Converting USD in Australia and NZ

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#1
Highland Park, IL & Boca Raton, FL
764 Posts
Joined Sep 2002
What is the best way to convert USD into AUD and NZD? Should we use ATM machines? When making purchases or charging hotels, meals, etc. is it best to use Visa or American Express charge cards? Also our cards have the magnetic strip on the back, not the chips that are used in Europe. Which system is used in Australia and New Zealand?
#2
Matamata NZ
359 Posts
Joined Jan 2011
In New Zealand credit cards are widely accepted for most shopping meals etc. All major cards are accepted including those you describe. Even some taxis will take them, but I would advise you to get a $NZ for small purchases as it would be easier for you. There are no security worries in using a credit card in New Zealand. To get the best exchange rate do not use any on board ship ATM machine. All banks and shopping centres here will exchange cash for you at a better rate. Hotels would expect a credit card to be shown when you register. Tipping is not expected here.

If you wish to buy any Wine while you are here it is available in all supermarkets at a cheaper price than the specialist wine stores.

Hopefully one of the Australians can give you information to help you there. We have traveled to Australia many times and have used both Credit Cards and local currency, but best they advise you.

Enjoy your visit to New Zealand
#3
Greenville, SC, USA
51,264 Posts
Joined Apr 2000
I would use an ATM for cash and credit card for larger purchases. We were in Australia a year ago and found plenty of ATMs to give us money and had no problem with our US Amex and Visa cards.
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Paul
#4
Santee, California
248 Posts
Joined Jun 2002
HI,
Just want to make sure....I can use my visa debit card in the ATMs in Australia and it should work fine, right? That sounds like it would be the easiest way to handle currency, and not have to bring a lot of american money with us to then have to exchange.

Thanks!

-Linda
#5
Albuquerque NM
286 Posts
Joined Dec 2009
Originally posted by LindaMc
HI,
Just want to make sure....I can use my visa debit card in the ATMs in Australia and it should work fine, right? That sounds like it would be the easiest way to handle currency, and not have to bring a lot of american money with us to then have to exchange.

Thanks!

-Linda
B of A has an agreement with Westpac to use debit card without a charge. We were there for 2 months and never had any problems at ATM's
#6
Santee, California
248 Posts
Joined Jun 2002
Thank you.....I don't have much experience exchanging money/ figuring out how to access money abroad, so I appreciate the info.
#7
Fairbanks, AK
4,839 Posts
Joined Dec 2009
We spent a week in Australia last November following a cruise. We had no problems using either our Visa or American Express credit cards. We also had not problems using out ATM cards to obtain Australian currency. We essentially did the same as if we were in Europe.

We did a land trip to New Zealand a number of years ago (in the mid-1990s) so it would be more helpful if someone with recent experience would comment.

Enjoy your trip. We throughly enjoyed our week "down under" and suspect we will be back soon. However, we thought we would have done another trip to New Zealand by now too!
#8
Orewa , Auckland , N.Z.
18,542 Posts
Joined Jun 2001
Also our cards have the magnetic strip on the back, not the chips that are used in Europe. Which system is used in Australia and New Zealand?
In New Zealand both systems, the chip and the magnetic swipe are in use.

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#9
Melbn, 'Straya
1,985 Posts
Joined Aug 2009
Both Australia and NZ have modern banking technology so you can use your debit or credit cards at ATMs or making other purchases just like you do at home. I would just mention that Amex isn't as widely accepted as Visa or MasterCard so maybe bring some backup! Also, travellers cheques are now more or less obsolete and you will have problems cashing them except at a bank and even then reluctantly. Cash or card is best.

We currently have swipe or chip technology but it's increasingly moving towards chip + 4 digit PIN.

The Aussie and US dollars are within a few cents of being equal at the moment so doing a quick mental conversion should be easy!
#10
Adelaide (formerly Melbourne), Australia
1,781 Posts
Joined Nov 2004
Please also be aware that merchants are allowed to levy a surcharge for credit card purchases in Australia. This must be indicated at point of sale.

This happens rarely with Mastercard and Visa, but frequently with American Express. The surcharge is usually about 3%.

If you want to use American Express, just do what we do: Offer the Amex card first. If the merchant indicates there is a surcharge, just switch to MC or Visa.

Cheers,
Steve.
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#11
Highland Park, IL & Boca Raton, FL
764 Posts
Joined Sep 2002
Originally posted by Northern Aurora
We spent a week in Australia last November following a cruise. We had no problems using either our Visa or American Express credit cards. We also had not problems using out ATM cards to obtain Australian currency. We essentially did the same as if we were in Europe.
For the ATM, can we use the same PIN we use for our Visa Debit card in the USA or do we need a special number?
#12
Fairbanks, AK
4,839 Posts
Joined Dec 2009
Originally posted by Dmgmd50
For the ATM, can we use the same PIN we use for our Visa Debit card in the USA or do we need a special number?
Just as in Europe, in Australia you will use the same PIN. If you don't travel frequently overseas it might be a good idea to call your bank (as many do regarding credit cards) and advise them that you plan to use your ATM card overseas. We have three checking accounts (one personal and two for business travel) and quite frankly found that during our week in Australia one of the banks has a security block on ATM withdrawals from foreign locations. It didn't cause us any problems since we had more than one checking account from which to withdraw funds. When we returned we called the bank and a manager told us they had fairly recently upgraded their security software to tag withdrawals from a foreign source.

And a quick comment to room010: Traveler's checks are becoming so obsolete in the US it is very difficult to purchase them.
#13
263 Posts
Joined May 2010
We are flying from Los Angeles to Auckland, staying there 1 nite and the flying to Cairns.
Should we plan to get some small amount of Australian and N Zealand money in the USA before our departure,OR it is safe to get some cash at the airports? we would need cash to take taxi from Cairns airport to Hotel.
#14
84,915 Posts
Joined Jul 2000
Try to use a Credit Card that does not charge in international transaction free such as a Capital One Credit Card.

My experience is that the credit cards get you the most optimal rates so we use the credit card quite a bit.

We then supplement this with cash using the ATM.

Keith
#15
84,915 Posts
Joined Jul 2000
Originally posted by cruiselovers20
We are flying from Los Angeles to Auckland, staying there 1 nite and the flying to Cairns.
Should we plan to get some small amount of Australian and N Zealand money in the USA before our departure,OR it is safe to get some cash at the airports? we would need cash to take taxi from Cairns airport to Hotel.
I would just wait till you arrive and get local currency at the airport to get a better rate.

However, in the scheme of things if you got a little bit of currency before you traveled you are not talking about losing that much money so if you are concerned about locating the ATM machine just get some New Zealand money to cover you for the ride to the hotel and a little extra to have.

Keith
#16
Arlington, Virginia
2,410 Posts
Joined Sep 2010
I have never gotten a small amount of local currency before going to Australia or New Zealand. (Too much trouble and costs too much.) You won't have any problem finding an ATM in the airports.
#17
Olathe, Kansas
3,069 Posts
Joined Aug 2011
Originally posted by GradUT
I have never gotten a small amount of local currency before going to Australia or New Zealand. (Too much trouble and costs too much.) You won't have any problem finding an ATM in the airports.
I travel internationally a dozen times each year, give or take, and ALWAYS use the ATM. One examples when I haven't is in third world countries (like when I was in Niger (not Nigeria)) where reliable ATMs are really not prevalent. In that case, I've brought hard currency in the form of USD. But in Australia and New Zealand, ATMs are the way to go.