If you've moved to Australia and want to send money overseas, you need to pay attention to exchange rates and fees.
Fortunately, there are ways to pay zero fees and get better exchange rates. You can find a foreign money transfer service with no fees that will also match a competitor’s exchange rates and make each dollar go further.
International Money Transfer Offer
TorFX International Money Transfers
No extra fees
Fix your exchange rate for up to 2 years
Personal account manager
International Money Transfer Offer
TorFX has no charges and 0% commission that lets you save on fees with a competitive exchange rate.
The "Rate" and "Amount Received" displayed are indicative rates that have been supplied by each brand or gathered by Finder.
Exchange rates are volatile and change often. As a result, the exchange rate listed on Finder may vary to the actual exchange rate quoted for the brand. Please confirm the actual exchange rate and mention "Finder" before you commit to a brand.
Want to speak to an FX expert instead?
Save money on your personal or business international money transfer today. Fill in the form and you’ll be contacted by a foreign exchange expert to have an obligation-free discussion about your options. Our foreign exchange experts offer a best rate guarantee, are ASIC authorised and never charge transfer fees.
They can help you with all your needs including:
Buying property abroad
Regular overseas payments
Should I use a bank or an international money transfer company?
International currency transfer services make their profits by making a large number of currency exchanges with small margins and small fees to cover costs. Their exchange rates are usually 1-2% less than mid-market rates, and they make about that much on any currency exchanged. Their income depends on offering great deals to attract a lot of users.
To stay profitable, they usually have minimum amounts that can be sent per transaction.
Bank overseas currency transfers make their profits from fees for everything and currency exchanges at big margins (worse rates). Its exchange rates are usually 2-4% less than mid-market rates, meaning they make about that much on currency exchanged plus all their fees. Their income depends on making as much money per transaction as possible.
Because they have so many fees, banks do not have any minimum amounts per transaction, but smaller sums may be entirely lost to fees.
This is how international currency transfer services are able to offer much better value for money.
If you want to make international money transfers, you may want to consider avoiding banks. In many cases, you can only use banks for transfers when you have an account with them and you will end up paying whatever rates and fees they demand, wait for however long it might take and have fewer options for sending and collecting.
Dedicated currency transfer services have more choices, so you can compare options to find the best, then transfer money overseas with no fees, great rates and collection options that work for the recipient, whether it’s cash, cheque or a direct transfer to their bank account.
Money transfer service
Worse exchange rates
Better exchange rates and price matching
Usually need an account with the bank
Can be used by anyone
Bank fees are BIG
Bank fees mean you might spend hundreds of dollars on just one transaction, and the fees might be more than the amount of money you are sending.
Fees for sending. They will typically charge you a flat $20-30 fee.
Fees for changing currency. Not only are the conversion rates worse, but they may charge another flat fee for converting the currency, which can be around $30.
Fees for processing. If the money is being sent to a different banking company, they will charge additional processing fees, generally $10-30 depending on the situation.
Fees for receiving. The person you are sending money to will have to pay another fee to pick it up. This is typically more if they are in a different country and using a different currency. This fee can be over $30. They will also have to pay the separate fees of whichever bank they are using.
Extra fees if you want to pay the receiving fees. If you, the sender, want to pay for the recipient’s bank fees, you can but this incurs a “correspondent fee” of $40 or more.
Fees for tracing the transfer. If you want to find out how much longer the transfer will take, or if it did not arrive and you want to find out what happened to it, the bank will look into it if you pay another $25.
Fees for amending the transfer. Need to change some details of the transfer? You can for another $25 fee.
Cancellation fees. If you realise the fees are too high and want to cancel the transfer, you can but this will incur another $25 fee.
Currency transfer service fees are small
International money transfer services have small fees.
No fees at all. Many providers will charge you zero fees.
Set fees. Some providers require you to pay a flat $5-15 in fees per transfer.
Are there any other fees?
If the money has to be transferred through banks on the way to its destination, these banks might each take a cut. This is beyond the control of international money transfer services, but at least they won’t charge you an extra correspondent fee for it.
Banks may charge administration fees for setting up regular payments.
Banks apply hefty flat costs to each transaction.
Banks will usually charge extra for amending payment schedules.
Banks offer poorer exchange rates on each transaction.
Most international money transfer providers will set up regular payments without any fees.
Many money transfer companies will not apply any flat fees to transactions.
Money transfer companies will typically let you adjust payment schedules free of charge.
International currency transfers bring good exchange rates to every transaction.
If you want to set up regularly scheduled overseas payments, resist using a bank. Currency transfer services are simply better when sending money overseas.
Fees for receiving money into your bank account
Banks will charge you fees just for receiving money internationally.
International currency transfer services have no fees for the recipient.
