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How to get the best exchange rate on money transfers

Learn some tips and tricks which will help you get the most for your Australian dollars.

To help you get a better deal when transferring money overseas, we compared the main ways to exchange money. Generally, a specialist money transfer service offers better exchange rates than a bank.

How to find the best exchange rates

When transferring money internationally or exchanging currency for a trip overseas, you will want to get the most bang for your buck. So here's our top tips on how to get the better exchange rates:

Do

  • Use money transfer specialists: Providers such as OFX and Wise add lower markups to exchange rates and cheaper transfer fees than a bank. Also, international transfers should only take 24 to 48 hours.
  • Convert money when rates are favourable: Exchange your money a few months in advance when rates are more favourable. Following the news will help, you can lock in a better rate as currencies tend to overreact in the short-term to news around inflation and interest rates.

Don't

  • Exchange money at airports or train stations: Although it's convenient, they never offer the best exchange rates. You will find they take advantage of people's need to exchange their money and charge expensive markups.
  • Use a credit or debit card abroad: Unless you're 100% sure, your card could add foreign exchange fees on overseas purchases.

How to get the best exchange rate on international money transfers

If you plan to use an international money transfer service, then it's best to shop around and compare your options. The more time you can leave yourself before needing to make the transfer the better. Here are a few things to think about when comparing money transfer exchange rates:

  • Compare providers. Use our table to compare online providers. It is also worth getting quotes from a few providers and seeing which offers the better deal.
  • Know the mid-market rate for your currency. Money transfer providers skew exchange rates in their favour. Therefore it is best to use the mid-market rate as a baseline and see who is offering a fair exchange rate.
  • Use transfer tools to save money. Consider using recurring payments, forward contracts and limit orders to get a stronger exchange rate.
  • Skip the bank. The bank is not your friend in this situation, as they almost always offer weaker exchange rates. For example, CBA adds a markup of 4.10% when exchanging money.
  • Send larger amounts. You will find that many money transfer providers offer stronger exchange rates for larger transfers. If you send more than $10,000 with OFX you will avoid any transfer fees.

Finder survey: Would Australians of different ages use a bank or a money transfer specialist to send money overseas?

Response75+ yrs65-74 yrs55-64 yrs45-54 yrs35-44 yrs25-34 yrs18-24 yrs
Bank46.55%32%29.65%27.98%31.98%35.32%44.33%
I do not send money overseas31.03%54.29%50%48.7%35.03%33.03%28.87%
Money transfer specialist17.24%11.43%13.37%17.62%25.38%26.15%17.53%
Neither5.17%2.29%6.98%5.7%7.61%5.5%9.28%
Source: Finder survey by Pure Profile of 1110 Australians, December 2023

Which Australian bank offers the best foreign exchange rate?

Based on reviewing exchange rates for the top three currency pairs, NAB is the bank with the best foreign exchange rates in Australia. This came as a surprise, as we expected to see ANZ take the top spot. Out of the big four banks, Commonwealth Bank provides the weakest rates. Despite the results, we recommend using a money transfer specialist such as Wise, OFX and TorFX if you're sending money overseas.

BankAUD to USDAUD to EuroAUD to GBP
ANZ0.65280.60560.5211
Commonwealth Bank0.65110.60250.5178
NAB0.66060.61150.5254
Westpac0.65250.60460.5195

The data contained within the table was captured on 13 June 2023.

How to monitor exchange rates?

If you know in advance you will be sending money abroad or travelling overseas, then you should monitor currency trends ahead of time. Take a look at our live currency converter to see what exchange rate you would get for converting your cash today. Market demand dictates how much one currency is worth compared to another - this is known as the mid-market rate. It is also the rate that banks use to trade money with one another.

When you convert money through a money transfer service, you will typically find that the provider adds a margin on top of the exchange rate to make money. So it is worth keeping this in mind when you are monitoring exchange rates.
Select the currency pair to fit your needs

Compare the top money transfer services

1 - 23 of 23
Name Product Filter Values Fastest Transfer Speed Fees (Pay by Bank Transfer)
TorFX
24 hours
$0
TorFX sends money overseas in 40+ currencies, with competitive rates for transfer amounts over $2,000.
Xe Large Transfers
24 hours
$0
Xe has fast transfers with low fees and a range of foreign currency tools.
OFX
24 hours
$0
OFX has no maximum limit transfers, with competitive exchange rates for 50+ currencies.
Send Payments
24 hours
$0

