This article explains why I chose the Latitude Finance 28 Degrees Mastercard for use as travel money while on holidays and to buy things from overseas websites eg: books, dvds etc. The card has ben previously known as the Wizard Clear Advantage Mastercard and the GE 28 Degrees card.
I was making a budget for traveling on holiday to New Zealand when I realised there was a big hidden expense – everything I bought on my credit card while in NZ would get charged an extra 2% foreign exchange fee + foreign ATM fees + cash advance fees. So if I spent say $5000, I’d be charged at least $100 in credit card fees!
28 Degrees Mastercard Will Save You Lots of Money When Travelling
After doing some research I chose the 28 Degrees MasterCard because it has these key benefits:
- No ATM fees when used overseas
- No currency conversion fees when used to buy products/services overseas eg: when on holiday
- A good exchange rate very close to the official Mastercard interbank rate for purchases which is also useful when buying goods and services online.
- Frequently recommended by members of Frequent Flyer forums, OzBargain and Whirlpool forums
- Up to 55 days interest free
- No annual fee
- It’s a MasterCard so it should work in ATM’s and in shops all around the world.
Optional Fees You Can Avoid
- BPAY payment fee of 95c per transfer (free if Direct Debit or Direct Debit via. Online Service Centre)
- Paper statement postage fee $2/month (free PDF statements available online).
Bank Cards and Travellers Cheques are Expensive Overseas
When I was a young 21 year old backpacker travelling overseas in Europe I used my Commonwealth Bank savings/debit card, a specialist travel money card and travellers cheques.
But these all had problems:
Using Bank savings/debit card – Making a small number of large withdrawals saved me some bank fees but I didn’t feel safe withdrawing and carrying a lot of cash. Also Bank savings/debit cards tend to charge a flat fee eg: $5 to use ATM’s overseas as well as a currency conversion fees eg: 2%. So withdrawing $100 from an ATM overseas could cost $107 in total.
Travel money cards – Are marketed as being easy to use, however the problem is they have lots of fees e.g the Travelex Cash passport: load money on card (1.1% or $15), massive currency conversion fees of 5.95%, reload fee $5 and account shutdown fee $10.
Travellers Cheques – Used to be really popular but you rarely hear about them these days as people find using cash or plastic (debit/credit cards) is easier. Back in the day travellers cheques always involved lots of fees and charges, high commissions, poor exchange rates &they are weren’t accepted in some shops
Beware of Prepaid travel money cards
Examples are Visa TravelMoney, MasterCard Traveller’s Cash cards and and the Travelex Cash Passport card. The idea is you load the card with money before the trip, and then use it for overseas ATM withdrawals and purchases.
These cards are a bit like plastic travellers cheques, with security features such as 24-hour support if they’re lost or stolen. A free second card is often provided.
These benefits come with big costs:
- Cost to load money on to the card (appx 1%)
- ATM withdrawal fee (appx $4)
- Currency conversion fee anywhere (around 2% for most banks upto almost 6% for the Travelex Cash Passport!)
Dynamic Currency Conversion In Shop Can Be Costly
Retailers online and in-store overseas are increasingly offering customers the ability to transact in their home currency, using their MasterCard or Visa card.
For example, you might be in an electronics shop in Signapore and they’ll offer to charge your credit card in Australian dollars. This can be really expensive because the shop keeper’s currency conversion exchange rate is often poor.
On 17 November 2010, Wizard Clear Advantage MasterCard was relaunched with a new look and a new name, 28 Degrees MasterCard because GE Money sold the Wizard Home Loans business in 2009 and that meant the card had to be renamed.
Customers still enjoyed no international transaction fees and no annual fee on their 28 Degrees MasterCard, as they had on their Wizard Clear Advantage card.
Even better there were enhanced security and additional features which made the new 28 Degrees MasterCard even safer and more convenient than the old Wizard Clear Advantage Credit card eg: Contactless transaction technology with MasterCard PayPass and an embedded CHIP on the card which made it more secure.
In November 2015 GE’s Consumer Finance business became Latitude Financial Services when Värde Partners, Deutsche Bank and KKR completed the acquisition of GE Capital’s Australian and New Zealand consumer finance business, now called Latitude Financial Services.