Inbound students Study Abroad and Exchange at the University of Melbourne
You will need to think about how you are going to get access to your money while you are overseas.
We recommend you take your money overseas using a combination of methods such as travellers cheques, debit card, credit card, electronic transfer and cash. It is never advisable to carry large amounts of cash.
Information about the following can be found on this page:
- Foreign banking;
- Travellers' cheques;
- Credit cards;
- Foreign currency;
- Youth allowance;
- Lost credit cards or travellers cheques
In most cases it is possible to open a local bank account when you arrive overseas. Find out about special student accounts, these may have added benefits including commission free travellers cheques, no minimum balance and more.
Travellers' cheques in American dollars are the most widely accepted. They are a safe way to carry cash. Keep a record of the travellers cheque numbers (or photocopy the cheques) in case of loss or theft and see below for details on where to call in such cases.
Plan ahead and keep a close eye on the exchange rate, aim to transfer your funds at the most opportune time even if this means organising your travellers' cheques well ahead of your travel time. If you think the rate looks good but may improve further, only change half of your money at the good rate to hedge your bets.
Some places will change travellers' cheques free of commission for students, it is worth asking.
Credit cards are useful for emergency backup. Visa is widely accepted throughout the world. American Express is widely accepted in America but acceptance may be limited in Europe and Asia. Acceptance of MasterCard may be limited in some countries. See below for numbers to call if your card is lost or stolen.
Most banks have a debit account card function (eg: Cirrus or Maestro) that allows you to withdraw money from your Australian bank account from designated ATMs overseas. These account cards also function as EFTPOS cards at designated businesses. The fees for this service can be quite high (for both cash withdrawal and account balance), so check with your bank before you leave. Be aware of the current exchange rates when using this service.
A Debit Visa card is another option. It has the acceptance of a credit Visa, with the advantage that the money is taken directly from your savings rather than a credit account. Debit Visa cards function as an EFTPOS card, a Visa card and allow you to withdraw cash from ATMs. Check with your bank regarding the fees incurred for these services.
The majority of ATMs in non-English speaking countries automatically change to English settings after reading your card.
It is advisable to have someone at home monitor your accounts. For example, in the event of someone obtaining your credit card number, any unusual spending habits can be picked up by the person at home and appropriate action taken.
It is advisable to start your trip with a minimum of the equivalent of $200 in the appropriate currency to cover the first few days abroad.
It can be useful to have a small amount of American dollars in small bills as these are widely accepted. Carry some Australian dollars. You may be able to exchange them in a country with a favourable exchange rate, and people in your host country will enjoy seeing what our currency looks like.
Do not send or have cash sent through the mail. The chances of it disappearing are probably higher than the chances of it getting there.
As an exchange student you can continue to receive Youth Allowance or Austudy while you continue to meet Centrelink eligibility requirements. Use your University of Melbourne acceptance letter as confirmation of your studies overseas when making your arrangements.
Students who have not previously been eligible for Youth Allowance/Austudy but think they may be while on exchange should apply in person before they leave Australia. See the Centrelink website.
There is a chance that your carefully constructed budget may not hold up to the expense of fantastic places to see and shops to spend in, or even the general cost of living. It is important to have an emergency financial plan.
Work out what you would do if faced with a situation of urgent financial need and plan a strategy. This may include such contingencies as:
- an emergency-only credit card
- a phone call to Mum and Dad
- arranging for someone at home to sell an item of value (e.g. your car)
Make a special time to meet and discuss your emergency plan with those people involved and make sure they agree to the process. Organise any documents that you will need to make this plan a reality, for example if you planned to let your parents sell your car, arrange a signed transfer of ownership form to leave in their care.
Remember to dial the international access code of the country from which you are calling, then the number. The following numbers can be called reverse charges (through an operator) and 24 hours a day, except where noted.
- ANZ Bank
+61 3 9643 7043
- Bendigo Bank
+61 3 5433 9654
- Commonwealth Bank
+61 13 2221 (8am - 8pm, Sydney time)
+61 2 9768 1078 (24 hrs, but not reverse charges)
- Visa see Visa International Service Centre below
- MasterCard see MasterCard Global below
- Credit Union
See Visa International Service Centre below
- National Australia Bank
+61 3 9601 7979
- St George Bank
+61 2 9553 5333
- Westpac (in Victoria, Bank of Melbourne)
+61 2 9374 7082 (Card Service Centre)
+61 13 17 18 (24 hrs, but not reverse charges)
Currency exchange and money transfer services
- American Express
Lost cards +61 2 9271 1111 (8am–5pm Sydney time), +61 2 9271 8666 (after hrs Sydney time) or your nearest American Express Office.
Lost travellers cheques see list of toll-free telephone numbers received with travellers' cheques.
- MasterCard Global
- any bank displaying the MasterCard logo
- call into any Thomas Cook travel office
- in the USA 1800 307 7309 (free call)
- outside the USA +1 314 542 7111
- Thomas Cook
+44 1733 318 950
- Travelex Australia
+61 1800 649 565 (free call 8am–7pm Sydney time)
- Visa International Service Centre
+61 2 9251 3704
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