Compare these money transfer services to find cheap, quick and convenient ways to send money overseas.
Are you looking to find a suitable international money transfer option? There’s a world of options. Our free calculator lets you compare providers side by side.
Now more than ever, there are more foreign exchange businesses that let you send money overseas in minutes. Whether you need to send money back home, get emergency cash to a child or pay a freelancer, specialist international money transfer companies can give you a better deal than your bank.
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How do international money transfers work?
An international money transfer is the process of sending money overseas. These services specialise in foreign exchange services. Generally, you open an account with the service, deposit the money you want to send via your local bank account so you're not charged any fees. Then, you indicate what country you want to send the funds to by providing the recipient's IBAN/SWIFT number, BSB and account number. The service then processes the transaction for you usually at a better exchange and lower fees due to economies of scale.
Most international bank to bank transfers are expensive and slow. You can get a better deal on international money transfers using a dedicated foreign exchange company such as HiFX, Western Union or CurrencyFair. There are two types of international money transfer provider, online only companies and those with storefronts. These services offer more ways to pay and collect cash.
The different types of international money transfer provider
Bricks and mortar companies such as Western Union and MoneyGram let you make a cash or EFTPOS payment in person, usually without prior registration. The recipient can collect cash moments after you’ve made a payment by showing identification. These companies have hundreds of thousands agents around the world and have arrangements with retailers like 7/11. These international money transfer companies also offer online payments and deposits to bank accounts.
Online only lenders let you transfer money overseas using your debit or credit card or bank transfer. These providers deposit the money in the recipient's foreign account or make the money available as a cash collection. Cash orders can be ready in minutes and some companies even offer next day home deliveries. You must register for an account to make an online overseas payment, in most cases registration is free of charge.
Fees and charges
Both types of international money transfer provider make money by charging a transfer fee and applying a margin to the foreign exchange rate. Some providers offer first transfer free deals for new customers and promo codes so you can get discounts on your second and third transfers. Even with these fees you’ll find that using a company that specialises in international money transfers is far cheaper than bank to bank telegraphic transfers.
Why do people prefer money transfers instead of using their bank?
- It's fast. International money transfers done through a forex trader can be available in the recipient's account in 1 business day or less.
- And it's cheap. Using a specialist forex service can get you a rate close to the interbank rate and there are services which don’t charge a commission for international money transfers.
- It's also safe and secure. Transfers using banks and foreign exchange traders offer secure online platforms to deposit funds. An investigation by consumer advocacy group, Choice found that foreign exchange services such as OFX and CurrencyFair presented little-to-no risk to users.
How do I compare international money transfer services?
Here are the key points of comparison between different international money transfer services:
- Collection options. How can the recipient collect the funds? Not everyone has a bank account. WorldRemit, Western Union and MoneyGram are three international transfer companies which make funds available as cash.
- Collection methods can vary depending on where you’re sending money.
- Payment options. How can you pay? International money transfer companies allow payment using a debit or credit card, and some let you make a bank account deposit. Western Union and MoneyGram allow in person cash payments.
- Transfer time depends on how you pay for your international money transfer.
- Transfer fees. How much will it cost to make an international payment? Dedicated foreign exchange provides cost far less than banks, which charge a flat fee for transfers initiated online or at a branch.
- Online international payment companies offer promo codes and offer first transfer free deals for new customers.
- Exchange rates. What rate will you get on your transfer? Peer to peer international money transfers offer some of the best foreign exchange rates. Banks are on the other end of the scale. You can compare exchange rates when you get a quote for an international money transfer.
- Some online transfer companies will match competitor’s quotes.
- Minimum and maximum transfer amount. What is the minimum and maximum amount you can send? Transfer fees will determine whether your international money transfer is cost effective; however, some companies and institutions let you send as little as $1.00.
- Some providers will waive transaction fees when you make large transfers.
- Customer service. Can you speak to an operator if things don’t go according to plan? 24 hour customer service is important if you need to cancel or amend an international payment.
- International money transfers should also include order tracking.
What should I avoid when I’m comparing international money transfer quotes?
- Online calculators. There's plenty of room for confusion when using online transfer calculators. It's not always clear whether you're seeing the real rate or an example. The rate quoted when you’re given instructions on how to pay is the true rate for your international money transfer.
In general there are two situations in which travellers, expats and working holiday makers find themselves in:
- Primary aim is to work.
- You have bank accounts in both countries (or your recipient has one).
- You're sending reasonably large sums of money - greater than $1,000.
- You don't have a bank account in the destination country.
- You're passing through the country.
- You're sending reasonably small sums of money - less than $1,000.
There are two main options to help you out if you fall into situation one:
- Option A: Use a dedicated money transfer company with zero or low fees and a competitive exchange rate (typically 1-2% less than mid-market rate).
