What Is Your Go to Overseas Debit Card?

I've always used the Citibank Plus transaction account for fee-free ATM withdrawals using mastercards curency rate (bar the atm owner fee on some of them) but the morons have disabled mobile app OTP. This means the only way to get your OTP is via a text message, hardly conveniant when you overseas and dont want to get hit with roaming charges. Your options are to contact them and changing your number each time you change local sim.

Who else looks just as good? I know ubank and hsbc also provide "fee free" international transactions but havnt looked properly into the other banks.


  • +8


    • +3

      Not really telling the full story here (though I keep my ING card just for this purpose, despite their new condition of "perpetually increasing end-of-month balance of savings for bonus interest").

      ING requires a $1000 deposit and 5 transactions the month before to qualify for fee-free international ATM withdrawals and a rebate of the $2.50 ING International Transaction Fee. At the moment this also qualifies you for a rebate on any separate ATM fees you are charged.

      From 1 December 2021, you can still trigger unlimited rebates on the ING International Transaction Fee (as above), but rebates on ATM fees will be limited to the first 5 fee incurring ATM withdrawals on the account ((Domestic & International).

      • Is that rebate limited to the first 5 ATM withdrawals per month? If so, very easy for most people to limit cash withdrawals to fit in with this. I live overseas and survive on my ING orange and I withdraw cash perhaps once a month. For everything else, I use my Coles fx fee free credit card on wave, except for the 5 transactions I put on my ING to trigger the rebate.

        • +1

          Yes, each month.

          I use ING primarily. I have Citi + but it's a pain to use it at ATM's. ING is my Google Pay card and wherever possible I use that instead of cash, I prefer not to carry much cash. That way I'm always completing more than 5 transactions a month and usually only need to go to the ATM once every week or two.

        • Yeah, it's good enough for the average Australian traveller (who wouldn't really care about the ATM fees anyway). Keep in mind it's the first 5 "fee-incurring" ATM withdrawals, so you might be fine for a trip through Western Europe, for example. Doing the Peru-Chile-Argentina triangle or the Thailand-Cambodia-Vietnam triangle makes it trickier for some.

          For cash-strapped backpackers, that often move quickly back and forth between less-developed countries (that ironically charge the most in ATM fees) and want to minimise the cash they carry, it does present a few challenges. Stopping over in Bangkok each way for 8 hours in 2018, I ended up using 4 ATM withdrawals (2 each way) just because I didn't know how much I would need and didn't want to "use up" money at the end, which kind of defeats the point (it would be too low to convert back to AUD). Since last year this wouldn't have been an issue in my particular case, since 7-Eleven Thailand has apparently removed their 100 baht minimum transaction amounts, due to COVID.

          Note that forgetting to do the prerequisites the month before gets even worse for ING next year. They're doubling the international ATM fee to $5!

    • ING seems like far more effort than it's worth. I don't use my international card for anything but international transactions - don't want to be bothered keeping a balance and performing minimum transactions.
      It clearly works for some, but not me.

  • +2

    It doesn't cost money to receive a text whilst overseas for most telcos I believe.

  • +4

    Wise debit card works for me, some limitations here and there, but generally serves me well especially the exchange rate is better than banks.

    • +2

      I’d never heard of it and if you only need $350 AUD cash it looks OK. After that you’re paying 1.75% of the withdrawal amount and they are also charging up to 2.22% for currency conversion. At these rates it’s not much better than the bank?

  • +4

    I’ve never needed a OTP when making cash withdrawals from ATMs using my Citibank plus debit card.Haven’t travelled since September 2019 . Have things changed?

  • Prepaid debit cards and gift cards.

  • -1

    Have been using 28 degrees for us over a decade

    • +3

      Not good for atm withdrawal

      • Yeah that's true they changed it a while back

    • +2

      28 Degrees has international ATM fees. You cannot load your card up to use as a debit card, because they charge a fee for that too, and charge fees for cash withdrawal. There fees was the reason that I moved to Citibank.

  • +5

    28CC & Citibank Debit Card.

    • +1

      This is the only answer.

      • +2

        Agree as well. Dont forget that if your not using the account, they can close it down. I transfer $5 onto it every 6 months.

        • 28cc or Citi debit? I say this as I've had my debit card sitting in the same amount for maybe 3 years

          • @DamonT: Citibank.

            • @Coops1: perhaps it's because there's a non-zero balance that they have to keep it open. Though if you're transferring $5….

  • Used to be ING with Citi as the backup but there's recent changes to ING's offering (read above comments) that limit it's use.

  • +1

    Citibank. Zero fees. Cannot complete.

    • does it reimburse atm fees?

      • +1

        zero fees on citibank atms.

        • +3

          Useful in some countries, not others.

