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Travel money guide: Australia

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

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Exchange currency online Compare cash pickup

In Australia, you can pay for almost anything with plastic — including taxis, souvenirs and incidentals. Using a credit card without foreign transaction fees that also earns rewards on purchases is a great way to save money abroad.

Though cards are widely accepted, it’s always a good idea to have some cash in your pocket, too.

Our picks for traveling to Australia

American Express® Gold Card logo

Our pick for travel credit card

American Express® Gold Card

★★★★★
Finder rating: 4.6/5
Wise Multi-currency logo

Our pick for multi-currency debit card

Wise Multi-currency

★★★★★
Finder rating: 4.5/5
SoFi Money logo

Our pick for 0% transaction fee debit card

SoFi Money

★★★★★
Finder rating: 4.6/5

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. Just 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 — just watch out for its additional fees.

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. 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 you will be traveling 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

Using a debit card

A debit card comes in handy for cash withdrawals. You won’t pay any cash advance fees or a cash advance APR.

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 dollar
  • 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.

You can 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

Compare travel cards for Australia

Name Product Welcome offer Rewards Annual fee Filter values
American Express® Gold Card
60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 6 months
4x at restaurants including delivery and Uber Eats; 4x at US supermarkets on up to $25,000 annually (then 1x points), 3x points on directly-booked flights and 1x points on all other purchases
$250

Rose Gold is back

Earn up to 4x points on select purchases, a bevy of travel perks, and a welcome offer worth up to $600 based on our valuation with this upper-mid tier travel card. Terms apply, see rates & fees
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
80,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months, a value of up to $1,000 through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Plus up to $50 statement credit towards groceries
5x points on Lyft, 2x points on up to $1,000 on groceries until April 30, 2021, 2x points on travel and dining and 1x points on all other purchases
$95
Earn a signup bonus worth $1,000 plus up to $50 statement credit towards groceries with this popular travel card.
The Platinum Card® from American Express
75,000 points after spending $5,000 in your first 6 months, plus 10x points at US gas stations and US supermarkets on up to $15,000 in combined purchases in the same timeframe
10x points at US gas stations and US supermarkets on up to $15,000 combined in the first 6 months, 5x points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel, 5x points on directly-booked flights on up to $500,000 annually, then 1x points after that and on other purchases
$550
One of the most valuable premium travel cards, featuring two welcome offers worth up to $4,500 based on Finder's valuation, multiple travel credits and unrivaled lounge access. Terms apply, see rates & fees
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Compare up to 4 providers

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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$ 1.2873

Refreshing in: 60s | Mon, May 17, 06:07PM 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

Using money transfers to safely travel with cash

With WorldRemit you can send money to Australia before you depart. Once you arrive, you can 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.

Cash pickup services in Australia

Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
$1 Within an hour USD 3.99 1.281 AUD 1,276 WorldRemit sends money to 110+ countries for bank-to-bank deposits, cash pick-ups or mobile top-ups. Go to site Show details
$1 Within an hour USD 8.00 1.258 AUD 1,248 MoneyGram has fast cash pick-up transfers to more than 350,000 agent locations worldwide. Go to site Show details
$1 3 - 5 days USD 20.00 1.255 AUD 1,230 Western Union sends money online to friends and family in 200+ countries around the world. Go to site Show details

Compare up to 4 providers

Disclaimer: Exchange rates change often. Confirm the total cost with the provider before transferring money.

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

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