When you send money from Australia to Southeast Asia, you'll want a bank or transfer service with low fees and competitive exchange rates.
The Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) lists 11 different nations as part of Southeast Asia. These include Brunei, Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. If you're from one of these countries and living in Australia you're likely to need to investigate your money transfer options.
International money transfer that send money to Southeast Asia
Banks vs money transfer services
You will find a number of different options available depending on where in Southeast Asia you are transferring money to. For example, National Australia Bank (NAB) is an Australian bank that will allow bank-to-bank transfers from Australia to Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. For other countries, you will have to check with the bank personally.
Check the options available for your recipient country carefully in order to ensure that you are getting a good deal on transfer services. Expect to pay a fee for the transfer as well as a reduction in the value of the currency.
Example: Jael wants to help her parents buy a house in the Philippines
Jael moved from the Philippines to Australia over a year ago and has recently decided to begin investing money back home towards the purchase of a house for her elderly parents. The trouble is finding a reliable financial institution that will conduct the transactions without overcharging her or giving an unusually low rate on the currency exchange.
Jael has found a banking option that will do an account-to-account transfer from Australia as well as a money transfer service that needs someone back home to physically pick up the money at an agency. Here's what she found when comparing the different companies:
|Bank money transfer service||Non-bank money transfer service|
|Exchange rate||₱35.99 for every $1 sent.||₱38.52 for every $1 sent.|
|Fees||This bank charges $22 per transfer. This fee does not include what may be charged by the Filipino bank.||You will be charged a fee of $11.99 when initiating the transfer. The recipient is typically not charged a fee at pick-up.|
|Amount received per $1,000 sent||₱35,990 will be deposited into the Filipino account minus any fees charged by the bank.||₱38,520 will be available for pick-up.|
|Turnaround time||It will generally take up to 1 business day for the money to leave her Australian account and 1–3 additional business days for it to clear in an overseas bank account.||This service is normally conducted in a matter of minutes. Jael will have to arrange for someone to pick up the money at one of the company's locations. To do this she'll have to give them the transfer code.|
As you can see, using a non-bank transfer service not only saves over $10 in fees, but the amount received in the Philippines is ₱2,529 higher thanks to a more competitive rate offered by the transfer service. Money lost in the transaction will add up to thousands of Australian dollars quickly if Jael is sending money home consistently.
* This is a fictional, but realistic, example.
Today's exchange rate AUD to PHP
Example: Jaslyn wants to send money to her family in Singapore
Jaslyn is getting ready to leave her family in Singapore for a year abroad in Australia as part of her company's expansion efforts. Worried about her husband and children, she is looking into ways that she can send a portion of her pay back home each month.
Jaslyn has been able to find 2 secure ways of getting money to her husband while away in Australia. The first is a well-known bank, while the other is a money transfer company. When comparing the differences between them, this is what she found:
|Bank-to-bank money transfer||Non-bank money transfer|
|Exchange rate||The exchange rate with the bank was S$1.07 for every $1.||The exchange rate offered by this service is $1.08.|
|Fees||The fee for a bank-to-bank money transfer from Australia to Singapore is $22. This is not including any charges from the bank the money is transferred to.||You will be charged a fee of $70 by the transfer company to conduct this overseas transaction.|
|Amount received per $1,000 sent||The Singapore bank account will receive S$1,065.60 at the completion of the transaction.||The recipient will receive S$1,082.|
|Turnaround time||This service is normally conducted over a period of 2–4 business days.||This service is normally conducted in a matter of minutes. This is a cash pick-up service only, where you will be instructed to give the recipient a transfer code in order for them to be given the money.|
In this case, the transfer with the non-bank company gives the recipient S$16.40 more than the bank transfer, but Jaslyn spends $48 more in fees. Depending on what the Singaporean bank will charge, in this case it's more economically sound to use the banking service over the non-bank service unless you want the recipient to have the money immediately.
* This is a fictional, but realistic, example.
Today's exchange rate AUD to SGD
How to compare transfer companies
As you can see from the examples, the rates and fees are going to vary greatly from country to country when looking at different methods of transferring money from Australia to Southeast Asia. Look at the following points carefully when deciding which is your best option:
- Exchange rate. This is key as fees can be hidden in the form of lower exchange rates than what is considered competitive.
- Fees. The upfront fee is very important in your decision. You will find that this can vary significantly between companies as well as countries.
- Pick-up methods. Think about who you are sending the money to and for what purpose. If the closest pick-up locations are far for your family, bank-to-bank transfers may work out better for you and them.
- Turnaround time. For scheduled payments, the turnaround time may not be an issue for you, but will be if an emergency warrants that you send money home immediately.
- Transfer methods. Some services, especially banks, will allow you to conduct the entire transaction online while you may have to go to a non-bank transfer company location to take advantage of this option.
How to send money to Southeast Asia from Australia
As there are many nations in Southeast Asia you will have to research to find those that provide money transfer services to the country of your choice.
