Compare Exchange Rates to Buy US Dollars (USD)
Because every company has different rates to buy US dollars (USD) with Australian dollars, finding the best deal can be a minefield. We bring together all your options, highlight the fees and rates per money exchange, and show you the best possible deals.
Where to buy US dollars?
You can buy US dollars (USD) from a lot of locations in Australia. Places you can buy US dollars (USD) include online, in-store at money exchangers, banks, post office and the airport.
To find out exactly where you can buy US dollars, you can use our handy city and suburb guides, just click on the links below:
What currency is used in the US?
The currency used in the US is the US dollar and represented by the symbol $.
|Currency name||US dollar|
|Top USD Pair||AUD/USD|
|Central Bank||Federal Reserve Bank|
|Sending money to the US?||Send money from Australia to the US|
What type of notes should I take to the US?
Card is popular in the US. When paying for meals, in shops and accommodation, debit card and credit cards will be accepted as well as cash. Keep smaller notes to pay for tips and transport.
What is the cheapest way to buy US dollars (USD)
The cheapest way to buy USD in Australia is online. You’ll have a couple of options, depending on what suits your needs:
- Choose a specialist provider which has multi-currency accounts to support international spending - like Wise
- Use an online money exchange service, and collect your foreign cash or have it delivered to you - in this case, you may pay an exchange rate markup, which is an extra fee
To be sure of the cheapest way to buy US dollars, check our online currency converter calculator.
Of course, you always have the option to buy US dollars at the airport. However, this is usually very expensive compared to buying your online before you head off, simply because airport exchange services know you have no other options until you get to the US. That can mean high commission fees and very poor foreign exchange rates.
How to buy US dollars in Australia
Let’s take a look at how to buy US dollar (USD) online - either with a specialist provider, or online money exchange service.
To buy USD online with a specialist provider that offers multi-currency accounts or travel cards, you’ll usually need to:
- Head to the provider’s website or download their app
- Hit Sign Up, add your personal details and create a password
- Get verified by uploading images of your ID documents - you might also need a proof of address
- Add some money to your account in AUD, for spending later
Depending on the provider you pick, you can order a linked international debit card to spend while you’re away, or you can convert to the currency you need to make online payments. Some providers can issue you a virtual card instantly for online spending, and once you have your physical card you can withdraw cash as you travel for convenience.
To buy USD for cash spending with an online money exchange service, you’ll usually need to:
- Visit the provider’s website, and place an order for your currency
- Decide if you want to have your money delivered, or collect your cash at an agent location
- Make payment for your foreign currency in USD
- When you collect your cash, or when it’s delivered you’ll need to show a valid ID document
Where to exchange US dollars before your trip
You don’t necessarily need to exchange your AUD to USD before you travel - but if you’d like to, you probably have a couple of different options. We’ll look at some of these in a bit more detail next:
- Buy cash at a local money exchange service - this can be fairly expensive, but you’ll know you have some money in your pocket when you arrive
- Order foreign currency cash online for collection or home delivery - exchange rates may include a markup, but this can be a convenient service if you need cash before you leave
- Get a multi-currency account and travel debit card - you can top up in AUD and convert to the currency you need in your account, then make a cash withdrawal at the airport in USD so you hit the ground running. This can mean lower fees and a better rate compared to getting cash before you leave Australia
If you have a multi-currency account and card, you might find there’s no need to convert your AUD to a foreign currency at all, and you can still get the benefits of using a specialist provider - including lower fees and better overall rates. With the Wise account, for example, you can top up in AUD and spend with your card. The autoconvert technology will switch to the currency you need with the live Google exchange rate and the lowest available fee. Or, you can switch to US dollars in your Wise account before you leave, so you know your exact budget in USD in advance.
When is the best time to buy US dollars
Buying foreign currency can be confusing. Watching the AUD to USD exchange rate can be tiring, so use our rate tracker you can work out the best time to buy US dollars.
Just choose when you need to buy your US dollars and nominate at what rate you want to buy.
