Where to Find the Best Exchange Rates

In Australia, trying to find the best exchange rate isn't that easy. Each currency exchange service, bank, card or money transfer company quote different rates. Most of the time it's nothing like the rate everyone can see online, in the paper or on the news.

What is the best exchange rate?

The best exchange rate for you is the rate that gives you the most money when you are converting your currency. It has many names including the 'wholesale rate', the 'interbank rate' or the ' live mid-market rate'.

The good news is that it can easily be found in lots of places. For example, if you wanted to buy some US dollars to travel overseas you can find the best AUD to USD exchange rate on Google by searching "AUD to USD". Alternatively you can find it on XE or Yahoo. In fact, most currency converters use the same exchange rate.

Which services offer it?

Foreign Exchange Cash

S Money gives you the REAL exchange rate (above) that you can see on Google or XE.  It's the best online exchange rate without any hidden fees, mark ups or loaded rates.

International Money Transfers

Wise (formally TransferWise) use the best exchange rate for international money transfers to and from Australia. They offer a foreign currency account and travel money card which uses the same rate.

Travel Money Cards

Revolut are one of a handful of travel money cards that offer the best exchange rate. They have a great app and the card can be used almost anywhere on the planet.

Foreign exchange rates in Australia

Here are different ways to find the best rate depending on what city you live in or what product you looking for.

foreign exchange currency banknotes

Currency Exchange

The best foreign exchange rates are found online. This is because they don’t have to pay extra costs for a physical store. S Money is an online only, so they don’t have any bricks and mortar stores. If you order online, you can pick up your currency locally or have it delivered to your home.

S Money are the only money exchange that offer the same exchange rate seen on Google or XE but they do charge a service fee. To make sure you are getting the best deal, compare exchange rates, fees and services using this table.

Offline alternatives

Ordering money online isn't for everyone even if you can find a better deal. Offline alternatives like Travelex, Travel Money Oz or Crown Currency don't have the best exchange rates however they don't charge a service fee.

Currency Exchange Sydney

Sydney

Surprisingly, even though there are more money changers in Sydney than any other city, the exchange rates aren't as competitive as Sydney or Adelaide.

In the CBD

There is a lot of choice in the city, particularly on George Street and Pitt Street. ANZ and Commonwealth Bank have foreign exchange outlets as well as more well know brands like Travelex or Travel Money Oz. The best place to buy foreign currency in Sydney though is through one of the less well known money changers like Crown Currency or WeXchange.

In the suburbs

There are plenty of stores in the suburbs but the rates aren't as competitive as the city.

For a full run down on the different places to buy foreign currency, check out our full currency exchange guide to Sydney.

Currency exchange Melbourne

Melbourne

Most of the best currency exchangers are near Flinders Street station on Elizabeth Street. The small money changers on Swanston street aren't as competitive.

Outside of the CBD, most of the money changers are based in shopping malls or strips. The rates aren't nearly as good as the CBD.

For a full run down on the different places to buy foreign currency, check out our full currency exchange guide to Melbourne.

Currency Exchange Brisbane

Brisbane

Unlike Sydney or Melbourne, currency exchangers are scattered throughout the CBD and can be hard to find. Unimoni is in the ANZAC Square Arcade while the Travelex is inside a HSBC branch on Queen Street.

Outside of the CBD, Brisbane has lots of options. Crown Currency and Travel Money Oz both have lots of locations in major shopping malls.

For a full run down on the different places to buy foreign currency, check out our full currency exchange guide to Brisbane.

Currency Exchange Adelaide

Adelaide

King William Street is where you need to go if you are heading into the city. Within 200 metres, you'll find the ANZ Foreign Exchange Centre, the Commonwealth Bank foreign exchange branch, 2 Unimoni stores, Travelex on the corner of Rundle Mall, 2 Travel Money Oz branches and WorldEx.

While the city has many options and some of the best exchange rates in Australia, there are much fewer options in the suburbs.

For a full run down on the different places to buy foreign currency, check out our full currency exchange guide to Adelaide.

currency exchange Perth

Perth

All around the Perth CBD there are few reasonable options. There are 2 money exchangers in London Court, a couple in the Murray Street Mall and a Travelex on St Georges Terrace.

Outside the city, Exchange Now in Morley is the pick of the bunch although you'll have more options in Freo.

For a full run down on the different places to buy foreign currency, check out our full currency exchange guide to Perth.

sending money overseas

International Money Transfers

Just like money exchange, the rates you are offered when transferring money overseas are different depending on which service you use. Most money transfer services don't offer the same rate that you see on Google or XE. While many won't charge a service fee, the difference between the rate you see online and the rate you are offered is their exchange rate margin, or profit.

There are some companies that do offer the best exchange rate to send money overseas. These include

All of these companies give you the best exchange rate to send money abroad and charge a small transparent fee.

wallet with cards

Travel Cards

If you are heading overseas, one of the biggest hidden costs of a holiday can be getting a bad exchange rate when spending money on your cards. Traditionally, Australian banks have slugged customers when using their everyday card overseas. Luckily, things have changed. There now are a range of debit and cards that offer the best interbank exchange rate that you can get at S Money or sending money overseas.

These debit and cards offer the best exchange rate when travelling overseas:

All of these companies give you the best exchange rate to send money abroad and charge a small transparent fee.