Try these banks and companies first, as they are your most likely options to send money home:
- Money transfer companies. There are a range of money transfer services which allow you to send money to a variety of Southeast Asian countries. You can compare these above.
- Banks. Most larger Australian banks will allow you to send funds to Southeast Asian nations. As always, ensure you compare them using the criteria above to get a good deal. Some banks, such as Citibank and HSBC will offer accounts which have benefits when sending funds overseas, and these can be compared in the table above.
- Western Union. Western Union services Southeast Asian nations and will even have sales and specials that you can take advantage of from time to time. This service requires that you know the recipient's full name as it appears on their identification documents and that you give them a verification code before they pick up the money.
- MoneyGram. MoneyGram is a non-bank institution that offers money transfer solutions from Australia to Southeast Asia. This is a pick-up only service for most of the nations in Southeast Asia.
Emergency cash transfers in Southeast Asia
If you are robbed while travelling in Southeast Asia and need emergency assistance, the first thing you should do is contact the local authorities. Once you have an official police report you can decide the best way to get more cash to finish out your travels.
- Transfer services. In most cases, so long as you still have your passport or other form of photo ID, an Australian in Southeast Asia should be able to pick up money that has been sent to them from family or friends in Australia.
- Traveller’s insurance. Anytime you book a trip, especially for overseas travel, you should purchase a traveller’s insurance policy. This can protect you from completely being without money if you lose your wallet or it's stolen while you are vacationing in Southeast Asia, as the policy can sometimes provide a cash benefit.
- Credit card. Some credit cards also come with complimentary comprehensive traveller’s insurance that can help in getting you money if have been robbed while on holiday. Ensure that you've fulfilled the eligibility requirements for this policy before travelling.
Cash pick-up locations in Southeast Asia
Philippines – MoneyGram
- No. 797, P. Burgos Ave, Caridad, Cavite City, 4100 Phone: (046) 431 0682 Open Monday through Sunday 7:30am to 7pm
- Lot 11 A, Block 22, Phase 4 Cavite Economic Zone Dr, Rosario, 4106
Phone: 28700700 Open Monday through Friday 9am to 4:30pm
Philippines – Western Union
- eBusiness Services Inc, P. Burgos Ave, Caridad, Cavite City, 4100, Phone: 0464360478 Open Monday through Sunday 8am to 5pm
- Binakayan, Kawit, 4104 Cavite, Phone: (046) 435 9095 Open Monday through Sunday 8am to 5pm
Singapore – MoneyGram
BKK FOREX PTE LTD - BOON LAY
- 221 BOON LAY PLACE #01-220 BOON LAY SHOPPING CENTRE SINGAPORE 640221 Phone: 62624786 Open Monday through Sunday 12pm to 10pm
Ameertech Remittance And Exchange
- Tampines Central 1, #01-329 Blk 505, Singapore 520505 Phone: +65 6783 3176 Open Monday through Sunday 10am to 9pm
Singapore – Western Union
WUGN BOON LAY SHOPPING CENTER
- 221 Boon Lay Place 01 104, BOON LAY SHOPPING CENTER, Singapore 640221 Phone: +65 6336 2000 Open Monday through Saturday 9am to 8pm Sunday 8am to 8pm
- Western Union Global Network Pte Ltd Blk 301 Ubi Avenue 1#01-261400301 Phone: +65 6336 2000 Open Monday through Sunday 11am to 9pm
Tips for picking up cash in Southeast Asia
DFAT recommends that you practice normal safety practices when travelling in most countries in Southeast Asia. However, you should be cautious when picking up cash at any known cash transfer location.
If possible you should travel with a friend to the location or ask your hotel personnel for assistance. After the pick-up, secure the cash in different locations on your person and head back to your hotel or bank immediately in order to secure it.
How to send money to Southeast Asia
Your options for sending money from Australia to Southeast Asia will depend on the country that you are sending the money to. The more exotic the currency, the more difficult it will be for you to find a company or bank that will work with you. Once you do find a money transfer company that meets your needs, be prepared to supply the following:
- Recipient name. If using a non-bank transfer service, you will have to give the full name of the person who will be picking up the money. This name should precisely match the name shown on their identity verification document.
- Transfer code. When you initiate the transfer you will be given a unique code. This code must be shared with the recipient in order for them to collect the money. They should also know your name, general location, phone number and the amount of money sent.
- Bank transfers. If a bank-to-bank transfer is a better option for you, you will need to have accounts set up in both Australia and your home country.
- Fees. There could be fees charged from the recipient bank. This is something you will need to investigate before committing to this method of transferring money.
Expect to receive a receipt at the end of your transaction, showing your name, the recipient's name and the amount transferred.
Transferring your money from Australia back to Southeast Asia is an important thing you should be considering before you make the move. Explore the options you have thoroughly and pick the one that provides you the most convenience for the lowest cost.Back to top