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October 03, 2008

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Folks that I know who travel to Europe frequently tend to have both a Capital One and an Amex. Capital One does not charge a transaction fee for currency conversions overseas (most cards do; both an issuer fee and a Visa/MC fee on top of that) so they use that when they can and fall back on the Amex card (2% transaction fee) when Capital One isn't accepted. Not sure of either's acceptance in Australia, but I can't imagine there would be a problem with using them.

http://www.flyerguide.com/wiki/index.php/Credit/Debit/ATM_Cards_and_Foreign_Exchange

I use this website as a reference for ATM and credit card usage in foreign countries. The website is geared more toward people in the United States. The information is recent and fairly accurate.

I personally use a Capital One credit card for large expenses when I am traveling abroad.

This was my email and I greatly appreciate all the help. My father is in the Army, so I've lived in Germany and Korea before, but those posts always had Armed Forces bank and other stuff I may need set up. This would be the first time I would be living within the economy and not in a little pocket of America, I just want to make sure I have things squared away.

My current card is a generic miles card through Capital One, so it is nice to know that is looking to be a decent option. Thank you for the information on them Rod Ferguson. And I will be sure to check your website when I get home from work JZ, thanks.

My company does the exact same thing for travel. Based on my experience and my bosses' experiences, AMEX is a great choice. Even better if you're a Delta fan, as you can rack up some miles. In today's market, most countries are fully capable to handle most CC's, however, when you do set up your account, make sure you notify them that you will be traveling overseas, and to expect large charges. It will save you a ton of time on the phone once you get there.

I'm in the UK but travel all over. I'd say that if the Amex is the best choice, then definitely have a back up Visa based card, just because there are quite a few places that don't take Amex. Anything with no o/seas fees is a good idea.

We fly to Australia every year b/c my hubby is Australian. We use an American Airlines mastercard since we fly American domestically and Qantas from LA to Brisbane...if you were looking for an airline mileage card. We've never had problems at all cashing in our miles for seats either. We had 2 free flights earlier this year.

On another note...what kind of work are you in that is moving you to Australia? Always interested in possibly moving back and one that would fly us back here for visits would be amazing.

I'm down under.
AMEX is widely accepted, but sometimes attracts an extra % service fee (umm, around 5%? I don't have one myself)
The most common local cards are Visa and Mastercard - if plastic is accepted then they will accept both of those. I've never seen them missing.
Mastercard is also associated with the Cirrus name - a card with the interlocking circles should be acceptable anywhere.

The real trick is knowing what set of ATMs you can get cash from - we've had foreign visitors and had 'fun' figuring out where they could get cash, but the OP seems to be settling here so would presumably be opening local bank accounts.

Julie:
I am a geologist, my firm is involved in building large scale infrastructure projects and are currently involved in designing a dam near Brisbane with construction set to begin in late 2009. I know there are a ton of jobs for geologists in Australia (everywhere actually) right now as mining and petroleum are booming. It's a good profession if you want to see the world, unfortunately we often end up in rather remote areas. Most mining jobs are available with just a bachelors, petroleum tends to require a masters. The money is good and the travel is better, definitely a great field if you don't mind rocks.

Lea:
Correct, I would likely be down there for two years so I would open a local bank account for expenses like rent and utilities.

Thanks to everybody for their feedback.

Geology...cool. Is that the dam up near Coolum on the Sunshine Coast for the water that they are going to pipe into Brisbane? My inlaws live on the Sunny Coast.

Anyway, you could also check out www.matesupover.com and www.yanksdownunder.net with questions on moving to/living in Australia. I lived in Brissie and loved it.

Good luck.

I have traveled extensively outside the U.S. and never have a problem using my Mastercard. I have had issues with Amex as it is not accepted as widely.

