Cards pre-loaded with foreign currencies for use when making payments or withdrawing cash overseas are a boon for Australian travellers, but make sure you choose one that’s not also pre-loaded with multiple fees to trip you up whenever you try to use it. Fortunately, the NAB Traveller Card has lots of zeroes where the fees should be, so there are no unexpected costs.
No initial load fee or reload fee
Unlike some travel cards, this one has no fee for the first loading of funds onto the card, and also no fee for topping up with further amounts at a later date. This zero fee situation applies however the currency loading is done – at a NAB branch, or using NAB internet banking, or using BPAY.
No overseas ATM withdrawal fee
Here’s another freebie that does not always apply with other cards. Withdraw cash in a foreign currency at an overseas ATM, and there will be no fee debited to your card by NAB. However, NAB has no control over foreign ATMs operated by third parties, who may in fact debit their own fee to your card.
No ATM balance enquiry fee
Need to check how much is left on your card, and you don’t have internet access? That’s no problem, because NAB allows you to make ATM balance enquiries without charging a fee, wherever you are in the world. (Local ATM operators may charge their own fee for this service.)
No fee for a backup card
It isn’t possible to have a supplementary card on your NAB Traveller Card account (i.e. a card with a separate number, accessing the same account, that you could, for example, give to your spouse). However, you can have a second card (with a different PIN) to keep in a safe place in case you lose or mislay the first one.
The card is protected by an embedded microchip to combat fraud, and a PIN to make sure that no one but you can use the card, even if you do lose it.
No fee for a replacement card
Although it’s a good idea to be very careful with your card, if it does get lost or stolen, help is at hand. NAB operates 24/7 Global Emergency Assistance for its cardholders. There’s a list of freecall telephone numbers for most countries (and paycall numbers for the rest) to put you in direct contact with NAB Card Services, who will immediately cancel your lost or stolen card. If you can’t use your backup card either, NAB will organise free delivery of a replacement card within 3-7 business days, and, if necessary, emergency cash which will mostly reach you in 20 minutes.
No Point of Sale fee
NAB will not charge you a fee for making purchases with the card, although, once again, they can’t predict what overseas merchants might choose to do. Fee-free purchases are the most likely scenario.
No monthly inactivity fee
After a period of account inactivity, some travel cards make a charge for any further months during which there are no transactions. For example, if you come home from an overseas trip and leave the equivalent of AUD 50 in your card account, after 12 months have elapsed with no transactions you could end up paying $4 per month to leave the account open. Your $50 would disappear within a further year.
NAB don’t do this. They want you to retain your card and keep your account open until your next trip. So they won’t nibble away at any remaining currency balances with those sneaky monthly fees. You can leave the cash where it is until next time, or remove it from the account in Australian dollars.
No account closure fee
Here’s another devious fee you’ll find on some cards. If you want to avoid the monthly inactivity charge by closing the account, they’ll charge a fee – $10, for example – for the privilege of closing the account. With the NAB Traveller Card there’s no need to close your account, because there are no inactivity fees. But if you do decide to close it, you won’t pay a cent extra.
So how do NAB make a profit from this card?
After all those zeroes, you might be wondering how NAB expect to make money from supplying this card.
One of the ways they do this is by sitting on your cash without paying you any interest, but this is a feature common to all pre-loaded debit cards. You will need to make a choice between locking in what looks like a good exchange rate, perhaps several months before your trip, or waiting until the last minute, minimising the lost interest but risking unattractive exchange rates.
In addition, in spite of all the missing fees, there are still a few charges to pay:
Some usage limitations to bear in mind
There are some restrictions on what you can do with the card. You can’t, for example, use it for transferring money to someone else, for any form of gambling transaction, or for purchasing from merchants who use the old-fashioned 'click-clack’ manual card machines.
As a result of international trade sanctions, the card cannot currently be used in Iran, North Korea, Syria or Sudan.
If you use the card to guarantee your bill at a hotel, on a cruise ship or when hiring a car, the merchant may request pre-authorisation of the estimated amount of your bill, rendering a part of your card balance temporarily unavailable. (Tip: Use your credit card as security for the estimated bill instead, then use your NAB Traveller Card to pay the actual bill.)
Daily and annual restrictions
Also worth noting are NAB’s currency limits (AUD equivalent) per transaction, per day and per year:
To make it easier when travelling to multiple countries, and so that you can use the same card for successive trips, you can load up to nine foreign currencies plus Australian dollars on this card (always staying within that AUD 45,000 equivalent limit):
If you end up somewhere unusual and need a different currency, or have used up all your pre-loaded supply of a particular currency, you can still pay with your card. A currency already on your card will be automatically converted into the local currency for this purpose (4% fee applies).
Manage your money as you travel with NAB internet banking and mobile app. Check balances and activity (fee-free), top up your currency amounts (fee-free, except for exchange rate margin), or convert one currency into another (exchange rate margin plus 4% fee).
Mastercard global acceptance
Almost anywhere that accepts card payments is going to welcome a Mastercard, and that means 43 million locations worldwide at last count.
Mastercard global benefits
Having a Mastercard lets you unlock special privileges via the Mastercard Priceless Cities program, benefits which can be particularly useful when you’re travelling. They include tour, restaurant, accommodation and retail discounts and perks when you pay using the card.
Anyone can have the card
The NAB Traveller Card isn’t just for NAB customers. Any Australian citizen or resident can have one, including temporary residents, and you don’t even need to be over 18. You can get a card, activated and ready-to-use, on the spot at any NAB branch.
There’s more than one travel money card
NAB don’t have a monopoly on the travel money card market, so it’s also worth checking out the Travelex Money Card, the ANZ Travel Money Card and the Westpac Global Currency Card. They all have different fee structures and limitations, but the NAB Traveller Card is notable for its mainly fee-free transactions and the flexibility provided by its very low minimum and extremely high maximum load amounts.
The NAB Traveller Card helps organised travellers avoid high foreign transaction fees, the budget blowout that can result from unexpected exchange rate fluctuations, and the difficulties that can arise when overseas merchants are reluctant to accept your credit card.