While many of Australia’s visitors stick to Sydney and Melbourne, there’s plenty to see outside of the population hubs in the Land Down Under. Wollongong is located close enough to Sydney to be easy for tourists to reach, and its position along Australia’s Grand Pacific Drive will make the trip scenic enough to be an attraction on its own. Once in Wollongong, there are miles of surfing beaches and rock pools to explore — it’s an ocean lover’s dream.
But before taking advantage of all there is to do and see in Wollongong, it’s important to know where to get the best deal for your local currency. After all, you’re going to want to have some cash on hand to grab a bite at the Eat Street Market or to grab a well-deserved beer post-surfing session. Here’s what you need to know.
A little research before your trip will go a long way toward saving you money in Wollongong. Here’s what you should know.
Before you go (and frequently throughout your trip) check the mid-market rate for currency exchange between Australian dollars and your home currency. The mid-market rate is the real exchange rate you’ll see when you Google the two currencies. It’s also sometimes called the interbank rate, since it’s the rate banks use to trade large quantities of currency with other banks. Though this is the “real” exchange rate, it’s not the rate you’ll get when you exchange currency at banks or exchange counters. Those will often charge you a commission or fee, and they’ll almost always mark up the exchange rate so they can make even more money off your exchange. To see if the rate you’re being offered is close to the mid-market rate, you can double check it by using an online currency converter before committing to an exchange deal.
Exchange rates are fluctuating almost constantly, depending on a variety of factors like interest rates, economic decisions, confidence in an economy and economic growth. You’ll have to check the mid-market rate frequently during your time in Wollongong, or sign up for a rate tracker, which can send you alerts about changes for the currencies you choose to track.
Before you leave for Australia, call your home bank and see if it partners with any banks in Wollongong. Since your bank wants to keep you as a customer, it is much more likely to offer you favorable exchange rates, and its partner banks may as well. You may also be able to find ATMs associated with your bank or its partner where you might even be able to make fee-free withdrawals.
If you choose to withdraw cash from a local ATM, you may be given the option to view the transaction in your home currency. While this will seem helpful, always choose to view every transaction you make in the local currency, Australian dollars when you use an ATM in Australia. Have you ever heard of dynamic currency conversion - or DCC? This is essentially what happens when you choose your home currency. You’re essentially giving the bank that owns the ATM permission to set its own exchange rate, often much poorer than the mid-market rate.
Areas with high tourist traffic, particularly airports and hotels, will tend to have the poorest exchange rates around for currency exchange. While it may seem convenient to exchange your cash before heading off to the beach, you’re likely to save money by heading to a location where rates are more competitive.
Rather than withdrawing or exchanging a ton of cash, budget out your holiday and try to just get as much cash as you need. If you end up with any leftover at the end of your trip, exchanging it back into your home currency will be like a double-whammy when you get hit with fees and marked up rates for the second time.
Keep in mind that even if an exchange service claims to be “commission free,” there’s really no such thing when it comes to exchanging cash. There may be no upfront exchange fee, but you’ll still pay for the marked up exchange rate. That said, here are some currency exchange bureaus to look for in Wollongong.
|Name||Contact information||Exchange Rate|
|The Currency Exchange||Wollongong Central Shopping Centre 200 Crown St Wollongong Phone: (02) 4226 6926||Exchange rates and a comparison to mid-market rates can be seen on The Currency Exchange’s website¹.|
|Travel Money Oz||Wollongong Central Shopping Centre West Building 200 Crown St Wollongong Phone: 1300 426 997||According to Travel Money Oz, rates differ from the mid-market rate because “Unless you’re buying and selling millions of dollars at a time, you’ll be purchasing your currency at retail rates, which are what we display in store and on our website.²” You can check the current rates on the website.|
|Travelex||Westfield Shopping Centre 19 Princess Highway Figtree Phone: (02) 4225 1207||Travelex doesn’t use the mid-market rate, and notes online, “We make our profit from the margin between the rate we obtain from our own providers on the wholesale foreign exchange market and the rate we quote you. The margin varies from currency to currency and from time to time and factors in any revenue share with our partners. It is not a separate amount that you have to pay as it is built in to the exchange rates we quote.³” You can see current rates at the Travelex website.|
When you exchange cash abroad, there’s a good chance you’re losing money. Withdrawing from a local ATM will usually give you better rates, but you still may have to pay ATM fees or foreign transaction fees.
Do you have a bank account in Australia or know someone who does? Instead of exchanging currency, you can send it there ahead of time with TransferWise, where there are no exchange rate markups or hidden fees for international transfers. Then, you just need to withdraw your cash and you’re ready to go.
Another option would be to open a borderless multi-currency account, which will let you send, receive and manage money in 28 global currencies, including Australian dollars. You can get a linked TransferWise debit card so you can use your AUD balance to pay in stores directly, and beat ATM fees entirely. See if you can get a better deal with TransferWise, today.
Before traveling anywhere, it’s important to know how to access your money at the best possible rates. Safe travels to Wollongong!
| This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date. |
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