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Friday, January 28, 2011

Best Places to Change Money in Perth

With the Australian dollar at an all-time high, many will be travelling overseas so the question is how do you get the best currency exchange rate in Perth? From my experience, the best rates tends to be with Bankwest. You can try to find out the best prevailing rates if you want to double check.

However, Bankwest branches only hold currency that is on hand from other people exchanging money during the week. At the end of the week, any outstanding foreign currency gets moved to the main St Georges Terrace Bankwest Headquarters. So the best thing is to go straight to the Bankwest headquarters to change money.

EDIT: Changes have been apparently made in Bankwest's policy which means branches no longer change foreign currency. You can only order foreign currency online and pick it up from a branch, otherwise, you should go straight to the Bankwest HQ on St Georges Tce.

Another place that seemed to be giving a relatively good rate was the American Express exchange at 645 Hay Street, Perth near London Court. If you are a platinum card holder we were told you can save 1%. Do you know a better rate? leave comments below.

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  1. I have recently been to Japan and did quite a bit of research over where to exchange money, and also the more general question of whether cash is even best. Note that this is my experience and your mileage may vary. Further, I would expect that much of this would apply around the world, but I've most recently confirmed this for Japan.

    Note also that when I talk about "market rates", I am generally referring to the interbank rate, which is approx what you see when you ask Google e.g.

    Some information I gathered:
    (1) CBA, NAB, Bankwest, and so I assume also the other retail banks, will not change cash for cash apparently due to the money laundering act. (I think this is ridiculous but don't get me started). They also charge ~1% commission
    (2) My 2 weeks of monitoring fx confirms that Bankwest has the best rates; if they have the currency! e.g. I went there once to discover (1) but they didn't even have any money at the main branch
    (3) The highest rates for cash I have found from "holes in the wall" fx places belongs to the one inside the Flight Centre on the corner of William/Barrack. They were just over 1% worse than Bankwest, but at least they had currency and Bankwest were going to charge 1% commission anyway
    (4) It appears credit cards (at least Visa, MasterCard, and Amex) give approx market rates for purchases, minus 2-3% commission. This almost always turns out to be better than cash for cash which is about 4% worse than market rate - however you are able to lock in fx rate with cash
    (5) It is possible to withdraw local currency from foreign ATMs, mainly those with the Maestro and Cirrus labels, and get market rates. With CBA, I got approx market rate, minus 3% commission, minus fixed AU$5 fee. For JPY, this was favourable for >AU$1000 or >JPY80k
    (6) Cash for cash rates in Japan were terrible. About 10-15% worse than market rates. It seemed USD to JPY was the only one that was ok

    Recommendations (generally applicable to countries with 'westernised' banking systems):
    (A) Work out how much money you need, so that you can work out if the difference is even worth considering. If it is then...
    (B) Check that you can take out local currency from ATMs in your destination country.
    (C) Change a minimal amount of foreign currency when you leave, enough to cover say 1-2 days, basically until you can find a local ATM. If you've worked out that the fixed fee from the ATM makes it better that you get cash beforehand, just get enough cash to cover 'basic' expenses on your trip e.g. no major shopping
    (C) Use credit card for shopping or big items (note: bring 2 or more cards and carry separately in case 1 is lost/broken/copied as is what happened to a friend of mine)
    (D) As a back-up, carry some AU$ with you so that if all electronic means fail, you can still do cash for cash locally, but just be prepared to take a bad rate

  2. agree that amex on hay st has better rates than most. (this is for tourists who have come to perth).

    for perthians who are travelling overseas, i would recommend (depending on the country you travel to):

    - a travelcard that you can put cash into. you change it at the prevailing rate on the day you apply for the card at your local bank. when you withdraw it at any of the cirrus/maestro atms overseas, you don't get charged any fees. the downside is if you put $1000 usd, that's all you have. examples of these cards: anz travelcard and 28degrees (by ge money)

    - take AUD to the country you're travelling to and change what you need (taxi/bus/first night accommodation/first meal) at the airport and the rest in town. for countries where you might not trust a local changer, use the hotel you're staying at, or the trusted state bank if you're not staying in a hotel. the rates are often better overseas than in australia, sad to say.

  3. I'd recommend checking Australia Post as their rates seem to be pretty good. They say no commission, but its unclear if there was a 'service fee'. I will use them next time, but they need 2-3 days to have the currency delivered to the branch. Their website says it can be ready for the next day 4pm if ordered by 12pm previous day, but that was not the case when I inquired. I had to go elsewhere as I only had 2 days.

    Oh, and Bankwest in Perth city only deals in major currencies. Despite Bali being one of the most popular holiday destinations for us, they did not have Indo Rupiah.

    I used Travelex in the hurry (a bit rushed) and they charged $15 commission (less $7 promo) on AU$500. Not sure that helps much, but there it is anyway...

    Good luck!

  4. best place i've found is UAE XChange. 1 London Court Shop 51. Number has changed 62125301. I've changed USD and Canadian dollars, both times their rates were the same as bankwest, but without the horrid fee.

  5. This information will be very helpful for Perth visitors. Liked your great efforts.

  6. Perth looks absolutely amazing .This info is really worth and useful to tourist’s .I really appreciate your works .Thanks for writing on this.

  7. I can say only for Euro buying. I've been using Travelex online, which has much better rates than their retails'. American Express is great too. You can order online and pick up at a post office. No fee if you pay with BPAY. But both takes at least 3 days to pick up. I've recently discovered that UAE XChange at Plaza Archade Hay St gives better rates than all above and than UAE at London Court. It's the best in the lot I've found so far for Euro exchange. But if you don't work or live in CBD like me, online ordering seems a better option.