Best multi-currency account in Australia: Banks and online providers compared

A multi-currency account lets you hold a balance in a range of foreign currencies. While different accounts have different features, the best options out there will let you hold and exchange dozens of currencies, get paid for free from abroad, and spend with a linked debit card. That can be useful if you get an income from overseas, travel often, or even if you just love shopping online with international retailers.

Major Australian banks offer foreign currency accounts which you can open in a range of different currencies. However, these options come with high fees and limited features. Specialist providers like Wise and Revolut can be good alternatives.

Read on for all you need to know about opening a multi-currency account, including the best multi-currency account options available, the costs, and how to open one.

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Can a multi-currency account be opened in Australia?

If you want to open an account which can hold a foreign currency balance you have a couple of key options:

  • Foreign currency accounts from mainstream banks
  • Multi-currency accounts from online specialist providers

The accounts available from regular banks are pretty different from those offered by specialist services and financial technology firms, so it’s worth doing a bit of research to see which will suit you.

Foreign currency accounts from the big Australian banks are available in a range of currencies. However, you may need to apply for a new account each time you want to access a different currency balance. There are also likely to be fairly high fees to send, receive and exchange money in your account.

Specialist providers offer multi-currency accounts which are more flexible and often come with lower fees too. While banks usually offer accounts in major currencies only, online specialist accounts could let you hold and exchange dozens of currencies, and receive payments fee free from a range of countries around the world. They also usually offer a linked international debit card which isn’t an option with the foreign currency accounts available from the big 4 banks.

If you’re not sure which type of multi-currency account will suit you, this guide is for you. Read on for all about the best multi-currency accounts in Australia for individuals, business owners, freelancers and online sellers.

What are the advantages of a multi-currency account in Australia?

Holding a multi-currency account can be convenient and cut your costs if you transact regularly in foreign currencies. Maybe you’re getting paid from overseas. Or perhaps you need to send money in a foreign currency to pay international invoices. Using a flexible, low-cost multi-currency account can save you time and money.

Multi-currency accounts have a couple of big advantages for customers. Firstly you can get paid in a foreign currency and hold the funds instead of being forced to convert them to AUD immediately. And secondly you can buy foreign currencies whenever you want to, and hold the balance in your account. In both cases this lets you manage fluctuations in exchange rates by holding your balance if FX markets dip, or buying foreign currency for future use when you spot a good rate.

Having a multi-currency account with a debit card can also be helpful if you travel or shop online with retailers based overseas. The best multi-currency account options out there will often let you spend currencies you hold for free on your card, so you avoid foreign transaction fees which apply to overseas spending from a regular AUD account.

Best multi-currency accounts

Here are some great multi-currency accounts to consider, for yourself or your business. We’ve included both specialists and big banks so you can see which suits you:

Provider Availability Fees Debit card Other features
Wise Personal and business customers
  • Personal accounts are free to open, with no monthly charges
  • One time 22 AUD payment for business account – no ongoing fees
Yes
  • Multi-currency account to manage 54 currencies
  • Local account details for 10 currencies
  • Send payments to 80+ countries
Revolut Personal accounts are immediately available.
Business customers currently waitlisted.
  • Standard personal accounts are free or upgrade to a fee paid plan for up to 24.99 AUD/month
Yes
  • Accounts available in 27+ fiat currencies
  • Good range of account features like budgeting and saving tools
Westpac Personal and business customers
  • No monthly fees
  • Telegraphic transfer fees apply when you send or receive payments
No
  • Open accounts in 12 major currencies online; other currencies available for in branch opening
  • Not intended as a travel account
NAB Personal and business customers
  • No monthly fees
  • Telegraphic transfer fees apply when you send or receive payments
No
  • Open accounts in 16 major currencies online
CommBank Personal and business customers
  • No monthly fees
  • Fees apply when you send payments, deposit or withdraw foreign currency cash
No
  • Open account in most convertible currencies
  • Pay in and withdraw foreign currency notes at a CommBank branch
Airwallex Business customers
  • No fee to open account
Yes
  • Accounts available in 11 currencies
  • Not available to personal customers

Wise

Financial technology company Wise has a true multi-currency account which lets personal or business customers hold and exchange 50+ currencies.

Personal customers can open an account for free online or in the Wise app, while business customers pay a one time 22 AUD fee to get full account features. Accounts have no minimum balance, no monthly fee, and no ongoing charges. You just pay low, transparent fees for the services you want to use.

Accounts come with local bank account details to get paid for free from 30+ countries, and you can switch between currencies within your account using the mid-market exchange rate. All customers also get a linked international debit card for spending and ATM withdrawals around the world.

Fees: No fee to open a personal account, 22 AUD one-off fee to open a business account. No monthly fee for either personal or business accounts

Currency conversion: Hold and convert 54 currencies with the mid-market exchange rate

Other notable features: Receive payments like a local from 30 countries, send money to 80+ countries, spend with your linked debit card in 200+ countries.

Go to Wise Account

Revolut

Revolut is another financial technology company challenging the big banks. Revolut accounts can hold and exchange 27 currencies, and come with a debit card, some free ATM withdrawals and free currency conversion up to a monthly limit. As well as holding and spending in a range of currencies, you can get saving and budgeting tools, Junior accounts for kids and easy on the go access via the Revolut app.

