Commonwealth Bank international transfer: Fees, exchange rate and time

If you’re a Commonwealth Bank customer and need to make an international transfer, you need this guide. Read on for all about Commonwealth Bank’s transfer fees, delivery times, and ways to arrange your payment.

Commonwealth Bank (CommBank) has been in business for over 110 years, and is one of the largest publicly listed companies in Australia. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best choice for sending an international payment.

To make sure you get the best available deal for your transfer we’ll also compare Commonwealth Bank to some alternative options. That’ll give you an idea of how the costs and speed of CommBank international payments measure up to a specialist provider like Wise or OFX.

Go to Wise Go to OFX

Commonwealth Bank international money transfer comparison

We’ll dive into the details of Commonwealth Bank’s international transfer costs in just a moment. But before we start it’s handy to know that you may pay several different fees when you send a payment overseas with a regular bank:

  • Transfer fee – often a fixed cost paid to your own bank
  • Exchange rate markup – a percentage fee added to the exchange rate used
  • Third party charges – paid to intermediaries and your recipient’s own bank

The easiest way to see the impact of these charges is to figure out what your recipient might get when you send your payment with different providers. To give a picture, here’s how it works out when sending 1,000 AUD to a friend in the UK with Commonwealth Bank compared to a couple of specialist services:

Provider Total fee Recipient gets in the end
Commonwealth Bank 6 AUD + exchange rate markup 501.81 GBP
Wise 5.14 AUD 530.26 GBP
Western Union 0 transfer fee + exchange rate markup 527.05 GBP
OFX 15 AUD + exchange rate markup 517.56 GBP
  • Data correct at time of research – 24 February 2022

CommBank has a low transfer fee at just 6 AUD for online and in-app payments. However, because you’ll also pay an extra fee added to the exchange rate used for your payment your recipient might get less than you expect in the end. In our comparison, your recipient could get almost 30 GBP more if you use a specialist instead of sending your money with Commonwealth Bank.

The exchange rate used by Commonwealth Bank includes a markup on the mid-market exchange rate. That’s an extra fee which can quickly become the most costly of all the fees you pay to send money overseas. Banks aren’t often open about the exact markups they add to their retail exchange rates – but they can be around  3% for many currency pairs. That represents an extra 150 AUD fee on a transfer worth 5,000 AUD.

Specialist providers can often offer lower overall fees, and a better exchange rate compared to banks. Because international money transfers are their core business, getting set up and using the platforms is usually straightforward, too.

Commonwealth Bank international transfer fees

Commonwealth Bank international payment fees vary based on how you make your transfer and the currency involved. Here’s what you need to know – we’ll move onto the other likely costs one by one in a moment.

Service type Commonwealth Bank fee
Send an international payment in a branch 30 AUD fee
Send an international payment online or in-app
  • Sending to another currency – 6 AUD fee
  • Fee waived for IMTs sent in FJD, PGK, SBD, VUV, XPF
  • Sending in AUD – 22 AUD fee
  • Sending from a foreign currency account – 6 AUD fee + third party charges
Cancellation, amendment or investigation into an international payment 25 AUD + foreign bank’s charges
Receiving an international payment Up to 11 AUD

Commonwealth Bank exchange rate

The Commonwealth Bank exchange rate is available to view online. However, it’s worth noting that there are different rates depending on the specific service you need. That means you’ll want to double check the rate you’re looking at is the right one for the transaction you’re arranging.

Commonwealth Bank retail exchange rates include a markup on the mid-market exchange rate. That’s an extra fee.

It’s very common for banks and international money transfer services to add a markup to the exchange rates used, but this pushes up costs and makes it harder to see exactly what you’re paying for your transfer. Because a markup is a percentage cost, it increases steeply when you send higher value payments. That can mean it’s the highest cost of all the fees involved with sending an international payment.

Bank exchange rate margins are often about 3%. Here’s how the exchange rate markup builds up with a 3% margin used for different transfer values:

  • Sending 1,000 AUD – the exchange rate markup adds 30 AUD to the total
  • Sending 5,000 AUD– the exchange rate markup adds 150 AUD to the total
  • Sending 50,000 AUD – the exchange rate markup adds 1,500 AUD to the total

Here’s a reminder of the total costs – including exchange rate markups – from the providers we looked at earlier. This is what you’ll pay with each when sending 1,000 AUD to a friend in the UK:

  • Commonwealth Bank: 6 AUD transfer fee + exchange rate margin
  • Wise: 5.14 AUD (no exchange rate margin applies)
  • Western Union: 0 transfer fee + exchange rate margin
  • OFX: 15 AUD transfer fee + exchange rate margin

Commonwealth Bank additional fees

There are a couple of extra fees it’s worth being aware of whenever you send an international payment:

  • Third party fees paid to intermediary or correspondent banks
  • Fees imposed by your recipient’s own bank

These extra costs usually arise when banks transfer payments using the SWIFT network. This involves one or more correspondent banks passing along a payment until it reaches the right account. The correspondent banks can each deduct a fee as they process the payment. Then finally, your recipient’s own bank may also deduct a fee before the payment is deposited into their account.

