Posted in Living Overseas.

A Money Transfer Guide for Expat Americans Living and Working in Australia

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The depreciation of the local Australian currency against the US dollar means that Australian cities have dropped their rankings in the list of ‘world’s most expensive cities for expats’.


What are the cheapest ways to send money between US and Australia?

Research, research, research. Lots of currency providers will want your expat business – knowing that you will be in the market for regular international funds transfers between countries. This gives you some power to play the field and you’ll find some genuine bargains if you do your research.

For first-time business, many currency specialists waive fees and charges but just be sure to check the exchange rate as it may not stack up against other providers who do have fees (a false economy).

Electronic transfers set up from your US bank account to your new Australian bank account may seem like the easiest option but you will lose so much of it in fees and charges that this is one homework assignment you can’t afford to avoid.


How often should I send my savings home?

It all depends on how much you’re trying to send. Some currency exchange experts come fee-free for amounts over or under a certain amount. Others slug you hefty charges. The exchange rate on offer can vary wildly too – it really does pay to shop around.

Plan out your year ahead and calculate all the birthday gifts and other bills you need to send money back home for. With that mapped out, you can talk to foreign exchange specialists in specifics – getting them to give you clear answers about how much each different transfer will cost.

It might be that it’s more cost-effective to shift larger amounts less frequently. You can send smaller amounts using PayPal or Western Union affordably – and fast. Kiss loyalty goodbye and switch providers as it suits.


Are there other places I could park my money?

If you’re one of those eternal expats, with work shifting you from one international office to the next, off-shore investing is a smart way to keep all your savings in the one place.

Check the tax implications – both in Australia and back home in the US – with an accountant who understands expat-specific issues.


What’s the best way to schedule payments?

From veteran’s benefits to home loan payments – there are lots of reasons you may have money flying back and forth between international bank accounts and you also need to know how to schedule bill payments to make sure your funds are in the right account at the right times.

Check with your bank about what’s possible when it comes to pre-setting bill payments. Some let you do it one or two years in advance but you may need to access some pre-authentication codes while you’re still in the US. Because different currency providers promise different time-frames for international money transfers, making sure your cash lands in the right spot is something you need to ask about before you commit your business to just one currency conversion provider.