You may be looking to open a foreign currency or multi-currency account if you need to receive, pay and hold money in different international currencies. Individuals, as well as businesses, can open these accounts and the specific terms vary from one bank to another.
Some banks allow you to hold multiple currencies in the same account, while others may allow you to hold only a single currency.
What are the advantages of a multi-currency account?
Travellers, expats, working professionals, students and retirees living abroad can manage their finances with a foreign currency account. Businesses with foreign employees or international vendors can use multi-currency accounts to hold funds in various currencies and hedge against exchange rate fluctuations.
Some multi-currency accounts have discounted costs and fees for international transfers, however,it’s essential to check the fee structure, which can vary significantly between institutions.
What to look for in a multi-currency account
You can choose from different types of foreign currency accounts with varying terms and conditions. Researching the pros and cons and asking yourself the following questions may help you find the right multi-currency account for you.
- Which currencies do you plan to hold?
Some accounts allow you to hold multiple currencies, while others hold a single currency. Most banks support major international currencies, but it’s worth checking if you wish to hold currencies that aren’t traded as frequently in Australia.
- What are the applicable fees?
Generally, you’ll pay monthly service fees. You may also have to pay some charges to receive funds or to make international fund transfers through the foreign currency account. Don’t forget to read the fine print to find out about any mark-up on the exchange rates and other charges.
- Will you get a debit or credit card with a multi-currency account?
Many banks do not offer credit or debit cards on a foreign currency account. If you need a card linked to this account, you’ll have to ask the bank and also check the applicable fees and charges.
- What are the minimum account balance and other requirements?
A foreign currency account may come with certain terms and conditions. Check the minimum account balance and the monthly service charges if the balance falls below this minimum.
How to exchange money via a foreign currency account
You usually have to do a bank transfer to move money in and out of the foreign currency account, which can often be done via an app. Otherwise you can arrange the transfer by calling the bank. If you’re transferring funds from a currency other than AUD into a regular AUD account, you may have to pay currency conversion and international payment charges.