Cash-obtaining strategies while in Oz?

Flying to Sydney in three weeks and one hour! Woo!

My curiosity of the evening is about ze cash. We’ll spend most of our 21 days living off credit cards, I suppose, though I need to look into whether there’s currency exchange fees. But clearly we’ll need some dough for the road, and our beach house on Kangaroo Island is cash-or-check only, so that’s $240 we’ll need to pony up alone.

Are traveller’s checks still a popular way to go? Or do ATMs have reasonable enough rates to get me my money from the bank? I literally haven’t been abroad since high school, so I’m a little rusty on the whole cash notion.

Traveler’s checks are a hassle, and seem to be less widely accepted than 10 years ago. YMMV.

ATMs are the way to go. IME, exchange rates are at least reasonable, and if you limit yourself to relatively few largish transactions, the per-transaction fee doesn’t seem wicked.

There are also currency changing places all over the city (I assume you’re flying into Sydney or Melbourne first), the airport, and other tourist-frequented areas. Not on Kangaroo Island I imagine. I’ve never seen anyone use a traveller’s check here.

They’re probably less popular than in the past. But I’ve had friends visiting from overseas this year who have used them fine in Sydney.

I’ve never used traveller’s cheques anywhere. They seemed dated to me ten years ago. I’ve seen them used here, but I wouldn’t bother.

If it were me, I’d buy a small amount of Australian currency in the US - just in case, for whatevever reason, you’re in a rush when you get to the airport here. Then, when you’re rested and are in relaxed tourist mode, just go to an ATM. Be sure though that you’ve got some sort of back-up (a friend or relative who can wire you money etc) just in case there’s a problem using your card here (I’ve never encountered a problem doing it overseas though), and contact your bank well before you leave to tell them where you’re travelling and when, to let them know to tell their paranoid clerks that yes that c/c transaction on the other side of the planet will be valid, and to confirm there will be no hassles with your PIN etc in an Australian machine (not that I think there will be). Of course, make sure your card is Cirrus or Maestro compatible. As ever, downtown cash exchanges are more reasonable than airport ones.

Just a note on personal security:

Sydney is not a particularly dangerous city for muggings and the like, but they can happen. Avoid the George St cinema strip late at night, and also anywhere else where young drunken idiots congregate. A strong American accent and a flashy camera might be a problem there - possibly. Generally though, it won’t. This is a tourist city, and the locals will barely notice you. You will be neither fawned over nor spat on, but will 99.9% likely meet friendly people who will make your trip a good one. And a few arseholes, of course. :smiley:

And let’s not even start on Kangaroo Island…

It might be worth your while looking into setting up a VISA debit account as the fees can be cheaper when withdrawing cash than withdrawing from your credit card. If you have a gold or platinum card though most companies will waive the withdrawal fee (about $5 a time, yowch).

Most Importantly. Look for the swipe type ATMs rather than the suck-your-card-into-a-black hole type. Might save you a few problems.

Maybe. The only thing with that is that the swipe variety ones tend to be the sleazy, high-fee ones in 7-11s, petrol stations, and the like. The big, reputable banks all have swallow-the-card ones.

Huh? That’s not the case here. Weird.

Sell the ruby slippers.

All the banks have facilities to exchange travellers cheques. That shouldn’t be a problem. Also you can get those cards where you buy so much currency before going overseas and just use it like a debit card through an ATM. ATM’s are everywhere - although I’ve never been to Kangaroo Island I would be very surprised if there aren’t facilities there.

ATM’s are all over the place, you shouldn’t have a problem. Any pub with pokies (slot machines?) should have one. I’ve never seen a traveller’s cheque used here, either.

Kangaroo Island is a lovely place, I’m told (I’ve never been there, but I live in Adelaide, which is only a few miles away). Spring is coming early this year so it should be beautiful by the time you get here.

I’ve been to Kangaroo Island. It’s pretty awful.

But the point is- do they have ATM’s there? :smiley:

It depends on what you want to go there for. If you’re big into bushwalking, hiking, seeing native flora and fauna and taking lots of nature photos then it’s not so bad if the weather’s good.

That said, last time I was at KI I was on a summer camp and woke up in the middle of the night to find a possum trying to eat my hair.

Heh - well THAT’S a whole new thread topic!

What makes you say spring is coming early this year? (We gambled on September for the trip, hoping the weather would fall on our side, so I hope so!)

Nah, just a giant kangaroo. I wish I was going to New Zealand.

You will find ATMs at Sydney Airport, so you do not need to get any Australian currency before you go to Australia. The only place where you might spend money before you get to the first ATM is at the duty-free shop before you go through immigration and customs, and (of course) they take credit cards there.

I never had any problems with travellers checks in Australia. All the banks will cash them for you and all the currency exchange places that I went to in Sydney took them. In fact, some of the currency exchange places are American Express. I’ve never been to a currency exchange outside of Sydney, so I can’t vouch for them, but I can’t imagine they wouldn’t take them. FTR, the last time I tried to cash a travellers check was at a Commonwealth Bank in a small suburb on the Central Coast (between Sydney and Newcastle) in 2005…it wasn’t a problem.

Oh, I don’t know. The washboard gravel and dirt roads, dust in the air, drop bears ready to snatch your children.

OTOH, it has the purest honey in the world. The wedgetails are huge! Don’t forget the lighthouse, and then there’s that weird rock formation at one end of the island.