    • +1

      OP literally said he is with Citi and wants to move away from them

      • -3

        yeah, now he's being educated

  • -1


  • Currently UP bank, soon will crypto.com Visa card with 3% cashback

  • +1

    ING was great for 2019 stay in Vietnam as I used an ATM every couple of days as couldn’t get my head around withdrawing millions at a time lol. 1/12 changes suck for OS travel and will be asking this question when the next trip is planned.

  • 28Deg + Ubank

  • Travelers to Europe should be cautious because Mastercard has announced that Maestro debit transactions are to be phased out from 1.7.2023. That means that all cards with the Maestro logo will no longer be useful in Europe.
    Visa is likely to follow suit with their V-Pay cards.

  • +1

    I’ve got Citibank Debit and never needed to have OTP to withdraw from ATMs overseas. Also get a prepaid sim for OS before leaving home (eg Sims Direct UK & Europe 71 countries) so have the number so can change my number in the app for contact should OTP be needed.

  • BEWARE… there is an advert going around for Virgin Money (the old VM was fantastic) so I applied for this New VM in effort to attract Velocity Points. At the very end of the application, the assistant let slip, that they have nothing to do with Velocity… they have their own rewards… FT… so I cancelled my application.

  • +1

    Bankwest Platinum Mastercard is still the best all-rounder for purchases for many reasons!

  • +4

    I think people are confused by this post. I assumed that the OTP issue (specifically) is when you book online and you get the Verified by Visa or MasterCard Securecode screen asking for an OTP that is sent via SMS. Setting up a new payee in a banking app nearly always requires an SMS too. I think ATM withdrawals would fail silently once your card is blocked and that's when it's time to call.

    The truth is that most cards may pose issues without being able to receive an SMS. Based on my 2 year old knowledge (like most people in Australia right now), ING didn't even let you set a foreign mobile number, unlike Citibank.

    Buying a train ticket in Indonesia required me to call Citibank to ask them to turn off SMS verification, despite having an Indonesian SIM setup. It took like 10 minutes for each OTP to be received, well after my verification screen had timed out. Then it still wouldn't work. Turns out Indonesian companies often ban foreign cards due to fraud. So I had to send photos of the card and passport just to have the card whitelisted. After all that I used up a few dollars in phone charges too.

    Even when I've had a roaming Australian number there have been issues. My old low memory phone would refresh a webpage whenever I switched screens to fetch the OTP. Other times I would be in a place that simply didn't have reliable wifi, and using a foreign SIM in a mono-SIM phone prevented me from receiving the OTP.

    The truth is that policies for travellers are setup by people that have never backpacked off the beaten path in their lives. Years ago a phone operator didn't understand why I was chewing through phone cards when a reverse charge number is available (most poor countries block international reverse charges on payphones (if they have working payphones at all), their police can't call internationally, and fancy hotels don't let robbed backpackers walk in off the street to use their phone anyway).

    The solution is typically:
    1. Don't be poor (I failed)
    2. Don't be cheap (failed this too)
    3. Always carry some credit card, since a debit card makes you a second class citizen overseas (failed this)
    4. Always have a SIM that offers international roaming, even if with an optional surcharge (as a pre-paid SIM slut, I fail this frequently, especially the free option - it's much harder since last year).
    5. Always carry some AUD.
    6. Never travel alone (nearly always fail this).

  • Did everybody get a Revolute debit card? I understand it would be a suitable citibank plus replacement??

  • Macquarie bank is exactly like citi. Hsbc too. Btw Citi didn’t cancel otp, just refurbished it, it’s back on, just check you don’t have their number blocked as spam

    • have you had any issues using Macquarie bank for atm withdrawal?

  • So how does it work with HSBC, do you transfer to the local currency first in your account then withdraw from HSBC account?

    I currently have HSBC, ING, and UP but just want to make sure how to avoid fees for travelling soon. Also do you guys just withdraw on local currency with these banks? Is the rate better than money changers?

  • There are tons of options nowadays, no need to use Citibank:

  • Update

    Token has been restored to Citibank app. No need for OTP via text :)

  • Have a friend that's not very bank or card savvy going to the UK & Canaries for a few weeks. I would suggest the Wise or Crypto Debit cards as options, but I don't think either are easy enough to load up with cash (particularly if you're new to them).

    She uses the Commonwealth. Does the ease of integration of their travel card trump the better rates of other options?

    • Most options for overseas cards work really well. It’s just the fees and exchange rates that stink on cards like you mentioned. Depends if you don’t mind paying that 3-10% extra for what you buy/withdraw. Reviews here for the CBA option. https://www.productreview.com.au/listings/commonwealth-bank-...

      • Yes, I knew their rates weren't great, but as she's only going once and for at most a month it might be best to stick to one from her bank. They also have a spend xxx get $300 back promo which would cover any high fees.

        • You have your answer. Nothing trumps higher fees. If your happy to pay high fees, it doesn’t matter the major bank product you choose, they all work basically the same.

          Noting that if it’s a one off trip, the charges won’t be massive, unless your paying airfares and accomodation in foreign currency. What makes the difference is getting in early on a good product with low or no fees when your going on a trip or multiple trips each year.

