Travel cards

Updated: 07 Dec 2011


Travel cards offer convenience and control – but how much are you charged for this convenience?

No matter which way you do it, it costs to convert from one currency to another. Travel cards are prepaid cards on which you load and convert a set amount of Kiwi dollars into various overseas currencies.

We take a look at 5 travel cards and see how they stack up against each other.

The cards

National Bank Travel Card

There are currently 5 travel cards:

  • Travelex Cash Passport (MasterCard)
  • ANZ/National Bank's Travel Card (MasterCard)
  • Kiwibank Loaded for Travel Card (Visa)
  • OneSmart Airpoints Card (MasterCard)
  • Westpac Travel Card (Visa).

The OneSmart account, National Bank Travel Card and the Kiwibank Loaded for Travel Card are primarily online products to be loaded by internet banking (although the National Bank product can be loaded in-branch and the Kiwibank card at any PostShop store). If you prefer to load money by phone banking, you'll need to go with The Travelex Cash Passport or the ANZ or Westpac Travel Card.

The Travelex Cash Passport is offered by BNZ, SBS, TSB and most credit unions and building societies. You can also buy it at travel agents. You can load only one currency on the card.

ANZ/National Bank Travel Card is also a MasterCard and it works the same as the Travelex Cash Passport – except that it doesn't store NZD.

Kiwibank Loaded for Travel can load up to 5 currencies on one card. Each currency is loaded into separate "wallets" on the card and the local payment systems overseas automatically detect their currency. If the local currency’s not loaded then they’ll use NZD – and if that’s not there they’ll move on to the next currency on the card. (Currencies are loaded on to the Kiwibank card in a set order: NZD, AUD, USD, GBP and EUR.)

OneSmart Airpoints Card offers 8 currencies and the ability to load up to 4 at any one time. It also uses a currency order, like the Kiwibank card, but it's set by you when you load it. Unlike the other cards there’s a monthly account fee of $1.95, though this is waived if you load NZD500 or more each month. Cash withdrawals in New Zealand cost $1.50 but are free overseas.

This card has other benefits. The OneSmart card holds your Air New Zealand airpoints as well as your prepaid money. You can top up your airpoints dollars with cash if you want to buy an Air New Zealand flight but don't have enough points.

You accumulate airpoints as you spend (on eligible purchases), at a rate of 1 airpoint dollar per NZD200 domestically or per NZD100 overseas.

It also has built-in PayPass “tap and go” technology, which means you don’t need a PIN for small purchases and it can also be used to speed up your check-in on Air New Zealand domestic flights.

You can also receive text or email alerts for your OneSmart account, though you’ll need to set up global roaming first on your mobile phone. You can also transfer money between OneSmart accounts by mobile phone.

Westpac Travel Card can be loaded only in NZD and is converted as you spend – so you can't lock in the exchange rate. But you can use it online, withdraw cash from overseas ATMs, and use EFTPOS (which no other card lets you do) at any outlet that accepts Visa.