How to open a foreign currency account in Australia

By   |   Verified by David Boyd   |   Published 10th November 2022

If you get paid or have to make payments in a foreign currency, or need to hold foreign currency for some time, opening a foreign currency account means you can avoid the cost associated with conversion and exchange rate volatility.

Opening a foreign currency account in Australia is easier and faster with online borderless accounts.

What currency do you need?

Choose a currency

Fast and easy setup

Where to open a foreign currency account

Wise

On website

Highlights

  • Wise Borderless multi-currency receiving accounts. This gives you access to a digital currency wallet that you can hold and transact in over 50 currencies.
  • Borderless Debit Card. The FX optimised debit card is attached to your Wise Borderless account that can be used to withdraw or pay for purchases in foreign currency within or outside Australia.
  • Android and Apple Apps. Indulge convenience by transacting thru the Wise App anytime and anywhere!
  • Fund options. Loads of options to fund your Wise account including transfer from Debit and credit cards, or thru a local bank transfer. Quick and easy!

Pros

  • Low and competitive fees.
  • Easy to understand fee structure.
  • Easy to use website and mobile apps.
  • High transfer limit.

Cons

  • Limited currencies and destination countries compared with some competitors.
  • Can only send funds to the recipient's bank account.
Airwallex

On website

Airwallex

Highlights

  • $0 fees and 0% margin on your first $20,000 AUD transfer.
  • Spend less on FX fees and more on growth.
  • Make payments in 31 currencies, into over 130 countries, and counting.
  • You always get access to Airwallex's best rates, regardless of transaction volume.

Pros

  • Create an account in just a few minutes.
  • No international transfer transaction fee.
  • Favourable currency exchange rates.
  • Quick transfers.

Cons

  • Limited transfer methods.
  • Fewer transfer currencies are available than some competing services.
OFX

OFX

Highlights

  • Enjoy better rates and fees.
  • Transfers to most countries take 1-2 business days. Track your transfer online or with the OFX mobile app.
  • With support staff that are located in Australia, USA, UK, Canada, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Pros

  • Easy and quick account opening.
  • Wide range of supported currencies and countries.
  • No fees if transferring more than $10,000.
  • Enjoy additional features for business transfers.

Cons

  • Limited payment options.
  • $15 fee if transferring less than $10,000.

First time?

How to open a foreign currency account

Opening a foreign currency account in Australia is simple, especially if you open an account with an online provider.

  1. Choose a provider. You can get a foreign currency account from a traditional bank or online service, such as on this page. We only list reputable brands that are tried and tested.
  2. Register and open your account. To open a new account, you must provide your details, including your email address, phone number, and photo ID. Businesses may be required to provide additional documents.
  3. Start using your account. You could deposit a small amount there first until you get used to it.

Help choosing

What to look for

Here are some of the most important factors to consider when comparing foreign currency accounts.

  • What currencies are supported? Accounts for currencies such as the US dollar, euro, and British pound are available from most.
  • Linked card. Can you use a debit card to access funds in the account? Can it be added to Apple Pay, Google Pay, or another digital wallet?
  • Funding methods. How can the account be funded? Are there limits?
  • Account fees. Are there any monthly account fees charged?
  • Foreign currency transaction fees. Are there any fees to convert between currencies?
  • Minimum balance. Do you need to maintain a minimum balance in your foreign currency account?
  • Maximum balance. Is there a maximum limit on how much you can keep in the account?
  • Overdraft facility. Can you get an overdraft in a foreign currency if you need one?
  • Supported transfer types. What fees apply to the various types of transfers supported?
  • Settlement time. How long would it take for funds to settle in your foreign currency account? How quickly are outbound transfers processed?
  • Withdrawals and payments. Are there any limits on how much can be withdrawn or paid out?
  • The interest rate. How much will you make if you keep a balance in the account?
  • Cashback and other perks. Will you get cashback on your spending or any additional perks?
  • Flexibility and tools. Does the account integrate with the platforms you business relies on, e.g. marketplaces and accounting software?

Still not sure?

Pros and cons

Pros

  • Send foreign currency invoices to your overseas clients and customers.
  • Collect payments in a foreign currency without having to convert to AUD.
  • Save money when paying for imports or online purchases in a foreign currency.
  • Avoid currency conversion fees when making payments or when paying suppliers, services, and staff in foreign currency.
  • Hedge against exchange rate volatility by buying and saving a foreign currency ahead of time.
  • Valid for international travel and shopping online.

Cons

  • If opening an account with a traditional bank, you may be required to have a local currency account before you can open a foreign currency account with them.
  • Some traditional banks require a high minimum balance to keep a foreign currency account open.
  • Higher fees compared to regular transaction accounts in the local currency.
  • A variety of fees are applicable on foreign currency accounts.

Want more help?

FAQs

Can I open a foreign currency account in Australia?

Anyone can open a foreign currency account in Australia with one of the providers listed above.

What types of foreign currency accounts are there?

You can open a foreign currency account for personal or business use. The documentation required to open an account will vary depending on the type of account you wish to open.

What can a foreign currency account be used for?

You can use your foreign currency account to collect payments from marketplaces such as Amazon, payment processors such as PayPal, buy now pay later platforms such as Klarna, send payments to companies and suppliers, pay overseas mortgages, and more.

Do foreign currency accounts in Australia pay interest?

Some foreign currency savings accounts in Australia pay interest, but this is typically low, as is the case for most savings accounts.

What fees are applicable on a foreign currency account?

Depending on who you open an account with, fees that may be charged include the following:

  • Account opening fees
  • Monthly maintenance or ongoing fees
  • Telegraphic transfer fees on receipts and payments
  • Currency conversion fees
  • Cardholder fees for any linked debit cards
  • Cash withdrawal fees and ATM fees
  • Interest in overdraft facilities

How long does it take to open a foreign currency account?

The time it takes to open a foreign currency account depends on who you are opening the account with.

The fastest way to get a foreign currency account is with an online provider such as Wise or Airwallex. Expect it to take longer for a traditional bank to make a foreign currency account available.

It is best to begin the process at least a few business days before you use your foreign currency account to be safe