It wasn’t so long ago that travelling overseas meant going through the ritual of buying traveller’s cheques and then desperately searching for somewhere at your destination where you could cash them.

Even today, they still have their place, but nowadays, most of us simply use our plastic, either to make payments or to withdraw cash in the local currency. It’s certainly more convenient, but it’s less than ideal from a security perspective and it is likely that every transaction will incur a fee or commission charge.  

We are rapidly entering an age, however, where even plastic is becoming old fashioned. With these mobile apps, you can pay to do everything from boarding a train in Beijing to playing the pokies in Australia and lots more besides. 


1. Apple Pay / Google Pay

These are the apps most people think of when it comes to mobile payments, as you can literally scan from your phone in the same way as you might make a contactless payment with a credit or debit card. Which you choose is simply a matter of whether you use an iPhone or an Android device. Otherwise, they are practically identical.  

Both are well supported internationally in a long list of countries that includes USA, Australia, Singapore, Japan, Russia and even some parts of India. Samsung Pay is another app that works on identical principles, and is supported in 23 countries.


2. Trustly 

Here’s something a little different. Trustly acts as an interface between your bank account and the vendor, providing an extra level of security for both. Once you register, there’s no need to share your bank details with individual sellers, and at the same time the sellers know they are trading with someone who has been verified by a trusted third party. 

It’s ideal for online purchases, and has proved popular. It’s also becoming available in more countries with every passing month. In fact, it recently launched in Australia.


3. Venmo 

Venmo isn’t the sort of payment method you can use at the checkout to buy groceries on your overseas adventures, but it is ideal for online purchases, and if you are travelling with friends, it provides a great way of splitting costs. Once you've downloaded it, you can use it to send money to people or to receive payments. It works on similar principles to PayPal, which is no surprise as they are both part of the same company. 

The Venmo app must be linked to a payment card, and you are strongly advised to use a debit card, as credit cards incur a three percent fee on every transaction, which can soon mount up. Being part of PayPal means Venmo is used all over the world – in fact you can make online payments using it anywhere you see the PayPal sign.



These are some more payment apps which didn't quite make our top 3:

  • Samsung Pay
  • Zelle