Find the best AUD/USD exchange rate and enjoy great value for money when you send money to the United States.
Sending an international money transfer can be costly, so it’s vital to find the best available exchange rate for your transaction. When you send the transfer and which transfer provider handles the transaction can both have a huge bearing on the exchange rate you receive, so let’s look at how you can lock in the best AUD/USD exchange rate for your international money transfer.
AUD/USD: How to get value for money
There are two factors that affect the AUD/USD exchange rate that you lock in when you send money to the United States:
- The current mid-market exchange rate. You can get much better value for money if you send your transfer when the AUD is valued high compared to the USD.
- The money transfer provider. You need to compare money transfer providers to find the company that offers the highest AUD/USD exchange rate for international transactions.
To get started, let’s look at how to time your transfer when the AUD/USD exchange rate is at its peak.
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Australian dollar to US dollar rate history
Up until 1966, Australians made their purchases using pounds, shillings and pence before a new currency was introduced. The Australian dollar (AUD) was originally a fixed currency and spent periods pegged to both the US dollar (USD) and British pound (GBP), before switching to a free-floating system by the start of 1984.
The USD has been the currency in the United States of America since 1786 and is now the most widely recognised currency in the world. Commonly used to convey the value of other currencies, the USD is the most widely traded currency in the exchange market and historically one of the strongest.
The AUD has always traded at a lower value than the USD, except between the years 2011 and 2013 when it was trading at a premium rate. The highest it reached during that time was 1.077 USD for every 1 AUD, as Australia’s commodity boom saw it outpace the USD as it fought back from the subprime mortgage crisis.
However, as the US economy’s recovery gathered pace, Australia’s was starting to slow down. Lower consumer spending and a slowing down of internal investments saw the AUD/USD exchange rate drop back below 1 USD in May 2013 and continue to decline.
Throughout most of 2016, 1 AUD traded fairly steadily at between 0.73 and 0.78 USD. Analysts predict that the USD will continue to increase in value over the next several years as the United States economy shows further improvement. The expectation is that it will continue to climb against most of the currencies around the world, including the AUD.
When can I find the best AUD/USD exchange rate?
Exchange rates fluctuate all the time, with currency values moving up and down relative to one another due to a long list of influencing factors. To see just how much fluctuation can occur, take a look at a 10-year graph charting the historical performance of the AUD/USD exchange rate. There is a substantial difference between the peaks and troughs of the exchange rate during this time, demonstrating just how important it is to send an international transfer at the right time.
For example, if you wanted to send AUD$1,000 from Australia to the United States in 2016, when you sent the transfer would have made a huge difference to how affordable it was. If you sent the transfer in January, when the AUD was worth 0.68 USD, you would’ve got a raw deal. But if you had waited until March, when 1 AUD = 0.75 USD, your transaction would’ve represented much better value for money. One month later in April, the AUD peaked at 0.78 USD, which would have been the perfect time to send money to the United States.
|January 2016||March 2016||April 2016|
|Transfer amount (in AUD)||$1,000||$1,000||$1,000|
|Exchange rate||1 AUD = 0.68 USD||1 AUD = 0.75 USD||1 AUD = 0.78 USD|
|Amount received (in USD)||$680||$750||$780|
By sending a transfer in April rather than January, you could have sent an extra US$100 to your family or friends in the United States – but still transferred the exact same amount in AUD.
How do I know when to transfer AUD to USD?
The best time to transfer AUD to USD is when the AUD peaks in value against the USD. However, working out when a currency is going to peak, or has peaked, is very complicated. Exchange rates are affected by a myriad of factors, including everything from interest rates and economic growth to political changes, so predicting the future of the AUD/USD exchange rate is tricky.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t take steps to improve your knowledge of exchange rates and how they work. Monitor economic and political news coming out of both Australia and the US, and stay abreast of forecasts from financial experts about the future performance of the AUD/USD exchange rate. Examining the historical performance of the AUD/USD exchange rate will also help you understand what causes it to rise or fall.