Send provides fee-free transfers via its 24/7 multi-currency payments platform with real-time quotes.
Revolut
Within minutes
$0
Sign up and get a AUD$15 top-up. For new customers only. T&Cs apply.
Send money with great rates and low fees in 30+ currencies.
Xe Money Transfers
Within minutes
$0
Xe has fast transfers with low fees and a range of foreign currency tools.
Instarem
Within minutes
From 0%
50% off first transaction fee from any country in APAC (outside India).
Minimum transfer of $250 and max transfer of $500,000
Wise (TransferWise)
Within minutes
From 0.43%
Wise uses the mid-market rate and transparent fees to help you send money in 50+ currencies.
TorFX
24 hours
$0
TorFX sends money overseas in 40+ currencies, with competitive rates for transfer amounts over $2,000.
Remitly
Within minutes
From $0
Remitly has quick, affordable transfers around the world, with both express and economy options.
Rocket Remit
Within minutes
From $0 to $5
Send money instantly to friends and family in over 45 countries using just your mobile number.
MoneyGram
Within minutes
From $1.99
MoneyGram has fast cash pick-up transfers to more than 350,000 agent locations worldwide.
SingX
Within minutes
From 0.5%
SingX offers the real exchange rate every time you make a transfer and can help you send money across the world.
CurrencyFair
Within minutes
€3
CurrencyFair has bank-beating exchange rates and fast transfer times on 15+ popular currencies.
OFX
24 hours
$0
OFX has no maximum limit transfers, with competitive exchange rates for 50+ currencies.
Send Payments
Send Payments
24 hours
$0
Send provides fee-free transfers via its 24/7 multi-currency payments platform with real-time quotes.
MasterRemit
Within minutes
From $0
Get your 1st and 2nd money transfer for free with promo codes FIRSTFREE and MASTERFINDER!.
Send money in minutes at competitive exchange rates to the Middle East, Africa and South Asia.
Western Union
Within minutes
From $0
Western Union sends money online to friends and family in 200+ countries around the world.
Qantas Business Money
Within minutes
$0
Earn up to 100,000 bonus Qantas Points on your first currency conversion by 31 July 2024. Conversion limits and T&Cs apply.
Set up accounts in 11 different currencies and get rewarded for global business payments by earning Qantas Points.
TorFX Business Transfers
24 hours
$0
TorFX guarantees to match any competitor's exchange rate. Conditions apply.
TorFX sends money overseas in 30+ currencies, with competitive rates for transfer amounts over $2,000.
OFX Business Transfers
24 hours
$0
OFX has no maximum limit transfers, with competitive exchange rates for 45+ currencies.
WorldFirst
24 hours
From $0
Open bank accounts in Australia, the UK, US, Canada, Japan and Europe. Send and receive funds with zero fees for large sums, including same-currency supplier payments.
Send business
24 hours
$0

Send provides fee-free transfers via its 24/7 multi-currency payments platform with real-time quotes.
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Where to exchange currency before your trip

If you know in advance that you will be travelling abroad, then there are several options to exchange money:

  • Order foreign currency online. You can order currency online from a service similar to S Money and pick it up from a local store. When we reviewed rates on 7 August 2023, S Money had strong exchange rates for USD, Euro, JPY and GBP.
  • Check local money changers. Take a trip into the city and view rates at money exchange services such as United Currency Exchange, Travelex, Travel Money Oz and Crown Currency.
  • Check your local bank. If you have an account with one of the larger banks in Australia, they should be able to sell you a wide range of foreign currencies. Just beware of poor exchange rates.

Where to exchange currency outside of Australia?

When traveling internationally you'll typically get better exchange rates at banks, ATMs and post offices. If you have a bank card that doesn't charge international ATM fees, this will most likely be the strongest and most convenient option.

It may be possible to exchange money at your hotel, but double-check the rate against the mid-market rate to see how strong it is. You may also find that some local shops and restaurants offer to accept payment in your native currency.

Here's our dos and don'ts when it comes to exchanging currency outside of Australia:

Do exchange money at:

  • ATMs
  • Post offices
  • Banks
  • Your hotel

Do not exchange money at:

  • Tourist destinations
  • Street-side exchange bureaus
  • Airports, train stations, bus stations and the like

Why compare money transfer services with Finder?

freeYou pay nothing. Finder is free to use. And you pay the same as going direct. No markups, no hidden fees. Guaranteed.
expert adviceYou save time. We spend 100s of hours researching money transfer options so you can sort the gold from the junk faster.
independentYou compare more. Our comparison tools bring you more money transfer providers to compare.

