Tips for travellers?

Organising your finances while travelling overseas can be a bit of a nightmare, but a #protip from me would be to make sure you let your bank know you’re going. They’ll be able to check you are set up to use things like internet and phone banking from overseas, so if you get stuck you can access all the services you need to. What are your top travel money tips?


When I last travelled for an extended period, through the Middle East, I visited a branch and got set up with a Travelex Cash Passport, which I found really convenient, easy to use, and felt a lot safer about using than withdrawing my cash from my credit card!
The only downside was getting a letter when I got home, informing me of suspicious use of my credit card to withdraw cash in Jordan… which I found amusing, given my visit to the branch. I didn’t mind though, I’d rather be informed mistakenly than not be informed at all and fall victim to CC fraud!


OOOooo great topic!  I deal with customers travelling daily so I know a few tips and tricks to help!

1 - Same as you Yvonne!  Let your bank know of your travel dates, the Fraud team will monitor accounts 24/7 for overseas transactions.  This lets them know to expect the transactions to come through.

2 - Make sure you take more than one method of payment.  You’d be suprised how many customers take one card overseas and end up loosing it, or it gets compromised or damaged, then they are left high and dry without access to funds until Visa or Mastercard International get a new card or cash issued.  Not an ideal way to spend a holiday!  Credit card (multiple if you can), Flexi Debit card, Foreign cash (make sure you order this at least a week before you need), Cash Passport or a combo of these, put in different places, will definitely help you in that moment of need.

3 - Take your Netguard card - You will need this if you are travelling overseas and need access to your Internet Banking!

4 - Be aware of the fees you will be charged for using your cards overseas.  $7.50 per withdrawal using an ATM machine overseas, and 2.25% currency conversion fee, which is added onto the NZ$ amount once converted.

5 - Jott down the contact numbers to get in touch with BNZ from overseas, the numbers to call are on the back of your cards, should start with a +64.

6 - Cover yourself for the ‘what if’ and look into travel insurance.  Some of the BNZ credit cards have complimentary travel insurance, but it is a good idea to contact us to make sure you have activated that insurance, or contact the Insurance team directly on 0800 269 872.

7 - Give us a call or pop into a BNZ store and we can set you up for Voice Identification, once setup, this will mean that as long as you know your access number, we will be able to identify you easily over the phone.  Nothing worse than being stuck overseas, then not being able to discuss your accounts if you need to!

8 - My ma told me this one…write down the approximate exchange rate for the foreign currency to NZ$ and keep it in your wallet. EG. NZ$1 = US$0.77, NZ$10 = US$7.70 etc. You can refer back to this when purchasing things so you know how much that token overseas t-shirt is actually costing you.

Last one, I promise…

9 - I would advise getting a printed balance at any BNZ ATM so our LEN (Liquid Encryption) protection system can keep your card details safe.  LEN updates information held on the magnetic strip of your BNZ Visa (credit or debit) or MasterCard credit cards, making any information previously gathered by fraudsters to create illegal cards, useless. The security information is updated each time a transaction is completed at a BNZ ATM (except mini-statements and balance transfers).


I’m currently living ‘on the road’ and would recommend the following:

  1. Mastercard Cash Passport
    I originally had the Visa LoadedforTravel, but found their website rather clunky and hard to use.  It also didn’t exude the feeling of security so I ended up leaving LoadedforTravel for Cash Passport.  A good move, as you can make free cash withdrawals from some overseas ATMs with the Cash Passport, whereas the LoadedforTravel card always charged for overseas cash withdrawals.
    I’m pretty sure you need a Kiwibank bank account for the LoadedforTravel card also, as it is their own product.  However, the Cash Passport is more independent and you can be a customer of any bank to use it.

  2. Tell the bank where you’re going!
    As mentioned above, my local branch set-up my telephone identification and also recorded when and where I was going to be.  They also changed my address for me on my date of departure - so kind!

  3. Take a back-up card
    Whilst both Mastercard Cash Passport and LoadedforTravel provide two cards upon application, I also have my NZ debit card on me just in case I am caught short.  I don’t plan on ever using it unless I really am in a difficult situation.

  4. Netguard card
    As above, as mentioned by Krystal.
    However, make sure you check the expiry date of your card though.  If it expires whilst you’re away, it will cause a bit of a headache for you.

  5. Bank contact telephone numbers
    Again as per Krystal’s post above.
    There are but two business cards I keep in my wallet - my own and my bank manager’s!
    BNZ cards should have the bank’s Swift Code on it too, which you may need if things get really bad or a relative/friend wants to make a cash transfer to your account for some reason.

Krystal - Do you recommend getting a printed balance after every transaction?  Note that some cards charge for printed statements.

@MitgliedI think Krystal meant getting a printed balance from a BNZ ATM on return to NZ (assuming you went overseas), as then any information that may somehow have been gathered during your trip, will be void. Getting a printed balance for your BNZ card from any ATM other than a BNZ ATM presumably won’t update the LEN secure magnetic strip.


Oh, okay cool. Good tip that!

@Mitglied, Yeah what @DownyAplaca said.  You only need to do it when you get back to NZ, and it does have to be at a BNZ ATM machine :slight_smile:

So… if I’m overseas using my credit card and the person asks me if I want to pay in the local currency or in NZD, is there a rule of thumb on which is better to select?

