Travelling with a debit card is convenient and often more cost effective than credit, but fees are still a factor.
Most debit cards are subjected to fees when they are used for purchases or ATM withdrawals overseas, which can be broken down into two separate costs:
- International transaction fees – charged due to the added cost of processing MasterCard and Visa debit cards overseas.
- Currency exchange fees – charged to offset the costs banks deal with when converting currencies.
Usually both of these fees are represented as one percentage of each international transaction, and the actual cost varies quite a bit depending on your bank and the type of account linked to the debit card.
Below is a breakdown of the different fees added on by Australia’s most popular debit card issuers so that you can save as much as possible on foreign fees.
People with ANZ debit cards are charged 3% of the total cost for ATM withdrawals and transactions made overseas. The Big Bank also notes that there could be operator fees for ATM use and outlines that 3% will not be charged in the case of point-of-sales refunds.
Both Citibank debit cards and credit cards are charged 2.5% of every transaction made in a foreign currency.
MasterCard debit cards from the Commonwealth Bank are subjected to a 3% fee. Commbank Maestro and Cirrus key cards can also be used overseas, but come with a $5 charge on top of the standard 3%.
As the self-titled champion of the Better Banking Reforms, NAB has abolished as many fees as possible in the last few years. But NAB debit cards are subjected to a $4 withdrawal fee and $1 balance enquiry fee at overseas ATMs, as well as a 2% currency conversion fee.
St.George debit cards are charged $5 for cash withdrawals made overseas and a 3% conversion fee for all foreign currency transactions, regardless of which transaction account is used.
Westpac is one of the only banks that do not charge for balance enquiries at overseas ATMs, though withdrawals cost $5. Using a Westpac debit card for foreign currency transactions also leads to an additional 3% charge.
While this is not an exhaustive list of debit card issuers, it does give you an idea of the range of fees travellers can expect to be charged.
Being aware of these costs, and looking into them for your debit card, will help you decide where and how you use your money on any trip overseas.