Tripologist: Cash cards give you peso of mind

"I'm travelling to South America and was intending to take a Travelex Cash Card in US dollars. With the Australian dollar beginning to decrease in value, would a cash card in $A be more stable against South American currencies?"

- C. Baker, Raymond Terrace.

If you're considering a Travelex Cash Passport, an Australian dollar card is probably a better option, due to the currency conversion margin that applies if the card is used for purchases or withdrawals in any currency other than the currency of the card. That is 5.95 per cent for a card loaded with $A and 8.45 per cent for a $US card. If you have a $US Travelex Cash Passport and use it to withdraw Argentine pesos from an ATM in Buenos Aires, you will pay a fee of 8.45 per cent. With an $A card, the fee reduces to 5.95 per cent. However, if you are able to pay hotel bills and other big costs in $US, you will not pay any currency conversion margin. In this case, the $US Travelex Cash Passport may be the way to go.

If you think the $A is going to fall further against the greenback, you might consider locking your Aussie dollars in at the present rate by buying a $US Travelex Cash Passport. You might also consider the Wizard Clear Advantage Mastercard (wizardclearadvantage .com.au). You pay no international transaction fees or annual fees. Load the Wizard card with funds you then use as a reservoir to withdraw from via ATMs overseas, or to pay bills, thus avoiding the 19.24 per cent interest charges on any outstanding balance. Confused?

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