Monday, May 20, 2013

Money Matters: OneSmart's New Fees and Terms

Up until recently, I have been positive towards using Air New Zealand's OneSmart card while travelling overseas.  As late as in September last year, I have tested making transactions in a foreign currency on my Visa credit card and on my OneSmart card on the same day, and found the rates from OneSmart to be more favourable.  Lately, however, OneSmart's exchange rates have taken a turn for the worse, and for purchases I made earlier this month, it actually cost me less money to use my normal credit card for payments in-store. [Added 23 May 2013: Just to clarify, the OneSmart was still better for getting cash out at overseas ATMs, due to the high fees my bank charges to use my debit/credit card that way.] To add insult to injury, I discovered only two weeks ago that OneSmart's fees and terms are changing - starting from tomorrow! The most inconvenient changes for me are that:
  1. only three overseas ATM withdrawals per month will now be free
  2. you can no longer escape fees while leaving money in your OneSmart account indefinitely, just by making sure you have it all in foreign currencies, and making a tiny transaction every three months (though this is softened by the fact that the Monthly Account Fee has been reduced)
Of course, I was not at all impressed.  And I was worried for all the people out there who might not know about the changes.  After all, I only found out because I happened to log in to my OneSmart account.  You might also have found out if you happened to read one of the major national newspapers in detail a week ago, on 14 May.  Otherwise, there was nothing.  No letter in the post, no email advising of the changes. This, despite an Airpoints newsletter being sent out just two days ago, with the following opening paragraph:

That's right, this newsletter "which has been designed to bring you up to speed on any programme, partner, schedule or business changes we think you need to hear about" didn't have a single thing to say about upcoming changes to the OneSmart fees schedule and terms and conditions!

[Added 21 May 2013:
Despite this outrage, I have to say that there is a pretty neat feature being introduced at the same time: a Virtual Card which "means a 16-digit MasterCard card number, security code (CVC2) and expiration date that is different from your Physical Card and can be used to access your OneSmart Account. A Virtual Card can be used for online and telephone transactions only."
This isn't much use if you mislay your OneSmart card when you want to get cash out, but it is reassuring to know that your real number is safe if your virtual number used online has been compromised. If only I had a virtual card for my normal credit card too!
Information about a Virtual Card on the terms and conditions page.

Out of interest, how did you first find out about these changes?  I've created a poll which you will find on the right (unless you are reading this post in the mobile view).

[Added 27 June 2013: The poll is now over. The results are as follow:

I logged in to my OneSmart account  5 (29%)
I looked on the OneSmart website  2 (11%)
I read the newspaper on 14 May  0 (0%)
I read Nom Nom Panda's blog  9 (52%)
I read some other blog  0 (0%)
My friends told me  1 (5%)
I noticed I was charged a fee  0 (0%)



  1. Great timing with the article. I'm going on holiday next week and was planning to use the OneSmart card, but now I've decided against it. I'll just use my ATM card instead. Thanks for the research, very useful! :-)

    1. I found the OneSmart was still better for getting cash out at overseas ATMs, if your bank is like mine ($7.50 overseas ATM usage fee + Offshore Service Margins).
      But for a short trip away, I was thinking I would change all the cash I need before I go, and stick to credit card purchases for the rest, so I don't use overseas ATMs at all.
      Hope you have a great holiday!


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