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Best Travel Money Cards for Australia and Australians Abroad

Different prepaid debit cards - Wise, Chime, Revolut, n26 with the text Best Travel Money Cards, Which one is Best for You?

As a backpacker, one of the most significant challenges faced is managing your money!

When you come from overseas, the fees associated with using a foreign credit or debit cards is often very high.

And you will have to wait to get a card from an Australian bank – but even then it is not as useful.

In this article, I’ll share a great way to save money on fees and make it easier to live, work and play in Australia.

 

Note:  Travel money cards are basically prepaid debit cards that you can buy in your home country and load up with your selected foreign currency to spend abroad with minimal fees. 

This page may contain affiliate links to some of the recommended services. While this costs you nothing, we may earn a commission. This page also includes links to services on which we don’t earn commission because they are great too! Ultimately, my goal is to provide you with the best and most accurate information.

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Things to Know about Australian Banking

If you are going to work for an Aussie company while you are in Australia, you will need an Australian bank account to get paid. You can read the complete guide to opening an Australian bank account here. If you are staying for a while, I recommend you consider one of the “big four”, which includes ANZCommBank, NAB, and Westpac – just check out the different requirements they have in their website.

But the cards I cover below have some big advantages like manage multiple currencies and connect them to your Aussie account and your accounts in other countries too. You can also get them BEFORE you leave home.

Other things to remember are that if you use an ATM while here in Australia that does not belong to your bank, the machine will probably charge you a fee starting from $2 AUD, and your bank may also charge you for the transaction.

However a travel card often means you can use ATMs in Australia without any fees.

Wise International Debit Card

I personally use Wise to manage my money between countries. And it does not matter if you are still at home or in Australia already, Wise offers a travel money card that is connected to your multi currency account where you can hold multiple currencies and convert them inexpensively and even automatically as you make purchases. 

It all starts by opening a free account with Wise

Then simply download their app. Connect with your main bank account (in your case it will be the bank account in your home country), and then use the app.

Now you can easily move money between your main bank account and the Australian bank account in both directions quickly and with very low fees.

If you are curious of the steps on how to transfer money from your home bank account to your Wise Account and Card, this video will help.

A big bonus, when you start working in Australia, you need a local bank account to get paid. You can get paid directly into your Wise Australian bank account. 

You can then start spending in Australia on this card as if you are a local, with no international transaction fees.

There are some limits, but they are generous compared to other options. 

For example, you only withdraw up to AUD 7,000 per month on your card. Also regardless of which ATM you use the first two monthly withdrawals are free as long as they are under $350 AUD. There is a 1.75% charge on anything over $350 AUD. The fee for additional monthly cash withdrawals is AUD 1.50.

The monthly spending limit on other types of transactions is AUD 52,500. But this limit can be reduced using the app. This is what I usually do if I want to take control of my spending.

While my Wise card is Australian (yours will be from the country where you reside), you can use it in other countries, for example, if you visit nearby New Zealand or fly through Singapore. You can just spend currency to New Zealand dollars or any other of the 40+ currencies supported by Wise. 

I use my Wise Card primarily when travelling. But I also have a backup card in case Wise has issues. No system is perfect and it is unlikely you will need a backup but it is possible.

Wise is by far the easiest, most efficient, and most enjoyable way to both spend and earn money while you are travelling. Wise offers the same services in countries around the world including the United Kingdom, European Economic Area, Canada, Brazil, Japan, and more. 

Here’s a video of me sharing my Wise experience overseas, from using the card to recharging it and how the app is helpful in all of the process.

Additional Recommendations

While Wise is your best option for managing your money while in Australia, there are other good options on the market that are worth considering. These are my top three picks, compared alongside Wise in the table below.