You will be notified by email when the AUD reaches your specified rate. It's easy.
Do I need to take cash in the US?
Carrying cash is not necessarily the most convenient, practical or secure option when you travel to the US. Unless you’re headed somewhere very remote, you’re likely to be able to find an ATM to withdraw cash when you need it, which can reduce the risk of loss or theft.
That said, having a few different ways to pay when you’re away always makes sense. Many people feel most comfortable holding a small amount of cash, plus one or two of the following payment methods:
Travel debit or credit card
Pack a travel debit or credit card, and you could get lower overall costs of spending - or a higher rate of rewards when you’re away. Different cards have their own features and fees - but travel cards tend to be issued on global networks like Visa and Mastercard for optimal coverage.
Multi currency accounts
Multi-currency accounts let you hold a balance in a selection of currencies, for overseas spending. Some also come with linked payment cards which can be even more convenient, as you’ll be able to switch your AUD to USD and then spend while you’re away, usually with no extra fees to pay.
How do I get the best exchange rate at a US money exchanger?
Often people need to buy their USD in the United States, so knowing how to get a good rate is handy.
- Step 1: Find a location that has 3 currency exchange services in a small area. This is easy in places like New York, Los Angeles, Orlando, Vegas or San Francisco.
- Step 2: Visit each one and ask how many USD you will receive for $1,000 (Australian dollars). This way you have their service fee or commission fees included as well as their exchange rate for AUD to USD.
- Step 3: Visit the currency exchange service that offered the second best amount of USD and tell them the offer you received from the best place. Ask them if they can give you a better rate.
This should take about 40 minutes. Most stores will accept cash, money card, debit card and credit card. To save time and increase your spending money buy your USD online before you travel.
How much is $100 worth in US dollars
Historically the Australian dollar is worth about 0.70 US dollars, therefore AU$100 will buy you US$70.
In some years the exchange rate has been as low as 0.60 US dollars and it makes buying US dollar and spending in the US relatively more expensive for an Australian. In other years the exchange rate has been as high as 0.80 US dollars, which means it's cheaper for Australians to buy US dollars.
Major banks tend to predict the AUD to USD exchange rate and present reasons why the USD changes against the Aussie exchange rate.
Where to get foreign currency outside the US?
The easiest way to exchange your AUD to USD while you’re away is to get a multi-currency account which you can top up in AUD digitally, with a card or bank transfer. You can then switch the AUD balance to USD using the provider’s app. Choose a provider like Wise, and you can get a linked debit card, so you can add money in AUD, and then withdraw in the currency you need using an ATM wherever you are in the world.
The best place to exchange currency before the trip ends
If you find you need more money while you’re away you could head to a local money exchange service - but in this case you’ll likely face pretty steep fees, and the exchange rates may also include extra costs. An alternative is to make a cash withdrawal wherever you are. If you use your normal bank debit card you might find you pay an extra fee for the currency conversion, plus an overseas ATM charge. However, if you get yourself a travel debit card before you head off overseas, you might be able to dodge these fees entirely.
Where can you exchange currency for free?
It’s not usually possible to exchange AUD/USD for free. Even where a provider says there’s no commission or fee, this usually only refers to the upfront service fee, which might be waived to encourage customers to pick that service. However, in this case, the chances are that the fee you pay is simply rolled up in the exchange rate you’re given, pushing up prices overall. Instead, look for a provider which uses the mid-market exchange rate with no markup, and transparent fees - so you can see exactly what you’re paying easily.
Your currency knowledge centre
4 Expert Australian Dollar Forecasts for 2021 Compared
Forecasts for the Australian Dollar from bank experts are revised throughout the year. This article looks at the different outlooks and is updated regularly.
How to Buy Currency: Online Versus In-Store
Buying travel money online is one way to reduce stress and potentially save time – but are there any disadvantages you need to be aware of?
The Ultimate Guide to Currency Exchange in Australia
There is no single way to exchange currency that is always the cheapest. It really depends on what currency you are buying, how much and where you are.