How to pay for things overseas

Our Money Tip of the Day expert Michelle Kuskie says it’s really important to do destination-specific research before you head overseas to find out how you can access money and pay for things while you’re away. Michelle suggests travellers to consider taking a mix of foreign cash, a travel money card and a debit or credit card to help prepare for any situation.

Here’s some general information for you to consider on the different ways you can access money and pay for things while overseas.

Travel money cards

Travel money cards are safer than cash and an easy payment alternative while travelling overseas. Advantages of travel cards include being able to load multiple different currencies onto the card, ability to lock in an exchange rate before heading off, and ability to access cash via a number of ATMs globally. You’ll have to consider fees and charges associated with the card and accessing money. Make sure you do your research before signing up for a travel card as different providers offer different benefits and available currencies.

Check out more benefits and things to consider before signing up for a travel money card in our post on Why use a travel money card.

Credit cards

Credit cards are widely accepted around the world.  However, it’s important to understand the conversion fees you will be charged for each purchase and any fees or charges your credit provider may charge you. Get in contact with your card provider and ask before heading overseas as these fees and charges can quickly add up if you’re not careful.

It’s important to note not all merchants will accept credit cards so do your research and carry some foreign currency cash with you when travelling.


Cash is particularly helpful in the first 24 hours of your trip. You’ll need enough to get you by until you are able to use an ATM. This might be harder in some countries than others. Do your research and find out how easy it is to access cash or how easy it is to exchange cash should you take Aussie dollars with you.

Debit cards

Accessing money via a debit card is convenient. However, you’ll need to understand the fees and charges applicable to both your bank and the bank whose ATM you are using. Unlike a Travel Money Card, Debit cards are linked to your transaction account – which is something to consider should you become the victim of a skimming scam. 

Important – before you head overseas

Before you head overseas make sure you contact your bank and let them know your general itinerary. This will help your bank identify suspicious activity on your accounts. For example, if you’re travelling in the United States of America and a transaction takes place in Greece, your bank can identify this as suspicious.

It’s also a good idea to jot down any important phone numbers should you need to check anything with your bank or report a stolen or missing card. 

For more information on travel cards visit the Cash Passport page. 

MasterCard Prepaid Management Services Australia Pty Limited (ABN 47 145 452 044, AFSL 386 837) arranges for the issue of the Multi-currency Cash Passport in conjunction with the issuer, Heritage Bank Ltd (ABN 32 087 652 024, AFSL 240 984). You should consider the Product Disclosure Statement for the relevant Cash Passport available at before deciding to acquire the product. MasterCard and the MasterCard Brand Mark are registered trademarks of MasterCard International Incorporated.


The information provided to you is general and may not be appropriate for you. Conditions, criteria and fees apply to products. Please consider the Guide to Heritage Deposit Products or the Guide to Heritage Credit Card Products (available in-branch, by phoning 13 14 22 or at before you decide whether a product is right for you.

* Based on a $150,000 loan over 25 years. WARNING: This comparison rate is true only for the examples given and may not include all fees and charges. Different terms, fees or other loan amounts might result in a different comparison rate.

The information provided is intended as general information only. Blogs have been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Because of this you should, before acting on this information, consider its appropriateness having regard to your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider obtaining personal investment, taxation and/or legal advice before making any decision.  Please consider the Guide to Heritage Deposit Products and Guide to Heritage Credit Card Products (available in-branch, or at before you decide whether a product is right for you. All loans and credit cards are subject to application and approval. Conditions, criteria and fees apply and are subject to change without notice.