Travelling to Australia and Managing Travel Money Effectively

Travelling to Australia and Managing Travel Money EffectivelyThinking of travelling to Australia? You’re not the only one! Australia is one of the UK’s favourite travel destinations and every year thousands of people arrive there, for business as well as pleasure. Choosing how to take money to Australia is challenging because there are so many options and it’s hard to know which one is right for you. This guide aims to help with that.

Buying Australian Dollars for Travel

The fees charged by every bank and currency exchange will vary between providers, as will the exchange rates being offered to you. It’s important to compare options before deciding on a method.


How Much Should I Plan to Take to Australia?

If you choose to travel to Australia with cash in your pocket then there are some advantages. You won’t have to worry if there are any technical problems with ATMs or credit cards. You will also be one step ahead if your wallet containing your cards gets stolen.


How much you need to take is the initial problem. This depends on your budget, and the holiday or lifestyle you intend to have whilst in Australia.




Hostel beds

$25-$40 per night

Double Room in Hotel

$165-$330 per night

4 Star Hotel

Over $330



Cafe or Pub


Popular Restaurant

$20-$35 for main course

Top Restaurant

$70 for three course meal



Long-distance coach

$25-$70 (300km)

Long-distance train

$35-$135 (300km)

Car rental

from $60 a day

  • All prices are in Australian Dollars and are only an estimate.


The Best Card to Use in Australia

There are three different types of card that you can use when travelling in Australia.


  • Credit card
  • Travel card
  • Debit card


The currency used in Australia is the Australian Dollar ($). If you are using a travel card then you can be rest assured that practically all the major providers will permit you to load and spend in Australian Dollars. It is unlikely that you will encounter places where any other form of currency is accepted.


Travel Card

Travel cards are widely accepted as they function in the same way for merchants as a credit or debit card. For the user it blends together the main features of both types of cards.


VISA and MasterCard variations of travel cards are widely accepted across Australia, but if you have an American Express card be prepared for smaller outlets not to accept it.


If possible, try to carry at least two options of travel card. This makes sure that accessing your money is as simple as possible and more importantly, stress free.


A word of warning: Some travel cards do not bear the user’s name on the front and in some cases you may find that retailers may not accept them.


Using ATMs in a foreign country does incur costs and sometimes these are significant. The size of the cost depends on your bank. It is worth checking with your bank before you leave to ensure you’re aware how much you are paying each time you withdraw.


When deciding on a travel card, try to find one with a low reload fee. If you plan to top up frequently then this will save you a lot of money.


If you are planning on extending your travels beyond Australia, whilst you are in that part of the world, make sure you choose a card that is flexible for use outside of Australia.


Some travel cards offer reward points in the same way as credit cards. These can sometimes be used towards other travel costs such as flights. Check out all the options and offers before making your decision.


Some cards such as Natwest and Lloyds have higher than average fees for every withdrawal. This can soon add up to a lot of wasted money on your trip.


Planning on reloading your card a lot? Avoid the following cards:


The reload fees are large and can add up very quickly, putting quite a dent in your holiday budget.


Credit Card

The good news is that your UK issued credit cards will be valid across Australia.


The most widely accepted cards (as they are in the UK) will be Visa and MasterCard though American Express will also be accepted across a great many outlets.


Remember, if you use a credit card in a local ATM then the ATM operator is likely to charge you a fee for doing so.


Cash advance fees can also work out to be very expensive.  Check with your card provider so you are aware of all charges.


If you pre-load your credit card with your own money then these fees can be reduced but you could end up with your money being less protected.


Debit Card

The advantage of using debit cards is that you are using your own money, taken from the bank in which you have placed it. Unlike credit cards where you are effectively taking out a high interest loan for small purchases.


Regardless of this, remember that ATM charges still apply so check with your bank to find out what their fees and charges are. If you withdraw from ATMs frequently then these charges will soon add up.


As with credit cards it is also worth noting whether you are being charged an annual fee or other surcharges that may be added on by some merchants.


In order to get a better understanding of currency conversion rates and to ensure you get the best deal for your next trip to Australia, talk to our travel money experts at The Currency Shop.


Case Study

Jamie is planning to take a six week break in Australia at the end of the year. He has allocated a low budget for the majority of stay and he plans to stay in hostels, eat in cafes and get around by coach. He is taking $1,000 in cash to ensure he is well covered for his first week’s stay.


Jamie also plans to have at least a week in a 4 star hotel and wants to hire a car to drive along the Great Ocean Road. Additionally, with friends living in New Zealand, he would like to explore the possibility of spending a few days there.


Jamie selects a MasterCard travel card which he can top up as needed. He ensures that it is accepted in countries other than Australia. However, he also takes his debit card with him in case of an emergency.  He doesn’t use a credit card to avoid spending more than he has.

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