Should I change my money now?

Should Pauline exchange her money now before the dollar gets any lower?

Should I change my money now?

Pauline is heading to Europe in a few months’ time and is slightly alarmed by the falling dollar. Should she change her money now before it gets any lower?

Q. Pauline
I’m heading to Europe in May, a trip which I have been planning for a while. I was hoping that the Australian dollar would remain strong, but the drop in rate is concerning me. Should I buy my currency now to get the most for my dollar?

A. Trying to predict currency markets is notoriously difficult and this is why people make and lose so much money trading in currency. That said, it’s worth noting that trading usually involves vast sums of money, considerably more than the average traveller will be spending.

The Australian dollar has already dropped quite a bit against the pound and the euro and, without promising anything, is unlikely to fall too much further. Nor will it rise greatly. So, in essence, the chance to lock in a more attractive conversion rate may already have passed. However, if you have the money sitting in the bank attracting very little interest, it may be worthwhile to convert now and lock in a rate which may be better than the interest earned.

It is probably more important to consider how you will access your money while travelling. Travel cash cards are incredibly popular but it’s best to shop around, as the fees to access your cash can vary considerably. It can also take a couple of days for the money to be available following a reload of your card and if you have limited internet access while travelling, reloading may be difficult. It is wise not to have all your travel funds loaded onto the card before you go, as if you lose it or have it stolen, you will have no access to your cash until alternative arrangements can be made.

Banks also charge a considerable amount for accessing funds while overseas, whether spending on a credit card or withdrawing money from an ATM. It’s worth asking your bank for a breakdown of fees and whether there is a less expensive way to access your money while travelling.

Remember, no matter how you choose to access your funds, make two copies of the front and back of your card, along with contact numbers, should you need to report a problem. Keep a copy separate from your cards while travelling and leave a copy at home with someone you trust and can easily contact if needed.

Have fun!


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    24th Jan 2015
    The information provided is incorrect. The $A has not dropped quite a bit against the pound and the euro. In fact it is very strong particularly against the euro. So Pauline's question is based in error. The $A has dropped against the $US, but so have the european currencies.
    24th Jan 2015
    Spot on Rod63. I think Debbie has not checked the facts:
    1. the AU$ has dropped against the US$ from a high of $1.10 around 2010 to the current $0.80.
    2. the Euro is holding nicely due to the woes in Europe. With the Europeans going on a money printing binge like the US the value of the Australian dollar is expected to improve against this the absence of a worsening local economy. But that is another story!
    3. The AU$ has increased heaps against the Yen courtesy of the Japanese printing money.
    My wife and I are doing a Round the World this year with a 5 week stop in Colorado and are fortunate that we parked funds in the US when the the dollar was at $0.94.
    As for travel cards this is new to us as we normally have no need of these. We are in the process of getting a Citibank product which seems to be fairly cheap but Debbie is correct when she state that it can be expensive to change money. You might consider using your Australian credit if you are watching the currency fluctuations as it is sometimes possible to time when you make a purchase to coincide with a strong dollar, although this is dicey. If you want to keep an eye on currency you might like to use the following resource which gives real time forex:
    Good luck and have a good trip.
    24th Jan 2015
    Rod63 is absolutely correct.The A$ has in fact appreciated against the Euro in recent times but weakened slightly against Sterling.Perhaps Debbie would be well advised to look at the incredible margin that the banks make on foreign currency transactions-it is immoral that they (& other traders) seem to think 5% each way is fair? Travel insurance whilst a must is VERY expensive-my advice is to join your local Probus Club-you will have fun & save heaps on travel insurance.
    24th Jan 2015
    Didn't you do an article on cash cards recently, or maybe that was someone else? Anyway, we activated the QANTAS cash card before we left on a recent 6 week overseas holiday - no currency conversion fees. A much cheaper option than the banks debit and pre-paid cash card, and the cash cards of the travel money agencies.
    24th Jan 2015
    Yes. My second year of using the QFF cash card and found it very good indeed :) Only one or two very small drawbacks but NOTHING that worried this happy traveller when actually on his holidays :D
    24th Jan 2015
    This is wrong. I have been using an international pre-paid card from the PO for a couple of years now. Cost $9.95. A one off payment. Qantus also does one. In each case upto 10 different currencies. No charge when used. Other companies also have these type of cards.
    24th Jan 2015
    It matters not which card you use the exchange rates you receive bear little relationship to the published "wholesale rates".It seems that the margin (to the banks/exchanger)is around 5% each way ie you get a reduced rate when you buy & a further reduction when you cash in on return.The cards are safe -it is the exchange rate that is the problem.
    24th Jan 2015
    yes the dollar is dropping against the euro and the pound.and is tipped to drop below 80cents against the US dollar.I found the Cash Passport to be the best You can load multiple get 2 cards.No ATM fees.usually your first 10 loadings of currencies are free.
    There are NO ATM fees in UK.If you use your own bank ATM card your Bank will charge currency conversion fees.also you cant always get a balance on your Card from the ATM.but you can withCash Passport.
    Robert 101
    24th Jan 2015
    The $A is NOT dropping against the euro and pound.
    24th Jan 2015
    Says you Rod. Check the overnight rates from Friday 23/01/2015
    25th Jan 2015
    You can't go on just one night. In the last month we have improved v the euro from 66.67 to 70.63. The highest in the last 12 months is 72.47 but it has been as low as 63.40.
    The pound is not quite as good but still okay. Yes it dropped a little Friday, but see my first comment. Currently 52.79. Lowest in the last month 52.22 and low of 51.79 in the last year. High of 58.09. So in summary, euro good and getting better; pound okay and holding well.

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