best exchange rate feature image

How to Get the Best Exchange Rate When Sending Money Overseas*

Information verified correct on December 8th, 2016

Using a specialist money transfer service generally means that you get a better exchange rate compared to the banks.

If you use specialist international money transfer services, there's a good chance that you're already getting the best possible exchange range. However, if you're still using your bank, then you may be getting ripped off. The value you receive from a money transfer mostly relies on the exchange rates and fees – and with so many options available, the exchange rates can vary greatly.

How do to get the best exchange rate?

Compare international money transfer companies and products below. You can use the table headings to sort through features and fees so you can select the right product for you. If you want to find out more about a product, simple click the ‘More’ link, or if you want to open an account, click ‘Go to Site’.

Compare Australia's best exchange rates

Rates last updated December 8th, 2016
Description Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Services Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received
TorFX International Money Transfers
TorFX International Money Transfers
TorFX guarantee to beat any competitor's exchange rate for a transaction
Conditions apply
AUD 200 1 day Online, Phone, Agent Go to site More
Exclusive: World First Foreign Exchange
Exclusive: World First Foreign Exchange
Exclusive offer: $0 transfer fee
Transfer money into a range of currencies online and over the phone.
AUD 500 2 days Online, Phone Go to site More
Exclusive: CurrencyFair International Money Transfers
Exclusive: CurrencyFair International Money Transfers
Exclusive offer: 3 Free transfers (after your first transfer).
A peer-to-peer transfer service with a large range of currencies on offer.
EUR 8 2 days Online Go to site More
FC Exchange International Money Transfers
FC Exchange International Money Transfers
No transfer fee via online, branch or phone when transferring more than £10,000 or equivalent. GBP 3,000 1 day Online, Phone, Bank Account to Bank Account Go to site More
Exclusive: OFX (Ozforex) International Money Transfers
Exclusive: OFX (Ozforex) International Money Transfers
Exclusive offer: Special exchange rates and $0 transfer fee
OFX is currently offering finder.com.au exclusive exchange rates and $0 transfer fee on all transfers.
AUD 250 1 day Online, Phone, Agent Go to site More
Currency Online International Money Transfers
Currency Online International Money Transfers
Enjoy regular scheduled transfers, one off transfers and a range of currencies. Also enjoy your first transfer for free. AUD 0 2 days Online, Phone Go to site More
Compass Global Markets International Money Transfers
Compass Global Markets International Money Transfers
Send money in as little as 24-48 hours to a range of countries with Compass Global Markets. AUD 1,000 2 days Online, Phone Go to site More
1st Contact International Money Transfer
1st Contact International Money Transfer
$0 online fee without any minimum limit on money transfers. AUD 0 2 days Online, Phone, Bank Account to Bank Account Go to site More
Currency Solutions International Money Transfers
Currency Solutions International Money Transfers
Send money overseas for a range of reasons, including regular payments and buying overseas property. 97% Trustpilot score. AUD 3,000 2 days Online, Phone, Bank Account to Bank Account Go to site More

An FX expert can help you get the best exchange rate

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Save money on your personal or business international money transfer today. Fill in the form and you’ll be contacted by a foreign exchange expert to have an obligation-free discussion about your options. Our foreign exchange experts offer a best rate guarantee, are ASIC authorised and never charge transfer fees.

They can help you with all your needs including:

  • Buying property abroad
  • Emigrating
  • Regular overseas payments
  • Risk management
  • Forecasting

How do I get the best exchange rate?

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.
  • Utilise forward contracts. A forward contract basically allows you to lock in an exchange rate for a transfer which will take place in the future. In most cases you can lock in a rate for up to 12 months in advance, saving you from receiving a poor rate when you make a money transfer in the future. Not all transfer companies will allow you to use a forward contract, so ensure you consider this when comparing. Forward contracts can sometimes only be offered on larger transfer amounts, but this depends on the transfer service.
  • Consider a market order. A market order, also known as a limit order, allows you to choose a favourable rate, and then instructs your money transfer company to buy or sell your chosen currencies only once that rate is available. Like a forward contract, some money transfer companies will only offer these for larger transfer amounts.
  • Consider a multi-currency bank account. If you regularly deal in currencies, whether that be due to an international business or for personal reasons, a multi-currency bank account can be a good idea. Also known as a foreign currency account, they allow you to hold different currencies and convert them into AUD when you want. This means you can avoid short term rate fluctuations from harming your balance.
  • Carry out one large transfer rather than several smaller transfers. If you’re looking to send a large amount of money, try to send it as one rather than in smaller batches. This is because many transfer companies can offer better rates, and lower fees for large transfers.

