When it comes to the Australia trip planning, one thought goes also to exchanging money in Australia. While credit cards are the most common and convenient way of pay, for Australia you may also consider other options, and in my opinion a good combination of daily cash and credit and/or debit cards is always the best solution.
Here below I give you some tips on exchanging money in Australiabased on my personal experience which can help you make up your mind about the money exchange arrangements for your Australia trip planning.
Benefit of a pre-paid card
This is the best tip I can give you! I found out about it, later on, when I saw the long list of commmissions my bank had charged for my purchases. You can upload your pre-payed card whenever you wish with the amount of money you want . You can apply for this card with your bank. Usually all banks offer them next to normal credit cards. The great benefit of this card is that bank commissions are much lower, usually 1% or even less. If you consider that banks usually charge 2% or more for your purchases abroad with credit card. Some banks also add transactions-fee for foreign currency on top of the commissions. With a pre-payed card you can save money on commissions.
How to manage day-to-day funds
Here there are 2 good options for your daily cash. Either you withdraw cash from ATMs but in this case you must first check out with your bank what commissions apply, and what transaction-fees they charge. Usually they tend to be very high, if your bank has international ATMs or has partner banks in Australia, then you should not pay more than 1%-2%. Since my banks commission were extremely high I choose to buy some travellers checks, which can be still a good choice. But again here you have to consider a few things before going with this option.
Exchanging money in Australia by using travelers checks
I made quite a few mistakes here: I bought them in Euro, which I should not have done. Always buy them in the local currency, i.e. in Australian Dollars. First they are accepted anywhere! You do not need to exchange them into Australian money. They are actually money with the benefit that if you loose them or they are stolen they are covered by the insurance and you can claim them. If you buy them in your own currency, then you will have to shop around for the best rate exchange. Often people do that because of the false believe that there are “no-fee bureau de change” but instead these are usually the most expensive places to change money! Believe me. Amex exchange bureau also apply commissions, even though they say they are commission free, it´s not true, commission are built in the exchange rate you get. So it is really worth buying the travellers checks in Australian dollars, should you decide to go with this.
Credi Cards and Debit Cards
This is what I use more frequently when I travel abroad. Cash is certainly vital for your daily basis purchases, however credit cards is the most convenient payment tool for all your bookings and reservations. In Australaia you have to pay attention because some hotels, hostels, car rentals, restaurants tend to charge your card in your own currency instead of charging in AUS. In this case the exchange rate is worse than the average and mostly includes hidden fees. Be careful with this. Because I did experience quite often in my last trip in 2008. If they offer you to charge your card in your own currency , decline it! Do insist on having it charged in the local currency, i.e. in AUS and not in EUR or USD or whatever your own currency is. Be careful because in some places they did it straight away without asking me. So pay attention to this tricky transactions.
Check with your Bank and Credit Card Company
thoroughly before leaving to Australia. Find out which fees and commissions apply when using your card and/or withdrawing money from ATMs in Australia. It´s a savvy investigation, so as to avoid nasty surprises when you return home and suddenly receive a long list of commissions and fees on your purchases and bookings you did not expect.
I hope you find these tips on exchanging money useful for your australia trip planning. If you have any experience that can be shared with other fellow travellers, do it here and add you comment below.
Happy Travels in Australia!