If you are in Australia and receiving money from someone overseas, such as if you are still finding your feet after arriving, your Australian bank will charge a flat fee, typically over $10 each time, just for collecting the money plus a flat currency exchange fee. The worse international currency exchange rates offered by banks, compared to transfer services, also mean more money is lost along the way. Bank transfers can generally only be paid into your account with fees automatically deducted.
However, when you receive money with an international currency transfer service, it can be deposited directly into your bank account without any extra fees and at better exchange rates. Some providers will let you collect it as cash or a cheque.
Don’t let your overseas acquaintances send money with a bank. Ask them to use an international currency transfer service instead, so you don’t have to pay any fees.
How to compare international money transfer services
Send more money overseas with currency transfer services and find the provider that’s right for your needs by comparing a few simple things.
Find a provider that works for you by making sure they accommodate your minimum transfer amount, required transfer speed and services available. After that, compare their rates and fees against the amount you are sending to find out which is more cost-effective.
Finding the right money transfer company can be as simple as that.
What to look for
What it means
With money transfer services
Foreign currency exchange rates. This makes a big difference in larger transactions
Bad rates, typically 2-4% less than mid-market value
Good rates, typically only 1-2% less than mid-market value
Flat costs you must pay when sending money
Big fees for sending, receiving and exchanging money
A small fee for sending money or no fee at all
Minimum transfer amounts
The smallest amount you can send in one go
No minimum, but fees cost more than small transfers
Varies widely. Can be non-existent, a few dollars, a few hundred dollars or thousands of dollars
How long it takes to send and receive money
From 2-5 business days
Typically 1 or 2 days, including weekends
How you can make transfers
Online, over the phone, in person and more
Usually online or over the phone, but in person with some providers
Jennifer’s money transfer plans
Jen had just moved to Australia and has a new job lined up. Her new income was more than enough to pay her modest bills and living expenses, so she wanted to set up a regular transfer of money back home to America to pay for her father’s growing medical needs. Her plan was to transfer $1,000 every month, which would be converted into American dollars.
Jennifer’s first thought was to go to her bank. She looked at their options, then looked at their fees and realised it would take a big bite out of the money she sent. Casting around for other options, she soon discovered a typical international money transfer service. To compare both side by side, she drew up this table.
Sending AUD$1,000 per month
Money transfer service
USD$0.72 per AUD$1
USD$0.76 per AUD$1
AUD$40 per transaction
AUD$10 per transaction
How much money arrives back home each month
How much arrives in a year
Using a money transfer service instead of the bank meant that over the course of a year Jen sent an additional US$734.40 home – a difference of about a thousand Australian dollars.
Jennifer compared all the banks and all the money transfer services she could find and found similar differences across the board. Her mind was made up, and she resolved never to use banks for international currency transfers as long as there was a single good money transfer service.
How to do an international currency transfer
For seamless international money transfers, follow these steps.
Know the details of the bank account you want to send money to. This might be your own bank account outside of Australia or the account of someone you are paying. To transfer money to an account, you must know the recipient’s SWIFT/BIC code, which indicates the country and location of the receiving bank, as well as the BSB and account number which specify the individual bank account. You can find SWIFT/BIC codes online or by contacting the bank, and you should get the BSB and account number from whomever you’re sending money to.
Compare the international currency transfer options. They may have different exchange rates, different minimum transfer amounts and different fees. To compare effectively, you should know the currencies to be converted, the amount you are sending and how quickly it needs to arrive. Rule out the options that are too slow, don’t exchange the currencies you need or have other problems, and then compare the remaining by price.
Contact your chosen international money transfer service. You will generally need to open an account with them. Once you have, all you need to do is give them the SWIFT/BIC codes as well as the BSB and account number of the recipient and they can transfer money efficiently and without hassle. Their fees are usually minimal, and they will tell you if there are any additional costs.
You can now send money overseas without losing huge chunks of it to bad exchange rates or sizeable fees. Do it online or over the phone, set up automatic transfers and make use of any discounts available. You’re now good to go!
Did you have these questions around expat money transfers?
Yes. Many large money transfer services use the same electronic security systems as the banks. There is no undue risk when using a reputable and well-known money transfer service.
Banks will typically give a time frame of anywhere from two to five business days. Money transfer services will typically tell you exactly how long it will take, generally either one or two days.
It depends on where you want to send money, how much you are sending and the situation. Larger sums mean it’s worth paying a fee for a better rate, while smaller sums mean it’s not. If you need it transferred quickly, a fast provider is preferable while certain currencies or locations might be better with certain companies than others. Compare options to find the best money transfer service for your needs.
Shirley Liu is Finder's global program manager. She was previously the publisher for banking and investments and has also written comparisons for energy, money transfers, Uber Eats and many other topics. Shirley has a Master of Commerce and a Bachelor of Media, Journalism and Communications from the University of New South Wales. She is passionate about helping people find the best deal for their needs.
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