UPDATE: The Virgin Global Wallet was discontinued in 2021. The market doesn’t offer many travel cards anymore, but there are alternatives. You can look at prepaid cards (where you load money onto the card), or a no annual fee credit card.
If you’re a frequent traveller and don’t need credit, the HSBC Everyday Global account and Visa debit card has no monthly fees and is fee-free for overseas spending. You can see our review on our site www.debitcards.com.au.
In July 2013, Virgin Australia proudly announced the launch of its Global Wallet. But what is this Global Wallet, and what does it do? Virgin described its Global Wallet as “Australia’s first prepaid travel money card to offer Points rewards”.
Still not sure? Basically, the Global Wallet is a pre-loadable credit card that works in conjunction with Virgin’s Velocity Frequent Flyer loyalty program. It provides users with the ability to pre-load foreign currencies, and then spend them overseas, just as you would with a standard credit card – but with a few key differences.
First up, by pre-loading certain currencies onto the Global Wallet, cardholders can lock in an exchange rate that will stay in place until that pre-loaded value has been spent. With fluctuating exchange rates, this can be a great way to save money if the market is going against you. It also means you know exactly what your pre-loaded value is worth, no matter what fluctuations take place.
Secondly, you may also save money on fees. Many credit cards charge certain fees for transactions made overseas. By pre-loading currencies onto the Global Wallet, you may save money on fees when you spend using that currency. Check the FAQs below for more details. You can also find out more about international transaction fees on credit cards by reading this post.
As you may have noticed, the Global Wallet is somewhat similar to the Qantas-MasterCard partnership that brought you Qantas Cash. To find out more about prepaid travel cards, such as Qantas Cash, read our post here.
First, you need to apply for the Global Wallet. Then, all you need to do is load the card with Australian dollars and choose the foreign currencies. You can pre-load any amount within each currency wallet, meanwhile locking in an exchange rate. Then, simply use the card as you would you any other Visa card.
As well as the benefits mentioned above, there are certain other advantages to using the Global Wallet. The Global Wallet card and the Velocity membership card are actually two cards in one. On one side, you have the Global Wallet, and on the other, you have the Velocity membership card. This provides the following benefits to the user:
Rewards Points: As a Velocity Frequent Flyer member, you can earn points on your overseas and domestic transactions. You can earn 1 Point for every $2 spent in Australia and 1 Point for every $1 spent overseas. For more frequent flyer credit cards, click here.
Bonus Points: If you are a Velocity Frequent Flyer member, you will get bonus points for using your card to purchase Virgin flight tickets or other Virgin products, or for shopping at Virgin bonus partners.
Boarding Pass: When you fly Virgin, your Global Wallet card will also act as your boarding pass, so you simply swipe it at the gate before boarding. Virgin promises a “seamless boarding experience” when you arrive at the airport.
Lounge Access: The Global Wallet will also give you access to Virgin Airline lounges at airports around Australia and the world.
Q: Which currencies can I load onto the Global Wallet?
A: You can now load 11 different currencies onto the Global Wallet (including the Aussie dollar).
Q: Which countries have the Euro for using the Global Wallet?
Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Spain.
Q: How do you load currencies onto the Global Wallet?
A: First, you load Australian dollars onto the Global Wallet. This can be done online, via BPAY, debit card or credit card to any value. Choose which currencies you want on the card, and then move the chosen value of Australian dollars into those currency wallets. Doing this, you will lock in an exchange rate, thus avoiding fluctuations in the exchange rate market.
Q: Is there a fee for topping up the card? How much is it?
A: There is no fee for topping up the card.
Q: Is there a minimum or maximum for topping up the card?
A: You can top up any amount between $1 and $25,000, as long as the total balance does not go above $25,000.
Q: What are the fees for foreign currency transactions?
A: If you use the Global Wallet to pay for something in a currency other than one of your pre-loaded currencies or Australian dollars, you will pay a 3% foreign exchange fee. For more details on international transaction fees and cards that don’t charge them, read our post here.
Q: Are there any other fees associated with the Global Wallet?
A: Your first Global Wallet card is free, but if you want an additional card, you will pay a fee of $10. If you don’t use the card for 12 months, you will pay a $1 inactivity fee, and if you do an emergency cash transfer (up to a maximum of $3000), you will pay a fee of $15. Bear in mind that you may also pay ATM fees for withdrawing cash from overseas ATMs.
Qantas Cash and Virgin’s Global Money were both announced around the same time back in 2013. The premise behind both of these travel money cards is pretty much the same – but with some minor differences.
Qantas chose to partner with MasterCard, while Virgin chose Visa. Qantas also already had a wide range of credit card options and partner retailers, while Virgin had to expand the number of retail partners it had in order to compete.
Qantas Cash cardholders earn Qantas Frequent Flyer points, while Global Wallet cardholders earn Velocity Frequent Flyer points. Each card offers the same points earning potential – 1 point for each $1 spent overseas, and 1 point for each $2 spent in Australia.
Neither option charges load fees for topping up the card. Neither option charges a transaction fee for transactions made in AUD or pre-loaded currencies. Neither option charges a monthly account fee. With Qantas Cash, there is no booking fee on qantas.com when booking within seven days of travelling. With both options, you may be charged an ATM fee by the ATM operator.
Qantas Cash is accepted everywhere MasterCard is accepted. Global Wallet is accepted everywhere Visa is accepted.
With Global Wallet, you can load up to 11 currencies and with Qantas Cash, you can pre-load up to ten foreign currencies plus AUD:
Both options allow for faster check-in when flying with their respective airlines.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that Qantas Cash and Global Wallet are not recommended for use in hotels or rental agreements where the final amount is not known. Regular direct debits also cannot be taken. Lastly, if you have funds left over after your trip, you can either keep the cash loaded on the card for their next trip, or request a refund.
With these two new travel money options, neither of which require customers to sign up for a credit card, the banks may finally have some serious competition on international transactions and fees, so watch this space.
Pauline is a personal finance expert at CreditCard.com.au, with 8 years in money, budgeting and property reporting under her belt. Pauline is passionate about seeing Aussies win by making their money – and their credit cards – work smarter, harder and bigger.
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