How International Money Transfers Work: Rates, Fees, and Transfer Times

When sending money overseas, you’ve got heaps of options. One of the most popular is through an “International Money Transfer” This is a financial service offered by most banks that gives you a simple, safe and convenient way to send money overseas.

 

What is an international money transfer?

It's an electronic transfer of a specified currency and amount from your Australian bank account to an account held by someone you know in another country. International money transfers are popular for both large one-off payments and regular payments.

While the majority of us know many ways to contact someone overseas, we struggle to name a few ways to transfer money overseas. There are basically three different options to send money abroad:

  1. banks
  2. online money transfer services
  3. remittance companies (like Western Union or MoneyGram)

Our comparison table is here to help you decide which service is best to send money internationally.

How to make an international money transfer

Quite often the process of researching and comparing money transfer companies for your international money transfer is too hard and is placed in the 'do it later' basket. We simplify the most common ways of sending money overseas so you know know what to do.

Money Transfer Service

Sign up

Sign up online & provide id. Give them your full name, address, email and phone number. It's free. You can sign up for a one-off payment or regular payments.

How much currency

They'll ask you how much currency and the details of the overseas bank account. Most often this includes full name, account number and international bank code.

Convert and send money

Pay and your money transfer company will convert your currency (if needed) and send it directly to the overseas account. They will notify you when the funds are deposited.

Bank to Bank Transfer

Sign up

Sign in online and find the section for international money transfers. Check if you can transfer money to the country you want. If you pay in person at the bank you'll be charged additional fees of up to $25 per transfer.

Details of the person

Give details of the person you are sending money to and the amount you wish to send. They will need overseas bank account details, including full name, mobile number, account number and international bank code.

Bank will send you money

Pay and your bank will send your money through its banking system. This may include other banks and will increase your costs. You need to check your money is delivered as they often don't notify you.

Sign up

Sign up online & provide id. Give them your full name, address, email and phone number. It's free. You can sign up for a one-off payment or regular payments.

Sign up

Sign in online and find the section for international money transfers. Check to see if you can transfer money to the country you require. If you pay in person at the bank you'll be charged additional fees of up to $25 per transfer.

How much currency

Pay and your money transfer company will convert your currency (if needed) and send money directly to the overseas account. They will notify you when the funds are deposited.

Details of the person

Give details of the person you are sending money to and the amount you wish to send. They will need overseas bank account details, including full name, mobile number, account number and international bank code.

Convert and send money

Pay and your Money Transfer Service will then convert your money and send it directly to the overseas account. They will notify you when the funds are deposited.

Bank will send you money

Pay and your bank will send money through its banking system. This may include other bank fees and will increase your costs. You need to check your money is delivered as they often don't notify you.

Cash Pick-up using a Remittance Company

Sign up

You can sign up online or in person in store. You will need to take government issued identification like a drivers license or passport.

Choose the country

Choose a country to send money to, the amount you wish to send and a cash pick up location. Pay with debit card or credit card (Visa or Mastercard).

Pick up the cash

Pay and make sure you keep a record of the tracking number. Give this number or code to the person collecting the cash so they can pick up the cash within minutes of confirmation.

How to Send Money to a Mobile Wallet

Mobile wallet app

The person you're sending money to needs to have a mobile wallet app installed on their mobile phone. This means they don't need a bank account.

How much money

Choose a money transfer company that can do mobile app transfers. Tell them how much money you want to send through, the mobile number of the receiver and transfer the money. Pay with bank transfer, debit or credit card.

Money in the wallet

The money appears in the receiver’s wallet instantly.

Sign up

You can sign up online or in person in store. You will need to take government issued identification like a drivers license or passport.

Mobile wallet app

The person you're sending money to needs to have a mobile wallet app installed on their mobile phone. This means they don't need a bank account.

Choose the country

Choose a country to send the money to, the amount you wish to send and a cash pick up. Pay with debit card or credit card (Visa or Mastercard).

