Currency in Australia and New Zealand

Jul 13th, 2014, 09:05 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2014
Posts: 24
Currency in Australia and New Zealand

I will be in Australia and New Zealand in September on a monthlong tour. I am planning on taking US dollars and two credit cards. One credit card will be used for most of my purchases. The second one is only if one card is lost or stolen. I am wondering if I should get some local currency for both countries before I leave the states. Or will they accept american money wherever we go. I plan to charge major expenses and purchases to the credit card. It does not charge the 3% foreign tax fee.

I am thinking of places that are not big cities-more rural-country like that may not accept foreign money. Some of the meals are included in the tour but there will be some that I am responsible for. Most other purchases will be for some admissions, excursions, or merchandise that I purchase. I will probably put these on the credit card. I would guess local money would be used for public transportation and taxis or the local markets.

Any suggestions or advice would be helpful.
Thank you,
CathyKramer is offline  
Jul 13th, 2014, 12:24 PM
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 12,012
Use the ATM to get AUD for Australia & NZD for New Zealand
Bokhara2 is offline  
Jul 13th, 2014, 01:07 PM
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 2,018
Neither Australia nor New Zealand will accept US dollars as currency. Follow Bokhara's advice and use ATMs in both countries, using a debit card is a much better idea.
Susan7 is offline  
Jul 13th, 2014, 04:14 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2014
Posts: 24
So I shouldn't get the local money before I leave the states? We will have a long flight to Cairns as our first stop. I thought I should have some money to start with so that I wouldn't have to look for an ATM right away.
I will incur a fee every time that I use the debit card. This in not really a problem unless i use it a lot. I know that the ATM's give a better rate than the hotels or the banks.
CathyKramer is offline  
Jul 13th, 2014, 04:17 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,483
Cathy -

Your US dollars are of no more use here than Australian and New Zealand dollars are of use in the United States.

As mentioned by Bokhara and Susan, wait until you arrive in Australia or NZ and get local currency from an ATM.

PS - Do be aware that many OZ and NZ businesses have begun to add a surcharge when using a credit card - usually 1.5%. In many places you're just better of paying in cash. AUS and NZ cash that is.

And because you seem to be new at this - I suggest to do a bit of research on Dynamic Currency Conversion, a scheme that
encourages merchants to offer international customers the option to pay in their home currency - this is NOT a good thing, it's not for the benefit of the customer - just say NO.
Melnq8 is offline  
Jul 13th, 2014, 04:19 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,483
ATMS are everywhere Cathy - just get some money before you leave the airport you arrive into.
Melnq8 is offline  
Jul 13th, 2014, 04:41 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,483
Another note about DCC - if you allow an overseas business to charge you in your country's currency, your credit card company may still charge you the 1% conversion fee (mine does).

It's completely nuts, so be sure you know what currency you're being charged in and don't be afraid to refuse to sign the credit card slip if the business has charged you in US dollars without asking you. Just tell them to re-run the charge in local currency.
Melnq8 is offline  
Jul 13th, 2014, 04:52 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2014
Posts: 24
Thank you for your suggestions and the link to the DCC. I understand to have all credit transactions made in the local currency. My credit card doesn't charge the 3% transaction fee. So I save money both ways. I will use the ATM's and take out what is needed for the time as visiting places.
CathyKramer is offline  
Jul 13th, 2014, 05:20 PM
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 12,012
Your credit card issuer may not. However the local merchant may charge a fee for credit card use.

If so, that fact and the % will be posted at the point of sale and the person at the cash register will tell you.
Bokhara2 is offline  
Jul 13th, 2014, 05:24 PM
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 12,012
You may also find it helpful to have a look at the "Culture & Customs" tags under "destinations" for Australia & New Zealand.
Bokhara2 is offline  
Jul 13th, 2014, 10:08 PM
Join Date: Apr 2014
Posts: 81
Agree with everything that's been said. One more addition,- since moving from New Zealand to Australia to live I was initially surprised how often I was caught out with no cash and no eftpos / credit card facilities. Always have some local currency on you. This is mainly when buying food / lunch rather than goods per see and has even happened with in big shopping centres - in NZ I was used to nearly everywhere having eftpos facilities... And just make sure you're cc isn't an Amex as they often have surcharges for use or aren't accepted.
osteorach is offline  
Jul 13th, 2014, 11:43 PM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 1,056
We always get some local currency from our bank before we travel. When you arrive somewhere after a long flight, not having to bother with finding an ATM removes one chore before you can leave the airport and get to your accommodation.

