Finder makes money from featured partners, but editorial opinions are our own. Advertiser disclosure

Travel money guide: Australia

Consider a credit card without foreign transaction fees to save money abroad.

Whether you’re hitting Bondi Beach, sitting in the Sydney Opera House or touring the Outback’s scenic rock formations, you can pay for almost anything with plastic — including taxis, souvenirs and incidentals. Using a credit card without foreign transaction fee is a great way to save money abroad.

Though cards are widely accepted, keep some cash in your pocket for the rare restaurant or shop that doesn’t take plastic or charges extra for using a card. The Australian dollar is the local currency, and you can get your hands on it through ATMs spread widely around the country at the airport and inside banks, convenience stores, gas stations and shopping centers.

Our picks for traveling to Australia

40+ currencies supported

Go to site
  • 4.85% APY on USD balances
  • $0 monthly fees
  • Up to $100 free ATMs withdrawals worldwide
  • Hold and convert 40+ currencies

Up to $300 cash bonus

Go to site
on SoFi's secure site
  • 0.50% APY on checking balance
  • Up to 4.60% APY on savings
  • $0 account or overdraft fees
  • Get a $300 bonus with direct deposits of $5,000 or more

Free ATM transactions

Go to site
  • $50 waivable monthly fee
  • 0% foreign transaction fee
  • Securely move money domestically and globally
  • 5 monthly out-of-network ATM reimbursements
  • Free international HSBC ATM transactions

Should I use a travel card, debit card or credit card?

You shouldn’t have any problem using a Visa, Mastercard or American Express card in Australia. But watch out for transaction fees that come with using a card.

Debit cards are typically the preferred option for making ATM cash withdrawals. If you don’t want to link your bank account to your card, however, consider a prepaid travel card — but watch out for its additional fees, too.

These are your options for spending money in Australia

Using a credit card

Since credit cards are a common payment method in Australia, you may want to consider a travel credit card.The Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card, for example, doesn’t charge the normal foreign transaction fees, helping you keep more money in your wallet (Terms apply, see rates & fees). You could earn rewards on your purchases and get travel insurance, luggage insurance or car rental insurance. With some cards, you could even get a concierge service, which can be helpful when traveling abroad.

Another option could be an airline cobranded card. This type of card helps you save money on flights, checked bags, lounge access and more. Some cards also come with complimentary travel insurance and similar perks.

Tips:

  • ATM cash withdrawals using a credit card comes with cash advance fees and cash advance APR. Consider using a debit card instead.
  • Notify your bank of your travel plans to Australia.
Pros
  • Credit line access
  • Rewards
  • May come with travel insurance and coverage
  • May come with concierge service
Cons
  • Cash advance fees on ATMs
  • Cash advance APR on ATMs

Which credit card issuers are accepted in Australia?

American Express and Discover cards are accepted in Australia, but Mastercard and Visa take the lead when it comes to reliable acceptance.

If you’re looking for an ATM that accepts your Amex, major banks like ANZ, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, St. George Bank and WBC allow cash withdrawals with your card. For Discover cards, look for Bank of China, Bank West, HSBC, iCash or ING ATMs.

Merchant acceptanceATM acceptance
Visacheck mark iconHighcheck mark iconHigh
Mastercardcheck mark iconHighcheck mark iconHigh
American Expresscheck mark iconHighcheck mark iconHigh
Discoverexclamation point iconMediumcheck mark iconHigh

Using a debit card

A debit card comes in handy for cash withdrawals since you won’t pay any cash advance fees or a cash advance APR. You’ll want to find a card that waives or reimburses foreign transaction and ATM fees, such as the Betterment Checking account which automatically reimburses pesky international ATM fees.

Tips:

  • Use a debit card for ATM withdrawals and a credit card for purchases.
  • Notify your bank you will be traveling to Australia.
Pros
  • No cash advance fee
  • No cash advance APR
  • No overdraft
Cons
  • Weak or no rewards
  • No access to a credit line
  • Potential foreign transaction fees up to 3%
  • Potential ATM withdrawal fees

Using a prepaid travel card

When it comes to staying protected against theft, using a prepaid travel card is your best option as it’s not linked to your bank account. However, travel cards can have expensive fees.

To avoid foreign transaction fees, try loading your prepaid travel cards with Australian dollars.

Pros
  • Can load Australian dollars
  • No cash advance APR
  • No link to your bank account
Cons
  • Many fees
  • May take time to load
  • No rewards

Paying with cash in Australia

In general, most establishments in Australia accept cards. However, carrying some cash is a good idea in case you stumble across a place that doesn’t.

Either exchange US dollars at a bank or make an ATM cash withdrawal. If you go for the latter, consider using a debit card and preferably one without foreign transaction fees or ATM fees.

Pros
  • Payment flexibility
  • Convenience
  • No need for ATMs
Cons
  • High risk of theft

Using traveler’s checks

Traveler’s checks aren’t widely accepted in Australia. This could make purchasing and cashing your checks a nuisance.

Considering checks come with foreign transaction fees and purchasing fees, they could become more expensive than they’re worth. In Australia, the other payment options could be better alternatives.

Pros
  • Security
Cons
  • Not accepted everywhere
  • Fees for purchasing and cashing checks
Back to top

What’s the Australian currency and where can I get the best exchange rate?

Australia uses the Australian dollar with a symbol $ and a currency code AUD.

You could exchange US dollars upon arrival, but the conversion rates at the airport usually aren’t favorable. An ATM cash withdrawal could give you a better rate.

Live Rate

= AUD$ 1.4985

Refreshing in: 60s | Wed, Jun 19, 04:21PM GMT

Common Australian dollar banknotes:

5 Australian dollar banknote10 Australian dollar banknote20 Australian dollar banknote
50 Australian dollar banknote100 Australian dollar banknote

The main banks in Australia are:

  • Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA)
  • Westpac Banking Corporation (Wespac)
  • Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ)
  • National Australia Bank (NAB)
  • Bank of Queensland
  • Macquarie Bank
  • Bendigo Bank
  • AMP Bank Ltd
  • Suncorp Bank
  • Bankwest
Find ATMs in Australia

The Australian banking system has an extensive network, including offering ATMs inside banks, convenience stores, gas stations, shopping centers and on the streets. ATMs should accept both Mastercard and Visa, but you may see Visa’s Plus or Mastercard’s Maestro or Cirrus logos displayed. To avoid foreign transaction and ATM fees, go with a Betterment Checking debit card in hand, which reimburses these fees automatically.

Using money transfers to safely travel with cash

With WorldRemit you can send money to Australia before you depart. Once you arrive, pick it up from a local WorldRemit agent.

To make the transfer, you need to submit an Australian phone number and an address.

If you don’t have one, WorldRemit recommends submitting the phone and the address of the place you’ll be staying at. This is in case the local agent needs to contact you. But you can still pick up the money with only your passport.

Verdict

Plastic is widely accepted throughout Australia. For best value, consider using a travel or an airline cobranded credit card for purchases and a debit card for ATM cash withdrawals. But make sure your cards have no foreign transaction fees.

If you would like to know more about which payment method would work best overseas, check out our travel money guide page.

Back to top

More guides on Finder

Ask a Question

Finder.com provides guides and information on a range of products and services. Because our content is not financial advice, we suggest talking with a professional before you make any decision.

By submitting your comment or question, you agree to our Privacy and Cookies Policy and finder.com Terms of Use.

Questions and responses on finder.com are not provided, paid for or otherwise endorsed by any bank or brand. These banks and brands are not responsible for ensuring that comments are answered or accurate.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Go to site