Australian dollar ($)
Budget: Less than $150
- Hostel dorm bed: $28–40
- Double room in a basic motel: $80–130
- Simple main meal: $10–15
- Short bus or tram ride: $4
- Double room in a motel, B&B or hotel: $130–250
- Brunch in a good cafe: $25–40
- Door charge at gig: $10–20
- Short taxi ride: $25
Top End: More than $300
- Double room in a top-end hotel: from $250
- Three-course meal in an upmarket restaurant: $100 per person
- Theatre tickets: from $50 per person
- Domestic flight between two main cities: from $100
Gentle haggling is fairly common in weekend markets and secondhand shops, but it's not the done thing in most shops, where prices are fixed. It's common practice to ask for a discount on expensive items when paying cash (not that you're guaranteed to get one). In most other instances you're expected to pay the stated price.
ATMs widely available in cities and larger towns. Credit cards accepted for hotels, restaurants, transport and activity bookings.
ATMs & Eftpos
ATMs Australia's 'big four' banks – ANZ, Commonwealth, National Australia Bank and Westpac – and affiliated banks have branches all over Australia, plus a slew of 24-hour automated teller machines (ATMs); you'll even find them in some outback roadhouses. Most ATMs accept cards issued by other banks (for a fee) and are linked to international networks.
Eftpos Most service stations, supermarkets, restaurants, cafes and shops have Electronic Funds Transfer at Point of Sale (Eftpos) facilities, allowing you to make purchases and some even allow you to draw out cash with your credit or debit card.
Fees Bear in mind that withdrawing cash through ATMs or Eftpos may attract significant fees − check the associated costs with your bank first.
Credit cards such as Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted for everything from a hostel bed or a restaurant meal to an adventure tour, and are pretty much essential (in lieu of a large deposit) for hiring a car. They can also be used to get cash advances over the counter at banks and from many ATMs, depending on the card, though these transactions incur immediate interest. Diners Club and American Express (Amex) are not as widely accepted.
Lost credit-card contact numbers:
Australia's currency is the Australian dollar, comprising 100 cents. There are 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, $1 and $2 coins, and $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 notes. Prices in shops are often marked in single cents then rounded to the nearest 5c when you come to pay.
A debit card allows you to draw money directly from your home bank account using ATMs, banks or Eftpos machines. Any card connected to the international banking network – Cirrus, Maestro, Plus and Eurocard – should work with your PIN. Expect substantial fees.
Companies such as Travelex offer debit cards with set withdrawal fees and a balance you can top up from your personal bank account while on the road.
For current exchange rates see www.xe.com
Changing foreign currency (or travellers cheques, if you're still using them) is usually no problem at banks throughout Australia, or at licensed moneychangers such as Travelex or Amex in cities and major towns.
Opening a Bank Account
If you're planning on staying in Australia a while (on a Working Holiday visa for instance), it makes sense to open a local bank account. This is easy enough for overseas visitors provided it's done within six weeks of arrival. Simply present your passport and provide the bank with a postal address and it'll open the account and send you an ATM card.
After six weeks it becomes much more complicated. A points system operates and you need to score a minimum of 100 points before you can have the privilege of letting the bank take your money. Passports and birth certificates are worth the most points, followed by an international driving licence with photo, then minor IDs such as credit cards. You must have at least one ID with a photograph. Once the account is open, you should be able to have money transferred from your home account (for a fee, of course).
Before you arrive It's possible to set up an Australian bank account before you embark on your international trip and applications can be made online; check bank websites for details:
Commonwealth Bank (www.commbank.com.au)
National Australia Bank (NAB; www.nab.com.au)
It's common but by no means obligatory to tip in restaurants and upmarket cafes if the service warrants it − a gratuity of between 5% and 10% of the bill is the norm. Taxi drivers will also appreciate you rounding up the fare. Tipping is not usually expected in hotels.
- The ubiquity and convenience of internationally linked credit- and debit-card facilities in Australia means that travellers cheques are virtually redundant.
- Amex and Travelex will exchange their associated travellers cheques, and major banks will change travellers cheques also.
- In all instances you'll need to present your passport for identification when cashing them.