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Friday, November 5, 2010

Aussie travellers $1,500 better off on the back of soaring dollar

Australians travelling to the United States, Europe or Great Britain have, on average, AU$1,500 more in their travel wallet than at the peak of the Global Financial Crisis.

This is according to American Express, the latest entrant to the pre-paid travel card market, which compared the buying power of the super-charged Australian dollar against the US Dollar, Euro and British Pound over the past two years.

American Express has also reported a significant spike in the number of Australians locking in record high exchange rates by purchasing foreign cash or prepaid currency products – even among people not intending to travel overseas in the foreseeable future.

"It was only 24 months ago that the Aussie dollar was buying less than US$0.70. Now we are teetering on parity," said Lawrence Chan, Vice President and General Manager of American Express Global Prepaid, Japan and Asia Pacific.

"With the Aussie dollar also buying €0.67, up from €0.50 two years ago, and £0.60, up from £0.39 over the same period, it's not surprising people are rushing to lock in these attractive exchange rates ahead of any change in the dollar's value," he said.

"Up until now, when the dollar has been strong, it has been common for travellers to stock up on travellers cheques, but now Australians are also turning to our new pre-paid currency card which has no time limit on when the currency needs to be spent.

"The card allows an attractive exchange rate to be locked and loaded so travellers don't need to worry about exchange rate volatility," Mr Chan said.

Unlike other pre-paid currency cards, the American Express GlobalTravel Card has no inactivity fees or expiry period, meaning funds (in US Dollars, Pounds Sterling or Euros) can be left on the card indefinitely and the funds will still be there in full the next time the card holder wants to use them.

The new American Express GlobalTravel Card, a first for American Express globally, sets a new benchmark in travel cards and provides added peace of mind for Australians travelling overseas.

A unique built-in feature of the card is Global Assist which entitles the card holder to 24/7 emergency assistance including: lost passport replacement assistance; translation services; lost luggage assistance; emergency legal and medical referrals.

If the card is lost or stolen, American Express will organised to have it replaced and the card holder provided with access to emergency funds – at no additional cost.

"As many travellers know all too well, it is very easy to lose track of the exchange rate while travelling, miscalculate currency conversions or underestimate travel budgets. This is where travel cards come to the fore," Mr Chan added.

"Not only do prepaid travel cards give travellers' greater control over their finances, they provide the certainty of global acceptance and an enhanced level of security and fraud protection."The American Express GlobalTravel Card is accepted at millions of locations outside of Australia where American Express Cards are welcomed.

It can also be used online and to withdraw funds from overseas ATMs.American Express has partnered with Australia Post as its major distribution partner for the American Express GlobalTravel Card. The card will be distributed at more than 3,200 of Australia Post's 4,400 outlets nationwide from 1 November, 2010, in addition to American Express' own foreign exchange services offices.

"The American Express GlobalTravel Card adds to a range of travel products and services available through our outlets making Australia Post a one-stop-shop for people preparing for the Christmas holiday season," said Executive General Manager, Retail Services, Christine Corbett.

"With a retail footprint extending to cities, towns and regional communities throughout Australia, our outlets are the perfect vehicle for American Express to make its new product available to customers," she said.

To find the nearest American Express foreign exchange services office visit: www.americanexpress.com.au/globaltravel

To find the nearest Australia Post outlet visit: www.auspost.com.au.

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