Cash passports (also called travel cards or prepaid travel money cards) are a simple way to manage and access your money overseas. They look and operate just like a normal bank or credit card. You can use them to make purchases or to withdraw money from an ATM, but unlike a credit card, the funds are pre-paid.
Here’s how it works: You get a cash passport in a particular currency (USD, EUR, GBP or NZD) from any Australia Post outlet, or an ANZ Travel Card from selected ANZ branches. You load some money on the card then use it anywhere overseas where Visa is accepted (over one million ATMs worldwide). If you’re running low on credit, you can reload your account online, via BPay or at currency exchange centres.
The great thing about a cash passport is you lock in your interest rate when you put cash on your card, so you don’t need to worry about the Australian dollar losing value while you’re overseas. You also aren’t charged fees for withdrawing cash (as long as you’re withdrawing in the local currency e.g. using the USD card in the USA). Plus, you can reclaim any unused funds when you return home, or reuse your card the next time you travel within its three year validity period.
There are plenty of other benefits: they’re easy to obtain (you don’t need a bank account and you don’t have to be over 18) and unlike traveller’s cheques, there is no need to carry ID or find a bureau de change.
For security, the card is PIN protected and you can get a second back-up card free so you won’t be inconvenienced or delayed if one of the cards is stolen or misplaced.
Just like a credit card, you’re also entitled to customer support 24 hours a day to deal with lost or stolen cards and passports, medical emergencies, legal assistance, interpreter services, sending messages home and access to emergency funds.
A cash passport is a good idea for any traveller, even if it’s only an emergency backup.
Travel experts recommend that you apply for your passport well in advance of a trip outside the country-months in advance, if possible. However, life doesn’t always go according to plan, and sometimes you need an emergency passport. If you need your passport to travel in 14 days or less, you can call 1-800-209-4565 make an appointment at the nearest Regional Passport Agency Office to have an emergency passport issued.
Of course, the appointment won’t do you any good if you show up without the appropriate documents and paperwork. Here’s what you’ll need to get inside and get your passport:
A copy of your travel itinerary showing that you’ve booked tickets to leave the country in the next 14 days. However, if you need your passport to apply for a travel visa, you can make an appointment and bring an itinerary showing that you plan to leave within 4 weeks instead.
The confirmation number for your appointment
All of the documents you need to get your new passport. If you are applying for a new passport, you’ll need proof of citizenship and proof of identity. See How to Apply for a New Passport for details.
If you’re applying for a passport renewal and you still have your old passport, in most cases you can use your old passport to prove both your identity and your citizenship.
See Passport Renewal for details on what you’ll need to renew your passport. Also, since you are making an appointment at a passport agency, you should not mail in your passport and the renewal application form. Bring both the form and your old passport with you to the appointment.
Whether you’re renewing your passport or applying for a new one, you’ll need to bring two passport photos with you to the appointment.
Regional Passport Agency offices are federal buildings. That means you may have to pass through a medical detector to enter and you must not attempt to bring any weapons.
Be on time-you won’t be allowed in more than 15 minutes before your appointment time or more than 15 minutes after.
Alison Kroulek is a freelance author and blogger with a focus on the travel industry.
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