Learn how to send money overseas using a credit card, and find out about some cheaper alternative options.
Often through your bank, PayPal or Western Union. It’s best to avoid using a credit card to transfer money for several reasons:
You will probably pay a higher interest rate as a “cash advance” from the day you make the transfer.
You will pay more in fees.
You probably won’t get a competitive exchange rate.
The Currency Shop says:
In most cases, you’re better off funding a transfer using your bank account, an electronic funds transfer, or a direct debit.
You’ll get a better deal, pay lower fees and get a more competitive exchange rate using a dedicated currency provider.
Minimum transfer $250. Please note that the receiving bank or intermediary bank may charge fees on transactions.
Most of us have credit cards, and they’re a convenient way to buy now and pay later. In some cases, credit cards can be used to transfer money internationally. It’s vital to understand the fees, charges and fine print so you don’t end up paying too much. In this article we’ll explore:
When should you use a credit card to transfer money overseas?
Emergency transfers - Moneygram, Western Union and PayPal
Standard transfers - Your bank
Best value transfers - Dedicated currency providers
Understanding the fine print
The Currency Shop reviews different currency providers
It is possible to send money overseas with a credit card, but the fees and charges make it more expensive than most other methods.
There are some situations where you might want to use a credit card to send money:
If you’re benefitting from a reward program like cashback or frequent flyer miles.
You need to send money in an emergency and don’t have another way of funding your transfer.
The drawbacks of using a credit card to send money include:
Not all providers will accept a credit card as payment to fund your exchange.
The credit card company will often charge higher interest rates on cash advances from the day you send the money.
You will often pay other fees and charges if you use a credit card to transfer money.
PayPal, Western Union and Moneygram are best used only in an emergency. The fees and possibility of a “double conversion” (if you fund in a currency other than Australian dollars) mean that you won’t get a competitive return on your transfer.
Moneygram accepts credit card or debit card payment for either agent transfers in person (you can only use cash) or online transfers (you can only use direct debit or a debit card). Note that a card issuer cash advance fee and associated interest charges may apply.
Western Union does accept international payments online via debit or credit card, at no additional penalty. They accept Visa and Mastercard. The maximum daily amount for an online transfer is A$5,000.
Paypal does let you fund an international transfer with a credit card, but you will pay for the privilege. They accept Visa, Mastercard and American Express, but charge a minimum of 3.9% of your transfer amount to fund the transaction, and fees can be as high as 7.4% depending on the country you are sending to. This compares to just 0.5 - 3.3% for using a Paypal account funded through a direct debit from your bank.This means the credit card fee increases the amount you pay by 2.8% to 4.1% of your transfer amount. On smaller amounts the fee would be nominal, but as the amount grows, it becomes more significant. As the sender, you choose who pays that fee (you or the recipient).
As international payment providers, banks can be versatile but do have their weaknesses. They provide multiple ways to fund and send your payment, although you’ll pay for all of them no matter what method you choose. The fees are higher than alternative transfer providers and the rates are worse. The cost of this extra “convenience” doesn’t seem worth it.
You can use a credit card issued by your bank to make an online international money transfer, providing it is linked to your online banking. Banks also accept credit cards for payment through other forms of transfer including phone banking and in person at a branch.
You’ll get the best value on your exchange rates and the lowest fees by using a dedicated currency provider like OFX, HiFX or TorFX. Although they don’t tend to accept credit card payments directly, you can withdraw funds from your credit card into your bank account and use that to fund your transfer.
Tip: Transferring money from your credit card to your bank account will be treated as a cash advance, and you will probably have to pay higher interest from the day you charge the funds to your card. Make sure you check your fees, terms and conditions to see how much you might have to pay.
OFX does not accept payment directly from a credit card. You will need to fund your account through an electronic funds transfer or by using Bpay through your bank. OFX does not accept cash or cheques.
HiFX does not accept credit card payment directly, but you can use a credit card to send the Australian funds to them when completing your electronic funds transfer.
TorFX requires you to send your Aussie funds to their account in order to complete your transfer. They do not accept credit cards for direct payment.
If you want to use your credit card to pay for your overseas transfer, it will normally need to be a card issued by an Australian financial institution (like a bank or specialized credit card company). Funding a transfer with a card that isn’t in Australian dollars is never a good idea - You’ll probably have to pay more in fees, and the exchange rates will work against you. Most currency providers (except for Moneygram and Western Union) won’t accept an overseas card in a different currency for funding a payment in Australian dollars.
We’ve reviewed and compared the various companies that let you transfer money overseas; you can find more details at the links below.