When/where should I exchange USD to AUD for the best rates

Posted on February 13, 2016 | in Travellers Questions | by

Im traveling to Sydney, Australia from Oregon next week on a 6 month study abroad and Im trying to figure out the best way to handle my money. Ive tried doing some research and read through things here on /fellow travellers and this is what Ive got so far:

*Dont exchange at the airport or any special currency exchange place/establishment

*It is best to withdraw money from an ATM every few weeks and take out a large amount each time to minimize fees

*Using my debit card will give me the best exchange rates (I dont have a credit card)

The things Im still unsure about are where I should get cash before leaving, and what card should I use abroad? For my first question, is it cheapest to just go to my local Wells Fargo and exchange the currency there? Or is there a better way to go about it? For the second question, currently I have both a Wells Fargo account with a Visa debit card and a First Tech Federal Credit Union account with a Mastercard debit card. I found on WFs website that Ill get a $5 ATM fee every time I withdraw money overseas, and Ill get a 3% transaction fee whenever I use my card at a retailer. However, I havent been able to find anything about using my FT card. Does anyone know which would be better? On top of that, am I able to use either/both cards like I normally do here?

Last question: what is the best way for my parents to send me emergency money? Both my bank accounts are linked to theirs, so is it best for them to simply transfer the money into my account here in the US? Or is there a more economical way?

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