NZ Debit and Credit Travel Cards Compared – Money on the Road

One of the things I keep reading about on other around the world travel blogs is to get some form of card (be it eftpos, debit or credit) that allows you free international transactions, which up until recently didn’t exist for kiwis.  The yanks always seem to recommend banks like Charles Schwab etc, but for the kiwi traveller obviously this isn’t going to happen.

Things I’m looking for:

  • Ease of use
  • Zero or minimal transactions fees
  • Zero or minimal international ATM withdrawl fees
  • Do they work worldwide or in “risky countries” (I’m planning on visiting Slovenia first, then Croatia,   then Thailand, all countries that tend to get blocked pretty quickly unless you let your bank know!)
  • Can I access it online

My main bank is ASB, so when I travelled last year I used an ASB Visa Credit and an ASB Visa Debit card, which worked “fine” in Croatia, England and Amsterdam, but it isn’t cheap if you are using your card often, which meant I was often carrying more cash than I’d like to:

I’ve also had a Air NZ Airpoints “Onesmart” card that I’d never activated and completely forgotten about until I go the marketing email reminding me about it yesterday.  In my view this is probably the best card on the market for the kiwi traveller going overseas to countries using multiple currencies.

It works exactly like a normal chip and pin debit card, but can have up to 4 currencies loaded on it (all you do is set it up like a bill payment on your NZ bank account, money transferring overnight/1 business day) with very low international fees for withdrawls and transactions:

According to the marketing material it:

  • Earns Airpoints Dollars
  • No commission when buying foreign currency
  • No international ATM withdrawl fees
  • Works with Tap and Go transactions
  • works as an epass

Which seems pretty good to me, making it in my view the best card currently on the market for the kiwi traveller.  Other options include the Kiwibank “Loaded for travel” card, which looks expensive to me:

ANZ Travel Card is also available, but based on fees doesn’t really seem worth it:

Same goes with the National Bank Travel Card:

Moral of the story, if you are looking for the best value for money travel card, with the most benefits, get the Air NZ/BNZ Onesmart card, the others don’t even come close.

Other resources:

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