bring a card that doesn’t make you pay transaction and withdrawal fees while overseas. While some credit cards may dodge foreign transaction fees, you’ll still have to pay cash advance fees and interest to use one at an ATM. 

To easily withdraw cash at local ATMs, consider using a travel money card loaded with foreign funds as your primary card while overseas. These prepaid cards display your balance in the local currency, making it easier to budget and manage your money.

If you also plan to bring a credit card, use it to access points, insurance coverage and airport lounges. Also, ensure you won’t be charged international transaction fees and notify your bank before leaving to avoid temporary card blocks due to unfamiliar charges. 

When you return home, don’t forget to check your travel money card balance and transfer any leftover money back to your bank. 

5. Keep accruing points on your adventure 

You can also continue building up your reserve of frequent flyer or credit card points overseas. Travel money cards and rewards credit cards can earn rewards.  

The Qantas Travel Money card is an example, where you earn 1.5 Qantas points for every $1AUD you spend in a foreign currency. If you load and spend $5,000 onto your Qantas card, you’ll earn 7,500 points. 

6. Have a backup plan

Emergencies happen, and a stolen or lost credit card can easily ruin a holiday. So, have a backup plan. That way, if anything happens with your primary travel card, you can still access your money. If possible, always leave one of your travel cards safely in your accommodation, with your passport, so you have another option. 

Also, keep a copy of your bank or card provider’s international contact number in case of an emergency. 

7. Don’t forget to carry cash 

It’s also handy to have cash on you at all times. Not too much that you feel unsafe bringing it around, but enough to get by if you need to for a day without a card. Be prepared for all scenarios overseas. Your card might not work in the ATM, you might not be close to one, or you could be somewhere locals only take cash. 

Just avoid currency conversion booths in airports, as they’ll always charge you more. 

8. Carefully select foreign ATMs 

When using your travel money card to take out cash, opt for newer ATMs, ideally within a building, not on the street. They’re usually safer from skimming and are serviced by Visa or Mastercard. Also, pay attention before taking out cash because some ATM operators may charge their own fees, so your ‘no-fee withdrawal’ may not truly be free.

You can explore the world more often by choosing the right credit card and travel money card and being smart about managing your money while overseas. Leverage these lifestyle cards for yourself. 


What Is a Rewards Credit Card?

What Is a Rewards Credit Card?

With a rewards credit card, you’ll typically earn a ‘reward’ — usually points — every time you use it, up to a certain limit. Points can be traded for cash or other perks.

What Is a Travel Credit Card?

What Is a Travel Credit Card?

Using a travel rewards credit card can help you get your next flight on a discount, hotel upgrades, or even cover the full cost of a trip.

Credit Card Cashback: What Is It?

Credit Card Cashback: What Is It?

A cashback credit card is a rewards credit card that provides a specific type of benefit for using it — money credited back to your account.

What Is a Frequent Flyer Program Credit Card?

What Is a Frequent Flyer Program Credit Card?

Frequent flyer credit cards earn points or miles that can upgrade your travel and help you score free flights.

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