The best time to transfer AUD to USD is when the AUD/USD exchange rate reaches a high point. In other words, you want to send your transfer when 1 AUD purchases the most USD possible.
As the graph below shows, the best times to transfer money from Australia to the US in the year leading up to 18/11/2016 were:
- In March 2016, when 1 AUD = 0.76 USD
- In April 2016, when 1 AUD = 0.78 USD
- In August 2016, when 1 AUD = 0.77 USD
- In November 2016, when 1 AUD = 0.77 USD
*Screenshot taken from xe.com, 18/11/2016
Choosing the right transfer provider
After doing plenty of research, you’ve decided that the AUD/USD exchange rate is peaking and the time is right to send money to the US – but don’t send your transfer just yet. Before you can do so, you need to compare your options and find the money transfer provider that offers the best exchange rates.
There are three main options to choose from when you want to send money to the USA:
- Online transfer providers. These companies, such as TorFX and OFX, specialise in sending quick and convenient transfers all around the world.
- Cash pick-up transfer providers. Western Union and MoneyGram are the two largest cash transfer providers in the world, each operating hundreds of thousands of cash collection locations.
- Banks. You also have the option to send the international money transfer direct from your bank account to a US bank account, but this option tends to feature low exchange rates and high transaction fees.
Most transfer providers make a profit on the “margin”, which is the difference between the price at which they buy foreign currency and the price at which they sell it to customers. As a result, the exchange rate available for your international money transfer could vary substantially from one provider to the next.
Specialist online transfer companies tend to offer the best exchange rates, but you still need to compare a range of companies to see which one offers the best deal.
To demonstrate the importance of comparing your options, let’s take a look at the story of Kevin. Born and bred in Texas, Kevin has been posted to Australia to work for two years.
Once a month, Kevin sends an international money transfer of AUD$1,000 back home to his sister in the United States, to help her pay off a mortgage on a property they purchased together. Kevin usually sends the money straight from his account with a major Australian bank, but he decides to shop around and see if an online transfer company or cash transfer provider might offer a better deal.
|Bank||Cash transfer company||Online transfer company|
|Exchange rate||1 AUD = 0.6981 USD||1 AUD = 0.7211 USD||1 AUD = 0.7409USD|
|Transfer method||Bank transfer||Cash pick-up||Online transfer|
|Processing time||2–5 days||10 minutes||2 days|
|Amount sent (in AUD)||$1,000||$1,000||$1,000|
|Amount received (in USD)||$698.10||$720.11||$740.90|
As you can see, you can save a lot of money by doing a quick comparison of transfer providers. With its superior exchange rate, the specialist online transfer company allows Kevin to send an extra US$42.80 than if he uses a bank, or an extra US$20.79 than if he uses a cash transfer provider. It also allows him to enjoy a sizable saving in transfer fees.
This is why it’s crucial to compare money transfer providers before sending money overseas. Find out how to weigh up your transfer options and find the best exchange rate in our guide to international money transfers.
Other tips to help you get the best AUD/USD exchange rate
The following tips will help you lock in the best AUD/USD exchange rate for your transfer:
- Check the mid-market rate. Currency conversion websites like xe.com allow you to track the mid-market exchange rate. You can use this information to work out whether a transfer provider offers good value for money.
- Don’t trust calculators. If a transfer provider offers a website calculator to help you work out the cost of your transfer, check the fine print to see what exchange rate the calculator uses. Many will use the mid-market rate rather than the rate available to customers, so to get an accurate idea of the cost of your transaction you will usually have to get a quote.
- Use limit orders and forward contracts. With a limit order you can nominate the exchange rate you want, and your transfer will only be sent if and when that rate becomes available. Alternatively, if you think exchange rates are likely to fall in the coming weeks or months, you can use a forward contract to lock in an exchange rate now for a transfer that will take place in the future.