So you’re going overseas, you’ve booked everything you need, you’ve planned where you want to go and you’ve researched all the food you’re going to eat. The last thing on your mind might be organising your spending money.
We’re here to help! This article investigates the most cost effective ways to exchange cash before going overseas, and lists the important factors you should take into account. We estimate that you could save almost 10% on what you’re exchanging by investigating your options and making an informed decision.
This article will assume you’re exchanging anywhere between $1000AUD and $2000AUD. So if you’re looking at exchanging a different amount, some of our other articles may be a better resource for you.
- If you’re looking at exchanging a smaller amount between $500AUD and $1000AUD, click here.
- If you’re considering exchanging about $5000AUD, click here.
- And if you need a large amount between $8000AUD and $10000AUD, click here.
Where You Can Buy Travel Money
- Exchange rates and fees will vary at each bank or currency exchange outlet so it’s important to compare before you buy your travel money.
You can choose to explore different rates and fees with the following banks and money changers here:
Find the Best Way to Exchange Currency
If you’ve already googled “currency exchange” you know that there are a lot of places that provide this service. From banks to privately owned companies, there is a wide range of options. The Currency Shop researched different providers, and while different places have their benefits there are some general rules we like to follow.
Banks are more likely to have a lower exchange rate, charge fees or commission and some don’t offer this service to anyone but their existing customers.
Smaller providers, might have a better exchange rate but they may not always have stock of foreign currencies, or they may run out frequently. So you might need to give them time to order the currency in for you, or at least call before visiting them so you don’t waste a trip.
Larger companies such as Travel Money Oz or Travelex have a wide range or stores, different purchase options and allow you to order online which can be very beneficial.
By this we mean, where you are located. When it comes to location, money changers will generally have a better exchange rate in the CBD than in their suburban stores. As a result, the CBD is a better location if you’re wanting to exchange your cash in store. Having said this, it’s worth taking into account where you live and work in case there is a commute into the CBD. However, seeing as you’re exchanging more than $1000AUD it may actually be worth the trip. Just make sure you check that where you’re going has enough of the currency you’re after by giving them a call before heading there.
Around the CBD and looking to exchange currency? Use these city guides to help you get the best exchange rate deals.
For the amount you’re looking at, either ordering your currency online or going into a store could be worthwhile. If you’re far away from the CBD or can’t make it there, ordering online will allow you to get a good exchange rate and pick it up at a location closer to home.
You also need to decide whether you’re better off buying your currency in cash form, or purchasing a travel card. There are benefits to both options, and they both have their pitfalls. If you’re exchanging a larger amount of money, for security reasons it could definitely be worth using a currency card so that you’re not carrying a large amount of cash around with you.
For a detailed explanation of the difference between taking cash and a currency card, read our comparison article.
If you’re buying in store, there generally won’t be a fee for paying in cash or using a debit card but there can be for using your credit card. The fee generally ranges anywhere from 0.5-2%. It’s also important to keep in mind that if you do want to use credit, there is a chance your bank could charge you a cash advance. It’s definitely better to use cash or debit but if you do want to use your credit card, make sure you check your providers policies around this.
When you’re purchasing online there will be a fee for any card payment whether it’s credit or debit and similar to purchasing in store, it’s usually between 1-2%. The good news is there is almost always a Bpay option, and this avoids fees all together. Make sure you set up your Bpay account before you make your order and you’re good to go. Keep in mind though that Bpay purchases can take a couple of days longer, if you’re in a hurry.
This is important too because depending on where you’re traveling, it may not even be in your best interest to change your money before you leave. There are a couple of reasons for this. Some exotic currencies are hard to get a hold of in Australia. Some providers may be able to order it in, so in that case you just need to be organised and do so with plenty of time before you leave.
Some tourist destinations saturated with Australian tourists often have a better conversion rate in the country itself. Examples of this include Indonesia and Thailand. By the end of 2016 over 1.3 million Australians had travelled to Bali and more than half a million to Thailand. Exchanging locally in these destinations can sometimes return a better rate for you.
The Currency Shop endeavours to help you make a more informed decision about how best to handle buying foreign currency in your situation. If you are exchanging about $2000AUD it would be worthwhile exchanging in store, if that is a reasonable option for you. Otherwise online can still return a good deal.
General advice: The information on this site is of a general nature only. It does not take your specific needs or circumstances into consideration. You should look at your own personal situation and requirements before making any financial decisions.
*This rate is based on converting AUD to USD and took into account the difference between the best and worst exchange rates from providers across Australian CBDs, from Australian Banks and online offers.
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