Melbourne is a culture and tourist haven. Street art in the Laneways, cocktails in the thriving bar scene, surfing at Torquay, and even getting out and about in the national parks to spot a koala, kangaroo or penguin, Melbourne seems to have it all.
With so much to pack into your itinerary (don’t forget the wineries and artists’ cooperatives, too), it’s lucky that Melbourne is also Australia’s coffee capital. Top up with a quality brew to fuel yourself, and get back out there.
Whether you’re here in Melbourne for a short visit or moving to experience life down under for the longer term, you’re going to need some cash.
Changing your money in a new place can be tricky. Use this guide to avoiding the rip-offs and find the best places to exchange your currency in Melbourne.
When you’re changing your home currency for some Australian dollars, be aware of the cost of the conversion. Charges can be added in a few places - namely fees declared upfront, and those wrapped up in a poorer exchange rate. The latter is the trickier one to spot.
Here’s a checklist of things you’ll need to make sure to do when you change your money for your dream vacation in Melbourne:
- Find out what the mid-market rate is and use it as a benchmark to find the value of your home currency.
- Compare the exchange rate you’re offered with the real rate using an online currency converter.
- If you can, avoid exchanging cash in airports and hotels.
- Research if your home bank has a partnership with a local bank in Melbourne and then use those ATMs.
- Stay away from foreign ATMs doing conversions for you - choose to be charged in the local currency (AUD).
Use the mid-market rate as a benchmark when calculating how fair the offered tourist rate is. The mid-market, or interbank, is the real rate the banks use to trade with each other, and which you’ll find on Google. You can keep an eye on this rate using an online currency converter.
The rates offered at currency exchange services in the airports and hotels won’t be the best in town. With a captive market looking for convenience above cost, the deals available won’t be great. Change a minimal amount of cash if needed, and wait until you’re in a more competitive area to convert the rest.
A convenient alternative to using a currency exchange office is to withdraw AUD directly from an ATM. Check with your home bank whether they have any partnerships with local banks operating in Melbourne. Often banks have reciprocal relationships which mean that you escape extra ATM charges if you use a partner bank’s ATM abroad. At the same time, let your bank know you’ll be travelling to avoid issues using your card overseas.
When using an ATM in another country, you might be asked if you’d like to be charged in your home currency. The answer should always be no. You want to be charged in the local currency, no matter where you are, so in Melbourne go for AUD. If you choose to be charged in your home currency, the bank will assign you a poor exchange rate, and usually charge an extra fee to do so.
Plan ahead to avoid changing money back at the end of your trip. Converting cash back to your home currency will mean you’re getting charged twice. Spend it on yourself, instead, and enjoy your time abroad.
The services listed below will have their own charges and fees, which may be transparent or may be included in the poorer rate you're offered. It’s best to compare the consumer rate with the mid-market rate to make sure you're not getting ripped off.
United Currency Exchange offers three locations in Melbourne.
|272 Lonsdale Street (opposite Emporium Shopping Centre)||03 9042 4572|
|QV Melbourne, Shop QVA01, Ground Floor (Corner Swanston & Lonsdale Street)||03 9671 3993|
|Ground Floor, 228 Flinders Lane (next to Melbourne East Police Station)||03 9077 1720|
- Lonsdale Street - Mon-Fri 11:30a-6:00p, closed on weekends
- QV Melbourne - Mon-Fri 9:00a-9:00p, Sat-Sun 10:00a-8:00p
- Flinders Lane - Mon-Fri 10:00a-8:00p, Sat-Sun 10:00a-6:30p
Travelex offers 5 locations in Melbourne, 3 of them inside HSBC banks. See their website for HSBC branch locations.
|c/-Australia Post, 250 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne, 3000||(03) 9654 2526|
|261 Bourke Street, Melbourne, 3000||(03) 9654 4222|
- Australia Post Branch - Mon-Fri 8:30a-5:30p, Sat 9:00-5:00p
- Bourke Street - Mon-Fri 9:00a-5:00p, Sat 10:00-4:00p
Offering 6 locations throughout Melbourne including several shopping centres. Check out Travel Money Oz’s Melbourne Store Locator for the closest store to you.
1300 426 997 (general help line)
All stores are open seven days a week. Check individual branch for more details.
Alternatively - for an even better deal - use TransferWise. If you have a bank account in Australia, or know someone who does, you can transfer money between accounts using the real mid-market exchange rate. It's convenient and simple, so you can get on with enjoying your trip.