The Ultimate Guide to Currency Exchange in Australia

There is no single way to buy currency that is always the cheapest. It really depends on what currency you are buying, how much and where you are. This guide will show you how to track down the best exchange rates for your next overseas holiday.

 

What you will learn in this guide: 

  1. The 5 cheapest ways to buy travel money for an overseas holiday 

  2. The best way to buy your currency - based on your situation

  3. Currency conversion tips to get more from your money

 

 

The 5 cheapest ways to buy travel money for an overseas holiday

1. Buy Currency Online

Currency Exchange

Buying currency online is quickly growing in popularity for two reasons:

  • The exchange rates offered online are often better than in-store

  • There are now thousands of pick-up locations. This makes it easier to buy than travelling into the city

It's not all good news, though. Buying currency online using a credit card can incur more bank fees. We recommend paying via Bpay to avoid these charges. It's also important to buy it ahead of time. When you buy currency online, it can take a few days before you are able to pick the cash up.

Is it safe? 

As with all online purchases, it really comes down to the company you are buying the currency from. The Currency Shop is partnered with the 2 largest foreign exchange companies in Australia - Travelex and Travel Money Oz. 

Related: How to Buy Currency: Online Versus In-Store

Also: Is It Cheaper To Exchange Cash or Transfer Money Overseas?

 

 

 

2. Head into the city and use a specialist money exchanger

This is cheapest way to buy currency, particularly if you are buying larger amounts of US dollars or Euros. Getting the best exchange rate comes down to how competitive the place you are buying it from is. In the main city centres, there are more businesses selling currency that compete against each other and they can provide the best rates if you shop around.

The downside of using these specialist money-changers is that they don't have a great amount of available cash available in less common currencies, such as Thai Baht or Singapore Dollars. They also 'run out' of the most common currencies on busy days, so make sure you call ahead to ensure that you aren't wasting your time.

Related: In Search of the Best Exchange Rate in Melbourne CBD

Also: Exchange Rates Compared in the Sydney CBD

Also: Exchange Rates Compared in the Brisbane CBD

Also: Exchange Rates Compared in the Adelaide CBD

Also: Exchange Rates Compared in the Perth CBD

Also: A Currency Exchange Guide to Each Australian Suburb

 

3. Through a Bank

Contrary to popular belief, using an Australian bank to buy your overseas holiday cash isn't always the most expensive option. In fact, it can sometimes be the cheapest way to buy it. 

Exchange rates from banks for common currencies, such as the US dollar and Euro dollars aren't particularly competitive when compared to other currency exchanges, however, they can be the best option for other currencies such as the Chinese Yuan (also known as the renminbi) or the South African Rand.

To work out if a bank is the cheapest way to buy your currency, make sure you compare exchange rates.

 

4. From a Friend

We do not recommend buying currency from a friend but buying the left-over currency from someone elses holiday can be a good option. It's known as peer-to-peer or p2p. Basically, you arrange to buy your currency from a friend and work out an exchange rate that you both agree on. The reason it's so cheap, is because you are avoiding the costs, charges and margins of using a bank or money-exchanger. 

The risks are that your friend has old or counterfeit notes, that they are not safe and you may not have any recourse if the transaction doesn't go ahead as agreed. For all these reasons, it is not a method of exchanging money we suggest.

 

5. Overseas

In some cases, it is cheaper to buy your currency in the country you are going to, rather than converting it before you leave. Good examples are Bali and Singapore. Of course, it is a lot harder to find the best exchange rate when you are outside of Australia and you run a higher risk of being scammed.

As a rule of thumb, the further away you are travelling, the less likely you'll find better exchange rates overseas. This is because the further away from Australia you go, the less common Australian notes and coins are. As a result, they are also less likely to give you a good exchange rate.

To work out if a bank is the cheapest way to buy your currency, make sure you compare exchange rates.

Related: Is It Cheaper to Buy Currency Abroad?

 

Compare Travel Money Exchange Rates

Click Here


 


 

The best way to buy your currency - based on your situation

 

Under $2000 of Currency for a Holiday 

If you need up to $2000 in currency for a trip abroad, ordering it online is usually the best option. 

Why? 