Service Provider Bank Account Monthly ATM withdrawal limit Cash withdrawal fees Monthly spending limit Transaction Fees when used in Australia Trustpilot Rating
Wise Open a Virtual Australian bank account and accounts in 40+ countries including United States, United Kingdom, and EU AUD 7,000 per month Free up to 350 AUD per month

AUD 1.5 + 1.75% of the withdrawn money after the free monthly allowance
AUD 52,500 per month No fees 4.3 stars
Revolut Open a virtual Australian bank account and accounts in countries including the US, EU, Singapore, Japan, etc. AUD 350 - 1,400 per month depending on the plan availed 2% fee after you exceed your plan fair usage 2,000 - 20,000 per month depending on the plan type 0.5% when you exceed your plan fair usage limit 4.2 stars
N26 Only for European Countries $30,000 (a cumulative of POS and ATM withdrawals) 1.7% fee when you use it here in Australia $30,000 (a cumulative of POS and ATM withdrawals) No fees 3.7 stars
Chime One in the United States Depends on the type of account but there is an ATM withdrawal limit of $515 daily Up to US$2.50 per transaction Depends on the account No fees 2.6 stars

Revolut

Revolut works in a very similar way to Wise. You can connect it to my main bank account and then use the app to make low-fee international transfers. But in addition, you can open virtual bank accounts in other countries. In your case, you can open a virtual Australian bank account which means that you can get paid into that virtual Australian bank account, and get a card for that bank account.

I also have a Revolut card which I have found to work just fine, but I choose to use the Wise card because of Revolut fee structure which I find to be complex and it feels to me like they are looking for ways to make money from me rather than just simply providing a great service. 

revolut standard cards

For example, there are a range of different accounts to choose from, starting with Standard, which is free, to Metal, which is US$16.99 per month (there is also a mysterious Ultra account which costs more than twice as much).

If you are in Australia, you can request a physical card delivered to your Aussie address. On the Standard plan, you can withdraw up to AUD 350 per month with no Revolut fees, after that, it is 2%.

When it comes to spending, you can make transactions up to AUD 2,000 per month with no fees Monday to Friday. A 1% fee does apply for additional transactions and transactions between 5pm Friday and 6pm Sunday New York time. Considering the time difference with Australia, this is something worth tracking.

Revolut offers similar services in other countries, making it a good solution for Australians traveling abroad. You can also get cards in the United States, Canada, Singapore, Japan, and Portugal. I don’t like Revolut as much as Wise because of the lower spending caps and the weekend transaction fee.

N26

I have included N16 as an alternative for Europeans because N26 is a mobile bank based in Berlin. It offers a great Mastercard that Europeans can use while traveling in Australia, but it only offers bank accounts for European countries. So, if you want to get paid in Australia, you’ll need to open a separate Australian bank account.
n26 and chime debit cards

The Mastercard that you can request while still in Europe is accepted worldwide, including in Australia, and has no foreign transaction fees when spending abroad, which I think is fantastic. With a standard free account, there is a 1.7% conversion fee on cash withdrawals here in Australia, but this is eliminated with premium accounts.

Chime

For Americans, Chime is a great alternative, but you do need a US social security number to open an account, which will be a US account and not an Australian account. The account that you open has no minimum balance, no monthly fees, or overdraft fees. You also receive a card, which you can make free cash withdrawals using in-network banks in the United States.

Take your card with you overseas to Australia, but you will be paying up to US$2.50 per cash withdrawal. Transactions are converted back to US dollars, but there are no international transaction fees, which is excellent.

Make the Right Choice for You

Before you get on the plane to Australia, you should already have thought about how you are going to manage your money. The right choice depends greatly on your specific circumstances.

If you are going to be working and living in Australia for an extended period, you will probably want to open a local bank account with one of the big banks. Daily and monthly spending limits are higher, and large networks of ATMs mean that you should never have to pay to withdraw money. Plus, these are a gateway to building your Australian credit score and accessing other local financial services.

Even if you open an Australian bank account, you should also be using a service such as Wise to move money between your international bank accounts quickly and cheaply. When I used to transfer funds directly between my UK and Australian bank accounts, it would take two working days and cost me around GBP 5 for the transaction. With Wise it is pretty much instant, and I pay around GBP 0.25 and 0.4% of the amount.

Also being able to open a virtual Australian bank account with these services is a nice additional feature. I also think it is a great option if you move around a lot and want to keep things streamlined, rather than have bank accounts all around the world. Even if you are only visiting Australia, if you already use one of these providers, you can activate this service with a few clicks.

If you are traveling to Australia as a tourist and will be spending rather than earning, bank accounts from your country with a strong app for managing your money and no international transaction fees when you spend are a great choice. N26 or Revolut is probably the best option for Europeans and Chime for Americans. If you are an Australian traveling to these regions, these online banks are accessible.

So, figure out what you need first, and then choose the best option for you. Happy money!

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