You’ve picked up your Sydney Airport car hire and checked into your hotel, now it’s time to really start enjoying yourself. What’s the best way to pay for your holiday activities when you’re visiting a foreign country? We weigh up the options.

Travel cards

Working much like debit cards – they can be used in store or to withdraw cash and are protected by a PIN.

Travel cards are a good option for sticking to a budget as they usually require money to be loaded onto them. You can transfer only as much as you’ll allow yourself to spend. There can be a short delay between loading the card and the money actually being available to spend, so think ahead and keep an eye on your balance.

Many cards allow you to pre-load various currencies, so they’re a good option if you take lots of trips or for multi-location holidays. They typically have fewer fees than bank cards, and offer fixed exchange rates.

essential objects for making travel plans including passport, credit cards, pen, phone, etc
Travel cards can be great for multi-destination trips.

Credit and debit cards

Using your existing credit and debit cards is an easy option. It requires little planning, no pre-loading or learning new PIN numbers, but it rarely provides the best deal. You’ll usually be looking at fees for each transaction, plus a poor exchange rate, and it will differ between debit and credit cards with the same bank.

However, some banks have cottoned onto the fact that travellers are making the most of other options and have improved their deals. Your overseas spending may also contribute to frequent flyer or fuel points associated with your card.

It’s not just shop transactions you are charged for either – ATM withdrawals also attract a fee. If your bank has branches overseas or is linked to local institution, you may get a good rate by sticking to their machines.

photo of nz currency including notes and coins
Cash can be convenient but isn’t always covered by insurance companies.

Withdrawing cash

It’s likely you’ll need some cash on you during a trip aboard, but is it worth withdrawing before you go or while you’re away, and how much should you take out?

Exchange rates vary widely, so the best thing you can do is check out what’s on offer locally before you decide how and where to convert. Once you know what local options are, check the small print from your bank for the charges they will levy for every overseas withdrawal so you can work out what the cheaper option is.

One convenience of cash is that even the smallest of vendors accepts it. In some countries, the cost of accepting card payments means many businesses only take cash, so withdrawal costs aside, do a bit of research first. The downside is that your insurance policy may not replace large amounts of cash in the event of an accident.

Now you know how you’ll be spending, check out which of our Australia car hire locations work for your road trip.