These days, very few banks or currency exchanges charge a flat fee. This means that the only difference in cost between one place and another is the exchange rate. In our experience, the difference between a good exchange rate, which you can get online, and the best rate you can find will only amount to a couple of dollars. 

We favour the convenience of locking in a good exchange rate and picking it up close to your travel dates, rather than travelling all around town trying to save an extra 10-15 dollars.

 

Buying or selling larger amounts over $2000 of US dollars or Euros

If you need up to $2000 in currency for a trip abroad, buying it in larger amounts is the best option. 

Why? 

Two reasons. Firstly, stores should give you a better exchange rate if you are doing a larger amount. Be aware, not all online currency providers will. All banks also have a stock-standard rate no matter how much you are buying.

Secondly, you can negotiate a better exchange rate in person and on larger amounts of currency, this is definitely worth the effort. It is particularly useful if you are using a smaller currency exchanger in the city.

Related: 6 Steps: How to have a cheaper AUD to EUR exchange (it is possible!)

 

Thai Baht, Indonesian Rupiah and other 'exotic' currencies

If you're heading to a country that doesn't use US dollars, Euros or Japanese yen, then consider using either a bank, Travelex or Travel Money Oz.

Why? 

Smaller, independent currency exchangers like UAE Exchange and KVB Kunlun have great rates on US dollars and Euros but they don't stock a lot of the less common currencies. As a result, they are less likely to have any available to sell to you and when they do, they don't have great exchange rates. Travelex and Travel Money Oz are good at stocking a large range of currencies. Again, check their online rate. It's usually better than what you'll get in-store.

 

Getting some currency at the last minute

Don't order it online. It usually takes 3-4 business days. Travelex offer a 1 business day pick-up from the airport but you have to pay by card which could come with additional bank fees.

Either buy the minimum amount you need from the airport and sort out the rest when you arrive or buy it in-store before you leave.

Related: How to Get a Better Exchange Rate at Sydney Airport

How to Get a Better Exchange Rate at Melbourne Airport

How to Find a Better Exchange Rate at Adelaide Airport

Where to Find the Best Rates for Currency Exchange at Perth Airport

Where to Get the Best Exchange Rate at Brisbane Airport

Where to Go For the Best Exchange Rate at Canberra Airport

Where to Find a Great Exchange Rate at Darwin Airport

The Secret to Getting a Better Currency Exchange Rate at Coolangatta Airport

 

 

 


Currency conversion tips to get more out of your money

Watch out for fees

When buying your holiday currency, it's unlikely you'll be charged a fee - but this doesn't mean it won't happen. When buying your cash, make sure you ask if there are any fees, charges or commissions. If you are buying online, make sure to have a quick check when you are confirming the transaction or read their Product Disclosure Statement.

 

Ask for a better rate

You may only get the best exchange rates when you ask for it directly. If you are exchanging more than $1,000 Australian dollars worth of currency, it's a must. The good news? There is usually room to move. 

Related: How to Get the Best Currency Exchange Rate: Negotiation Techniques That Work

 

Call First

Once you've found a currency exchange that is nearby and has a great rate, give them a call. 

Why? 

Each currency exchange outlet only holds a small amount of stock of each currency. Most places will have limited stock of U.S. Dollars and Euros. They may not have less popular currency such as Canadian dollars or even New Zealand dollars.

When you call, make sure they have the amount of money in the currency you want. Also, make sure they have the denominations you want. There is nothing worse than buying travel currency and being told they don't have anything below a 50 dollar note.

 

Don't put all your eggs in one wallet

If you are going overseas for a holiday, you don't need to take all your money in cash. Consider the following mix used by many Australian's heading overseas

  • Take some currency in cash for taxis, tips, meals and excursions

  • Take some currency on a prepaid travel card for hotels, transport and in-store purchases

  • Take your Australian ATM debit and credit cards as back-up in case you run out of money

 

More from The Currency Shop

 

Currency Exchange in Every CBD in Australia

Traveling to another country? Our experts share exchange currency tips to help you get a better exchange rate and lower fees. 

The Ultimate Guide to Currency Exchange in Australia

This article explores international money transfers for most situations you may face.

Should You Buy Currency Online or In Store?

A guide to buying currency online and in-store and our opinion is which option is better.