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.
Given how weak the Australian Dollar has been in 2023, more people are looking to get better exchange rates. Understanding how to exchange money is the first step to avoid being ripped off! We compared the main ways to exchange money and recommend avoiding banks and using a money transfer specialist.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
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.
|Bank||AUD to USD||AUD to Euro||AUD to GBP|
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
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:
- Post offices
- Your hotel
Do not exchange money at:
- Tourist destinations
- Street-side exchange bureaus
- Airports, train stations, bus stations and the like
Why you can trust Finder's money transfer experts
We've done the work
We're here to help
Frequently asked questions
More guides on Finder
Best Cyber Monday deals you can still get today: Up to 70% off
Black Friday is now over, but you can still pick up stacks of Cyber Monday deals that are every bit as good.
How a pink trading platform dominated New Zealand
Sharesies boasts 500,000 Kiwi customers - or one-tenth of the New Zealand population.
Woolworths vs Coles: Which paid membership is better? [VIDEO]
Is it worth spending more with Everyday Extra or Coles Plus?
Savings with Sarah #10
Aussies are predicted to spend $30 billion this festive season. Here's 7 key tips on how you can save on gift-buying.
Cyber Monday laptop deals 2023
Access deals and discounts of up to 65% off laptops from Dell, Microsoft, HP and more in the 2023 Cyber Monday sale event.
Standing desk sale: 35% off at Omnidesk for Cyber Monday
Upgrade your home office this Cyber Monday with 35% off ergonomic standing desks from Omnidesk.
Cyber Monday iPhone deals 2023
If you're looking for iPhone deals in this year's Cyber Monday sales, check out our roundup of the very best discounts around.
Virgin flights to Uluru: How many points do you need?
Can you get a red-hot deal for the red centre?
How to avoid a Christmas debt hangover
11% of us are putting our holiday shopping on plastic.
Black Friday Weekend: Today’s 25 best deals
From cutting-edge gadgets to deluxe mattresses, these are the best Black Friday deals you can get over the weekend.
Ask an Expert