You can load them up with different currencies, you get an agreed exchange rate and they can save on transaction fees you pay in some situations. A brief intro to travel cards.
There was a time when travelling overseas meant traveler's cheques. Then the age of the credit card came and all but killed them off. However, credit cards and EFTPOS can charge fees on every transaction. That's where travel cards come in.
Travel cards come in various forms with all the major banks and many other institutions, such as foreign exchange bureaux, offering them. Most allow you to load a card with a number of different currencies so one card can serve you across many different destinations.
We've used a card from one of the big four banks.
Why you would use a travel card
Our card can hold up to ten different currencies - it's loaded with Euros, British Pounds and US Dollars. Value is added to the card using BPay via Internet banking. The card allows us to choose the primary currency that will be debited when travelling and we can easily change this via a secure web site.
The benefit of a travel card is that when you load it up, you're doing it an agreed exchange rate. That means you aren't subject to the daily fluctuations of the global currency markets. When the card is used for over the counter EFTPOS transactions there are no other fees although ATM withdrawals will cost you up to $5USD depending on the operator of the machine.
Transactions are first debited from value you have against the primary currency. If that's cleaned out, money will then go from the secondary currency and so forth.
On the downside, it can take up to a couple of days for BPay transfers to come through so if you let the card run down you may be left poor until the transfer is complete.
One benefit is that if the card is stolen or skimmed, the damage is limited to the value you transferred to it.
If you travel overseas often then it's worth looking into a currency card instead of carrying cash or using your own cards which may attract per transaction fees.