Standard Revolut accounts don’t have a monthly fee, or you can choose a paid plan which unlocks more features and higher levels of free transactions.

Although Revolut does offer business accounts, at the time of writing you’ll need to join a waitlist to apply.

Fees: Standard accounts are free. Upgrade to a fee paid personal account for up to 24.99 AUD/month

Currency conversion: 27+ fiat currencies available

Other notable features: Broad range of account services including budgeting tools, savings and investments

Go to Wise Revolut

Westpac

Accounts available from big banks in Australia tend to be foreign currency accounts which operate in a single currency, rather than a real multi-currency account which lets you have multiple currencies in one place. Westpac has foreign currency accounts for personal and business customers in a range of currencies.

If you want to open an account to hold a major currency you’ll probably be able to do so online, but for smaller currencies you need to visit a branch. Each time you want to hold a different currency you’ll need to apply for a new account. Customers must also hold an eligible Westpac AUD account.

Westpac’s foreign currency accounts have no debit card. To add or withdraw funds from your account you’ll need to use a transfer – and there’s a fee whenever you either send or receive a payment this way.

Fees: No monthly fees. Transfers into the account cost 12 AUD; outward payments cost 10 AUD – 32 AUD + exchange rate markups

Currency conversion: Open an account in any of 12 major currencies online, or visit a branch to open in other currencies

Other notable features: Not intended for travel use, can not withdraw directly from this account

NAB

NAB foreign currency accounts are available in 16 currencies. Customers must hold an eligible AUD account with NAB to apply, and each time you want to add a different currency you’ll have to complete the application process again. Most applications can be made online.

You can add funds to your NAB account with a cheque or bank transfer in either AUD or the currency of your account. Accounts don’t come with a debit card, and you can’t withdraw money directly in a branch or via an ATM.

Fees: No monthly fees. 10 AUD – 35 AUD to send an overseas payment, and up to 15 AUD to receive an international transfer

Currency conversion: Up to 16 currencies available

Other notable features: Business customers can also get advanced banking features, trade finance and foreign exchange solutions

CommBank

CommBank foreign currency accounts for personal and business customers are a little more flexible than the other Big 4 options, in that you can deposit and withdraw cash in the currency of your account via a branch. Accounts are available in most convertible currencies and may pay interest on your balance.

To open a foreign currency account you’ll also need a CommBank Everyday account or Savings account. You’ll have the option of linking this AUD account to your foreign currency account and using it to pay your transaction fees if you choose to.

Fees: No monthly fees. Up to 30 AUD to send an overseas payment, and 1% (minimum 10 AUD) fee to deposit or withdraw foreign currency notes at a branch

Currency conversion: Accounts available in most convertible currencies

Other notable features: Business accounts also available

Airwallex

Airwallex business accounts can be used to receive, hold and exchange 11 major world currencies. You can use your Airwallex account to collect payments from marketplaces and platforms if you’re an online seller. This means you can connect to customers abroad, and let them pay in their own currencies for convenience.

Link your account to Xero for easier accounting, and convert your funds back to AUD whenever you want to with just a low fee to pay.

Fees: No fee to open your account.

Currency conversion: 11 global currencies available

Other notable features: Business customers only

How to open a multi-currency account in Australia

Specialist providers usually operate entirely online or through an app. That means that getting your account up and running can be done from home whenever you like. If you prefer to open a foreign currency account with a big bank you may be able to get set up online, especially if you already have an AUD account with the same institution. Otherwise you’ll have to call into a branch to get started.

Here are the basic steps you need to take if you’re able to complete your multi-currency account application online:

  1. Choose the best provider for your needs
  2. Register for your account 
  3. Give your personal and contact information
  4. Complete the required verification steps
  5. Fund your account – and you’re ready to go

Banks and specialist providers are legally required to carry out verification checks when you open a multi-currency account. Often this can be one online by sending or uploading images of your ID documents. The exact documents you need will depend on the account you choose and the provider’s own policies, but can include:

  • Government issued photo ID
  • Proof of address – a utility bill or bank statement in your name for example
  • Tax ID information
  • Business registration documents if you’re opening a business account

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a real multi-currency account which lets you hold and handle a range of currencies in one place, you’re probably going to have more luck with a specialist provider rather than your normal bank. The foreign currency accounts on offer from big banks tend to be limited – you’ll need a separate account for each currency you want to hold, and there are often high fees when you send or receive payments.

Online providers usually offer more flexible accounts which come with more functionality – like a linked debit card for spending and withdrawing – lower fees and better exchange rates.

Go to Wise Account Go to Wise Revolut
 

FAQs

Can I open a multi-currency account in Australia?

Yes, but you’ll probably find a more flexible account with lower fees with a specialist rather than your normal bank. Major banks in Australia do all offer foreign currency accounts – but these are usually limited to a single currency per account, rather than having real multi-currency functionality. If you want to hold and handle lots of currencies in one place you might be better off with an online specialist service like those profiled in this guide.

How much does it cost to open a multi-currency account?

Multi-currency accounts are often free to open with low, or no ongoing fees – but transaction costs can be high if you choose a mainstream bank.

By Ileana Ionescu Updated March 29th, 2022