Easily the 3 Best Ways to Buy Foreign Currency

the best ways to buy foreign currency.

There are many different ways to buy currency in Australia but a lot of them are expensive, unsafe, slow and full of hidden costs. Often, the best way to buy foreign currency will depend on your situation. The top ways to buy foreign currency are:

  1. Ordering online - either delivery or click and collect.
  2. In person - usually the most competitive deals are at money exchangers in the city.
  3. Overseas - sometimes it's cheaper to buy it after you've landed.

So which way is best for you?

Have a look at the pros and cons of each option and work out which suits you the best. Alternatively, check out some frequently asked questions or get some tips to find the cheapest way to buy currency for you.

1. Ordering foreign currency online

Every financial service has moved online and the foreign exchange market is no different.

While most people still head into a bank or foreign exchange service, it's much easier to order your travel money online. Purchasing US dollars, Euros or most major currencies is also cheaper than heading into a store.

Unfortunately, there is no way to negotiate a better exchange rate online.

Great for:

  • Anyone chasing the best exchange rate
  • People comfortable doing their banking online
  • Time short travellers that don't want to get into their car to exchange money

Not ideal for:

  • Larger financial transactions above $20,000 Australian dollars
  • People that aren't confident ordering products over the internet
  • Travellers heading overseas today or tomorrow


How to buy currency online

Getting your travel money online is very similar to buying any other product on the internet - with a a couple of important differences.

Firstly, you will need to provide some identification (I.D.). This is to comply with Australian law and is similar to if you went in-store. Just make sure that you have a drivers licence, passport or medicare card on hand.

Secondly, you may not be able to use your debit card, credit card or VISA.

So once you have entered in the currency you want to buy (like US dollars or Japanese Yen) and the amount, you'll need to choose to either click and collect or delivery. Then you enter your I.D. and pay for your order.

Just remember to have your I.D. on you when the currency is delivered or when you go to pick it up.


Who can I use?

From the 1st of October 2021, ANZ will no longer buy or sell Foreign Currency notes (FX cash). In fact all the Australian banks have either stopped or outsourced their foreign exchange services. You can still order currency online through Australia Post, Travelex or S Money.

Learn more: Compare exchange rates for cash for foreign currency online



Typically, if you are the kind of person is comfortable doing their banking online then ordering online makes a lot of sense. It is one of the cheapest ways of buying foreign currency because online money changers like S Money don't have the large costs of running stores and can pass on those savings to customers.

The biggest downside is that it's not as quick as heading down to a store. It can take anywhere between 1 and 5 business days depending on the foreign exchange service that you use.

2. In person at a store or a bank

currency notes in hand

Walking into a currency exchange store like Crown Currency or Travel Money Oz is still the most common way in Australia to buy foreign currency, despite it not aways being the cheapest. Stores are still a great option for anyone needing a large amount of money exchanged. You can often haggle for a better exchange rate on these larger amounts. It's also a great way to buy currency at the last minute, the day before you travel overseas.

Great for:

  • Larger financial transactions above $20,000 Australian dollars
  • Getting some face to face customer service or information
  • Travellers heading overseas today or tomorrow

Not ideal for:

  • People living in rural or remote areas of Australia
  • Bargain hunters wanting the very best exchange rate available
  • Buying exotic currencies like Chilean Peso or Vanuatu Vatu


How does it work?

Find your nearest store and call them to check what exchange rates they are offering. Compare their exchange rate and overall cost to your options online. Also ask what payment options you have. Not all stores allow you to pay using your Australian debit or credit card so you may need to take some Australian dollars in cash to exchange.

Don't be afraid to ask for a better exchange rate. Particularly for any amounts of money over $2,000.

When you head into the store or bank, make sure you have some I.D. with you. You'll need it.



How good this option is depends on where you live, how much you need to buy and when you need your currency.

If you have a store nearby, need a large amount of money or are travelling overseas in the next day or two, it's a great way to buy currency. Problem is, it's often not the cheapest way and you have to make sure that the store you are going to has enough stock of the currency you need to buy.

3. Getting your currency overseas

In most cases, it is cheaper to buy your foreign currency at home in Australia before you head overseas but there are some important exceptions. It's cheaper to convert Australian dollars into foreign currency if you are travelling to Singapore, Bali, Thailand or Hong Kong.

Learn more: Where is it Cheaper to Buy Foreign Currency, Australia or Abroad?

Frequently Asked Currency Questions

What's the cheapest way to buy currency?

Unless you are visiting a place like Bali, Thailand or Singapore, it's cheaper to buy currency in Australia. Online is generally cheaper than going into a store unless you are exchanging more than $20,000 Australian dollars. Remember, the foreign exchange service with the best exchange rate may not always be the cheapest. Make sure you compare the total cost of the foreign currency including any fees or commissions so you can truely find the best deal.


Where is the best place to buy foreign currency?

If you are buying currency online, you can use a comparison website like The Currency Shop or BestExchangeRates to find the best place online. If you are heading into a store, it's a bit harder. If you live in a big city, the best places to by currency in a store are usually located in the CBD. Outside of the CBD, you usually have to call around and ask for a quote to get the best deal.

Learn more: The 7 Best Places to Buy Foreign Currency Australia


What is the worst way to buy currency?

The airport. Particularly in Australia. Unfortunately the most convenient place to buy currency is also the most expensive. The rates and fees at both Sydney and Melbourne airport are clearly worse than anywhere else in the city.


Are there any fees or commissions?

No matter how you buy your currency, there will always be a fee or commission. Nothing come for free. The worst part is that a lot of the time, the fee you pay is hidden and hard to work out.

S Money has no hidden fees or charges. While we do offer the best exchange rate, we do clearly charge a service fee to buy the currency and a charge to receive the order through click and collect or delivery.


Where can I sell foreign currency?

The only places that you can sell foreign currency banknotes are the money changers like Travel Money Oz and Crown Currency. Please note that they don't except (or will buy from you) every currency.

It may be easy to sell back left over banknotes in US dollars in Euros but less common currencies like Iraqi Dinar or Bangladeshi Taka are rarely accepted by money changers because they find it hard to resell it to other Australians leaving the country. Foreign coins are also very hard to sell in Australia.


Which currencies can I buy online?

With S Money, you can buy a wide range of currencies online including the most common currencies like the US dollar (USD), Euro (EUR), British Pounds (GBP), Japanese Yen (JPY) and New Zealand Dollars (NZD).

Great tips on how to exchange currency

  • Avoid doing it at the airport. The exchange rates are terrible and the fees are very high. You can always use a card overseas or buy your foreign currency when you head overseas
  • If you are using your bank, check their exchange rate, work out their fees and allow plenty of time
  • Money changers can be good option. The rates in the CBD are more competitive and they rarely charge fees. Make sure you bring some I.D.
  • It can be cheaper to buy your currency overseas. Places like Bali, Thailand and Singapore offer much better currency exchange rates than in Australia
  • Buying currency online can be cheaper and faster than using a money changer store or a bank
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