FAQs

If you are looking to buy or sell foreign exchange in cash and want to head into a money changer near you, check out our local city guides to find the best exchange rate:

Learn more: The Best Places to Buy Foreign Currency Australia

ANZ used to offer the best bank exchange rates but they recently shut down their currency exchange operations.

None of the banks offer the best exchange rates. In our comparison tables they always come last with the worst exchange rates. This is because they pass on the cost of using a physical storefront to you.

They also charge you a ‘lazy tax’. This is when you don't know or can’t be bothered to look around for a better cost. The rates offered by banks for foreign currency are closer to the exchange rates listed by the RBA than the rate on Google.

Unlike booking flights, exchange rates for foreign exchange do not have a ‘best day to buy’. Within the travel industry it is known Tuesdays are the cheapest day to fly, but exchange rates don't work that way.

The exchange rate for foreign exchange depends on global demand and supply factors including political and economic reasons. Our forecasts give a you a great understanding of the reasons for these currency pairs below.

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?

Compared to the traditional way of buying currency in person, ordering foreign currency online is usually cheaper. Money changers that have a retail store have to pay for rent, staff and insurance. Online money changers like S Money don't have these large costs, making it easier to provide better exchange rates and lower fees.

Buying foreign currency online is also a lot easier. Unlike physical stores, all exchange rates are displayed clearly so you know what you are going to pay. In most cases, you can also get your currency delivered to your door, saving you the hassle of driving into the city or nearest store.

Learn more: Is It Cheaper to Buy Foreign Currency Online?

If you have some leftover currency from a trip abroad or have some US dollars stashed away from a gift, selling it and getting your Australian dollars can be expensive. The best exchange rate when selling currency is the same as when you are buying it. That is, the "mid-market rate" or "live" rate that you see on Google. Most money changers will give you an exchange rate well above this real rate. The closer you can get to this rate, the more Australian dollars you'll have when you convert your currency.

Great question! Why doesn't all banks, money changers, travel cards and money transfer services just offer the rate you can see online?

Well, they offer a different rate to make money.

The difference between your rate and the rate you see online is a hidden margin and can add up.

Learn more: Why Every Currency Exchange Offers a Different Rate

According to OFX,

Spot rates are the current exchange rates at which specific currencies can be bought or sold on currency exchange markets. Spot rates fluctuate by the second.

It's also known as the 'interbank', 'wholesale', 'mid-market' or 'live' rate. It's also the rate that S Money offers for foreign currency in Australia.

Latest Exchange Rate News

AUDNZD 2022 Forecasts

2022 AUDNZD Dollar Forecasts

The Australian dollar against the New Zealand dollar exchange rate (AUDNZD) changes every second. This article shares bank forecasts to help you predict changes in the AUDNZD rate.

AUD to GBP

When is the best time to buy British Pounds with Australian dollars?

  The best time to buy British Pounds with Australian dollars this year, was on the very first day of 2021 – January 1, when the AUD/GBP exchange rate was 0.5741. The low point for the exchange rate (or the worst time to buy British Pounds) was in August when rate hit 0.5026.   Is it a good time to buy British Pounds? While it’s nearly impossible to time the market perfectly, if you are travelling to the UK and need to buy some pounds, a higher AUD/GBP exchange rate is better for you. It means that you will receive […]

best time to buy NZ dollars

When is the best time to buy NZ dollars with Australian dollars?

  The best time to buy New Zealand Dollars with Australian dollars this year, was on the 29th of March when the AUD/NZD exchange rate reached 109.46. In contrast, the worst time was just a couple of weeks ago. On the 16th of September, it traded below 1.03 for the first time since March 2020. While it’s nearly impossible to time the market perfectly, if you are travelling to New Zealand and need to buy NZ dollars, a higher AUD/NZD exchange rate rate is better for you. It means that you will receive more NZ dollars to spend for each […]

best time to buy Japanese yen

When is the best time to buy Japanese Yen with Australian dollars?

  The best time to buy Japanese Yen with Australian dollars this year, was around the 10th of May when the AUD/JPY exchange rate hit 85.80. In contrast, the worst time was more recent. On the 23rd of August, the same rate bottomed out at 78.38. While it’s nearly impossible to time the market perfectly, if you are travelling to Japan and need to buy yen, a higher AUD/JPY exchange rate rate is better for you. It means that you will receive more yen to spend for each Australian dollars you have.   To work out the best time to […]

best time to buy US dollars

When is the best time to buy US dollars (USD) with Australian dollars?

  If you are travelling overseas this year from Australia, the best time to buy US dollars with Australian dollars was in late February 2021. This is because the AUD/USD peaked at 0.7997 and has fallen gradually since. The same applies to anyone transferring money overseas in US dollars. In general, if you are buying US dollars with Australian dollars, you want the AUD/USD exchange rate to be as high as possible. The higher the rate, the better it is for you. It means that you will receive more US dollars for the same amount of Australian dollars (AUD).  

How Much Spending Money for NZ

How Much Spending Money You’ll Need in NZ for 1, 2 or 4 weeks

New Zealand is renowned for its adventurous holidays, from ski packages in Queenstown to cruises through Milford Sound. With options like bungee jumping, glacier hiking, snowboarding, and skydiving available, it’s hard to know exactly how much money you’ll need to appreciate the full Kiwi experience. Calculating your budget for an epic New Zealand holiday involves thinking about: The kind of activities you intend to do. How much cross-country travelling you’ll do. Your preferred style of travelling (are you after the luxury experience or the classic New Zealand backpacking experience) How long your journey will take. The currency for New Zealand […]