Dollars and Cents
Australia’s national currency is the Australian dollar which comes in denominations of $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 notes. Coins come in 5, 10, 20 and 50 cent and one and two dollar denominations.
Our colourful notes depict famous Australians both past and present.
The $100 note features world-renowned soprano Dame Nellie Melba (1861–1931), and the distinguished soldier, engineer and administrator General Sir John Monash (1865–1931).
The $50 note features Aboriginal writer and inventor David Unaipon (1872–1967), and Australia’s first female parliamentarian, Edith Cowan (1861–1932).
The $20 note features the founder of the world’s first aerial medical service (the Royal Flying Doctor Service), the Reverend John Flynn (1880–1951), and Mary Reibey (1777–1855), who arrived in Australia as a convict in 1792 and went on to become a successful shipping magnate and philanthropist.
The $10 note features the poets AB ‘Banjo’ Paterson (1864–1941) and Dame Mary Gilmore (1865–1962).
The standard $1 coin design, along with the 50, 20, 10 and 5 cent coin designs, was created by the Queen’s official jeweller, Stuart Devlin.
The $1 coin depicts five kangaroos. The $2 coin depicts an Aboriginal tribal elder set against a background of the Southern Cross and native grass trees. The 50 cent coin features Australia’s coat of arms: the six state badges on a central shield supported by a kangaroo and an emu.
The 20 cent coin carries a platypus, (soon to be replaced by cricket legend Donald Bradman); the 10 cent coin features a male lyrebird dancing; and the 5 cent coin depicts an echidna.
In 1996 Australia became the first country in the world to have a complete series of polymer (plastic) notes.
Where to buy Australian currency
Currency exchange is available at banks, hotels and international airports. Australian banks offer the same range of services typical in other western nations, and cash withdrawal machines or Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) are widespread, although facilities may be limited in remote towns and the Outback. EFTPOS is also widely available in most Australian shops. Fees may be charged on transactions, particularly if withdrawing from an international account.
Banking hours are usually 9.30am to 4.00pm Monday to Thursday and until 5.00pm on Friday. Some branches can be found open on Saturday mornings. Australia’s four largest banks are: National Bank of Australia, Australia New Zealand (ANZ) Bank, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac Banking Corporation. Smaller banks include: ING Direct, AMP Banking and HSBC Australia.
Australia Post also provides banking services on behalf of more than 70 banks and financial institutions, so you can use your credit or debit card for deposits and withdrawals, account balance enquiries, paying credit card bills and sending money overseas.
If you plan to stay in Australia for any length of time or are visiting on a Working Holiday Visa or other type of extended visa, you may wish to open an Australian bank account. In Australia, most income including salary or wages and government benefits is paid directly into a bank account.
The Australian Bankers Association provides helpful independent information to assist you choose a bank account that best suits your needs.
If you need to send or receive money overseas from Australia, you can do either online, by international money transfer (telegraphic transfer) or through a bank. It is best to organise a variety of ways to access your money from overseas, such as credit cards, travellers' cheques, cash, debit cards or cash cards before you leave home.
The easiest way to get cash away from home is from an ATM (automated teller machine) with an international network such as Cirrus (Mastercard) or PLUS (Visa). Australian ATMs use a four-digit code, so check with your bank and make sure you change yours before you leave home.
Credit cards and Traveller’s Cheques
Credit cards such as American Express, Bankcard, Diners Club, MasterCard, Visa and JCB are accepted in Australia. VISA or MasterCard are commonly accepted and are both accepted everywhere credit cards are accepted. American Express and Diners Club are accepted at major supermarket and department store chains and many tourist destinations. JCB is only accepted at very limited tourist destinations. Discover is not usually accepted.
It is best to carry more than one type of card as not all cards are accepted by all merchants. Always carry a little cash, because many shops will not take cards for purchases under AUD$15. Merchants may impose credit card surcharges in some places.
Traveller's cheques are not as widely accepted in Australia as in many other countries. If you do purchase them, it is best to buy them in Australian dollars as smaller shops, restaurants, and other businesses are unlikely to know what the exchange rate is if you present a cheque in a different currency such as US dollars or British pounds.
Bringing money into Australia
There is no limit to the amount of currency you can bring in or out of Australia, however, if you plan to arrive in Australia with more than AUD$10,000 in cash (Australian dollars or foreign equivalent), you must declare it to Australian Customs at the airport when you land. You may also be required to fill in a Bearer Negotiable Instruments (BNI) form if you're carrying promissory notes, traveller's cheques, personal cheques, money orders or postal orders. For further information visit the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service.
Goods and Services Tax
Australia has a Goods and Services Tax (GST) of 10 per cent. You may be able to claim a refund of the GST paid on goods bought here if you have spent AUD$300 or more in one store, no more than 30 days before departing Australia. Tourist Refund Scheme facilities are located in the departure area of international terminals. For more detailed information see Australian government information on the Tourist Refund Scheme.
This handy currency converter will help you convert your own currency at the current exchange rates. Universal Currency Converter.