Using money overseas – cards and insurance update.
UPDATE 29 October 2022 – With our NAB rewards card which we signed up for to get the travel insurance component of the card now part of our collection of plastic credit and debit options, I wanted to provide an update since the initial trauma of applying for a similar card with another large bank and being subjected to their antiquated phone systems for onboarding new customers… enough said on that.
Proving that you have travel insurance
We made a number of purchases related to our trip using the NAB card and one of those was an online purchase of the GoPro 11 direct from GoPro.com – the very day it was released in mid-September. It incurred a foreign transaction fee of over $20 on a cost of just over $600. If I had used an ING card for the same purchase, that fee would have been refunded. So, after you have satisfied the expenditure requirements (preferably by not purchasing something with a foreign currency exchange component), I suggest you lock the card away until you come back to Australia and use another card like the ING card.
Importantly though, we delved into what proof we needed to get to prove that we have travel insurance. Our insurance through the NAB rewards card is provided through Allianz, and while a benefit of the card, it is considered very separate from the financial side of the card. The experience was excellent. A real human contacted me via email, no doubt using a templated response to my question which was
"I have just signed up for a NAB credit card and am completing my visa application. I understand I need to spend 500 dollars on trip-related travel which I will do, but how do I get the policy number to share with the folks processing my tourist visa application?"
The response was
Visit www.checkyourcover.com.au/NAB to:
- Check your eligibility.
- See what’s covered.
- Get a record of your eligibility, including a policy reference number.
- Make your claim online.
Whether that is the same for ANZ, Westpac etc I am not sure… but I was able to get my letter of eligibility which covers both myself and Helen, print that out and add that to the digital and paper forms of documentation we need to enter Chile and potentially other locations on our adventure.
So how much for insurance?
A final side note. We went with the NAB rewards signature card, not the slightly cheaper platinum card because we are travelling for more than 3 months. We did not get the more expensive NAB Qantas rewards card because we only care about the insurance not hunting down frequent flier points. That said it might have been worth the extra 100 or so dollars per year considering we are travelling a bit. Only part of it is on Qantas and it wasn’t a consideration for us. So how much? $195 was the cost of the card which has given two people international travel insurance. $215 if I add in that $20 in foreign transaction fees. Still a bargain for a couple of senior citizens galavanting around South America.
I got a Revolut Card
Finally, I was researching further the cards available for trips overseas and listened to a podcast that rammed home something about paying in local currency on your card rather than Australian (home country currency). Apparently, when, after your meal and the waiter comes up with the machine and you tap to pay, there is a choice of whether to pay in your home base currency of the issued card (AUD in our case) or the local currency. PAY IN the LOCAL currency was their message… Noted.
They also spoke of exchange rates and apparently, there are some ATM machines that double dip on the fees that are charged. All legal, but you need to be aware. Using an ING card will deal with that, however, be aware that they have now restricted ATM withdrawals to 5 per month. We have two ING cards so it should be fine. I digress…
I was encouraged enough by the podcast to revisit the Revolut card. I signed up online and received the digital version of the card within minutes, complete with CVV for transactions. I opted for the free card as it is, at this stage a backup. What was cool was that I was able to add it to my watch and phone wallet without the need to wait for a physical card to turn up. I won’t be able to withdraw cash from an ATM, but I can transfer money onto the card using Apple Pay without charge and then use the phone or the watch to pay by tapping. Then I can use the ING card to withdraw cold, hard pesos to pay when real cash is required.
PayPal has one thing I wish some of my other financial institutions have – access to an authenticator application rather than relying on an SMS as the second factor of authentication when you are adding a payee or making a payment over your normal limit.
If you are like us and don’t take your phone number with you when travelling internationally, you won’t be able to complete a payment transaction that requires this second factor of authentication.
Just be aware of that and set up any transfers and new payee and payer accounts before you go overseas. This is typically where you might transfer from your main savings account into your travel card account. If you lose the travel card or have it stolen, the bad guys won’t have access to your main accounts.
Let the banks know you are travelling
As I finish this post I am logging onto each of the banks I need to advise that we are travelling overseas. The last thing we want is for the bank to put a stop on our accounts while we are trying to pay the ferryman to cross the Amazon.
That is the theory anyway… As Scott Pape, the barefoot investor says… tread your own path with this. This is what we have discovered and implemented and definitely without any kickback or influence from the companies mentioned.
Remember that travelling is not all about money… until you can’t access any.
End of update