Travel money

We've compared credit, debit and travel cards and calculated charges for taking out foreign cash. See how the options stack up in our scenarios for a US short-stop, Thai beach break and a two-week trip to Japan.

tourist pulling cash from wallet

Whatever your holiday haunt, along with your passport you’ll probably need to pack some plastic.

There are three main options for paying your way overseas: credit, debit or travel card. If you want the best bang for your holiday buck, our calculations found a debit card can work out to be an attractive choice.

What we did

We calculated charges for taking out Japanese yen, Thai baht and US dollars using a debit and credit card from six banks:

  • ANZ
  • ASB
  • BNZ
  • Kiwibank
  • TSB
  • Westpac

We compared these with seven travel cards:

  • Air NZ OneSmart
  • Loaded For Travel
  • Mastercard Cash Passport
  • Qantas Cash
  • Travelex Money Card
  • Westpac’s Global Currency Card and,
  • Westpac’s Prepaid Debit Visa.

We also checked exchange rates to buy the same amount in notes at five banks and two foreign exchange services.

When we asked Consumer members for holiday money tips, four said they often took New Zealand cash with them to exchange for local currency on arrival, particularly when travelling in Asia. However, we didn’t look at this option in our trial.

Buying bank notes

Want to read the full article?

  • Heaps of buying advice so you can choose with confidence
  • Independent reviews of thousands of products and services
  • Personal advice an email or phone call away on our advice line (members only).

Credit vs debit

Travel cards

US dollars

Thai baht

Japanese yen

Travel traps

Travel traps

16mar travel traps promo default

Travel traps

There’s a chance you’ll encounter problems while you’re away on a big trip – be it flight cancellations, lost luggage or unexpected expenses. Here’s our guide to common travel traps and your rights.

Learn more

Member comments

Get access to comment