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Cash and ATMs in Australia: Info you need for ATMs, fees, limits, exchange, cards

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cash and atms in australia with currency exchange atm fee saver

Australia, a vast and diverse land of natural wonders, vibrant cities, and laid-back coastal towns, offers a unique blend of urban sophistication and outdoor adventure. From the iconic Sydney Opera House and the Great Barrier Reef to the rugged Outback and scenic Great Ocean Road, Australia promises an unforgettable experience for every traveler. To make the most of your journey Down Under, understanding the local currency and financial landscape is key. This guide will provide you with essential information about Australian currency, accessing local cash, using ATMs, balancing cash and card usage, minimising fees, and various payment options to help you explore Australia without financial worries.

Cash or card?

Card is widely accepted. Tourists tend to use cards extensively, with an estimated 70-80% of transactions being cashless due to widespread acceptance of cards. Contactless payments are particularly popular.

Cash for: Street food vendors, Small purchases, Public buses, Tips and gratuities in many places, Local markets and bazaars

Card for:

Street shopping
Fancy sit-down restaurants
Professional pre-paid taxi booking services (such as Uber, Ola, etc.)
Car rentals
Tailoring services
Many tour operators
Many hostels and budget hotels
Good looking coffee shops
Food from local restaurants, even some sit-down restaurants
Spas
Local trains
Expensive tour operators
Shopping in malls and branded stores
Online bookings for hotels, flights, and tours
Upmarket hotels
Tuk-tuks and local taxis
Entry fees for major tourist attractions and theme parks

So where to get cash in Australia?

ATMs, or
Currency exchange, or
Money transfer & local pick-up

Where are the ATMs in Australia?

With over 26,000 ATMs across the country, including those from the top 4 commercial banks, finding one in Australian cities and towns is easy. But in remote places or islands, they’re a rare sight. You’re likely to find ATMs at major airports, town centers, main tourist streets, shopping malls, and bank branches. However, don’t expect to find them at smaller airports, islands, remote bus stops, village interiors, off the beaten path in small towns, or at religious sites and secluded resorts.

Popular banks with ATMs

Commonwealth Bank
ANZ Bank
Westpac
National Australia Bank (NAB)

There are other banks with ATMs that also accept international debit and credit cards.

Some international banks also have their ATMs in Australia, namely HSBC

Global ATM alliance: Global ATM Alliance is a partnership among many banks in the world to allow its customers to withdraw cash from all partner banks abroad without any ATM fee. Many banks in the US, UK, Europe, Australia, and Latin America are part of the Global ATM Alliance, including Bank of America, Barclays, Deutsche Bank, and others. As on date of writing this article, Westpac is part of this alliance.

Where to find currency exchanges?

You can exchange cash in Australia at the following places:

Authorised currency exchange centres: These are readily available in popular tourist areas, marked as currency exchanges. Ensure they have an authorisation certificate and ask for your identification, as these are indicators of legitimacy. Notable brands include Travel Money Oz, United, and Crown Currency.
Banks: You can convert your currency to AUD at bank branches, particularly for common currencies like US dollars, Euros, Pounds, Japanese Yen, Thai Baht, and Singapore dollars. Expect a commission fee of 0.5% to 2% per transaction.
Hotels and airports: While airports and many hotels offer currency exchange services, their rates are often less favorable. Some larger hotels may provide rates comparable to banks.

Tips:

Avoid exchanging at airports due to poor rates.
Steer clear of the black market to avoid scams.
Bring undamaged, clean notes for better rates or lower fees.
For US dollars, larger bills typically yield higher rates.

Accepted currencies:
Australia mainly local currency (Australian Dollar). Some tourist areas may accept USD or Euros. Their note denominations are $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100.
US Dollar: Some resorts, hotels and local shops that quote prices in US Dollar. But if you pay in US Dollar and not in Australian Dollar, exchange rate in these payments will be poor. So pay in AUD unless you like losing a lot of money!
Euro: Not accepted
Pound: Not accepted

Know the ATMs in Australia

Foreign debit and credit cards usage: Absolutely, ATMs in Australia accommodate international cards quite well.

Types of cards at ATMs: ATMs in Australia will mainly accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Cirrus, Plus and Maestro cards. Some accept JCB and UnionPay. Don’t expect a lot of them to accept Diners, Discover or Rupay cards.

Types of cards to swipe: Visa and Mastercard transactions are commonly accepted for swiping. You might also find some places that accept Amex and other cards, albeit less frequently.

Opening hours: ATMs are typically available 24/7. Standalone units offer round-the-clock access, while those within banks may only operate from 9 am to 3 pm.

Workings and functionalities of the ATMs: Indeed, Australia’s ATMs are up-to-date, resembling those in the US, UK, Europe, and India in appearance and functionality. Remember, some models might retain your card during the transaction, so be sure to retrieve it after getting your cash.

