bank account international money transfer

Best bank accounts for overseas transfers

Information verified correct on April 30th, 2017

These accounts are the best bank accounts for international money transfers.

Bank international money transfers are convenient. In most cases you’re already set up to make an overseas payment — some financial institutions require you to buy a token or activate the ‘Pay Anyone’ feature for international payments before you can send money overseas.

This convenience comes at the price of a high transfer fee and high margin on the foreign exchange rate. There are exceptions: Citibank and ING DIRECT. But you’ll still get a better deal on international money transfers if you compare non-bank overseas payment companies. We have a look at the best bank accounts for international money transfers below.

Citibank Global Transfer & the Citibank Plus Transaction Account

Citibank can send money to another Citibank account in one of the countries listed below instantly and for free.

Citibank Free Global Transfer Countries

  • Bahrain
  • China
  • Colombia
  • Guam
  • Hong Kong
  • Hungary
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Japan
  • Jersey
  • Korea
  • Malaysia
  • Mexico
  • Philippines
  • Poland
  • Singapore
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam
  • United Arab Emirates
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

Citibank Global Transfers are available via the Citibank Plus Transaction Account, which is Citibank’s everyday transaction account. Request the international money transfer from within Citibank online banking. Your money is exchanged at the rate detailed by Citibank at the time of the transfer.

This rate does include a commission from Citibank. The overseas recipient must have an eligible Citibank account. An eligible account is a savings or transaction account in one of the Citibank Global Transfer countries listed above. Transfers are usually sent and received in minutes up to a maximum of 24 hours. Citibank also offer a wire transfer service for a $25 fee to other accounts all over the world.

Rates last updated April 30th, 2017
Monthly Account Fee Debit Card Access ATM Withdrawal Fee Fee Free Deposit p.m. Details
Citibank Plus Everyday Account
Free international money transfers and free overseas Citibank ATM withdrawals.
Mastercard $0 $0 No ATM fees using Citibank, Westpac, BankSA and St.George branded ATMs in Australia. Use overseas Citibank ATMs for free. More
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ING DIRECT Orange Everyday

ING DIRECT Orange Everyday customers get access to ING DIRECT international transfers provided by OFX. OFX are a specialist foreign exchange service and can provide a bank beating rate and commission. Register with ING DIRECT International Transfers to get great rates and fees from OFX. ING Direct have a number of value adding features as well as the OFX international money transfer partnership, customers can use any ATM in Australia for free, get $75 cash bonus and access to bonus savings account interest rates.

Westpac LitePay international payments to the Philippines

Westpac have a presence across Australasia and provide special international transfer services to different countries.

  • Westpac Pacific. Westpac charge $10 for international money transfers (up to $500) from Westpac branches in Australia to Westpac branches in the Pacific region. Any request to investigate a non-receipt LitePay, an international fee of $25 is applied per request.
  • Westpac LitePay. Westpac let you send money to accounts in the Philippines for only $5. The maximum transfer amount is $3,000 Australian dollars or less.
Rates last updated April 30th, 2017
Monthly Account Fee Debit Card Access ATM Withdrawal Fee Fee Free Deposit p.m. Details
Westpac Choice
$0 ATM withdrawal fee at 50,000+ ATMs globally.
Via Westpac's Global ATM Alliance. Get Cash without your debit card (conditions apply).
Mastercard $0 $2,000 $0 account keeping fees if you deposit at least $2,000 per month. Otherwise, a $5 monthly fee applies. Unlimited free withdrawals at St.George, Westpac, Bank of Melbourne and BankSA ATMs. Go to site More

Bank transfer fees are high

Send money overseas from your everyday transaction account and you’re going to pay $20+ in fees alone. It’s cheaper to send money online from online banking. Banks will charge more if you request a transfer in person at a branch. The receiving bank may also charge fees too. Disbursement fees are usually taken from the sum given to the person on the other end.

Transfer fee for sending $1000 Australian dollars to Europe

Transfer feeCBAANZNABWestpacING DIRECTCurrencyFair
Online$22$18$22$20$15€3 ($4.47AUD)

There are international money transfer companies which charge less than $10 or don’t even charge a commission at all. The fees from these companies are much better than what you can get from a mainstream banking institution such as the Big 4.

 A - Z guide on fees when you send money overseas.

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Bank exchange rates are poor

Banks make a hefty commission on the exchange rate they offer on payments to international accounts. You can save yourself a tidy sum by looking for non-bank alternatives. ING Direct are an exception as they provide customers with access to the OFX international payment service.

Euros received for sending $1000 Aussie including transfer fee (branch)

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How do I compare bank accounts for international money transfers?

You can send money directly to an overseas bank account using your bank’s telegraphic transfer (TT) service. This is also called a international wire transfer or a SWIFT payment by some institutions. Take note of the following if you’re looking at international money transfer services from banks.

The transfer fee

All banks charge a fee to send money overseas. Citibank’s Global Transfer service is the exception. It’s cheaper to send money overseas online than from a branch.

Available currencies

Banks offer a similar number of currencies; however, there are exceptions. For example Suncorp Bank can send money overseas in about 15 different currencies compared to ANZ which offers closer to 50 international currencies for international payments. If your bank doesn’t support the currency of the country you’d like to send money to, you can send Australian dollars and have the receiving bank convert the funds to the local currency. The process is less transparent and may be more expensive.

The exchange rate

Banks apply a margin to their foreign exchange rates, you can get a far better foreign currency sell rate from a non-bank international money transfer company.

International presence

For example Citibank have an international presence and let you send money between Citibank accounts in selected countries instantly and for free, and Westpac halve the transfer fee for transfers to Westpac Pacific bank accounts. Westpac have also introduced an international payments service called LitePay which lets you send money to bank accounts in the Philippines for only $5.

International money transfer companies offer free registration, and it only takes a couple of minutes to join — Transferwise even let you use your Facebook account. These non-bank international payment companies can be the banks by hundreds of dollars. There’s no excuse not to compare overseas money transfer companies and see how much you can save over using your bank.

Wait, I still have more questions!

How long does a bank international money transfer take?

It comes down to the receiving bank as well as the sending bank. The funds will get to the payee’s bank in 2 - 3 business days and it will take up to 2 or 3 business days more for the funds to clear in the payee’s account.

What information do I need to send money to an overseas bank account?

You’ll the following information to send money to an overseas bank account:

  • The payee’s name and address in some cases.
  • The name of the payee’s bank name, branch address. This information can be provided using a SWIFT code.
  • If you’re sending money to an account in Europe or the UK you may need the payee’s IBAN.

How do I find the SWIFT code or IBAN?

Visit the website of the payee’s bank to find payment information such as the SWIFT code and IBAN.

What are the bank limits for international money transfers?

The default limit is set low for your security. You can arrange to increase your international money transfer limit by contacting your bank.

Default$2,000$1,000 - $10,000$5,000$750$2,000 (minimum one off payment)

$500 (minimum recurring)

€8 (minimum)
Maximum*$50,000$25,000$20,000N/ANo Maximum

*Banks require to you register for an additional layer of security if you increase your Pay Anyone limit.

What happens if the money gets lost?

Banks have systems in place to investigate and possibly reclaim international money transfers which haven’t been received by the payee. You can cancel international money transfers or request an investigation for a fee.

Jacob Joseph

Jacob is a writer and video journalist with Credit cards, personal loans and savings accounts are his bread and butter, and he likes nothing more helping people understand the sometimes overly complex world of personal finance.

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