- Option B: Use your bank and pay fees up to $100 and get unfavourable exchange rates (typically 2-4% less than mid-market rate).
If you fall into situation two, there's one option you can take:
- Option C: Use a remittance company.
How do these options work?
Option A: Money transfer companies
- Register online with the transfer service of your choice.
- Input transaction details including the amount you want to transfer.
- Get approved by the transfer company - you may need to scan or email a copy of your ID for the first transaction.
- Transfer funds through your bank using the account details from your transfer company.
- Get your money. Your transfer service will deposit your funds in your destination account.
Option B: Transfer money using your bank
- You will need to be able to send money online with your current bank.
- You'll usually need to know the address of the receiving bank, the account details of the receiving account, the account name and often the receiving bank's SWIFT code (an international bank identification system).
- It's a good idea to check with your bank about exchange rates.
- You can use this method to send an international money order online to your home bank account or to a third party.
Option C: Wire cash through global companies
There are several pros and cons you need to check out with option C. Here they are:
Pros of wire cash
- No location too remote.
- No Internet access required.
- No local bank account required to send and receive cash.
- Send a money order online to third parties - or to yourself if you'll be there to pick it up.
- Sending your international money order online occurs quickly.
Cons of wire cash
- Money transferred in cash makes large sums unmanageable.
- In-person pick-up is required - you must go to the actual Western Union representative and fill out a form.
- Your recipient must pick up in person.
- A quick-fix solution - not a long term solution.
- You cannot transfer money from an account or from your credit card - cash only.
- You can't send a money order online to yourself - unless you'll be back at home immediately to pick it up.
What are the differences between international money transfer companies and banks?
The cost is the main difference between bank telegraphic transfers and transfers using foreign exchange providers. International bank to bank transfers are an expensive way to send money overseas. Banks apply a higher margin to their foreign exchange rates and charge more for the service than forex providers. The receiving bank and other go-between institutions may also charge a fee to deliver funds when you send money overseas directly from your bank account. There are exceptions.
Bank accounts to use for overseas online transfers.
International banks such as Citibank and ING Direct can offer a better deal on international money transfers than home grown financial institutions. But these banks have limited services and capabilities. For example, Citibank offer free global transfers between Citibank accounts in specific countries. However, transfers can take a number of business days and the recipient must be a Citibank customer.
Take this example: A $5,000 online international money transfer to India
|Service||Transfer fee||Exchange rate (AUD / INR)||AUD Amount||INR Amount|
|ING Direct Orange Everyday||$0||₹46.370||$5,000.00||₹231,850.5|
*Correct 17/12/15: 4.45PM
Looking at the difference between TransferWise and Commonwealth Bank, the two companies which charge transfer fees, the difference in the rate outweighs the transfer fee. By spending $10 more to use TransferWise, you end up about AUD$40 better off once the conversion has taken place.
Using your bank.
Bank to bank telegraphic transfers are a little more straightforward. Just log into your online banking facility and add a new international payee in the ‘pay anyone’ menu. You’ll be asked to enter the SWIFT or IBN code as well as the payee’s personal and bank details.
Besides rates and fees, banks and foreign exchange services differ in the transfer time and collection options.
- Transfer time. Bank to bank transfers can take longer than transfers using an online foreign exchange provider.
- Collection options. Online international money transfers using a forex provider can be made available as cash in some cases.
How do I send money overseas?
Once you’ve compared international money transfer providers, you can find out how to send money overseas by clicking on the links in our comparison table.
Using a foreign exchange provider.
- Get a preliminary quote. Use foreign currency calculators to get an international money transfer quote. These calculators will only provide you with an indicative rate. The actual rate at the time you accept the transfer may be different depending on how often the provider updates their rates.
- Create an account. If you like the quote from the foreign exchange provider, you can register your details to create an account. In most cases you must verify your identity to complete the registration by providing an accepted form of identification such as your passport or drivers licence. You may also be asked to verify your address by providing a utility bill or government notice.
- Get a detailed quote. Once you’ve created your account you can login to the provider’s website and request a second quote to get the actual exchange rate for your transfer.
- Accept the transfer. If you’re happy with the quote, you can make a payment to the foreign exchange provide to confirm the transaction. Payment processing time depends on how you make a payment, for example, credit card and debit card payments are processed sooner than transfers from your bank account.
- Track the transfer. Most money transfer companies let you track your foreign exchange order through their online customer portal.
How to transfer money overseas
The general steps are:
- Log into your money transfer account or profile
- Choose the recipient country, transfer amount and transfer method
- Pay with your credit card or debit card
- You'll receive a confirmation email or SMS with your tracking number
- The money will be deposited into your recipient's local bank account within a couple of business days
Getting the best exchange rate isn’t difficult, but remember that finding a good rate is only half the battle. The fees for your transfer must also be competitive, otherwise you might still lose out.