I wouldn't worry about using a card with miles on it if you are flying the same airline every time you will be getting enough miles as it is. For example, with Delta/Quantas I know for a fact that you would be looking at over 100,000 miles a year if you are flying back every 2 months because once you get over 25,000 miles you start getting elite bonuses and things really add up after that. (This is the same for most other airlines-and miles awarded from credit card use do not count) While I don't know the mileage to Australia. I do know that a typical trip from the East coast to Europe is at least 4,500 one way.

I just did some math. These numbers are based on miles earned in a single calender year January to January.

The distance from LAX to Brisbane is 7183 miles one way. (14,336 round trip).

American Airlines gives a 50% bonus if you are paying Full economy fare. (They also give a 50% for Business and First Class) So on Trip one you will have 21,549 miles.

Their elite status gold starts at 25,000 miles so starting on you the return of your second flight you will receive an additional 25% bonus giving you 12570 miles for that leg alone. So at the end of trip #2 you will have 44893 miles.

Trip #3 Outbound you earn 12570 again putting you at 57463 which now makes you Elite Platinum which gives you a 100% mileage bonus so now each segment is worth 17,947 miles. so at the end of trip 3 you have 75410 miles

Trip # 4 you end with 111,304 miles you are now Advantage Platinum No extra bonus just other perks.

Trip # 5 147,198

Trip # 6 183,092

Starting Year #2 you still be Advantage Platinum so you will get more miles that year.

Hi,
Instead of capitalizing on the initial expenses, you may be interested in reducing your expenses of using a foreign credit card in Australia. If you use an American Credit card outside of America (the same for any cc outside of its country of origin) you will pay extra with poor exchange rates, extra percentage rate fees (1-2%), and other international user fees, etc.

You may try opening an Australian Savings Account, a Debit card and Credit Card before moving to Australia. They can be waiting for you when you arrive. (in Australia, Savings accounts are the American Chequing accounts).

Try the Westpac Bank or the Commonwealth Bank (ones I am familiar with).
http://www.westpac.com.au/
http://www.westpac.com.au/internet/publish.nsf/Content/PBIT+Migrant+banking
http://www.commbank.com.au
http://www.commbank.com.au/movingtoaustralia/

Once set up, you can even transfer funds to your new Australian accounts before leaving America. This allows you to get the best exchange rate.

Cheers


Julie,
Yes, I do believe that is the project. It looks like it is in the right direction. Do you have any knowledge on the cost of living in that area? It looks like a really nice part of the country and that it would be a blast to live there for two years. I just hope I can afford it while still being able to save a ton of money.

Jane,
Thank you so much for the mileage count. You are right, the mileage bonus would likely be negligble relative to the other perks. It makes much more sense to look for another benefit, especially with the declining usefulness of airline miles.

Ludik,
Great idea with a local credit card, I had thought of opening a bank account when I got there but had not thought of a credit card. Thank you for the information.

Gino, the Sunshine Coast is a gorgeous place to live, especially if you love the beach and laid back lifestyle. They have FABULOUS beaches, some of the most beautiful I've seen. Australia in general is pretty expensive. But, depending on your standards, you should still be able to live comfortably and save money, especially since you won't be paying for flights home and you get to go home so often. You can just buy clothes, etc in the US, since those are pretty exxy (expensive) in Australia. Food costs, are about the same, I think, depending on where you are coming from and what kind of food you buy here. You can probably get a furnished flat (some flats also don't come with a fridge so make sure yours does or you will have to buy one!) pretty easily is renting is the way you are going. Furniture/appliances are expensive so I would look for a furnished flat (though there is an Ikea near the Gold Coast, but it's still more expensive than Ikea is here).

I don't know what the rental rates are but you can look on www.realestate.com.au or www.raywhite.com.au you can get an idea and see what's out there.

Anyway...there are tons of rentals on the coast, so you shouldn't have a problem finding one. I LOVED living there and I'm sure you will too. :). Also, there is a guy who moved here from the Sunshine Coast on www.matesupover.com and he would probably be a good person to ask since he has lived there a long time. Good luck!

Cheers, Julie

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