Exchanging Australian Dollars: Guide for Foreign Visitors

exchange australian dollars

After having successfully applied for an Australian visa and booked the plane tickets, there are a series of steps travelers must take in order to ensure a smooth and hassle-free time in Australia.

Some may be wondering about the best insurance policies to cover their trip, others may be worried about booking accommodation and renting a vehicle in advance. Surely, having money sorted is one essential step for all trips abroad.

Australia has its own currency that you will need to exchange your money into before you can really make the most of your holiday. There are several options to do this. Moreover, tourists wishing to bring their own cash may wonder about Australian customs regulations, which are famously stricter than in other countries for items like food and animals.

Being prepared is the best way to enjoy exploring Australia without money worries and possibly even save on exchange rates.

In this short guide, you’ll learn about:

  • The Australian dollar and the exchange rates with major foreign currencies
  • The best way to buy Australian dollars
  • How much cash to bring into Australia.

How Much is $100 in Australian Currency?

Adopted in 1966, the Australian dollar (AUD or AU$) replaced the Australian pound. It’s now the official currency in Australia and its external territories, which include:

  • Christmas Island
  • Cocos (Keeling) Islands
  • Norfolk Island.


Three more independent Pacific States use the Australian dollar — Kiribati, Nauru, and Tuvalu.

If you’re used to paper banknotes, Australian dollars may feel a little different to the touch. Australia was the first nation in the world to adopt polymer banknotes, which are harder to counterfeit and four times more resistant to use and tear than traditional notes.

At the time of writing (January 2020) 1 Australian dollar equals 0.69 US dollars. This means that $100 is worth 144.88 AUD. Meanwhile, 1 AUD equals 0.62 euros and 4.76 Chinese yuans.

Are US Dollars Accepted in Australia?

No, the Australian dollar is the only official currency in Australia. This means that you won’t be able to use other currencies (including the American dollar) to make purchases in Australia.

However, most major credit cards will be accepted across Australia and it’s now widely common to prefer cashless transactions. American Express, Bankcard, Diners Club, MasterCard, Visa, UnionPay, and JCB are examples of cards that you will be able to use in Australia. Keep in mind that merchants may add card surcharges in some establishments and it is always advisable to carry some cash with you at all times even though you prefer card payments.

Is It Better to Buy Australian Dollars in Australia?

When it comes to changing your money into a foreign currency, there are usually several options available to travelers. The Australian dollar is no exception. Find below a few ways in which you can choose to purchase Australian dollars.

Is It Safe to Buy AUD Online?

More and more visitors are deciding to buy currency online before they travel. They then receive the money at selected pick-up locations or even conveniently receive it at their home address or office. Usually, exchange rates tend to be more convenient online than in-store. However, by paying via credit card you may incur in bank fees.

As it always happens when buying online, it’s important to research and trust the company you’re making a purchase from. Many shops are reliable and have the reputation to prove it.

Buying Australian Dollars Before Leaving

For peace of mind, many decide to buy Australian currency before leaving at a specialist money changer or through a bank. It’s a common belief that banks are the most expensive option but that’s not always the case.

Comparing and researching exchange rates near you is the best move forward, although time-consuming. One downside of using specialist money changers is that often, they don’t have very large amounts o cash available, especially on busy days. Giving yourself enough time to shop around is essential.

Changing You Money in Australia

Often, this is the most affordable way to buy Australian dollars (although there’s no guarantee that it will be for you too). You will be able to purchase currency directly at the airport but it’s a fact well known that the fees can be heftier than expected.

It’s usually advisable to wait until you leave the airport: the vast majority of Australian cities and towns will have plenty of local money exchange businesses competing with each other and available to tourists.

How Much Cash Can I Carry into Australia?

When you arrive at the Australian airport of your choice, you will have to go through a series of document and security checks. You will be asked to show your passport and your valid Australian visa as well as other relevant documents, and your bags may be inspected.

Overseas visitors can carry an unlimited amount of money into Australia in several currencies. However, you must declare your cash if the combined amount reaches AU$ 10,000 or more. Failing to do so is considered a violation of Australian law and may result in fines or more serious consequences.

In order to declare your money, there is a form available at all Australian points of entry. You can also decide to download the form from the government’s website and fill it out before leaving.

Non-cash forms of money like cheques don’t need to be declared unless an Australian Border Force officer explicitly asks you to do so.

As there is no age limit for carrying money, children are allowed to carry cash with them as they travel. However, they must follow the same rules as adults regarding declaring their money.