Getting the best rate when transferring money
Here are some tips to ensure you get the best deal on fees and exchange rates when transferring money:
- Find out what current rates are. You should have a reliable baseline to compare the rates offered by money transfer companies and banks. Two well known currency conversion resources include XE and Oanda. These are free tools you can use to see live conversion rates, and both feature currency conversion calculators.
- Compare by asking for a quote. Getting the best exchange rate can be difficult because money transfer services can charge high fees but offer competitive rates. This means sometimes it’s a good idea to ask for a quote, and then compare this to quotes from other providers.
- Ensure you’re comparing the most accurate rate. This links in with the above point. Until you register with a money transfer service, you’re more than likely seeing their indicative exchange rates, and not the most accurate rates available. Ensure that if you choose not to compare quotes as the above point suggests, that you compare the exchange rate you’ll actually receive, which usually will require you to register with a service or make a call.
Helpful advice when sending money overseas
- Don't transfer money internationally using your bank account. International money transfers from your bank account are an expensive way to send money overseas. Use comparison services and websites to shop around and find the best deal.
- You should be across the limitations and sanctions depending on the recipient country. International money transfers can be collected as cash in some countries; while bank account deposits are the only transfer option in other countries. International money transfer services such as Western Union offer different collection options for different countries. Furthermore, due to government regulations, you won’t be able to send money to various countries.
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Wait, you still haven't answered my question!
What currencies can I send overseas?
All transfer services let you send major international currencies listed below. Not all international money transfer providers let you send exotic currencies. Although you can find a provider to let you send the world’s top 200 international currencies, your choices may be limited. If you're unsure about which countries you can send money to, read our a-z country guides for more information, or check each provider individually by clicking the 'more' links in the comparison table.
What is the minimum international money transfer amount?
Some providers let you send as little as $1.00, other providers have minimum transfer amounts. Services like what is offered by PayPal are designed for transactions under $200. Some forex providers also waive transfer fees when you send more than $5,000 per transaction for example.
- WorldRemit - $0 minimum.
- World First - $250 minimum.
- Travelex - $500 minimum.
- TransferWise - $1 minimum.
- OFX - $250 minimum.
- TorFX - $200 minimum.
- MoneyGram - $250 minimum.
- HSBC Multi Currency Account - $0 minimum.
- HiFX - $50 minimum.
- Currency Online - $0 minimum.
- CurrencyFair - 8.00 EUR minimum.
- Citibank Plus Transaction Account - $0 minimum.
Can I instantly send money overseas?
There are some services which let you send money to be picked up as cash by your recipient almost instantly. These include WorldRemit, Western Union and MoneyGram. If you send money to be picked up as cash with these services you can expect the following transfer times:
Is there such a thing as a free international money transfer?
There are a number of providers which won't charge fees for international money transfers. These include Citibank (Citibank Global Transfers) and TorFX. Keep in mind that even if a service is free, you might pay through a margin applied to the exchange rate. Other services might offer free transfers for transactions over a certain size. For example, OFX offer free transfers for transactions over $10,000. You can find the fee free threshold on your international money transfer provider review pages.
Can I send money overseas using PayPal?
PayPal is a popular way to make international payments. Both the sender and the receiver needs an active PayPal account. Once the funds are received, the money then needs to be transferred to a bank account to be withdrawn. PayPal international transfer fees vary according to the method of payment. Using a credit card to credit a PayPal account with money is more expensive than transferring the money from a bank account. The fee is a percentage of a the total transfer amount. PayPal doesn't recommend its own transfer service for amounts over AUD$200.
Can I send the same currency overseas?
It is possible to send the same currency overseas. One option is to buy funds in a foreign currency when you start the transfer. A currency conversion fee is charged in this instance. Another option is to deposit funds into a multi-currency account. Exchange rates may be uncompetitive using this method and fees may apply when you make a deposit. The fees and charges could outweigh the cost of converting the money and sending it in your local currency.
How do I receive money from overseas?
The method of receiving money from an overseas country depends on the service you use. You can provide your bank account details include the SWIFT code to receive money into your Australian Bank account. Alternatively, the sender can use one of the online money transfer companies compared on this page to deposit money into your bank account. Funds can also be made available as cash collection at an Australian Western Union or MoneyGram agent.
Are international money transfers safe?
It's an industry standard for international money services to use a 128 bit SSL encryption system as a minimum. Many also hold an Australian Financial Services Licence or foreign equivalent, and all must adhere to strict Anti-Money laundering regulations.
In most cases you can check the progress of your international money transfer, and therefore you are provided with complete control and visibility of your transactions. You should be able to access your account 24/7 to check its progress.
Compare providers so you can save money on your international money transfers. Our team is on hand to help you with any of your questions