Get The Best Exchange Rate

Key Points

The goal here is simple: to get as many Australian dollars for your New Zealand dollars as possible. This is how we did it, and it worked out well for us:

Of course, you can wait until you get to Australia before opening an account. This will be easier if you prefer a bank that doesn't allow you to open an account online from New Zealand. You can still use the advice below about converting your New Zealand dollars to Australian dollars as it isn't dependent on opening an account before you leave New Zealand.

Opening An Australian Bank Account Before You Leave New Zealand

Do this at most 3 months before you move to Australia as many banks don't want to hear from you until you are this close to moving over.

The key criteria here are the ease with which you can open a new account without actually being in Australia, and minimising the fees associated with getting your newly converted Australian dollars into your account. You can always switch banks once you become familiar with the great and not-so-great aspects of the one you choose first!

Say hello to Commonwealth Bank of Australia

Commonwealth Bank Logo PrimaryLockup

We’d like to introduce you to Commonwealth Bank of Australia. They’re known to Aussies as CommBank.

Meet the bank more new arrivals choose. CommBank is Australia’s largest bank. They’ve been helping Australian dreams come true since 1911, and support more people moving to Australia than any other bank.

With a variety of products and services, you can get your banking sorted in no time. Find helpful hints and tips about moving to Australia by visiting their Moving to Australia website.

CommBank is excited to welcome you to Australia.

Things you should know: Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124 is a company incorporated in Australia with limited liability and subject to Australian regulation.


Westpac is another popular bank in Australia and they too have a convenient online account application. The process takes about 10 minutes and you will receive an email from Westpac a couple of days later with your new account information.

Some great features of a Westpac account for Kiwis moving to Australia are:

Lots of people ask us if they can just transfer their existing New Zealand Westpac account to Australia, but Westpac Australia is completely separate - so you will need to open an Australian account.

ANZ Bank

The ANZ also has a convenient online application process for people moving to Australia. Visit this moving to Australia page of their web site for more information and to apply online. As with the Commonwealth Bank process, you need to present your ID at a branch in Australia before you can withdraw funds from the account.

If you have personally opened an account with the ANZ this way before leaving NZ, please email us to let us know how it went and we will update this guide to make it more useful to those who prefer to bank with the ANZ.

NAB - National Australia Bank

The NAB also offers an online bank account application process for you to open a bank account with them before you arrive in Australia.

Converting Your Money To Australian Dollars

Surprisingly few people seem to realise that there is quite a lot of choice when converting money into another currency. Many people just go with their first instinct - to use a bank. Don't do that! Unless you happen to be a very important customer, you will not get a good deal from your bank. Typically they will give you a pretty bad rate, and then charge you a commission on top of that!

The reason you want a bank account before converting your money is to avoid dealing with cash. Conversion rates for cash are often much worse than when dealing with electronic funds. For this reason, you should aim to convert as little physical cash as possible and send the converted funds directly to your new bank account.

Foreign Exchange Specialists

Depending on how much money you are converting, you can save yourself hundreds, or even thousands of dollars by using a specialist foreign exchange company. We used XE (previously known as Currency Online), a specialist foreign exchange company with NZ offices, because we could get a much better rate, we paid no commission, and we could do everything online.

Just by choosing to use XE instead of a bank, we saved a few hundred dollars. There are other specialist providers too, but we chose XE because of the added convenience of being able to do it all online.

Here's the basic process we went through to convert our money, once we had our Aussie bank account opened:

  1. Open an account with XE. It doesn't cost a thing, and you don't need to do regular transactions with them. You'll need to send electronic copies of your ID to complete the process. Just scan or take a photo of your passport (or drivers license, etc) and email them as per the instructions they give you.
  2. Once your account is open, log in and create yourself as the receiver of the Australian funds (this is referred to as creating a beneficiary). Use your new Aussie bank account details to have the Australian dollars paid directly into your account.
  3. Convert your money online or over the phone. It’s really fast to do this online. Pay the New Zealand dollars you are converting using a credit card or by online bank transfer into the XE bank account (instructions are given on the confirmation of your currency exchange contract).
  4. Your Australian dollars will appear in your bank account, less any telegraphic transfer (TT) fees the bank has charged you to receive the funds.

That's really all there is to it. You might have just saved yourself enough to cover one weeks rent in your new place in Australia, just by not using your bank!

Top Tip: We recently spoke with Liam Hart from XE who told us that doing advance planning for moving your money is something a lot of people overlook. The exchange rate is constantly fluctuating, so leaving it until the last minute to work out moving your money to Australia can mean losing money. "The moment you decide to move from NZ into AU you have a foreign exchange risk," says Liam.

Setting up an account with XE, talking to us as soon as you can, and tracking the exchange rate, these actions give you options and information. All of which could be critical to getting the most out of, what is a surprisingly overlooked part of people’s international relocation, “what’s happening with our money?”."

If you need any help at any stage throughout the process, you can call XE toll free on 0800 932 664.

Still have questions about moving your money to Australia? Check out our discussion forum where you can ask questions that can be answered by us and other readers.