Your A – Z guide of fees when sending money overseas

This is your guide for all the fees you’ll pay when you send money overseas.

International money transfers can be expensive if you don't know where to look. The two main charges you’re likely to encounter are the commission and a margin inbuilt in the exchange rate. Banks are renowned for taking a bigger cut than specialist foreign exchange companies. These fees and charges outlined below will vary depending on your choice of banking institution or company you use to send money overseas.

We’ve taken the fee schedule from the Commonwealth Bank, Australia’s largest bank, so you can have an indicative idea of the cost of each type of fee. Be sure to have a read of the product disclosure statement before you agree to a deal to send money overseas, this information is readily available on each international payment provider’s website.

AAmendment fee$25This is a fee for when you want to change the details of your international money transfer.
BBranch sending fee$30For international payments initiated at a bank branch.
CCancellation fee$25If you want to cancel your international money transfer or request that you have your money returned to you. The receiving bank may also charge a fee when you request the transaction is cancelled or your money returned to you.
DDisbursement fee$30The recipient may incur a fee from their bank for receiving an international money transfer. You can choose to pay this fee upfront. By doing so, you can guarantee that the party overseas will get the full amount sent.
IInvestigation fee$25When you want to find out why your payment hasn’t been received and get a refund if possible.
MMargin%The margin applied to the exchange rate. This is a hidden cost. You can look into the margin by cross checking the interbank rate against exchange rates published on the international payment service provider’s website.
OOnline sending fee$22For international money transfers requested from an online banking platform.
PPhone sending fee$30For international payments initiated over the phone.
RReceiving money feeUp to $11You can be charged a fee for receiving a payment from an overseas beneficiary.

The commission and the exchange rate margin are the two most common charges when sending money overseas. The good news is you can save on these fees.

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Institutions which don’t charge a commission

There are a number of international payment companies which do not charge a commission. For example, TorFX make money by applying a margin to the exchange rate (but it still ends up being significantly cheaper than using your banking institution). Be sure to compare quotes from providers which do and don’t charge a commission. You may find that paying a higher commission leaves you better off at the end of the day.

Citibank are one banking institution bucking the trend by offering free international money transfers to countries within their global transfer network. There’s no commission charged, Citibank apply a competitive margin to the interbank rate. The only catch is the receiving party must also have a Citibank account. You can make free global transfers to the following countries.

Free Citibank Global Transfer countries

BahrainChinaColombiaHong KongHungaryIndonesiaJapan
TaiwanThailandVietnamUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited States

Free Global Transfers with the Citibank Plus Transaction Account.

Institutions which charge a low margin on the exchange rate

If you want to get the best deal you can, it’s a good idea to compare non-bank international money transfer services. Peer-2-Peer (P2P) international money transfer companies such as Transferwise can give you an exchange rate which is just a touch above the market foreign exchange rate. While it’s difficult to get the market rate if you’re an everyday consumer, these P2P companies can give you access to some of the best foreign exchange rates around.

Find out how to get the best foreign exchange rate when you send money overseas.

Pay attention to the fees when you send money overseas. Although some of them can’t be avoided, others can, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t shop around to find yourself the best deal when sending money overseas.

Still need help?

You can cancel, amend or request an investigation on your international money transfer online or over the phone. Log on to your internet banking facility to request a cancellation, amendment or investigation. When you log on to the your institution’s online portal, you will be able to see the status of your international money transfer, which will read something like ‘pending, sent or rejected’. Alternatively, you can speak to a the international payment service provider customer service representative on the customer service provided, which is available from their website.

It can take up to 5 business days to send money overseas; however, the time it takes for the money to clear can depend on the recipient's bank. If you request to make a transfer on the weekend, the transaction will be processed the next business day.

You may need to register your account to make overseas payments, and increase your overseas payment limit before you can send money overseas. You will need to provide any of these details to send money to an overseas beneficiary.

  • The recipient’s account name.
  • The recipient’s bank name
  • The recipient’ International Bank Account Number (IBAN).
  • The recipient’s SWIFT code or BIC.

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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