@donal, I have come across this too when travelling!  I would find out from the merchant if they charge for converting the funds to NZD.  I would assume their bank would charge them to be able to even have this option available, and then an extra charge to convert it. 

If they are unable to tell you, or seem like they dont really know, it maybe best to go with the local currency.  That way at least you know exactly what the conversion rate and fees will be if BNZ convert it.

If they tell you a rate, and you accept it.  I would ask for a reciept, and make sure it is what they advised you.


I’ve found when buying from Amazon that the rate they give me if I purchase in NZD is worse than the one I get if pay in USD (or GBP if I am using the UK site). Based on this I have always gone for the local currency when travelling overseas - and watch out, sometimes they just assume you want to pay in NZD.

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Kudos to Krystal!
Im sure heaps of customers will benefit from this!

I’ve just returned from Japan and used my Air New Zealand OneSmart again while overseas - so easy. You can set up different currency wallets within it, and transfer funds between them. It’s easy to move money onto the OneSmart, and you use it just like a credit card (except a better deal on cash withdrawal fees).  Japan is a cash society so we often just withdrew cash every few days, and used it a a credit card when shopping for clothes or paying hotel bills.

One downside to the OneSmart is that you can’t transfer any unused funds back to your bank account. You have to withdraw them, and that will incur a small fee.


One other thing is to also let your Insurance company know you are away especially if travelling longer than 60 days. That way if something happens at home while you are away you are covered.


Lots of good advice, thanks. Just back from four weeks in Holland, Ireland and England. Cash Passport worked really well BUT in famous Alkmaar two cheese shops did not want to take Cash Passport or my Visa card. Had to withdraw cash which, I think, is cheap or free on Cash Passport. And some B&B places in England want real money. By doing lots of pre-payments of accommodation and travel on Visa I got free travel insurance.

Isn’t it funny how in today’s days of electronic transactions, you still can’t get passed the old school vendors who still want to deal in cash! It strikes me as slightly arrogant they expect you to bend to their rules when not carrying hard cash around is actually a much safer option?

I endorse Krystal and Mitglied. Unfortunately I have found that the BNZ staff fail to tell you to take your netguard card.  Which you really do need, even if you don’t intend to log in that often. Make sure you are only using your internet banking in a safe online space - not at an internet cafe or in the airport.

Cash passport I found good when travelling, so will be using it again this year, but did find contacting their staff line a bit frustrating at times.  If you are using a cellphone for making calls, remember you might be on hold to various organisations if you have any problems, and that could cost a lot. 

Pay as much in advance as possible… yes that is mostly good advice. You just need to be aware if you turn up and they have double booked your room or it turns out to be disgusting that you might run into problems. Cancellation terms will apply, so you can’t just ask the Bank to reverse the charge.

Don’t rely on only one form of payment - take cards (not all from one institution as there can be outages) and cash.

Have an app on your phone that has the conversion of the currencies you are using so that you can quickly work out how much it costs in NZ money.

Keep your receipts!  (Useful for insurance claims, disputed transactions, returns & repairs, and querying fees).

Don’t leave your passport at home! I did this once and will never do it again. Managed to be put on a later plane to Auckland and had to run to make the connecting flight overseas.

I have to add that having cash on hand can be a forgotten component of travel finances. I’ve visited about 70 countries and run out of cash in about 5 (especially back in the OE days). These days, I carry the majority of my travel funds in cash - aiming to get the best rate of exchange (and less fees) leading up to the trip for each currency I need.

Obviously it depends where you’re travelling, but I would feel quite safe carrying cash in the majority of countries I’ve visited - having it secure in a few different places, but mainly in a hidden belt bag. I’ll also carry a Visa or Mastercard, along with an Amex card.

We used the Airpoints Onesmart card while we were in Europe last year - we had one each and would just transfer money across from our bank account once a week (or when needed) and get cash out. We knew we had 3 free withdrawals each, each month, so we took turns taking cash out and didn’t pay any fees while we were away. And because we transferred cash as we went, we didn’t end up with very much left over, so didn’t have to withdraw it in NZ .
Good points -

  1. You can have multiple currencies on the go, which means you can get the best exchange rate, and handy if you’re going to multiple countries
  2. No or minimal fees
  3. Collect Air NZ Airpoints on your overseas spending (and it replaces your Flybuys card, so one less of those in your wallet)
  4. You can use it like a normal debit card, and for online purchases
    Bad points:
  5. Can be challenging to figure which account to select if you’re getting cash out of an ATM
  6. Can’t transfer money back to your NZ bank account
  7. Once you get home, if there is money left, there is an account fee of $1 per month, which can quickly drain any remaining funds.

We also took a Visa card each, which we used for any big purchases, or booking hotels, tours etc. If you upgrade your Visa/Mastercard to platinum before you go, and book most of your trip on it, you can get free travel insurance, which is handy. If it’s a big trip, the points you’ll earn should cancel out the increased fee.

I’d definitely say cash is king, it’s astounding the number of places that don’t accept cards. If you do your research and don’t make yourself a target (keep your eyes open and don’t act like a brain-dead tourist), most places in Western Europe are quite safe.

Hi there,

On point 9, this is slightly ambitious after a long haul flight with small children. How about a feature on the mobile app that let’s you check in at the airport instead?