Best USD account in Australia: Banks and online providers compared

Many Australians, and expats living in Australia, use a US dollar (USD) account to receive, hold, and spend US dollars without the need to convert to and from AUD every time. You might benefit if you get sent payments from the US regularly, if you need to pay bills in USD, or if you run a business which trades internationally.

While some large Australian banks do offer USD accounts for individuals and businesses, they can be somewhat limited, with relatively high fees. They’re often also cumbersome, slow, and, most of all, expensive. Specialist providers like Wise or Revolut can be good alternatives.

In this article, we’ll walk through everything you need to know about opening a US dollar account, including the best USD account options available, the costs, and how to open one.

Wise Multi-Currency Account  Revolut Account

Can a USD account be opened in Australia?

It’s possible to open a USD account with several of the major Australian banks, although the terms and conditions – and the fees that apply – do vary depending on the option you select.

Be prepared for USD accounts from regular banks to come with some pretty restrictive conditions. You may find you also need an AUD account with the bank you choose (which can come with its own fees to pay). You may not be able to make withdrawals from your USD account directly. And whenever you need to convert funds to and from USD you’ll be tied to the bank’s exchange rate, which probably includes a markup – an extra fee – to pay every time you switch between currencies.

In general, foreign currency accounts from the main banks are not intended for travellers or people who want to deposit or withdraw foreign cash. You won’t get a debit card and can only move money in or out of the account electronically. Alternatives to banks – including multi-currency accounts from modern financial technology firms – can often offer more flexibility, a broader range of features, and lower fees.

This guide will walk through some smart options whether you’re looking for the best USD account in Australia for yourself, your business or as a freelancer working across borders.

What are the advantages of a USD account in Australia?

Having a US dollar account can prove handy to a range of people. Maybe you’re a freelancer or business owner, getting paid in USD by foreign clients. Or you have family in the US and need to send and receive transfers in dollars. A USD account can cut costs and make life simpler.

One key advantage of a US dollar account is that you’ll be able to receive and hold USD payments without needing to switch immediately to AUD. If you know you’ll need to make a payment in USD in future, simply sit on the funds until you need them. Similarly, if the rate doesn’t look great, you can hang on until it improves before you switch back to AUD.

If you’re a business owner, use your USD account to get paid by US customers or clients with no fees to pay for either of you. Just give your USD bank account details to clients to get paid by local transfer. Online sellers can also collect USD payments from PSPs like Stripe and marketplaces like Amazon. Once you’ve been paid in USD, you’ve got the time to shop around for the best exchange rate to switch back to AUD – instead of being tied into the rate offered by the platform.

Best USD accounts

The best USD account for you will depend on how you’ll use the account, and whether you’re a personal or business customer. Here are a few options to consider:

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
  • Business clients in Australia need to join a waitlist to open an account
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 USD or 11 other major currencies online
  • 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 USD or 15 other major currencies online
Airwallex Business customers
  • No fee to open account
  • Relatively low 0.3% – 0.6% currency conversion fee
  • SWIFT transfers have fees, but you can send payments to other Airwallex customers free
Yes
  • Accounts available in 11 currencies
  • Not available to personal customers

Wise

Wise multi-currency accounts are available for personal and business customers who want to hold, send and spend USD as well as 50+ other currencies. When you sign up you can get local bank account details for 10 different currencies including USD, to get paid by local transfers from around the world. You’ll also get a linked international debit card to use all over the world.

Whether you’re spending or withdrawing with your card, sending a payment overseas, or switching between currencies in your account, you’ll always get the mid-market exchange rate with low, transparent fees.

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.

Wise Multi-Currency Acount

Revolut

Revolut is a good option if you want to be able to hold and exchange USD alongside 26 other currencies. Personal customers can choose a free standard plan or upgrade to a plan with a monthly fee to get more features and higher levels of fee free transactions. All accounts get a linked debit card, a free Junior account, some free ATM withdrawals, and some free currency conversion.

Revolut also offers accounts to businesses, but at the time of writing, business customers in Australia will need to join a waitlist to apply for an account.

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

Currency conversion: 27+ fiat currencies available

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

Go to Revolut
 

Westpac

Westpac offers foreign currency accounts to personal customers and business customers in a range of currencies. You can apply for an account in USD online, although you’ll also need an eligible Westpac AUD account before you can get started.

Westpac USD accounts let you send, hold and receive USD payments. However, you won’t get a linked debit card and you can not withdraw in a foreign currency from your account. That means that you can only make telegraphic transfers to fund or withdraw from the account – which comes with some costs.

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 in USD

NAB

NAB USD accounts are offered to both personal and business customers. You can open your account online in many cases, and choose between a range of 15 other currencies as well as USD.

Add funds to your account by transferring in directly or depositing a cheque. If you send in money in a currency other than USD, NAB will convert your funds using their exchange rate, which is likely to include a markup. You can’t withdraw money directly from the NAB USD account, you can only transfer it to another account.

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, including USD

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

Airwallex

Airwallex accounts are for business customers who trade internationally. You can open your account online or in the Airwallex app, and start to receive USD payments instantly. When you need to convert to AUD you’ll get a good exchange rate with a fee of around 0.3% – 0.6% added. You’ll also be able to get physical and virtual international debit cards to make spending easier around the world.

Fees: No fee to open your account. 0.3% to 0.6% fee to convert currencies. SWIFT transfers cost 10 AUD

Currency conversion: USD and 10 other global currencies available

Other notable features: Business customers only

How to open a USD account in Australia

How easy it is to open a US dollar account in Australia will depend a lot on the provider you prefer to use.

If you choose to open an account with a regular bank you’ll be able to complete the application online in many cases. However, usually you’ll need to either have or open an eligible AUD account to get started.

Modern financial technology services will also let you open your account online or on your mobile device. Here are the basic steps you need to take:

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

When you open an account – with a regular bank or alternative provider – you’ll have to get verified by showing or uploading documents about yourself (and if you’re applying for a company account, your business). The exact documents you need will vary depending on the account type, 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

A USD account can save you time and money if you need to receive, hold, send or spend in US dollars regularly.

However, the USD accounts on offer from big Australian banks come with some fairly restrictive features. You’ll usually need an AUD account with the same institution, you won’t get a card to spend or make withdrawals in USD, and you’ll need to accept the bank’s exchange rate when converting your funds.

For a more flexible account which comes with a linked international debit card check out modern online providers. They’re just as safe, and often cheaper and easier to use than a regular bank, too. Use this guide to kickstart your research and find your perfect match.

Go to Wise Go to Revolut
 

FAQs

Can I open a USD account in Australia?

You can open a USD account in Australia. However, the accounts offered by many major banks tend to be pretty restrictive, with relatively high fees. Instead, you may find it easier and more convenient to use an online specialist service like those listed in this article.

How much does it cost to open a USD account?

USD accounts are often free to open with low, or no ongoing fees. Use this guide to start your research to find the perfect USD account for your needs.

By Ileana Ionescu Updated March 29th, 2022