foreign cash 250

Guide to buying foreign currency

If you need to buy currency in the form of cash, there are several options you can take.

There are many providers that allow you to buy and sell foreign currency electronically, however, sometimes you need foreign currency in the form of cash. You may simply prefer to have cash for an upcoming holiday, or you may need to make an international purchase with a merchant that only accepts cash. Whatever the reason, here’s what you need to know about buying foreign currency as cash.

Your foreign cash options

Rates last updated June 29th, 2017
Name Product Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Services Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description
Foreign Xchange Travel Money
AUD 0
2 days
Online, Phone, International Money Order
Maximum limit of $9,000 for online transactions. Great rates at your convenience. No commission fees.
WorldRemit International Money Transfers
AUD 0
Within an hour
Online, Bank Account to Bank Account, Cash Transfer
An online money transfer service with cash pickup, bank account to bank account and airtime transfers available.

Compare up to 4 providers

How does buying currency work?

You can buy foreign currency through your local bank, though you may not receive the most competitive exchange rate. Specialist currency exchange providers with storefronts allow you to go in and physically buy cash in the same way that you would make any other purchase. You tell them how much of a particular foreign currency you need and they will tell you how much it will cost you in Australian dollars. You can also buy foreign currency at Australia Post offices.

The price in Australian dollars will be dependant on the exchange rate offered by the provider, so it is important to shop around to ensure you’re getting the best deal. These exchange rates change daily, so be sure to do a comparison on the day that you’re planning to buy the currency. It’s also important to check what transaction fees the provider charges, if any, as this will greatly impact the price you pay.

As these providers are selling physical cash, they do not have an endless supply and can run out of a particular currency towards the end of the day. If you’re buying a large amount of a particular currency, for example US$10,000, it’s best to call the provider a few days in advance to ensure that they will have the cash available for you to purchase. The same applies for currencies that are less commonly purchased.

The finder.com.au international money transfers guide.

How do I buy currency online?

If you’re unable to get to a provider's physical store to buy the currency, or if you live in a regional location with no currency exchange providers, you can purchase the cash online and have it delivered to you. You may find that there are better exchange rates if you purchase online, although you will usually have to pay a delivery or courier fee. Alternatively, you can order and pay for the currency online and pick it up in store at your convenience.

To buy currency online, head to the provider's website and create an account with your personal details. You will need to select the currency that you wish to buy and the amount that you need, to see the price in Australian dollars. Again, this will be dependent on the exchange rate for that day as well as any transaction fees or commissions charged by the provider. Once this is set up, and if you’re happy with the price, you will be able to purchase the currency using your credit or debit card, or via BPAY. Be aware that you may be charged an additional fee for credit card payments.

The currency should be available to be picked up or it will be delivered to you after a couple of business days. You may be able to opt for same-day delivery if you need the currency urgently, however, like anything that is express posted, it will cost you more.

You may be interested in

What ID do I need to provide to purchase foreign currency?

Currency providers will need to confirm your identity before you can buy any currency, meaning you will need to provide a photo ID to purchase cash either online or in store. A valid form of ID should be government issued, for example, your driver’s licence, passport or proof of age card. Your ID will need to include a photo of yourself, your full name, date of birth, residential address, issue and expiry date.

What AUSTRAC regulations do I need to be mindful of?

The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Center (AUSTRAC) is Australia’s regulatory body responsible for keeping Australia safe from financial crime, including money laundering.

There is no limit to how much currency you can buy and how much you can take in or out of Australia. However, If you are entering or exiting Australia with a large amount of foreign currency in the form of cash, under AUSTRAC regulations you must declare it if it’s worth over AUD$10,000. You can do this at the customs gate when you’re at the airport. If you have currency over this value, you will need to fill out a declaration form and sign it, acknowledging that you have this amount of cash with you. It is against the law to divide the currency between several travellers to avoid having to report it and if you’re caught doing this you may be issued with a penalty.

If you are not travelling with the currency but you’re instead mailing it overseas, you are still required to declare it if it’s over AUD$10,000. You are required to submit a report to a customs officer, a police officer or directly to AUSTRAC before the money leaves Australia, or within five days of receiving it.

Tips for buying currency

  • Compare providers on the day that you wish to purchase the currency, as exchange rates change daily.
  • Call ahead if you’re planning to buy a large amount of cash or a less commonly purchased currency, to check that they have the cash available.
  • Consider your own bank for less common currencies such as the South African rand, as these may not be available at many currency exchange providers.
  • Check what transaction fees and commissions the provider changes, or look for a provider that doesn’t charge any fees.
  • Steer clear of buying cash at the airport as the exchange rates are often poor and the transactions fees are high.
  • If you’re travelling with over AUD$10,000, you are required by law to declare it.
  • If buying cash online, use BPAY to avoid the transaction fees that come with credit card purchases.

How do I compare my options?

Compare your foreign currency buying options with the help of finder.com.au’s comparison tables, product reviews and information guides. Remember, when comparing your options the most important factors to look out for are the exchange rates offered, the transaction fees and the commissions charged by the provider.

International Money Transfer Offers

Learn about our information service
TorFX International Money Transfers

TorFX guarantee to beat any competitor's exchange rate for a transaction
Conditions apply

Exclusive: World First International Money Transfers

Exclusive offer: $0 transfer fee
Transfer money into a range of currencies online and over the phone.

Exclusive: CurrencyFair International Money Transfers

Exclusive offer: 3 Free transfers (after your first transfer).
A peer-to-peer transfer service with a large range of currencies on offer.

Currency Online International Money Transfers

Enjoy regular scheduled transfers, one off transfers and a range of currencies. Also enjoy your first transfer for free.

Ask a Question

You are about to post a question on finder.com.au

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com.au is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Disclaimer: At finder.com.au we provide factual information and general advice. Before you make any decision about a product read the Product Disclosure Statement and consider your own circumstances to decide whether it is appropriate for you.
Rates and fees mentioned in comments are correct at the time of publication.
By submitting this question you agree to the finder.com.au privacy policy, receive follow up emails related to finder.com.au and to create a user account where further replies to your questions will be sent.

Ask a question
feedback