We’re Spending $183 Million On ATM Fees When Travelling

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Budgeting for a trip overseas can be as daunting as it is fun. It doesn’t matter how good your intentions are or how many times you try to convert dollars to pounds in your head, you often end up spending more than intended. But even if you’ve had a stellar time, no one wants to unnecessarily waste money on accessing their money.

There are some seemingly harmless travel habits that add up to the big bucks in the long run. Not converting your money efficiently, bank transfer fees and international ATM fees all play a part. In fact, new research by Westpac has found Australian millennials spend $183 million per year on international ATM fees alone. Sound ridiculous?

Here’s the real damage these fees are doing, and how you can stop using your savings to withdraw your precious cash.

It costs way more than we think it does

Research from Westpac’s 2016 Travel Finance Report reveals that most of us believe international ATM fees cost around $3 per transaction, but in reality, fees are closer to a whopping $7 per transaction. That’s more than double what we think, people.

Considering millennials who use overseas ATMs do so an average of 10 times per overseas trip, the price tag of these fees can quickly add up.

Will walk for no fees

It’s also been reported that in order to save money on overseas ATM fees, Gen Y are willing to walk much farther out of their way than they should. The average millennial traveller says they would be willing to sacrifice 177.6 minutes of holiday time to walk an extra 8.7 minutes each way just to use an ATM where they were not charged a withdrawal fee.

We know what we’d spend those savings on

So what would we rather be spending our money on? Almost two-thirds (61%) of millennials admitted the number one desire is food and drink, followed by shopping, gifts for loved ones at home and visiting more attractions. Basically we want more of all the good stuff we love to do on holiday.


Withdrawing more cash to avoid fees makes us anxious

“Interestingly, the research also found that in order to save money on international ATM withdrawal fees, millennials’ overseas withdrawal amounts are more than double what they are in Australia and carrying this extra cash makes them feel vulnerable and worried,” says Ash Gray, Westpac’s Head of Youth and Millennial Markets says.

It’d be a much more relaxing affair to withdraw what we actually need when we need it.

How do we avoid the fees, then?

“I encourage millennials to thoroughly research their destination in advance and create a daily travel budget that takes into account current exchange rates, the cost of food and drinks, transport and sightseeing expenses. It’s important to be realistic when planning a budget,” says Gray. To help, Westpac has an online budgeting tool to get you started.

He also adds, “Once overseas, a simple way for millennials to save on fees is to take advantage of Westpac’s Global ATM Alliance which offers over 50,000 ATMs worldwide with no withdrawal fee.” To do that, use the Westpac mobile banking app ATM locator to pinpoint the exact locations of the Global ATM Alliance ATMs in the area you’ll be travelling to. “If you do this ahead of departing, you’ll know exactly where to go as soon as you land and won’t need to rely on an internet connection,” advises Gray.

Learn more about the Global ATM Alliance here. Don’t have a Westpac account? Get all the info you need on Everyday Banking here.

Inspired by Westpac We've partnered with Westpac to bring you inspiring stories on The Cusp.

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