Whether you’re a seasoned traveller or heading off on your first big trip, organising how to carry and access your money safely is essential. One option to...
Visa — like Mastercard and Amex — is a payment network which allows banks to process credit and debit cards transactions. So even though your bank will issue you the card itself, which is often linked to a local bank account, Visa supplies the technology to allow payments to happen.
Although Mastercard is more popular in Australia, Visa is actually the biggest payment network globally, with some 850 million Visa cards in circulation in total.¹
|💸 Hold over 40 currencies in your account and spend at the mid-market rate with the Wise card while abroad.|
Paying for goods and services - and getting cash from an ATM - using your Visa card is a convenient option for many. But what if you go abroad or shop online in foreign currency? Can you still use your normal Australian Visa card, and what are the fees and exchange rates?
Here’s all you need to know.
If you’re planning on travelling overseas soon, it’s worth letting your bank know. That should mean that you can continue to use your Visa card as normal during your holiday, anywhere the Visa network is accepted. You can also get a handy Visa ATM locator to check if you’ll be able to use your card to make cash withdrawals wherever you’re headed.
It’s usually pretty simple to inform your bank that you’ll be using your Visa credit or debit card in a different country - often there’s a form within online banking which lets you update your details. If you don’t do this, you might find that your card is blocked while you’re away, if your bank’s fraud prevention systems notices a change in spending pattern as a sign that something could be wrong.
Before using your Visa card abroad, you should check out the fees which will be applied. These vary depending on which bank issued the card, and can be found in the terms and conditions section online.
You’ll also need to know about something called dynamic currency conversion (DCC), to make sure you’re not overpaying when using your card at overseas ATMs, stores or restaurants.
DCC is when you’re asked if you want to be charged in the local currency, or Australian dollars (AUD). It’s sold as a service for travellers, because you don’t need to understand the exchange rate to know what a transaction is costing you.
However, it comes with the risk of hidden fees, and a poor exchange rate. By selecting to pay in the local currency, the conversion back to dollars is done using Visa’s exchange rate, which is typically better than the rate an overseas ATM or merchant will give you.
Visa has an online currency converter which will show you the costs of an overseas purchase, when made with an Australian issued Visa card, including the currency conversion and any overseas transaction fee added by your bank. If your Visa was issued outside of Australia you’ll need to go to the relevant regional Visa website to find the rates for your purchase.
Using the calculator linked to above, let’s do a test payment in GBP using our AUD-denominated Visa card.
|Exchange rate²||Visa||Wise Card|
|Exchange rate AUD to GBP||0.558852||0.540236|
|100 AUD to GBP||55.88 GBP||54.02 GBP|
|Fees||2% of amount |
roughly $2 AUD (your bank may charge a different fx transaction fee)
|0.44 variable fee |
Roughly 0.44 AUD (See pricing here)
|Type of rate||Visa's rate||Mid Market rate|
Rates and fees as seen on respective calculators on 04 April 2023
With Wise, you get the mid-market exchange rate and pay way lower percentage in fees overall. So no nasty surprises when it comes to using your card abroad or paying online in foreign currencies.
The fees and charges associated with using your Visa card abroad are decided by the issuing bank. That means to be certain of what it’ll cost to use your card overseas, you’ll need to check the terms and conditions or fee schedule of your particular account.
There are some specialist accounts available in Australia which are designed to travellers, and so can offer lower cost international transactions. However, for most Visa credit cards and debit cards linked to a regular bank account, you could hit steep fees for international use.
Here’s what you should look out for:
|Foreign transaction fee||Typically around 2-3% for regular bank accounts|
|Overseas ATM withdrawal fee||There could be a charge set by your bank - usually around $5 + a fee added by the ATM operator|
|Credit card cash advance||Can be around 2% + any additional international fees, as set out in your terms and conditions|
|Foreign exchange rate margin||The exchange rate used might include a markup added to the mid-market rate|
If your Visa card is lost or stolen while you’re abroad you’ll need to inform your bank straight away. They’ll then cancel the card so no further payments or withdrawals can be made on it.
Before you leave, make sure you have your bank’s emergency contact details, so that you can easily speak to them if there’s a problem. It’s worth writing the details down and keeping them safe - and also emailing yourself the information so you can access wherever you happen to be.
It’s also a good idea to check the bank has your most up to date personal details. If they think there’s a problem with your account, or if suspicious spending means it looks like someone has stolen your Visa card, they’ll use your registered phone number or email address to contact you.
|Read more: What's the exchange rate of the 28 degrees card?|
If you don’t want to rely on your bank’s Visa card when travelling — and having alternatives is certainly a smart choice – you could try Wise.
Let’s say you’re an Australian going to visit your brother who’s studying in Paris. Use Wise to send him some Euros to his local bank account, and have him withdraw the cash for you when you arrive. The transfer will be carried out using the mid market exchange rate, and just a small transparent fee. No need to worry about hidden costs or sneaky exchange rate markups.
Regular travellers - or people who need to send or receive money from abroad frequently - could benefit even more with a Wise Account. With this account, you can hold your money in over 40 currencies all in the same account - and generate bank details to get paid like a local in 10 major currencies like Australian and US dollars, Euros and British Pounds.
You can also get the Wise debit card, so you can withdraw cash from ATMs, and pay for goods and services around the world.
Join over 13 million customers currently enjoying Wise. It’ll only take a few minutes to register and see what’s inside.
Sources checked on 04 April 2023
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.
If you’re planning on heading off on an overseas adventure, working out how you’ll access your holiday funds is likely to be a key concern. For CommBank...
Preparing for your travels is more than just packing your suitcase and making it to the airport. How you are going to access your money abroad is something...
These days, accessing your money has become far easier with the widespread use and acceptance of debit cards. In Australia, over 80% of transactions that are...
Debit cards have made making purchases easy all across Australia. If you are about to head overseas, you are probably wondering if you can take and use your...
Travelling is exciting, but some of the fees attached to spending your cash overseas can really bring the mood down. That’s why it is important to find a...