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Travel Bank Accounts

Compare travel bank accounts with Savvy and find one which offers the lowest international transaction fees and free ATM usage overseas

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, updated on July 31st, 2023       

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Compare bank accounts

Finding the best bank account can save you hundreds on fees and connect you with the very latest in smart banking technology.  Compare bank accounts from a wide variety of providers with Savvy to find the very best offers available on the market right now.

site-logos Up Everyday Account
  Monthly Account Fee Features Card Type ATM Fee Interest Rate  
site-logos $0
  • PayId,
  • Osko,
  • Samsung Pay,
  • Apple Pay,
  • Google Wallet,
Mastercard $0 0%
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Use invite code SAVVY10 for $10 upon successful sign-up. (Refer to offer T&Cs on Up website)

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site-logos ING Orange Everyday
  Monthly Account Fee Features Card Type ATM Fee Interest Rate  
site-logos $0
  • PayId,
  • Apple Pay,
  • Google Wallet,
Visa $0 0%
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Rebates on ATM fees anywhere in Oz. No ING international transaction fees. Zero monthly fees.

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site-logos NAB Classic Banking Account
  Monthly Account Fee Features Card Type ATM Fee Interest Rate  
site-logos $0
  • PayId,
  • Samsung Pay,
  • Apple Pay,
  • Google Wallet,
Visa $0 0.01%
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No monthly account fees ever, with no conditions. Free use at over 7,000 ATMs around Australia. No overdrawn fees if you happen to go over your account balance. Open an account in less than 7 minutes.

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site-logos St.George Complete Freedom Account
  Monthly Account Fee Features Card Type ATM Fee Interest Rate  
site-logos $0
  • Samsung Pay,
  • Apple Pay,
  • Google Wallet,
Visa $0 0%
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Get $40 with a new Complete Freedom everyday bank account.

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site-logos Westpac Choice
  Monthly Account Fee Features Card Type ATM Fee Interest Rate  
site-logos $5
  • Samsung Pay,
  • Apple Pay,
  • Google Wallet,
Mastercard $0 $0
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Westpac Choice for easy day-to-day banking

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Travel bank accounts explained

International exchange rates and transaction fees can mean the difference between splashing out on indulgent restaurant meals or having takeaway every night when you’re on holiday.  If you prepare in advance and find yourself the best fee-free travel bank account, you can save hundreds on overseas transaction and ATM fees and have more left to spend on luxuries.  Savvy offers free comparisons to help you find the best travel account to suit your needs.

What are travel bank accounts?

Smaller banks and neobanks have started offering travel bank accounts in response to demand for a cheaper way for Aussies to access their funds overseas, particularly in relation to high overseas ATM and international transaction fees. These accounts are accessed through a mobile app and sometimes an online platform, depending on which bank you choose. They offer a far cheaper travel finance solution to students, travel enthusiasts and everyday Aussies venturing overseas, combining low or no fees, convenient currency management, ease of use and peace-of-mind security features.

Most have a travel card linked to the account, either Visa or Mastercard, which allows you to use ATMs to withdraw cash overseas and pay for goods and services wherever you are with no expensive transaction fees hanging over your head.  Many offer free ATM access in most countries or a free cash withdrawal limit, after which you’re charged a percentage fee to use overseas ATMs.  Some also allow you to load your card with overseas currency before you leave, so you’re able to choose an exchange rate which is advantageous to you in advance.

What features do travel bank accounts offer?

Some more of the features currently offered by travel bank accounts include:

  • no account keeping fees
  • no overseas transaction fees
  • a multi-currency account accepting a multitude of currencies in and out
  • free use of ATMs in Australia
  • free use of ATMs overseas (or a generous fee-free ATM use allowance, such as $350 a week)
  • a mobile banking app which shows you in real time how much local currency you have remaining on your card
  • an app which can do instant currency conversions for you, showing you on your phone or smart watch how much things cost in Aussie dollars and the local currency
  • keep track of your spending in local currency and Aussie dollars so you’re always aware of how much money you have remaining
  • top up your travel card or transfer money in from other bank accounts with instant transfers and no payment delays

However, for all the convenience of travel cards, there can be hidden fees to watch out for.  Some cards are free to use on a weekday but charge you to use the card on a weekend.  Some are fee-free, but others charge a monthly fee to use the app. Others charge a premium per ATM withdrawal if you exceed the free withdrawal allowance per month (which is often between 2% and 5% of the value of the transaction).  For this reason, it’s important to compare travel bank accounts and apps with Savvy to find one that offers you the features and cost structure that will best suit your travel plans.

What other options do I have for easy travel with the standard banks?

If a travel bank card or banking app isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other options which may be best for you when travelling overseas.  Some of these include:

A global currency bank account and linked card

Also known as an international account, this is a regular everyday transaction account offered by many of the major and smaller banks in Australia.  A global account allows you to have a linked credit or debit card to enable you to withdraw cash from overseas ATMs, often free of charge or with a set number of free overseas ATM transactions permitted per month.  They often have no fees for international transactions and allow you to make and receive payments in many different currencies.  You can also hold payments in different currencies and choose to convert the funds to Australian dollars when the exchange rate is right for you.

An international pre-paid travel money card 

These Mastercard or Visa debit cards allow you to load up your card with Aussie dollars before you leave and convert them to the currency of your holiday destination when the time is right.  You’ll be able to use the card to pay for drinks, meals and trips in the currency of the country you’re in, so you can keep tabs on exactly how much you’ve spent.  Any unused foreign currency can be left on the card for use another time or converted back to dollars at a time when the exchange rate is favourable. One major advantage of such a card is that it isn’t linked to your other bank cards or accounts, so if it’s lost or stolen there won’t be any access to your main accounts.

Traveller’s cheques

These are paper documents which you buy in advance of your holiday in the currency of your choice.  You can cash them in for local currency at most overseas banks and airports.  Before the internet and mobile banking, traveller’s cheques were the most common form of currency for people on holiday in foreign lands, with their main advantage being they were individually numbered and insured, protecting the owner from theft as a result.  However, traveller’s cheques have largely been replaced by travel debit and credit cards, which are increasingly held in digital wallets.

Types of bank account

Why compare bank accounts with Savvy?

More frequently asked questions about travel bank accounts

Are online banks and neobanks covered by the government's guarantee?

Digital and neobanks are covered by the Australian Government’s Financial Claims Scheme, but some financial apps aren’t.  This will depend on whether the bank or fintech (financial technology company) is an authorised deposit-taking institution (ADI).  Some digital online banks are either owned or backed by some of the major big banks in Australia, such as UBank and 86 400 (digital banks owned by NAB) or Up (digital bank backed by Bendigo and Adelaide Bank).  If the bank is covered by the guarantee, up to $250,000 of your savings per person per ADI are secured by a government guarantee in case the financial institution fails.

Do travel debit cards come with free travel insurance?

Yes – some travel debit cards do offer free travel insurance when you open an account with them, so it’s worth comparing offers with Savvy to make sure you get the best deal if you’re looking to open a new travel bank account with a linked debit card.

What do I do if I lose my travel debit card when I’m overseas?

Notify the card issuer immediately or use another device to lock the card remotely if you’re able to do so.  It’s always a good idea to keep a copy of the international phone numbers for your bank somewhere safe and link your debit card to your digital wallet on your phone as a backup in case you fall victim to pickpockets.  Some travel card providers send you two cards when you sign up, so you always have a second backup.

Are there minimum balance requirements on travel bank accounts?

No – travel accounts and apps don’t tend to have any minimum balance requirements, so you can load up your card with just the amount you need for your holiday spending money.

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