More than half a billion dollars in cash lost every year

Sydney, 5th March 2015 – Aussies are stuffing their socks, bras and hats with cash in a bid to keep their money safe abroad, but are still losing more than half a billion dollars of currency every year, new research by MasterCard reveals.

Conducted by Galaxy Research, the MasterCard Travelling with Cash survey of 1000 Australians revealed that 1.28 million people have carried money in their socks while travelling abroad, in a bid to protect significant sums of cold hard cash. In fact, Australians carry an average of $866in cash when overseas, despite the vast majority (78%) worrying it could be lost or stolen.

“Australians are keen overseas travellers, and MasterCard research shows that almost half (47%) of Aussies said they travelled abroad last year for business or leisure. But they have a nagging fear of losing the substantial sums of cash they carry on their travels, whether through theft or misadventure,” said MasterCard Australia SVP& Country Manager, Mr. Andrew Cartwright.

“Travellers can take simple steps to ease their mind about payments while travelling Using cards instead of cash will greatly reduce the risk of theft or loss, as in the majority of cases, money lost with debit, credit or travel cards is recoverable as part of our Zero Liability protection[1].

“Another advantage of using cards is a more favourable exchange rate. A recent research paper by consulting firm Kaiser Associates[2].

found that using a debit card instead of cash results in the best currency exchange rates, when compared to ATMs or hotel and airport exchanges,” said Mr. Andrew Cartwright.

Prepaid travel cards are another popular option for travellers: MasterCard has seen growth of up to 70% in the use of these cards since 2013.

“A prepaid travel card is a convenient way to manage payments while travelling overseas, and far safer than carrying large amounts of cash. You load the card before your leave, or while on your trip, and lock in the exchange rate on the day you do so. The card can also be replaced if lost or stolen,” Mr Cartwright said.

MasterCard says that cash is not a user-friendly option for most travellers.

“The new research showed fewer than in 1 in 4 Australians (23%) nominate cash as their preferred way to pay while travelling abroad, so there is a clear demand for payment options that don’t involve hiding cash away in your clothing,” says Mr. Cartwright.

MasterCard provides five top tips for Australians keen to manage their payments abroad:

  1. Use Travel Cards – There are several MasterCard travel cards available. These are reloadable prepaid cards, separate from your everyday banking that allow you to store numerous separate currencies on the one card. This means you can get easy access to your travel money abroad, from both ATM’s and retail outlets. It is a convenient, safe way to make payments abroad, and much more cost-effective than changing money at exchange bureaus here in Australia before you leave/
  2. Be Spending Savvy  Use online banking to track your payments while travelling abroad.
  3. Keep your PIN safe  Many countries now require PIN verification instead of a signature for Prepaid card purchases, so make sure you’ve got yours memorised. Never write your PIN down and leave it with your card or travel documents.
  4. Avoid making large cash withdrawals from local ATMs  Not only does this increase the chance of loss or theft, but you are also subject to unpredictable exchange rates.
  5. Keep card issuer details handy  If your card is lost or stolen, you can cancel it and get a replacement. Make sure you have the phone numbers and website details in an accessible place, in case of an emergency


About the survey

This study was conducted on an online permission-based panel between Wednesday 17 December and Friday 19 December 2014. The sample was 1,012 Australians aged 18-64 years, distributed across Australia. Age, gender and area quotas were applied to the sample. Following the completion of interviewing, the data was weighted by age, gender and area to reflect the latest ABS population estimates.

/Kaiser Associates Report, MasterCard Worldwide, January 2015

Media Contact

Heather-Ann Cody, Weber Shandwick
Tel: +61 2 9994 4414

About MasterCard

MasterCard (NYSE: MA),, is a technology company in the global payments industry. We operate the world’s fastest payments processing network, connecting consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories. MasterCard’s products and solutions make everyday commerce activities – such as shopping, traveling, running a business and managing finances – easier, more secure and more efficient for everyone. Follow us on Twitter @MasterCardAP and @MasterCardNews, join the discussion on the Beyond the Transaction Blog and subscribe for the latest news on the Engagement Bureau.

[1] Consumers are protected from unauthorised transactions made in the event of card theft or loss by MasterCard’s Zero Liability Policy.More information on conditions and exclusions to MasterCard’s zero liability policy can be found at:

[2] 2015 Foreign Currency Exchange Benchmarking, Kaiser Associates