Commonwealth Bank will absorb correspondent bank costs if you’re sending a payment from an AUD account to another currency. Any fees imposed by your recipient’s bank would still be deducted, though.

If you’re sending a payment from a foreign currency account, CommBank won’t absorb any additional costs, but you might have the option to cover the correspondent costs yourself. These charges vary depending on the currency you’re sending money to. Here’s an example for a few major currencies:

  • Payment sent in EUR – 33 AUD fee
  • Payment sent in GBP – 17 AUD fee
  • Payment sent in NZD – 17 AUD fee
  • Payment sent in USD – 37 AUD fee

How long does a Commonwealth Bank international money transfer take?

Commonwealth Bank transfers generally take 3 business days to arrive with the recipient. However, the exact time taken to process your transfer can vary based on the destination country and bank. Payments made after the currency cutoff time, out of hours, on weekends or during holidays will start to be processed on the following business day after they are set up.

Here’s a reminder of how that measures up against the specialist providers we looked at earlier:

  • Commonwealth Bank: 3 business days
  • Wise: 80% of the payments arrive in 24 hours
  • Western Union: Up to 2 days
  • OFX: 1 – 2 business days

Pros and cons of transferring money abroad with Commonwealth Bank

Pros:

  • Send to 200+ countries in 30+ currencies
  • Commonwealth Bank will absorb correspondent fees when currency conversion is required in an international transfer
  • Send money in a branch, in-app or online

Cons:

  • Exchange rate margins apply which will push up costs
  • Delivery times are not the fastest available
  • Recipient bank charges can’t be absorbed by CommBank

When it comes to international transfers, the costs and delivery speed offered by Commonwealth Bank aren’t market beating. Specialist providers have invested in new ways to move money for a lower cost, and with a more efficient – and therefore faster – process. That means that by picking a specialist instead of relying on CommBank, you could get a better exchange rate, more transparent fees, and a lower overall cost.

How to make an international transfer with Commonwealth Bank

You can send a Commonwealth Bank international transfer online, through the CommBank app or in a branch. Here’s what you need to do to make your transfer online or in-app with Commonwealth Bank:

  1. Log in to NetBank or the CommBank app
  2. In NetBank, select Transfers and BPAY then International Money Transfer – using the app you’ll need to pick Pay Someone and then Overseas Transfer
  3. Enter the destination country
  4. Add your recipient’s details including their name and bank account information
  5. Double check the information and costs and confirm to start the payment

What information do you need to make an international transfer with Commonwealth Bank?

Typically, the information you need to provide to make your Commonwealth Bank international transfer includes:

  • Your recipient’s full name and home address
  • Your recipient’s bank account name and number or IBAN
  • Your recipient’s bank SWIFT/BIC code

Transfer limits and available countries

The amount you can send overseas may vary based on the Commonwealth Bank account type you have, and the country you’re sending money to. Check your payment limits by logging into your online banking or visiting a branch.

You can send payments to 200+ countries in 30+ currencies with Commonwealth Bank.

Receiving money from abroad with Commonwealth Bank

There’s a fee of up to 11 AUD when you receive a payment from abroad to your Commonwealth Bank account.

To make sure your payment arrives safely and with no delays, you’ll need to give the sender the following information:

  • Your name and address
  • Your Commonwealth Bank 14 digit account number
  • The Commonwealth Bank SWIFT code

If your recipient needs an IBAN, CommBank suggests that you can combine your BSB and account number to give them the detail they need, in the format (BSB)(Account number) with no spaces or hyphens.

Depending on the specific payment you might also need a few other details – check with your sender what exactly is required before they arrange the payment.

Commonwealth Bank SWIFT code

International payments made with traditional banks almost always require a SWIFT/BIC code. This is a unique bank identifier used by Commonwealth Bank when receiving international transfers, like a postal code for a street address. Using this code should mean your payment can be processed without any unnecessary delays.

Commonwealth Bank’s SWIFT code is CTBAAU2S.

Conclusion

Sending money overseas with your regular bank might seem like a familiar and easy option. However, because banks tend to rely on old methods of processing international transfers, it’s often a relatively slow and costly way of transferring money across borders.

You might be able to save by using an alternative specialist provider which can often offer lower overall fees and a quicker delivery time than banks. That saves you money, and might also get your money to where it needs to be faster.

Compare money transfer providers

FAQs

1. How much does a Commonwealth Bank international transfer cost?

Sending a Commonwealth Bank international transfer online or using the CommBank app costs 6 AUD, plus an exchange rate markup.

2. How long does a Commonwealth Bank international money transfer take?

Commonwealth Bank international transfers normally arrive in 3 business days.

3. How to transfer money internationally with Commonwealth Bank?

Send a Commonwealth Bank international money transfer in-app, online or in a branch. Online and app payments have significantly lower transfer fees compared to transfers made in person.

By Ileana Ionescu Updated March 29th, 2022