Frequently asked questions

Richard Whitten's headshot
To make sure you get accurate and helpful information, this guide has been edited by Richard Whitten as part of our fact-checking process.
Sarah Megginson's headshot
Head of editorial

As an authority on all things personal finance, Sarah Megginson is passionate about helping you save money and make money. She is an editor and money expert with 20 years’ experience and an extensive background in property and finance journalism. Sarah holds ASIC RG146-compliant Tier 1 Generic Knowledge certification, and she's a regular media commentator, appearing weekly on TV (Sunrise, Channel 7 news, Nine news), radio (KIIS FM, Triple M, 3AW, 2GB, 6PR) and in digital and print media. See full bio

Sarah's expertise
Sarah has written 185 Finder guides across topics including:
  • Home loans
  • Personal finance
  • Budgeting and money-saving tips
  • Managing the cost of living

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15 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    peteOctober 24, 2017

    I need to transfer $20000 US from Australia to an elderly man in the USA but am not sure how to do this safely. I want assurance he will get the money but I need assurance I get what I pay for.
    Any suggestions ?

      AvatarFinder
      JhezelynOctober 24, 2017Finder

      Hi Pete,

      Thank you for your comment.

      There are different ways you can go about transferring money to the US. You may do online banking, wire transfer, or money transfer services. Meanwhile, you may compare a fast and secure way of sending money to the US. Bank transfers are safe and reliable, though they are by no means the most cost-effective or fastest option. Inter-bank money transfers and transferring money from one bank or one financial institution to the other within the same country is mostly free of cost. However, sending money from one country to another includes different types of fees (some hidden), so be sure to factor this into your decision-making process.

      Hope this helps.

      Regards,
      Jhezelyn

    Default Gravatar
    JonathanJuly 22, 2017

    Hi Jeff,

    Thank you for writing to us. :)

    You are on the right page. Please enter the AUD transfer amount and choose the desired currencies on our comparison table then click “Calculate”. It will prompt you the list of transfer services available and their updated rates.

    Alternatively, you can also fill out the Enquiry form located a bit below for a FX expert to check on your options.

    Hope this helps.

    Cheers,
    Jonathan

    Default Gravatar
    SteveMay 29, 2017

    My existing FX account now does not handle small amounts for my family in the U.K., EG UKP100.00 transfers. They are happy to continue to handle my company transfers to China. Are you able to recommend a service for both of these accounts?

      AvatarFinder
      JhezelynMay 31, 2017Finder

      Hi Steve.

      Thank you for your inquiry.

      You may consider a multi-currency bank account if you regularly deal with currencies due an international business or personal reasons. This is also known as the foreign currency account wherein they would allow you to hold different currencies and convert them when you want to so you can avoid short-term rate fluctuations from harming your balance.

      Please refer to the table above to compare international money transfer companies.

      Hope this helps.

      Regards,
      Jhezelyn

    Default Gravatar
    PokiMarch 27, 2017

    what is one advantage of floating exchange rate?

      AvatarFinder
      DeeMarch 28, 2017Finder

      Hi Poki,

      Thanks for your question.

      Flexible exchange rates are said to be ‘floating’ and can fluctuate regularly due to many factors. To learn more about these factors, please check our foreign exchange rates guide.

      A floating exchange rate offers several advantages. One of which is the flexibility and automatic adjustment of the rate in case of disequilibrium (deficit or surplus) as an effect of import and export transactions. The exchange rate is also stable and predictable, which is a good thing especially for exporting firms.

      I hope this answers your question.

      Cheers,
      Anndy

    Default Gravatar
    JanisJune 26, 2016

    i want to know please what is best – AUD to USD or British pounds?
    I intend to set up a multi-currency account and would also like details.
    Thank you.

      AvatarFinder
      ShirleyJune 28, 2016Finder

      Hi Janis,

      Thanks for your question.

      Please note that exchange rates are different for every provider.

      If you intend to apply for a multi-currency account, you will need to check what the exchange rates are from that specific financial institution.

      You can get an indicative idea of what exchange rates the providers are offering by opening that link.

      Regards,
      Shirley

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