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Media release

CommBank can

Media release

Lack of preparation costs holiday makers $911 million

  • The CommBank Travel Money Card Report reveals two in five Aussies blow their holiday spending budget
  • Travellers admit to a lack of financial preparation – with little knowledge of exchange rates or foreign ATM charges.

30 June 2013: As thousands of Australians prepare to lap up summer in the northern hemisphere, a new report from Commonwealth Bank highlights the need to be financially savvy when holidaying overseas.

Whether it’s spending more than originally planned, paying over the odds for goods and services or having cash or cards stolen, research commissioned by CommBank has shown a lack of preparation before heading overseas is costing travellers both time and money.  

The CommBank Travel Money Card Report found that one of the biggest challenges we face when travelling overseas is overspending. 40 per cent of travellers spent more than they’d originally planned on their last overseas trip, blowing their budget by an average of $235, equating to $911 million nationwide. The top five reasons why travellers overspend include:

  • shopping for clothes, souvenirs, gifts etc. (54 per cent);
  • food and drink (51 per cent);
  • accommodation (39 per cent);
  • transport (31 per cent); and
  • entry fees to attractions and events (28 per cent).

One of the reasons for such a high overspending figure could be a lack of preparation when it comes to organising travel money prior to departure. The CommBank Travel Money Card Report found that few travellers were fully informed on travel money basics prior to going overseas. This included little knowledge of exchange rates (48 per cent), what cards are accepted (44 per cent) and foreign ATM charges (40 per cent). Furthermore, nearly a third (31 per cent) of travellers had not organised their travel money the week before they left for their trip.

Other reasons that lead Aussies to overspend on holidays include:

  • a lack of understanding about the local currency – only a third (29 per cent) calculate the amount of local currency they need before going overseas;
  • poor contingency planning – three quarters (74 per cent) don’t organise any ‘emergency money’ they can access if needed; and
  • failing to set a spending budget – eight out of ten (81 per cent) don’t set a daily spending budget.

With three quarters of Aussies (74 per cent) admitting to not setting an overall holiday spending budget, CommBank is encouraging anyone going overseas this year to consider using a CommBank Travel Money Card to help set and track spending budgets. For example customers benefit from 24/7 access to Travel Money Online, which makes it easy to monitor balances and transactions anytime, anywhere.  Customers can also call the Support Center 24/7. 

Clive van Horen, Commonwealth Bank Acting Executive General Manager Retail Products & Customers, says, “The research has shown that for many travellers poor contingency planning, a lack of understanding about the local currency and a failure to set a budget have resulted in many holiday makers blowing their budget. While we know it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a holiday, it’s important to plan and track your spending, so that you are not still paying for your holiday, long after your sun tan has faded.”


Aside from overspending, The CommBank Travel Money Card report found travellers encounter many other travel money issues when overseas, these include:

  • getting ‘ripped off’ and paying way too much for something (42 per cent);
  • having cash/cards lost or stolen (33 per cent);
  • running out of money and having to find a local money exchanger to exchange Australian dollars (23 per cent);
  • having no idea of the exchange rate on arrival (18 per cent);
  • running out of money and having to go without (13 per cent); and

Many of the travel money problems holiday makers’ face can be avoided by using a CommBank Travel Money Card. These include avoiding any fluctuating exchange rates by locking in foreign currency at a defined rate prior to travel and avoiding transaction fees on purchases when overseas.

According to Van Horen, it’s important to take a range of travel money options to be prepared for any eventuality when overseas.

“You don’t expect to lose your card or have cash stolen, or in some cases even running out of money, but you can ensure you have a back-up plan before you leave to reduce the impact of unexpected money problems. I’d advise anyone looking to go overseas this year to have a range of spending options available, including a CommBank Travel Money Card – as it’s the easiest way to budget and access your money overseas; credit and debit card; and some foreign cash; to ensure money problems don’t interrupt your long-awaited holiday,” added Van Horen

– ENDS –

Sarah Gibbons
Commonwealth Bank
T: (02) 9118 1706 | M: 0403 681 515

Note to editors

The study:

  • was conducted online among (a permission-based panel) 1,073 Australians aged 18 years and over who have travelled overseas in the last five years
  • surveys were distributed throughout Australia including both capital city and non-capital city areas
  • fieldwork commenced on Thursday 6th June 2013 and was completed on Wednesday 12th June 2013
  • following interviews, data was weighted to the latest population estimates sourced from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. 

Media contact:

Sarah Gibbons
Commonwealth Bank