          • +1

            @Coops1: Yep. I have Wise, Crypto and 28 Degrees for my trips. That would do her head in.

  • Revolut! Been in Europe since Christmas & it's working fine, occasional transfer delays but rare with Google pay option. Can't beat the rates, small 1% fee on weekends, free cash withdrawals up to $200 (per week or month?)

    Just pick a local bank ATM that doesn't charge. They usually offer the basic physical card for free also which is great instead of always relying on your phone.

  • I'm not sure why this old post popped up in my daily email today, but it's timely.

    My wife has been overseas and I was monitoring the exchange rates Citibank were using. We were being charged 4% over the XE exchange rate.

    • Are you using the Citi debit card, or credit card? I ask because, from memory, my Citibank credit card does have an international transaction fee of over 3%, but the debit card does not.

      • debit: citibank Plus

        I also received an email saying they business was transferring to ANZ, so I wonder whether the rules have changed

        • There hasn't been any notification of fee changes, due to the sale of the business, as far as I know. The Fees & Charges Doc still says no fees for the Citibank Plus account.

          Now I know this is a long shot - could it be that you are using the funds from a Citi Global Currency Account? And that your Citi plus card was changed to link to such an account? The FAQ says although by default it is linked to the original transaction account, one could change this to link to a currency account instead.

          The Fees and Charges doc above says:

          "Where you withdraw money at an ATM using a Citi Global Currency Account and the
          transaction currency is different to the account currency, the ATM foreign exchange fee will
          be applied to that transaction. The fee will be applied on the total amount of the transaction
          which may include any additional ATM operator fees and charge" - "2.50% on the Australian dollar
          conversion of the relevant transaction"

          • @bluesky: Nope, just plain ol' citibank plus debit card with AUD $.

            I'm wondering who has actually checked the exchange rate they're being charged. I've just trusted what I was told here and other forums, and am thinking now that it might have been a citibank employee falsely posting that citibank uses the xe exchange rate. :)

            This is the first time I've checked (usually I'm on holidays and give my frugality a rest).

            Or maybe it's an ANZ change. They haven't added any fees, just the source of their exchange rate.

            • @SlickMick:

              They haven't added any fees, just the source of their exchange rate.

              Hmm … Since this is a Mastercard (MC), one would expect the MC exchange rate to be used. I just had a look into the MC and XE exchange rates for today, and they do not vary by that much.

              There is another possibility worth considering. If the merchant did the conversion, not MC, then it could be a different rate. From the MC currency converter page:

              If your transaction is converted by the merchant or ATM operator, Mastercard foreign exchange rates will not apply. This will usually occur when you select to pay in your card's currency as opposed to the currency of the merchant or ATM.

              I seem to recall being overseas, and sometimes when paying, I would get asked if I wanted to pay in local currency or card currency. I always said local currency - and let the card provider (in this case MC) do the conversion. Otherwise, the merchant would do the conversion and who knows what rate they use. Could that be what happen in your case? I am just as curious as you - as it will impact which card I use in the future if they have made changes.

              • @bluesky:

                Since this is a Mastercard (MC), one would expect the MC exchange rate to be used

                I don't understand that - then all cards would offer same rate and there would be no advantage to using the Citibank Plus debit card?? Or would my Citibank credit card charge a fee as well as the standard MC exchange rate, and that's why Citibank Plus and 28 Degrees are better?

                If the merchant did the conversion

                It's not a merchant conversion, everything was paid in PNG Kina. I had to wait to see on the account what AUD was taken.

                So I did a comparison of every transaction using both Citibank Plus for debit transactions and 28 Degree for credit transactions, all in PGK.

                Firstly, the MC rate was frequently 1 or 2 % above the XE midmarket rates, though it was occasionally about the same.

                28 Degrees was pretty much spot on the MC rate, except one day 0.7% higher.
                Citibank Plus was all over the place: 2% under, 0.5% under, 0.4% over, 1.5% over, 2.6% over, 4% over, 15.3% over!
                16/05/2022 DEBIT CARD INTERNATIONAL PURCHASE PGK 106.00 AUD 43.57
                16/05/2022 INTERNATIONAL ATM WITHDRAWAL PGK 100.00 AUD 47.64

                Maybe I'm too fussy. It's only a few bucks I guess. But I wouldn't mind taking a 15% cut on every currency conversion.

                • +1


                  Maybe I'm too fussy. It's only a few bucks I guess

                  Not really - just from a curiosity POV, it would be good to know what is happening.

                  This is how I understand it to work (perhaps this is not all accurate). 28D CC and Citi Plus debit do not charge the foreign exchange fee, so it is just down to the card exchange rate (MC in this case). The MC converter page seems to imply this also.

                  I cannot explain what you are seeing, but my curiosity is piqued. I will also be monitoring and doing tests in future. If I find out, I will let you know.

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