Travelling to the USA — or another country — and want to take some US dollar (USD) banknotes with you?
You can use a credit card to purchase US dollars from Australia and also while travelling abroad. There are, however, certain costs to be aware of. Scroll down for more information.
Inside this guide
Buying US dollars with a credit card in Australia
There are a variety of ways to use a credit card to buy US dollars in Australia. If you haven't done this before, check what fees and rates you will be charged prior to making a purchase.
What cards you can use
- American Express, Mastercard, and Visa. Any credit card can be used to purchase US dollars in Australia. However, you'll be charged the cash advance interest rate plus the one-off fee for cash advances.
Where you can buy US dollars with a credit card
- Your bank's local branch. It is possible to exchange Australian dollars to US dollars. That is, you can buy US dollars at most local banks. However, whilst it is convenient, their exchange rates are probably not going to be the most competitive.
- Currency exchangers. You can purchase US dollars from a specialist exchanger, like Travelex or Travel Money Oz, which you can find relatively easily in most towns and cities.
- Money transfer services. You can also use a card to transfer USD to an overseas beneficiary using a money transfer service.
Buying US dollars with a credit card while in the USA
Here’s how you can buy US dollars while travelling in the USA. Note that each option comes with its own particular set of considerations.
- At a bureau de change. If you use a foreign exchange office to purchase US dollars when you're in the USA, the transaction will be considered a cash advance. This means that typically, you'll get charged interest at the cash advance rate and a cash advance fee. A foreign currency charge may also be levied.
- Withdrawing from an ATM. You can withdraw USD at an ATM. However, it’s an expensive way to buy US dollars. You'll immediately be charged the interest rate for cash advances, the cash advance fee, as well as an overseas ATM withdrawal fee.
What it might cost
|Type of fee||Incurred in Australia?||Incurred overseas?||Cost|
|Cash advance interest||Yes||Yes||Around 20% (daily, no interest-free period)|
|Cash advance fee||Yes||Yes||2 - 3% (one-off)|
|Foreign currency fee||Yes||Yes||2 - 3% (one-off)|
|Overseas ATM withdrawal fee||No||Yes||2 - 3% (one-off)|
Credit cards with no international fees can help reduce the cost of shopping overseas.
Want more help?
Can you earn credit card points when buying US dollars?
No. Foreign currency purchases — like US dollars, New Zealand dollars, and British pounds — will be classed as a cash equivalent. It will therefore be treated as a cash advance, so it won’t earn any reward points.
Can you get a cashback when buying US dollars?
No. Since buying US dollars will be classified as an equivalent to cash, it will not be eligible for cashback.