[Update: As of November 2010, the Wizard Clear Advantage Mastercard was rebranded as 28 degrees Mastercard due to GE Money no longer having the rights to the name after selling Wizard Home Loans back in 2009. Other than the branding change, the card functions in exactly the same way as the old one.]
Need a break? I certainly do. Luckily for me I’m going on holiday next week, and as part of the trip we’ll be visiting a couple of the major Asian destinations, Hong Kong and Korea. Of course shopping will be very high on the list of things to do, but of course there’s that little problem of changing currency. Seasoned traveller’s will know the drill: use your bank credit, debit or ATM card and get ripped off on hefty withdrawal fees and foreign exchange fees, or buy travelers’ cheques and suffer their crappy exchange rate.
No more! Thanks to the Australia Frequent Flyer forums, I’ve discovered the Wizard Clear Advantage Mastercard. This nifty little card is not much to speak of. It does have no annual fee, but the interest rate is pretty average, the balance transfer deal is no better than most other banks, and there’s no rewards scheme to speak of. Where it really shines is when you take it with you overseas.
Firstly, they don’t charge withdrawal fees. While most banks would slug you with several dollars per transaction, the Wizard card don’t charge a single cent. Nada. That means you can withdraw as much or as little as you like, as often as you like. No more playing the “paranoid tourist” carrying around wads of cash hidden in a cache down the front of your pants, or looking everywhere and failing to find a place where you can cash your cheques. Just look for any ATM that has the “Plus” symbol (which you shouldn’t have any problem with in all but the most undeveloped countries) and you’re good to go.
Second, you know how the exchange rates that the bank or bureau gives always differs significantly from the ones you see on the news by a fairly wide margin? Well the travel gurus at the forums have also figured out that Wizard offers one of, if not the, most competitive exchange rates, varying only very slightly from the published ones. So not only are you paying no fees, you’re also getting a better bang for your buck.
Damn good so far, right? But wait, there’s an even better trick: you can pre-load the card so that you’re spending own money and not have to pay interest on a cash advance. You can put your credit card into credit by paying more than what you owe, so that the balance goes into positive. Then you simply withdraw any amount of funds at your destination up to your daily withdrawal limit and/or credit limit. This isn’t an advertised feature mainly because of the implications for money laundering, but unless you’re planning on bringing the whole country home with you, it won’t be a problem.
Brilliant, eh? Apply for a 28 Degrees Mastercard as part of the planning for your next holiday – you can’t go wrong.