Money Tip – Bank Fees When Withdrawing Your Money Overseas

I love money. I love holding it, saving it, spending it and talking about it. Most importantly, I love knowing exactly where each cent I spend goes. I am in control of my money except when it comes to accessing my money overseas. This sucks.

After all, I worked hard to earn my money. Then I put a big chunk of each pay into a high interest account to make more money from my money. I watched it grow day by day until I finally had enough to travel the world in style.

This is where things get annoying. I am quite brand loyal. I have been with Westpac bank since I was a kiddy wink. My account number at the age of 36 is the same from when I was 6. Thirty years with the same
bank.

Don't worry, I am not leaving Westpac... Not yet anyhow.

The problem I have with Westpac is the fees they charge when you take money out of your Australian account via an ATM in another country.

For example, I took 900 Malysian Ringgit out of my bank in November 2011. That is the equivalent of $300 Australian dollars. I then got charged a $5 AUD foreign ATM fee as well as nearly $10 AUD in foreign transaction fees.

$300 + $5 + $10 = $315 in total to get $300 out.

Below are details of exactly how much we withdrew from November 2011 till the end of June 2012. We did withdraw a lot of money as, while in south east Asia at least, we usually pay for everything with cash. Unfortunately we were also charged a lot simply for accessing our own money.

I am fine with the fees when I travel short term, but long term, no way!

What to do? Well, I did a lot of research and it seems that ING Direct is cheap when travelling. Luckily for us, we also have an account with ING and have our card with us.

They charge a flat $2.50 AUD per transaction. No foreign transaction fee. Nothing.

For example, I took out $300 US Dollars in Cambodia. The equivalent of $300 Australian Dollars. ING then charged a $2.50 AUD fee.

$300 + $2.50 = $302.50 to get $300 out.

Westpac cost an extra $15 to take $300 out. ING Direct cost an extra $2.50 to take $300 out. I think you can see which bank is the winner in my eyes.

Please note that most banks overseas will charge you a fee for using their ATM as well. Those fees are on top of the fees charged by your bank. Some banks like Canadia in Cambodia and AEON in Thailand don't charge you a fee. Do your research.

In seven months time, I will let you know how ING Direct fared for fees when accessing money overseas. However, I can already see that I will be saving a lot. More money to spend on important things like cocktails by the pool.

15 comments

    • Tanya 7 September, 2012 at 19:48 Reply

      Yes Aveley, it certainly pays to shop around before you head overseas!

      Friendly reminder, don’t leave bank cards in ATMs on Koh Samui either otherwise it will cost $50 or more to get a new one to you!

  1. brodymaclean 9 September, 2012 at 09:23 Reply

    I picked up a 28 Degrees card for all my travels, which has no annual fees, no currency conversion fees and no international transaction fees. Hiiiiighly recommended!
    Wouldn’t leave Australia without it =)

    • Tanya 9 September, 2012 at 09:25 Reply

      Yep, we have heard a lot of good things about the 28 Degrees Card. I think we will look into that again when we are back in Australia in a few months. I gather you just online transfer $xxx into the 28deg card and then use that until it is almost empty and then refill it?

  2. Maria 15 September, 2012 at 19:09 Reply

    Thanks for that info. I’ve also heard good things about the 28 degrees card but didn’t have enough time to get one before I left Australia. I ended up using good old travelers cheques in Thailand as they only charge 33baht stamp duty to change, high denominations obviously are best. But the ATM’s were charging 150Baht and then I was getting hit with Australian fees, really not worth it unless you withdraw a huge sum of money, something I don’t feel safe doing.

    • Andrew 22 September, 2012 at 17:27 Reply

      I’m not sure we really even considered good old traveller cheques. Its amazing they’re still around but I suppose they will be until accessing foreign bank accounts gets simpler and cheaper.

  3. Erin 19 October, 2012 at 10:49 Reply

    Thats outrageous the fees you were being charged! So much for being loyal to one bank! Glad you have found a solution… 🙂

    • Tanya 19 October, 2012 at 11:14 Reply

      Hi Erin, thanks for reading! Yes, our solution has worked wonders thus far. Even now that we are in Australia, getting cash out at ATMs can cost up to $3 per transaction. ING deposits it back into our account after each withdrawal!

  4. Bob and Janette 8 December, 2012 at 15:11 Reply

    We have been using the 28 Degrees card (Wizard before they changed names) exclusively during our travels.

    No fees ever and we even get cash advances free of charge by placing the card in credit before we leave home.

    Highly recommended

    • Tanya 10 December, 2012 at 07:36 Reply

      Thanks for your response Bob and Janette. I really must do an updated post about how ING is going when we withdraw money overseas… at the moment, we are so happy with them!

      • Steve 9 January, 2013 at 05:24 Reply

        Hi
        Do you know if this is true for all ING Direct branches?
        I’m from Canada and I have an ING Direct account and when I called the person told me that I get charged $2 per transaction, plus the currency conversion, plus what the ATM/Bank charges me. Is this the same as what you are explaining?
        Thanks for your post, it was very helpful 🙂

        • Tanya 11 January, 2013 at 08:17 Reply

          Hi Steve. We have Australian ING Direct accounts and this is what happens for us using our Australian cards in other countries (and at home too). Good luck 🙂

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