How to pay your credit card bill when working overseas
International money transfers, PayPal and global currency bank accounts are some of the options you can choose from.
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If you're earning money in another currency but still need to pay off an Australian credit card, you'll need to have Australian dollars to do it. This usually means a transfer or BPAY payment from your Aussie bank account.
You could use savings if you have some stashed away in Australia, but if you're earning money in another currency, there are also a few different ways you can convert it to make payments. So, let's take a look at five of the most popular options.
|Method||Average currency transfer time||Average transfer cost||Other info|
|Multi-currency bank accounts||Instant||$0|
|International money transfers||1-2 days||$0-$50|
|Foreign bank account transfers||Varies, but could be 1-2 days or up to 6 weeks||Varies between banks and transfer methods|
|PayPal||Same day||Transfers from PayPal or a bank account: AUD$5.99|
Transfers from a card: AUD$5.99 + 2.6% of the transfer amount + a fixed fee based on the currency
|Online work and payment platforms (ie, Upwork, Freelance, Fiverr)||Varies||Varies|
What's in this guide?
- Quick guide
- Multi-currency bank accounts
- Compare and search for multi-currency accounts
- International money transfers
- Compare international money transfer services
- Foreign bank account transfers
- What about international bank drafts?
- Online work platforms for freelancers
- What else should I consider?
Multi-currency bank accounts
Both Citi and HSBC offer Australian bank accounts that support multiple currencies. This gives you a way to deposit, save, spend and transfer money through a single account, rather than opening an overseas bank account or relying on platforms like PayPal. It also means you can pay off your credit card without using a separate service (as long as you're earning money in one of the supported currencies).
For example, the Citi Global Currency account is set up so that overseas clients or employers can just deposit your pay straight into the account. You can then hold it in that currency or instantly transfer it into another supported currency, such as Australian dollars. From there, you'd be able to use the Australian dollars to pay off your Australian credit card. This account also has $0 monthly account fees and no overseas ATM fees when you withdraw funds in an available currency.
In comparison, the HSBC Everyday Global Account and the HSBC Foreign Currency Flexi Saver both support a range of currencies but offer limited deposit options at HSBC branches. So, you'd have to withdraw cash or get paid in cash, go to a branch to deposit it and then transfer the funds to Australian dollars before you could pay off your credit card balance.
Compare and search for multi-currency accounts
International money transfers
You can use an international money transfer to send money from one country to another, with most services offering competitive exchange rates. To do this, you need to set up an account with a money transfer service, deposit the funds in an approved currency, then transfer it to a nominated Australian account by providing the IBAN/SWIFT number, BSB and account number.
If you can get these details from your Australian credit card provider, you may be able to pay off your credit card directly when you use an international money transfer service. Otherwise, you can send money to your Australian bank account and use Internet banking to make your credit card repayment. Just keep in mind that fees for international money transfers can vary from $0 to $50, depending on the service you use.
Compare international money transfer services
Foreign bank account transfers
Most banks around the world allow you to transfer funds directly to an authorised financial institution in another country. So, if you're working in one country and get paid through a bank account there, you could request an international transfer directly between that account and one you have in Australia. Usually, you'll need your Australian bank account's IBAN/SWIFT number, BSB and account number. You may also need your bank's address, branch location and contact number to go ahead with the transfer.
However, international transfers directly between bank accounts often attract hefty fees and less competitive exchange rates than those offered by independent, international money transfer services. For example, if you were transferring money from a US bank account to an Australian account, you could be charged between US$25 and US$65 per transaction. So, while it can be convenient, it could end up costing you more if you choose this option.
What about international bank drafts?
If you have an overseas bank account, another option is to get an international bank draft sent to your Australian bank account. With this option, you can use your money with one financial institution to get a cheque written up in another currency.
This type of bank cheque is widely accepted around the world and offers more security than regular cheques. When you get an international bank draft, the money is taken from your account at the time it's issued, which also means that there is no risk of it bouncing. The downside is that it can be expensive and slow, with international bank drafts typically taking several weeks to be processed and cleared.
You can use PayPal to make and receive payments across a range of currencies. You can even make international money transfers through PayPal (although the fees could be higher than some other services).
If you're working as a digital nomad or freelancer, you could also set up a business account so that clients can pay you through PayPal. This does attract fees, which vary depending on the payment type and whether it's an Australian or international payment. For example, online payments from Australia are charged a fee worth 2.6% of the transfer amount, plus $0.30 per transaction. If the payment is from overseas, you'll pay a fee worth 3.6% of the transfer amount, plus a fixed fee that varies by country.
While these costs can add up, using PayPal for work means you can transfer funds into Australian dollars, make a deposit to your Australian bank account and pay off your credit card from there. It also means you'll have a way to get paid and make payments regardless of where you are in the world and the currency you're earning through your work.
Online work platforms for freelancers
Many digital nomads and freelancers get work through services like Upwork, Freelance, Fiverr and PeoplePerHour. As well as giving you a way to search and secure jobs from all around the world, these platforms manage the payments. This means the money is sent and received via the platform and can then be deposited into a nominated bank account.
Depending on the platform you're using, you may need to sign up via the Australian website so that you can link it to your Australian bank account. This will allow you to deposit the money you earn into your bank account so that you can then make repayments on your credit card. Alternatively, some of these work platforms offer other payment options, such as PayPal or Payoneer. But before relying on these services for work, take note of the fees involved (both for jobs and money transfers).
What else should I consider?
If you need to pay your Australian credit card bill while living abroad, some of the other key factors to consider include:
- Your statement period and due date. Take note of the date that your payment is due, keeping in mind that you'll need more time if you're transferring money into an Australian bank account before making the repayment. As Australian credit cards now issue statements electronically, you should be able to check the due date via email, and then set a reminder in your calendar to help avoid penalty fees and additional interest charges. Just remember to factor in the time zone differences so that you have the correct details for the Australian due date.
- Interest charges. Unless you're paying off the full amount on your credit card each month (which could be more difficult while you're overseas), the balance will attract interest charges. Factor this cost into your repayments to avoid further debt down the track.
- Exchange rates. While you can do a quick online search to find the official exchange rate between currencies, this rate differs from the rates offered by international money transfer services, banks and other payment platforms. As a result, the rate you get will vary between services, so it pays to get quotes and compare your options before you make the transfer.
- Currency conversion and transfer costs. International money transfer services charge fees for each transaction. As these costs can vary wildly between different services, do your research before choosing an option.
If you're working overseas, there are a few different options for paying an Australian credit card bill. But as many of these options require a currency transfer, remember to leave enough time for the payment to get from your overseas bank account to your credit card.
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