By the time we've finally left the plane, been through customs, and collected our luggage, the last thing we want to be bothered with is currency! Di
di2315 is offline  
Jul 14th, 2014, 01:56 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,042
Cathy, if you do decide to get some Australian and NZ dollars before leaving home, make sure you get small denominations like $5, $10 and $20. If someone wants to offer you all $100 bills say no. I agree with Di (above) that it can be a good idea to get a small amount of currency, maybe at the airport when you are leaving. That leaves one less thing to do on arrival and usually I feel disoriented and tired after a long flight and looking for an ATM is the last thing I want to be doing.

Also don't take coins home unless you want them for souvenirs. As far as I know, you cannot exchange foreign coins anywhere in the world, only notes. In Australia we have a $1 coin and a $2 coin so it can add up in your purse. Spend your coins on magazines, water, chocolates etc at the airport before your flight leaves for home.

Another tip is we have found withdrawing a larger amount, say $300, from the ATM at a time is more cost effective than $50 each time. Less foreign currency conversion fees from the bank.

KayF is offline  
Jul 14th, 2014, 03:29 AM
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 843
Serious question, but why would you expect a sovereign nation to "accept American money wherever we go"?
Libretto2 is online now  
Jul 14th, 2014, 06:48 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,968
I've encountered DCC at several Australian airport ATMs as well so just make sure you decline that option.
Patty is offline  
Jul 14th, 2014, 12:33 PM
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 4,039
I think it's much more trouble and much more expensive to order a small amount of foreign currency before one travels. Whenever I travel overseas (including Australia and New Zealand), I just wait until I arrive in the airport and get my local currency from an ATM. This will be particularly easy as Cairns is your entry point. Cairns is a small airport and finding an ATM there should prove easy.
longhorn55 is offline  
Jul 14th, 2014, 01:38 PM
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 810
A couple more pointers: Australian ATMs require a 4 digit PIN, so if yours is longer change it before you leave. Also, the EFTOS system for debit purchases is different that what we have in North America, so you can't use your card in stores for purchases, only at ATMs at banks. Be sure to let your credit card company know you are travelling so they don't get suspicious and put a hold on your account.

As far as taking some local currency with you, I think this is a personal choice. I use a local currency exchange at home that gives good rates and find it convenient to have some money in my pocket when I arrive . I don't worry if the exchange rate is a bit higher.
eliztravels2 is offline  
Jul 14th, 2014, 02:45 PM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 1,056
Another important consideration -as of 1 August 2014 all credit card transactions in Australia will be done by PIN only - signatures will no longer be accepted.

Swipe-&-Go cards won't need a PIN, but I think that system can only be used for transactions up to a certain amount.

Perhaps someone else has more experience with the S&G system? Di
di2315 is offline  
Jul 14th, 2014, 03:13 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,968
The pin requirement applies only to Australian issued cards

Similarly, foreign visitors to Australia will still be able to sign for purchases as the chip and PIN requirement only applies to Australian cards.
Patty is offline  
Jul 14th, 2014, 06:30 PM
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 438
When we were in Europe, Canada, San Francisco and the UK last year I used a Cash passport card with no probs. I was able to load 5 currencies on to the card, and when the exchange rate was good prior to travelling I would transfer money to each currency. I also have a card for Australian currency which I had no probs with the trips I have had there. Just a thought. For more info

The card is treated as a Master Card, and it can be used in an ATM as well as shops.
dottyp is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 07:44 PM.