The Swiss have been settling in Australia as early as the 19th century, with a marked increase after the First World War and then again in the 1980s. Today, Switzerland is one of Australia’s biggest investors and the two countries share close economic and cultural ties.
We support each in the arts, make significant investments in each other’s economies and import each other’s natural and manufactured commodities. Australia exports gold, jewellery and pharmaceutical products, while Switzerland exports medication, watches and clocks.
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International money transfer showdown - Bank vs Money transfer service
Helène Sends Money to Switzerland
After completing her studies in Geneva, Helène celebrated her graduation with a trip to Melbourne, after three weeks she knew she wanted to stay. After joining an accounting firm with an office on the beach, she started looking for cheap, easy ways to send money to Geneva to help maintain the flat she co-owns with her sister. The Swiss franc is a relatively rare currency, so it’s difficult for Helène to find a bank offering transfers to Switzerland.
Before making a transfer, Helène takes the time to weigh the costs and foreign exchange benefits of different money transfer option.
Money transfer service
$22 for online transfer, $30 for in-bank transfer (+ $11 receiving fee)
Amount received for $500
1 - 3 days
2 - 5 days
In the above comparison, it’s clear that transferring via a bank incurs both transfer and receiving fees, as well as a longer delivery delay. Besides a better exchange rate, the money transfer service doesn’t charge any fees and delivers up to two days earlier than the bank.
While some agencies in Switzerland might accept Euros, they’ll charge high fees to convert to Swiss francs.
How to compare which is the best transfer service when sending money to Switzerland?
The Swiss franc is one of the world’s strongest currencies, so you’ll be looking for a service that can give you the best value for your Australian dollars.
Exchange rates. Finding the best deal starts with a good, competitive exchange rate. While some companies offer a relatively good exchange rate for your dollars, be wary of additional fees - transfer or receiving - that they may levy.
Fees. The cost of making a transfer varies from service to service. While some offer completely free transfers, others charge a transfer fee for their service. Some might only charge a receiving fee in the destination currency. Some companies charge both, but then offer competitive exchange rates to attract customers.
Pick-up methods. In this case, the simpler, the better. Go for a service that offers direct deposits or that has pick-up locations close to where your recipient lives. But always make sure no matter the method of pick-up it is the best option for the recipient.
Transfer methods. Most money-transfer services, whether a bank or a specialised service, offer online transfers, cash deposits or transfers over the phone.
Transfer time. Depending on how quickly you need the money to land, you can choose between services that offer instant transfers or those that deliver between one and three business days.
Minimum transfer amounts. Most services stipulate a minimum transfer amount, some higher than others. This is an important factor if you’re looking to transfer a small amount.
Customer service. A service that promises to deliver your money to its recipient should have a good customer-service department. They should be available and efficient, and able to keep you updated on where your money is at any time during the transfer process.
The options for sending money from Australia to Switzerland
Given the country’s status as a first world country and the stability of the Swiss franc, most money transfer services allow for transfers between Australia and Switzerland. You could easily send money from your Australian bank account, but the quickest and most cost-effective method may not be your bank but a specialised money transfer service.
Here are a few providers to consider:
WorldFirst. A reputed online money-transfer service, this company charges no transfer nor receiving fees. Money is deposited directly into the recipient’s account.
Currency Fair. Compared to the standard fees charged by most Australian banks, Currency Fair charges a very low transfer fee and delivers within one business day for a priority transfer.
Global Reach. If you’re looking to transfer bigger amounts, this service is ideal since it charges zero fees for transfers exceeding $5,000. Otherwise, a transfer fee of $10 applies.
The Commonwealth Bank. Sending money internationally with this bank incurs a minimum fee of $22, as well as a receiving fee of up to $25. It’s an option, but not the cheapest one available.
Do you need cash in an emergency whilst in Switzerland?
If you need to send or receive cash in a hurry, there are a few options available to fast-track a transfer.
The priority option. Some transfer services offer a priority sending option that delivers money more quickly than their standard option. Usually, this takes one business day to land.
Instant cash transfer. Services like MoneyGram and Western Union have agencies all over the world, sometimes several in one city. They offer instant deposits that land within an hour of transferring.
Travel insurance. If you’ve suffered a medical emergency or been robbed whilst on holiday, you can claim from your travel insurance. This would require proof of identity, police reports, hospital records: if a quick cash boost is what you need, this may not be the solution for you.
Cash pickup locations for Western Union and MoneyGram in Switzerland
Below you’ll find a few locations for Western Union and Moneygram agencies in Geneva and Zurich. Be sure to take along some positive identification. If you’re planning to receive a particularly large transfer, it’s a good idea to call ahead and make sure that they’re able to handle the transaction. Although Switzerland is relatively safe, try to take someone along with you when you go to collect your money.
Rue De Carouge 18
+41 22 7163280
Open Monday to Friday 9am to 7pm, Saturday 9am to 5pm
Geneve CFF Hall
Gare Cff De Cornavin
+41 22 3080777
Open Monday to Saturday 5:30am to 11pm, Sunday 6am to 11pm
Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade advises that you should ‘exercise normal safety precautions’ when travelling in Switzerland. Although it’s a developed, relatively low crime country, you should still be vigilant when collecting money, particularly if it’s a large sum. Check the agency’s business hours to avoid having to wait outside the building and attracting unwanted attention. If you’re alone, try and get someone from your hotel or travel group to accompany you.
What do you need to do to send money to Switzerland?
Most money transfer services require that you register and become a member first. Signing up is quick and usually free. To make a transfer, most services will require some or all of the following information:
Your name, email address and contact number
The recipient’s name, address and bank details
You can process the transfer online whenever you like, or visit an agency and do it in person. In most cases, you’ll receive a reference or tracking number. If collecting at an agency, the recipient will have to present the reference number as well as their ID to collect the funds.
Getting the best value for your Australian dollars means finding a transfer option that combines low (to zero) transfer and receiving fees with a competitive exchange rate.
Shirley Liu is Finder's global program manager. She was previously the publisher for banking and investments and has also written comparisons for energy, money transfers, Uber Eats and many other topics. Shirley has a Master of Commerce and a Bachelor of Media, Journalism and Communications from the University of New South Wales. She is passionate about helping people find the best deal for their needs.
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