If you've moved overseas but still need to pay off a credit card from your home country, you'll usually need to use a currency exchange service so that the repayments are made in the right currency.
For example, if you had an Australian credit card but lived and worked in the US, you would need to exchange US dollars for Australian dollars to make repayments. This is typically the case wherever you work abroad. So, let's take a look at the different ways you can pay off your credit card from anywhere in the world.
Quick guide: Key ways to repay an Australian credit card from overseas
Depending on the country your credit card was issued in, you could also use the following options to pay it off if you're living in Australia – or anywhere else in the world.
|Method||Average currency transfer time||Average transfer cost||Other info|
|Multi-currency bank accounts||Instant||$0|
- Earn and spend money in multiple currencies
- Make payments on your credit card directly through an account
- Fees may apply if you deposit foreign currency in cash (rather than electronically)
|International money transfers||1-2 days||$0-$50|
- Transfer foreign currency to your Australian bank account, then make a credit card repayment from there
- Fees and minimum/maximum transfer amounts vary
- Online transfer, but you will need to have foreign currency available
|Foreign bank account transfers||Varies, but could be 1-2 days or up to 6 weeks||Varies between banks and transfer methods|
- Transfer foreign currency income directly from an overseas account to your Australian account and make a payment from there
- Transfer times and fees vary a lot, so check with your overseas bank for details
|PayPal||Same day||Transfers from PayPal or a bank account: 5% (AUD $0.99 min. AUD $5.99 max)|
Transfers from a card: 5% + 2.6% of the transfer amount + a fixed fee based on the currency
- Transfer foreign currency to your Australian bank account directly from PayPal, your overseas bank account or your card
- Low minimum transfer amount of AUD$0.03, with support for 25 currencies
|Online work and payment platforms (ie, Upwork, Freelance, Fiverr)||Varies||Varies|
- Find jobs and get paid in a variety of currencies
- Get paid directly into your overseas or Australian bank account
- Fees for transferring the funds vary by platform, so check before you start using one
Multi-currency bank accounts
A lot of financial institutions in Australia offer multi-currency or foreign currency accounts, including CommBank, NAB, Citi and HSBC.
These accounts let you deposit, spend and transfer money through a single account, instead of opening an overseas bank account or relying on platforms like PayPal. They also give you a way to pay off your credit card without using another 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 deposit your pay straight into the account. You can then keep it in that currency or instantly transfer it into another supported currency, including Australian dollars. From there, you'd be able to use the Australian dollars to pay off your Australian credit card.
In comparison, the HSBC Everyday Global Account lets you load and spend funds in a range of currencies but offers limited deposit options at HSBC branches. So, you'd have to withdraw cash (or get paid in cash), then go to a branch to deposit it before you could transfer the funds to Australian dollars and pay off your credit card.
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 typically range from $0 to $50, depending on the service you use.
Compare international money transfer services
Our table below lets you compare services you can use to send money abroad. Compare fees, exchange rates and discounts from different money transfer services, and when you have made your choice, click Go to site.
Foreign bank account transfers
Most banks around the world let you 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 a phone number to go ahead with the transfer.
But be aware that international transfers directly between bank accounts can take time and attract high fees. They may also have less competitive exchange rates compared to 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.
How to send funds abroad from a bank account
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.
Compare PayPal to other international money transfer options
Online work platforms for freelancers
If you get work through services like Upwork, Freelance, Fiverr or PeoplePerHour, the money you earn will be sent and received via the platform. From there, you can deposit it into your chosen 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 (or the website for whichever country you're from). 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.
Some of these work platforms also 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), as they could add up.
Can I pay off an international debt with a balance transfer?
A balance transfer is one of the most popular ways for Australians to pay off credit card debt, offering a promotional low or 0% interest rate for a set period of time. But you can only balance transfer debt from another Australian credit card (or other eligible account).
This means if you wanted to pay off a credit card from, say, New Zealand while living in Australia, you wouldn't be able to do it with a balance transfer offer on an Australian credit card.
In this scenario, one option would be to get a balance transfer from your existing NZ credit card to a new NZ credit card with a balance transfer offer – they do exist in the NZ credit card market. That would give you a lower interest rate for the introductory period, but if you were earning money in Australian dollars you would still need to transfer it to New Zealand dollars to pay off the balance.
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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