The United States dollar is one of the world’s most stable, and widely accepted, currencies in the world, but if you’re travelling there from Australia, which cards should you take for spending, and to access your own cash? For a start, in case you have any issues with your cards, we’d recommend you take at least $250 in local currency so you can at least catch a cab to your hotel, or pay for any small items or anything in an emergency. When it comes to credit cards, Visa, MasterCard and American Express are accepted virtually everywhere these days, and you should be able to withdraw from an ATM with a Visa, MasterCard or American Express logo on the front, although this can be expensive in several ways. When using your credit card in the United States, the two key things to look out for are ATM fees and currency conversion fees. ATM fees in particular can be high in the USA, around US$4-$5 per withdrawal, so even if your card doesn’t charge a fee to take cash out, the local ATM operator most definitely will.
The best way to avoid these fees, which can add up, is to make larger withdrawals less frequently rather than small ones, or you can consider taking a currency card on your trip such as the Australia Post Load&Go Prepaid Travel Money Card, which has a low ATM withdrawal fee. If you plan to use a credit card for purchases, which is essential in the USA from renting cars to paying for hotel rooms, before you travel check with your card provider or bank what charges you may incur with each transaction, such as currency conversion fees or other foreign charges. Also check if you are still allowed to earn frequent flyer points when you make a purchase on the card if you are collecting miles. And always carry a backup credit card in case of loss, or any other problems with your card of choice being accepted. Ultimately, taking a combination of travel money options to the United States, or anywhere else, is the best way forward. Another tip is to record your card numbers and emergency contact numbers should your cards get stolen or lost; reporting either when you know it’s happened will reduce the risk of unwanted charges.