Home Bank & Money transfers How to get cash in Australia?

How to get cash in Australia?

How to get cash in Australia?

Before arriving in Australia you probably wonder how to get cash? Most people will choose to bring some Australian dollars with them before entering the country. But pre-converting your money into cash may not always be the cheapest way and what happens when you need to get more cash? Should you be using your credit card to withdraw money? It also depends on how long you are looking to stay in Australia. Read on to find out everything you should know.

Bring some cash with you from home

Most travellers will bring some cash with them when travelling to Australia. Which is generally a good idea to have some sort of funds when arriving in the land down under.

You can either exchange your money at home before you leave in your bank or at the airport. Or you exchange it after you have arrived in Australia. Be aware that most exchange offices will charge a very high fee to exchange your currency. This fee can vary between $5-$15 (AUD).

How much cash can I take into Australia?

You are not really limited to the amount of cash you can bring into Australia. However, keep in mind that you will need to declare anything over $10,000 (AUD). Also, be aware that exchanging your currency to Australian dollars can be very expensive.

Do I need to declare the cash I bring to Australia?

You will need to declare anything over $10,000 (AUD). This can be done at the Customs examination area when entering Australia. The form can be filled out at the international airport or seaport, or you can download the form here.

Travellers Advice

TransferWise offers mid-market exchange rates and you can also get a debit MasterCard and pay in the local currencies wherever you are.

Withdrawing money with your national Credit Card

This seems like a simple way, to get cash in Australia. There are many banks and the majority of credit cards, but with all of them, you have to pay a high fee when withdrawing money from an ATM in Australia. Most of the banks apply fixed fees for each withdrawal plus a commission on the withdrawal amount (usually between 2% and 3,5%).

With the TransferWise debit MasterCard you can get free ATM withdrawals up to £200 per month. The exchange rate is mid-market and there is no fixed fee.

Here is an example when withdrawing cash with your national credit card and TransferWise debit MasterCard:

National credit cardTransferWise debit card
Fixed fee£40
ATM fee£2Free up to £200 every 30 days
(afterwards 2% fee)
% conversion fee3% = £30.6%
Exchange rateThere might be an exchange rate
markup added
Mid-market exchange rate
Total you pay£109£100.6

Using your bank services, you already lose approximately £10 on a £100 withdrawal! There are some banks that offer free withdrawal, however, that does not mean the exchange rate will be good. Most banks apply low exchange rates and you will most likely lose some money.

Be aware that banks have set fraud alerts, so inform your bank before coming to Australia, there is a risk that if you use your credit card overseas your bank might suspect fraudulent activity and as a security measure freezes your accounts until you contact your bank.

Pay with your credit card

VISA or MasterCard are accepted everywhere in Australia if the business accepts credit card payments. Credit cards from Bankcard, UnionPay and JCB are widely accepted in Australia. American Express and Diners Club are accepted widely but most likely not at small businesses such as restaurants, corner stores etc.  

As for withdrawals, your bank applies a fixed rate for your payments. They are usually lower than rates applied when withdrawing money from an ATM. However, an exchange rate is applied by the credit card company for each purchase. This rate is usually not mid-market and will not be as good.

pay by credit card australia

Digital multi-currency accounts

A digital account is a virtual multi-currency account. This option is especially recommended for people that travel a lot. The advantage of it is, that you can hold multiple currencies and you get the real exchange rate. You can convert those currencies with just a few clicks. You can top up your account in your local currency and convert that money into Australian dollars that you can spend when you are visiting Australia

We recommend the company TransferWise. TransferWise offers mid-market exchange rates and you can also get a debit MasterCard for £5 and pay in the local currencies wherever you are.

Here are the main advantages:

  • No fees for payments made in pre-converted currencies you hold in the account
  • Free ATM withdrawals up to £200 per month with the Transferwise MasterCard
  • Low conversion fees between 0.35% and 2.85%
  • Mobile app to convert currencies effortlessly

Exchange cash in Australia

Most travellers choose to only bring a little cash as this is the safest way to travel. If you decide to bring some cash with you, you will most likely try to exchange your money at the airport. Be aware that most exchange offices will charge a very high fee to exchange your currency. This fee can vary between $5-$15 (AUD). Money Exchange offices located at airports or in hotels usually offer poor exchange rates.

Exchange cash at the Airport or CBD

It is easy to exchange your home currency to Australian dollars. There are many exchange shops located at airports or hotels or the CBD. You should avoid exchanging cash at the airport because these have the worst rates. Instead, visit CBD currency exchange offices if possible.

Travellers Advice

To get the best exchange rate, compare the exchange rate offered at the Exchange offices with the current mid-market rate. You can do this by checking the TransferWise website.

Western Union

Western Union allows you to withdraw cash in Australia. This a quick solution but be aware that the fees are pretty high. We recommend to only use this option if it is urgent.

Traveller’s cheques

Traveller’s cheques are not always accepted in Australia. If you do want to buy some traveller’s cheques, it is best to buy them in Australian dollars as some shops, cafés and other businesses will not necessarily know what the exchange rate is if you present a cheque in a different currency.

Open an Australian bank account

If you are travelling to Australia for a longer time and will stay there for several months, then getting an Australian bank account is definitely something you should do. Not only will this save you from international withdrawal or payment fees, but it will also allow you to be paid if you plan to work in Australia.

Opening an Australian account can be done online before your departure, as offered by some banks like Westpac and NAB, or in a branch when you arrive. Once you arrive in Australia, you just need to go to a branch of the Australian bank you selected and confirm your identity.

Taking cash out of Australia

There is no real rule how much cash you are allowed to take out of Australia. However, anything over $10,000 AUD needs to be declared. Please also consider that you will need to check the country you are entering. They might have different limits and rules. For more info, visit this website: https://www.austrac.gov.au/

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