finder.com.au's best exchange rates

ServiceAUD/USDAUD/EURAUD/GBP
World First0.7680.6840.588
OFX0.7670.6830.587
CurrencyFair0.7670.6830.588
Currency Online0.7660.6810.588
Compass Global Markets0.7600.6760.587
1st Contact0.7550.6720.583
TorFX0.7510.6680.579

*Rates recorded on 29 Sep 2016

Getting the best rate when travelling overseas

If you’re travelling to a country and looking for tips on receiving the best exchange rate, here are some things to consider:

  • Avoid busy areas and airports. Unless you’re organising a currency pickup, like you can with companiess such as Travelex, these areas can provide poor exchange rates. Other businesses such as Flight Centre kiosks can give competitive rates.
  • Exchange in the country you’re travelling to. While you may want to exchange a small amount before you leave your home country to ensure you have money to get you from the airport to your hotel, save the majority of your currency exchange until when you get into the country if you can. Once you touch down, avoid the airport and tourist destinations when looking for a currency exchange provider.
  • Consider an international debit, credit or travel card. Some of these cards are offered by major banks and offer 24/7 support, as well as exchange rates offered by Visa and MasterCard, which can be competitive. Read more about these options below.
  • Avoid exchanging at a restaurant or hotel. These locations can offer convenient, on-the-fly currency conversion but unfortunately might not offer the most competitive rate.
  • Avoid purchasing in your own currency. Some retailers will offer you the option to pay in your home currency, and will then convert the funds themselves. This can be tricky if you don’t have a currency calculator on hand, meaning you might lose out on the exchange.
Definition: Exchange Rate

An exchange rate is a way of showing the value of one currency compared to another. Exchange rates are impacted on by the supply and demand of a currency, a country’s inflation, trade between two countries and more, so rates can fluctuate throughout the course of a day. Indirectly, exchange rates dictate the costs of many day-to-day items you’ll buy which are purchased from overseas or made using materials which come from foreign countries. Directly, you’ll come across exchange rates when travelling overseas, purchasing goods from overseas, or sending funds overseas. This guide will explain how to get the best exchange rate available when sending money overseas.

The latest in foreign exchange

Where can I exchange money?

The answer to this question depends on the reason for your exchange. If you’re looking to convert money to send it overseas, some of these providers won’t be the best option for you.

  • Money transfer companies. These are specialist currency exchange and money transfer companies, and therefore can offer competitive exchange rates and low fees. Many of them also offer a large range of services such as forward contracts and market orders.
  • Walk in kiosks, banks, post offices. These are the most well-known currency exchange and money transfer destinations for many Australians. Some of them, such as Flight Centre, Western Union and MoneyGram can offer competitive deals for sending money overseas or converting money depending on the service.
  • Credit cards, debit cards and travel cards. Apart from travel money cards, these will exchange your funds from AUD to the currency of your choice instantly using the applicable exchange rate. For some cards this will be the Visa or MasterCard rate, which by itself isn’t uncompetitive, but if you’ll pay a transaction fee or ATM withdrawal fee for the transaction, may become expensive. Travel cards will allow you to transfer funds onto your card at the exchange rate set by the card provider. This allows you to avoid exchange rate fluctuations.

Comparing exchange rates

Below is a comparison of the advertised rates for three different money transfer companies. As mentioned above, whenever you carry out a comparison be sure to get an accurate quote from the provider rather than using the advertised rates, as the two may be different.

