Credit and Debit Cards with no International Transaction Fees
You can rack up a lot of extra fees using your debit or credit card in China. Your bank will usually charge you an overseas ATM fee of $4-$5 every time you draw out money, plus a currency conversion charge of 2-3%. This means that every time you draw out $300 in China, you will pay more than $10 in fees.
However, there are a few bank cards that have no fees for overseas ATM transactions and no currency conversion fees (meaning you get money pretty much at the official exchange rate). So far we have researched the options available to Australian residents. More details are to come for residents of other countries.
Australian Credit and Debit cards with no overseas ATM or currency conversion fees
There are three options open to Australian residents. Keep in mind that if these options don’t suit your long-term banking needs, you can open an account before you leave and close it on your return.
28 Degrees MasterCard (credit card): This credit card also has no international ATM fees or currency conversion fees. Note, however, that ATM withdrawals using a credit card are treated as a cash advance and you start paying interest on that money as soon as you make an ATM withdrawal. Therefore, you need to make sure that you have pre-paid your credit card with sufficient funds. See the 28 Degrees MasterCard website for more information.
Citibank Plus Visa Debit Card: Citibank started offering this account at the end of 2011. There are no overseas ATM fees, no currency conversion fees and no account-keeping fees. If you search the internet for reviews, however, you will find there are some complaints about Citibank’s customer service and the quality of their internet banking facility. See the Citibank website for more information.
NAB Gold Visa Debit Card: (Unfortunately, this is no longer available) An NAB Gold account gives you a visa debit card with no overseas ATM fees and no currency conversion fees. There is a $10 account-keeping fee per month which you can avoid if you deposit $5000 or more into the account per month. This account also offers complimentary travel insurance if you make a purchase of $500 or more on an overseas travel product using the NAB Gold Visa Debit Card before you start your trip. See the NAB website for more information.