International card transaction fees in Australia. What are they?

Roberto Efflandrin

When reading through their terms and conditions you’ll find that many banks and payment providers charge fees for what they consider to be an international or foreign transaction.

In this article we’ll take a look at what these fees are, when they’re usually applied in Australia, how currency exchange factors in and some of the fees charged by Australia’s Big Four banks. We’ll also introduce you to the Wise Account and let you know how it can help you save money on international transactions.

💸 Hold over 50 currencies in your account and spend at the mid-market rate with the Wise card while abroad.

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What is an international/foreign transaction fee in Australia?

In Australia international or foreign card transaction fees are usually applied by payment providers or banks under two main circumstances.

  • Transactions processed outside of Australia
  • Foreign currency transactions

Transactions that may cause this fee

While it might sound simple it isn’t always easy to know when you’ll be charged an foreign transaction fee. To give you an idea, here’s some practical examples.

  • Using your bank card overseas
  • Withdrawing cash from a foreign ATM
  • Buying from an overseas vendor
  • Online shopping in foreign currency
  • Your online payment is processed by an overseas bank

Something to keep in mind, especially when online shopping, is that it isn’t always clear if a payment is being processed overseas or within Australia.. It’s possible that you could shop on a ‘’ website, pay in Australian dollars, and still be charged a foreign transaction fee because the transaction was processed overseas.

How to find out you’ve been charged a foreign transaction fee.

Generally your bank will list the fee in your bank statement as well as in the transaction list in your online banking. If you’re not sure how your bank lists foreign transaction fees you can always reach out and check with them.

ATM withdrawal fees abroad

When you withdraw cash from an overseas ATM you need to be aware that you might be charged twice, once by your bank for the foreign transaction and again by the ATM provider. You can check your fee schedule to find out what your bank charges for a foreign ATM withdrawals. Finding out what the ATM provider charges can be a little trickier so one piece of advice is to search online for an ATM fee free provider in the country you’re in.

💳 Meet the Wise debit card
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No monthly or annual charges
  • Hold, send and spend in over 50 currencies
  • Manage all your spend at the tip of your fingers with the Wise app

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Exchange rates conversion

If your transaction involves a currency exchange it’s a good idea to find out how your bank's foreign exchange rate is determined and if there’s any profit margin.

Here’s a look where the foreign exchange rates used by Australia's Big Four banks and Wise for debit card transactions come from.

Card Provider Exchange Rate Origin
Commonwealth Bank¹


Mastercard or Visa based on which is relevant
Westpac Bank² Mastercard
National Australia Bank³


Australia New Zealand Bank


Wise Wise uses the mid-market rate based on current data from Reuters.

If you’re shopping online or withdrawing money overseas you may get given a choice between paying in AUD or the local currency. Usually if you opt to pay in AUD your bank's exchange rate applies and if you choose the local currency, the payment gateway or ATM provider’s rates apply.

It might take time to compare the two but ideally you want to choose the option that’s the best value for money.

Some example transaction fees from the big 4 banks

Generally when doing an international or foreign transaction you’d use a debit or credit card attached to your personal everyday transaction account. The fees for this vary between different providers but as an example here’s what the Big Four banks charge for certain debit cards they have on offer.

Commonwealth Bank foreign transaction fees

With most Commonwealth Bank everyday accounts, including the Smart Access account, you gain access to a Debit Mastercard.

  • 3% international transaction fee for transactions in a foreign currency or transactions processed overseas.⁵
  • 3% fee + $5 AUD charge for overseas cash withdrawals

Westpac Bank foreign transaction fees

Westpac’s main everyday account is the Westpac Choice account which comes with a Westpac Mastercard debit card.

  • 3% fee for foreign currency processed overseas⁶
  • 2.2% fee for foreign currency processed within Australia
  • $5 fee for most foreign ATM withdrawals

National Bank Australia (NAB) foreign transaction fees

NAB offers the NAB Visa debit card with their NAB Classic Banking transaction account.

  • 3% fee for international transactions and cash withdrawals⁷
  • $5 foreign ATM cash withdrawal fee

Australia New Zealand Bank (ANZ) foreign transaction fees

Certain ANZ Everyday Accounts including the ANZ Access Advantage account come with a Visa debit card.

  • 3% fee for any international transaction in a currency other than AUD, that is processed overseas or requires a conversion to AUD⁸
  • $5 AUD fee for foreign ATM withdrawals

How to avoid being charged foreign transaction fees.

No one likes paying fees so here’s a couple of ideas for how you could avoid or minimise foreign transaction fees.

  • See if your bank offers a special foreign currency transaction card
  • Try an alternative provider that specialises in foreign transactions, such as Wise
  • Buy from local vendors that use Australian banks to process transactions
  • See if your bank has foreign ATM partners with lower fees

The Wise Account and Card

If you’re looking for a low fee way to complete foreign transactions then it’s worth taking a look at the Wise Account.

With a Wise Account you can hold money in over 50 currencies and spend it in 174 countries. Whenever you exchange currencies it’s done using the mid-market rate with a small conversion fee shown upfront.

To make everyday spending easier you can order a Wise Debit card for your Wise Account and generate virtual cards as needed. If you have the local currency in your Wise Account the Wise card will use it and charge no fees. If you don’t, it uses smart technology to auto-convert your money at the mid-market rate, for a small conversion fee.

To see how a Wise Account could benefit you, why not take a look for yourself? There are no monthly account fees to worry about and registration can be done in minutes.

Open your Wise account in minutes 🚀

Please see Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise Fees & Pricing for the most up-to-date pricing and fee information.


  1. Commbank - Commbank Terms and Conditions
  2. Westpac - Debit Mastercard T and C
  3. NAB - Personal Transactions and Savings Products Terms and Conditions
  4. ANZ - ANZ Saving & Transaction Products
  5. Commbank - Do charges apply when I use my Debit Mastercard or Keycard overseas?
  6. Westpac - Personal Accounts PDS
  7. NAB - International transaction fee on your card explained
  8. ANZ - ANZ Personal Banking

Sources checked on: 29 November 2022

This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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