CommBankOFXMoneyGramCurrency Online
AUD/USD0.84020.88060.87160.8814
AUD/EUR0.65430.69330.68500.6936
Fee$22 AUD
  • $5 USD
  • €10 EUR
$15
  • $9 USD
  • €7 EUR

As you can see, the highest rate in this comparison was offered by CurrencyOnline, but their fee was almost double that of OFX, with the next highest rate. This comparison doesn’t take into account transfer speed, which may be an issue for you. It also doesn’t take into account transfer methods, for example sending money to be picked up in cash by your recipient.

Q&A: Finding the best rate

Where can I find up-to-date foreign exchange rates?

As mentioned above, you can check sites such as XE or Oanda to find out up-to-date exchange rates. Also remember that banks and money transfer companies will publish their own exchange rates.

Does my income need to be converted into Australian dollars for my tax return?

Yes, all foreign income needs to be translated into Australian dollars when filling out your tax return.

Why are bank exchange rates not as competitive as money transfer service companies?

This is because money transfer companies specialise in foreign currency transactions and deal in large amounts, giving them savings that they can in turn pass on to consumers.

How will a money transfer or currency exchange service make money from me?

These services will profit from your transaction in two ways. One is through adding a margin to your exchange rate, and the other is by charging you a transfer fee. Some services will do both.

International Money Transfer Offers

Learn about our information service
TorFX International Money Transfers

TorFX guarantee to beat any competitor's exchange rate for a transaction
Conditions apply

Exclusive: World First Foreign Exchange

Exclusive offer: $0 transfer fee
Transfer money into a range of currencies online and over the phone.

Exclusive: CurrencyFair International Money Transfers

Exclusive offer: 3 Free transfers (after your first transfer).
A peer-to-peer transfer service with a large range of currencies on offer.

FC Exchange International Money Transfers

No transfer fee via online, branch or phone when transferring more than £10,000 or equivalent.

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8 Responses to How to Get the Best Exchange Rate When Sending Money Overseas*

  1. Default Gravatar
    Janis | June 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.

  2. Default Gravatar
    Fiona | March 19, 2016

    I have to buy something in USA which will cost $18000 US. What is the best way to arrange payment getting the best exchange rate and other costs. The payment will be made next week.
    I have the money in an ING account

  3. Default Gravatar
    Kevin | August 6, 2015

    I wish to transfer $10,000 AUD into a debit card that I can use whilst travelling overseas. Can I do this through Macquarie and Ox Forex? What is the process? I have a cash management account with Macquarie. How do I transfer AUD funds from that account into EUR and then into my Debit Card.

    • Staff
      Marc | August 7, 2015

      Hi Kevin,
      thanks for the question – you must be excited to be travelling!

      At the current time Macquarie Bank doesn’t offer a specific travel card option which allows you to load funds onto and spend overseas, and they also don’t offer a specific debit card, although they do offer credit cards which could in theory be used overseas and then paid off.

      OFX on the other hand do offer a specific travel card, and the way this works is simple: You activate your account, and then pay your funds into it using BPAY. The funds will still be in AUD at this point. Once you see a favourable exchange rate, you can convert your funds into EUR, which helps you avoid any exchange rate fluctuations while you’re travelling.

      Read more about the OzForex Travel Card and visit OFX directly to find out more.

      You can also compare other travel money options from other providers here to make sure you’re getting the best deal.

      I hope this helps,
      Marc.

  4. Default Gravatar
    Lyn | July 27, 2015

    I have a Citibank plus account which has no foreign conversion fees or transaction fees. When I withdraw money from an ATM in Britain, are Citibank conversion rates applied or the bank owning the ATM’s rates. Is it better to convert Aussie dollars to British pounds here or wait till I arrive in Britain?

    • Staff
      Sally | July 28, 2015

      Hi Lyn,

      Thanks for your question.

      As finder.com.au is a financial comparison service, we can’t actually recommend any one product, service or strategy to our users, as the ‘best’ option will always depend on the user’s individual needs.

      However, we can compare that the exchange rates applied are determined by the Visa exchange rates at the time of purchase. Although there are no international ATM withdrawal fees charged by Citibank, please note that a local ATM fee may apply.

      I hope this has answered your question.

      Thanks,

      Sally

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