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Travel money guide: Australia

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

Updated

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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.

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.

Pros and Cons of travel money options in Australia

Travel money optionProsCons
Debit cards
  • No cash advance fee
  • No cash advance APR
  • No overdraft
  • Weak or no rewards
  • No access to a credit line
  • Potential foreign transaction fees up to 3%.
  • Potential ATM withdrawal fees
Prepaid travel money cards
  • Can load Australian dollar
  • No cash advance APR
  • No link to your bank account
  • Many fees
  • May take time to load
  • No rewards
Credit cards
  • Credit line access
  • Rewards
  • May come with travel insurance and coverage
  • May come with concierge service
  • Cash advance fees on ATMs
  • Cash advance APR on ATMs
Traveler’s checks
  • Security
  • Not accepted everywhere
  • Fees for purchasing and cashing checks
Cash
  • Payment flexibility
  • Convenience
  • No need for ATMs
  • High risk of theft

How credit cards, debit cards and travel cards work 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.

Using a credit card in Australia

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.

Best travel debit cards

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.
Prepaid travel cards explained

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.
Traveler’s checks guide

Paying with cash

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.

Compare travel cards for Australia

Name Product Welcome offer Rewards Annual fee Filter values
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
5x points on Lyft, 2x points on travel and dining and 1x points on all other purchases
$95
Earn a huge signup bonus worth $$1,000 with this popular travel card. Combine with other Chase Ultimate Rewards cards for even greater value.
American Express® Gold Card
60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
3x points on directly-booked flights; 4x at restaurants; 4x at US supermarkets on up to $25,000 annually (then 1x points)
$250
Earn up to 4x points on select purchases, a bevy of travel perks, and a welcome offer worth up to $600 with this upper-mid tier travel card. Rates & fees
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
10x points on Lyft rides, 3x points on dining and travel after earning your $300 travel credit and 1x points on all other purchases
$550
Get a generous $300 in annual travel credits, 3x points on travel and dining, and a 50% bonus on point redemptions with Chase's premier card.
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Compare up to 4 providers

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.

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.

What’s the current USD to AUD exchange rate?

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 1.4 AUD 1,395 Use promo code 3FREE to send your first 3 transfers with no fee. Send to 110+ countries for bank-to-bank deposit, cash pickup or mobile top-up. Go to site Show details
$1 Within an hour USD 8.00 1.376 AUD 1,365 Easily transfer cash to more than 350,000 locations around the world. Show details
$1 3 - 5 days USD 20.00 1.372 AUD 1,345 The biggest name in money transfers can get your funds to friends, family, or businesses in almost every corner of the globe. 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.

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