How much money

Choose a money transfer company that can do mobile app transfers. Tell them how much money you want to send through, the mobile number of the receiver and transfer the money. Pay with bank transfer, debit or credit card.

Pick up the cash

Pay and keep a record of the tracking number. Give this number or code to the person collecting the cash so they can pick up the cash within minutes of confirmation.

Money in the wallet

The money appears in the receiver’s wallet instantly.

Exchange rates and fees

There are 3 common costs when you make an international money transfer, including transfer fees, hidden fees from bad exchange rates, and additional delivery charges.

1. Transfer fees
These can range anywhere between $3 to $30. Many money transfer companies offer fee-free transfers for sending large amounts of money overseas. Banks can charge up to $30 per international money transfer.

Fee-free transfers doesn't necessarily mean your transfer will be free. A hidden exchange rate margin and/or receiving fees might still apply

2. Hidden fees from bad exchange rates
An exchange rate shows the value of one currency against another. For example, if the AUD is 0.9575 against the USD, it is performing well and valued highly against the USD. If the AUD is 0.6575 against the USD, it's performing poorly and not valued highly against the USD.
- You usually have to pay more Australian dollars to get US Dollars
- The better the exchange rate, the more foreign currency will be received overseas
-  You can get a worse exchange rate than you get on Google when you transfer money

It's important to check exchange rates as part of the total costs when transferring money overseas

3. Additional "overseas delivery charges"
Very few people enjoy discovering additional fees on their invoice. When banks send money overseas they can charge extra when your money goes through an intermediary bank or if the receiving bank wants a cut of your transfer as well. They are often called ‘Overseas Delivery Charges’ and can be up to $30.

When sending money overseas total costs are lower with money transfer companies than banks

How much does an international money transfer cost?

Frequently asked questions

International Money Transfer - What happens if money doesn't arrive?

What happens if the money doesn't arrive?

This doesn't happen often, however, if your money doesn't arrive in the specified time we recommend:

  1. Check the information you gave is correct - check names, bank number accounts and the international codes for the destination bank
  2. Contact your money transfer company, bank or remittance company that made the transfer. Let them know the money hasn't arrived so they can investigate it as soon as possible.
  3. Ask the person receiving the money to contact their bank and check any issues that could cause a delay.
  4. If you're unable to resolve the problem contact the ASIC and report it.

How much money can I transfer overseas?

The maximum limits for sending money overseas are very high from Australia. In most cases you can send up to 1 million GBP to the UK, 1 million USD to the US, and 1.2 million EUR to Europe per transfer.

For example, providers like OFX, TorFX and World First have no restriction on the maximum amount you can send internationally. Meanwhile for remittance companies like WorldRemit, the daily limit is $50,000.

If you send or receive more than AUD$10,000 your money transfer service, bank or remittance company must notify AUSTRAC for legal purposes.

The information your company gives AUSTRAC is the same information you fill in for physical cash transfers using a mail service.

International Money Transfer - How much can I send overseas?
International Money Transfer - How much can I send overseas?

Can I transfer money from Australia without a bank account?

Yes you can. There are two options, cash pick up using a remittance company or arrange a debit card through a money transfer provider.

 

Cash pick up

Cash pick ups through traditional remittance companies like Western Union or MoneyGram are available to collect cash from thousands of locations globally, including post offices. Now there are plenty of other remittance companies like WorldRemit or InstaRem that offer cheaper cash pick-up services.

 

Debit card for travel

Both Wise (formerly known as TransferWise) and Revolut have cards that allow you to access funds without a bank account.

If you need to pay bills in multiple currencies, require local account details, or want to take out cash from an ATM overseas without having a bank account, the Wise Borderless Account and Revolut Debit Card are perfect options. You can sign up online in 10 minutes and a card is sent to you quickly.

More FAQs for international money transfers, answered

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By Justin Rampono Updated July 22nd, 2021