ATM names: Word ATM is used or signage with bank name on the ATM in English

PIN type: ATMs in Australia primarily accept 4-digit PINs. Some ATMs and banks may accept longer PINs, but this is not guaranteed across all machines.

Also, many merchants used old machines which require a magnetic stripe on the card and not just a chip-and-pin card.

Language options: Australian ATMs typically present English as the primary language. If you’re not familiar with it, live translation via Google Translate’s camera function can be handy, but proceed cautiously as translations may not be perfect.

Know the foreign exchanges in Australia

Foreign debit and credit cards usage: Currency exchanges prefer hard cash for exchange. Visa or Mastercard is accepted at many places. Please be mindful of the fees you will pay if you use your card at a currency exchange.

Opening hours: Currency exchange services predominantly opt for transactions in cash. Many will accept Visa or Mastercard, but keep an eye on any transaction fees that may apply when using your card.

Languages to interact in: Staff at currency exchanges in Australia can usually interact in English.

Exchange names: You may encounter currency exchange services referred to as ‘Currency Exchange’, ‘Forex’, ‘Foreign Exchange’, or ‘Money Exchange’.

ATM withdrawal limit and ATM Fees

Withdrawal limit: ATMs typically restrict the withdrawal per transaction from AUD400 to AUD 2,000

ATM fees: Unfortunately, there are no free ATMs in Australia, except one which charges 0 fees to some specific types of cards. Few charge low fees and few very high fees per transaction! The fees range between AUD 2 to AUD 7.5 per transaction, so you can definitely choose the one that charges less fees.

Ways to avoid high fees

For ATMs:

Use the lower fee ATMs in the country.
Use the ATM Fee Saver app to find fee-free or low-fee ATMs.
Opt for “Decline Conversion” or “Without Conversion” during ATM transactions.
Consider getting fee-free cards from your home country.
For more in-depth insights and alternative methods, check out our detailed article, Withdrawing cash abroad? 9 best ways to save foreign ATM fees.

For currency exchanges:

Avoid no-fee exchange offices at all costs to get cash in Australia – If they say no fee, which means they account for their fee in the exchange rate. Nothing is ever free in currency exchanges
Avoid using credit and debit cards for direct transactions

Ways to find fee-free ATMs in Australia

Discover no-fee ATMs in Australia, currency exchange spots, and money transfer services through the ATM Fee Saver application for both mobile and web. This app details the fees foreign cardholders face at Australiaese ATMs and their withdrawal caps. Moreover, its simple fee calculator helps you determine exact withdrawal charges. Select an ATM, and the app will direct you there with its navigation tool. Information on 50 countries, including Australia, is available.

Cash in Australia and safety

Carrying cash

Incidents like mugging, threats, or robberies are uncommon in Australia, making it generally safe to carry cash while traveling. However, it’s wise to adhere to these precautions:

Avoid withdrawing large sums in crowded areas.
Limit the cash you carry during long journeys or walks through deserted streets.
Withdraw significant amounts close to when you need them, ideally from a nearby ATM with low or no fees.
Additionally, keep these safety tips in mind:

Distribute your cash across multiple locations, rather than keeping it all in one place.
Use secure money belts or pouches for storing cash.
Be discreet about the amount of cash you have.
When dining alone, keep your wallet or bag with you at all times.
Consider placing your wallet in your front pocket.
In busy or tourist areas, wear your backpack in front and keep your belongings close, using security locks if possible.

Safety at ATMs & currency exchanges

Generally, ATMs in Australia are equipped with security features like cameras and guards. While the crime rate around ATMs is low, it’s wise to stay vigilant against pickpocketing. There have been isolated incidents of skimming devices placed near the keypad, so always cover the PIN pad when entering your PIN. For added security, use ATMs inside bank branches, monitor your card transactions regularly through your bank’s app, avoid using public Wi-Fi for banking, keep your card in sight during transactions, and carry a backup card. For more detailed tips, check out our articles on ATM safety while traveling abroad.

FAQs

Fee-free ATMs and possible to withdraw cash free of cost in Australia?

You can withdraw cash free of cost only at the ATM of one bank that too only for specific cards. Otherwise be prepared to pay anywhere between AUD2 to AUD 7.5 per transaction at an ATM.

Foreign cards from US, UK, India, China, Europe accepted?

Absolutely yes! You can usually use cards from the US, UK, Europe, India, China and other countries at ATMs in Australia

Bitcoin ATMs

Yes, there are over 30 Bitcoin ATMs in Australia.

Foreign banks’s presence in Australia

Bank of America: No, there are no Bank of America ATMs in Australia.
Citbank: Yes, there are about 20 Citibank ATMs in Australia.
Barclays: Nope
HSBC: Yes, there are approximately 15 HSBC ATMs in Australia.
Standard Chartered: None

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