Using a credit card in Australia

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Australia is among the rare countries where you can pay with plastic almost everything — even for your taxi. And along with Mastercard and Visa, you’ll also find spots accepting American Express.

If like how cash feels in your pocket, you’ll find ATMs across most of Australia. Keep in mind that cash withdrawals come with additional fees when you use a credit card.

Our pick for use in Australia

Hilton Honors American Express Card

  • Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Card after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton Honors portfolio of brands.
  • Earn 5X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations.
  • Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees. Enjoy international travel without additional fees on purchases made abroad.
  • Enjoy complimentary Hilton Honors Silver status with your Card. Plus, spend $20,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn an upgrade to Hilton Honors Gold status through the end of the next calendar year.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
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Compare credit cards for use in Australia

A travel card is a good choice if you travel frequently outside of the US. You’ll save money on foreign transactions by avoiding extra fees, and you’ll earn points you can use toward travel purchases. Even if you don’t travel often, you could look into a no-annual-fee travel card and only use it when you’re abroad.

Name Product Foreign transaction fee Annual fee Purchase APR Filter values
None
$0
17.49% to 26.49% variable
Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the card within your first 3 months of card membership. Rates & fees
None
$0
0% intro for the first 12 months (then 13.74%, 19.74% or 23.74% variable)
Earn 20,000 bonus miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.
None
$495
16.74% variable
Receive an annual $100 air travel credit toward flight-related purchases including airline tickets, baggage fees, upgrades and more.
None
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
17.49% to 26.49% variable
Earn 60,000 miles after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months, plus $50 when you make a direct Delta purchase in the same timeframe. Rates & fees
None
$195
17.49% to 26.49% variable
Earn 75,000 miles and 5,000 MQMs after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months plus $100 when you make a Delta purchase in the same timeframe. Rates & fees
None
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
17.49%, 22.24% or 24.74% variable
Earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.
None
$450
17.49% to 26.49% variable
Earn 75,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles after you spend $5,000 in purchases on your new card in your first 3 months. Rates & fees
None
$0
17.74% to 24.74% variable
30,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from your account opening.
None
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
18.49% to 25.49% variable
40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
None
$99
17.74% to 24.74% variable
Earn 40,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

Compare up to 4 providers

Potential credit card fees in Australia

When you pay with a credit card in Australia, you may be hit with the two types of fees, depending on your provider:

  • Foreign transaction fees. You might pay up to 3% in fees on each transaction. This may not sound like much, but it quickly adds up over a vacation — by charging $3,000 on your card, you could pay up to $90 in fees.
  • Currency conversion fees. Some merchants offer you the option to pay in US dollars instead of the local currency. Called a dynamic currency conversion, this type of transaction often comes with high fees and a poor exchange rate.

Will I pay both fees on a single transaction?

You might. Even the most basic travel card can save you from paying foreign transaction fees. And by simply paying in local currency, you’ll avoid an unfavorable exchange rate and additional fees.

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, know that 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 acceptance
ATM acceptance
Visa
check mark iconHigh
check mark iconHigh
Mastercard
check mark iconHigh
check mark iconHigh
American Express
check mark iconHigh
check mark iconHigh
Discover
exclamation point iconMedium
check mark iconHigh

Should I use my credit card to get cash in Australia?

You may not need much cash in Australia, given the wide acceptance of credit cards. But if you prefer keeping some cash for smaller expenses, you can withdraw cash from an ATM with your credit card — it’s just not your cheapest method of getting cash. Credit card providers charge fees of up to a 5% of your cash advance, and you’ll also pay a cash advance APR from the moment you make the withdrawal.

Avoid these fees by using your debit card instead. Debit cards generally impose no cash advance fees. And there’s no APR to worry about, because you withdraw from your own money, and not the bank’s credit.

Do taxis in Australia accept credit cards?

Yes, but you may pay a 5% surcharge for the convenience. An alternative to taxis is Uber rideshares, which are cheaper and also accept credit card payments through the Uber app.

Chip-and-PIN credit cards

Chip-and-PIN cards — also called EMV microchip cards — are widely accepted throughout Australia. But the US has some catching up to do when it comes to embedded EMV microchips.

As of 2018, you may find that your newer cards include chip-and-PIN technology. If not, your cards requiring a signature are also accepted.

Is it safe to use my credit card in Australia?

Yes. Even so, you should take the same precautions you would anywhere else in the world:

  • Use ATMs within a bank. Your chances of encountering a skimming device are often lower at a bank. And on the off chance your card is trapped inside the machine, you can easily get help to get it back.
  • Take two credit cards. If something happens to one of your cards, you can rely on the second to avoid being left without cash.
  • Keep your card in sight. When paying for items or a bill, keep an eye on your card until it’s safely returned.

How to prepare before traveling to Australia

  1. Get a card without foreign transaction fees. Save on unnecessary fees with a card designed for the frequent traveler.
  2. Take along a Mastercard or Visa. You can pay with your Amex or Discover card in most places, but you’re sure to be OK with a Mastercard or Visa.
  3. Get a backup card. That way, if you end up losing your card, you’ll have a softer landing as you work to replace it.
  4. Get some cash. You may not need it, but it might be nice to have on hand. If you withdraw cash, use your debit card to avoid cash advance fees and stiff APRs.
  5. Let your bank know you’re traveling. If your bank is hyper vigilant about fraud, it could inadvertently block your card if it sees a charge from Australia.
  6. Write down your bank’s number. Most credit card providers advertise a toll-free number for cardmembers traveling abroad to use in a cardholder emergency.

Travel money guide to Australia

Bottom line

Credit cards are widely accepted in Australia. But to avoid foreign transaction fees that can come with most cashback cards, look into a good travel card and decline to pay in US dollars, if it’s offered.

If you enjoy having cash around, you can easily withdraw money from an ATM. But using a debit card abroad can help you avoid cash withdrawal fees that come with credit cards.

See more guides on using a credit card in other countries.

Frequently asked questions

Disclaimer

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

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