When it comes to sending money around the world, we like to keep things simple. That’s why we’ve created this comprehensive, easy-to-understand guide that tells you everything you need to know about international currency exchange. We’ll break down all the key areas you need to know about so you can understand the money transfer process and get your cash to go that much further.

 

Let’s get into it.
 

OVERVIEW: Transferring Money Internationally Between Bank Accounts

Currency exchange and international money transfers refer to the same thing — sending or receiving money between countries and currencies. You make an international money transfer when you want to send or receive funds from your account to a recipient in another country, whether that’s an individual or a business.

international money transfers from one bank account to another

Money transfers always takes place between “currency pairs” — you are converting money from one currency into another. There are several ways to make international money transfers — through your bank, via PayPal, or using a dedicated currency exchange provider. All of these services charge variable fees and provide an exchange rate that will likely be slightly worse than the standard, interbank rate.

 

Once you have decided how to send your money, you enter details of the recipient and fund your transfer. Your money will then be converted into the new currency and paid to the recipient.

 

That’s it — now we’ll dig into the details of international currency exchange.

 

The Different Types of Money Transfer Providers

Different Money Transfer Providers

There are three main ways you can send and receive money internationally.

    1. Via your bank — almost all banks provide currency transfer services. You can take advantage of these by going into a branch, while some banks also provide online or telephone facilities for sending money internationally.
    2. Through PayPal — you can easily send money via PayPal — you just need the recipient’s PayPal email address and can decide to send money to them. PayPal will levy fees and then exchange the money into the new currency before transferring to the recipient’s PayPal account.

 


 

How to Find the Cheapest Way to Transfer Money Overseas

Compare The Total Cost

The total cost of the transfer comes down to 2 things:

Money transfer fees

1. Transfer Fees

Every Australian bank and money transfer company will charge you a different fee to send money overseas. Usually it’s between $10 and $32.

Exchange rate margin fees

2. Exchange Rate Margin

There is no “standard” exchange rate. Each bank will offer you a different exchange rate based on the currency you want to send overseas and the amount you need to send.

Provider Exchange
Rate
Transfer
Fee
Transfer
Time
Total (AUD) Rates last updated September 19 2018
TransferwiseRead Review 0.7264 $63.45 1-2 Days $13,829.97Lowest Cost Option Go to site Read Review
So, sending USD 10,000 to United States at an exchange rate of 0.7264 will cost you $13,829.97 which includes a fee of $63.45

About TransferWise

Transparency and an easy online experience are the 2 things that set TransferWise apart from the banks and other money transfer companies. If you prefer to bank online, you'll like TransferWise. Setting up an account and making a transfer is very easy. They are also very clear on the exchange rate and fees you'll pay before you make a transfer. Click here for the full review

Pros

  • Clear and transparent exchange rates fees
  • The online experience is first class
  • Like the banks, they are regulated by ASIC and registered with AFSL
  • Constantly bringing out new innovative products

Cons

  • There are currently a number of global currencies they do not currently support
  • Limited support based in Australia
  • Percentage based fee can add up on very large transfers

TorFXRead Review 0.7228 $0.00 2-3 Days $13,835.70$5.73 more expensive Go to site Read Review
So, sending USD 10,000 to United States at an exchange rate of 0.7228 will cost you $13,835.70 with no fees.

About TorFX

TorFX are particularly good taking care of customers over the phone but using their website isn't the easiest to use. They don't charge a flat fee which is great but it's important to consider their exchange rates. While, they don't offer fantastic rates for small amounts under $2000 , TorFX offer exceptionally good exchange rates for larger transfers to the UK, New Zealand, South Africa and Europe.

Pros

  • No transfer fees
  • Highly competitive exchange rates
  • Secure transfers with authorised
  • Assigned account manager
  • 24 / 7 Assistance
  • Available range of transfer options

Cons

  • Limited exotic currencies available
  • Exchange rates on small transfers aren't great
  • Website experience could be better

XERead Review 0.7225 $0.00 2-3 Days $13,841.26$11.29 more expensive Go to site Read Review
So, sending USD 10,000 to United States at an exchange rate of 0.7225 will cost you $13,841.26 with no fees.

About XE

XE is a well known and trusted name in the money transfer industry. With over twenty years experience, they now help 33,000 people and 2,000 businesses make transfers each year. Over 60 currencies can be transferred with XE and they pride themselves on the free tools and transparent rates they offer. Click here to read the full review

Pros

  • Well known and trusted brand.
  • Very informative website. Extensive information on currency and money transfers.
  • XE App is available on both iOS and Android. It allows you to see the interbank rate for over 100 currencies.
  • XE themselves charge no fees for international money transfers.
  • Offers support for both individuals and businesses when it comes to international money transfers.

Cons

  • Cannot pay via cash or cheque. Must pay via bank transfer, BPay is also accepted in Australia.
  • Maximum transfer amount is $500,000USD.
  • While XE compares more than 100 currencies, there are only 60 that are available for money transfers.

WorldFirstRead Review 0.7220 $0.00 2-3 Days $13,849.62$19.65 more expensive Go to site Read Review
So, sending USD 10,000 to United States at an exchange rate of 0.7220 will cost you $13,849.62 with no fees.

About World First

World First was founded in 2004 in the UK and has grown rapidly with offices now in the U.S., Canada and throughout Asia. They consistently receive strong customer reviews and in a recent study, 98% of their clients said they would use them again.World First have a strong online offering, particular for businesses selling online. They do provide local support as well with offices in Sydney. Click here to read the full review

Pros

  • Low fees and great exchange rates
  • Safe and secure transfers
  • Regulated by ASIC and registered with AFSL
  • Great for personal and business payments

Cons

  • Does not accept BPAY, credit card, cheque or cash
  • Limited currencies available

HIFXRead Review 0.7220 $0.00 2-3 Days $13,849.62$19.65 more expensive Go to site Read Review
So, sending USD 10,000 to United States at an exchange rate of 0.7220 will cost you $13,849.62 with no fees.

About HiFX

HiFX are one of the biggest money transfer companies in the world. Their parent company Euronet is listed on the NASDAQ and recently acquired Xe.com. They are particularly useful for individuals doing regular transfers overseas. HiFX provide competitive exchange rates no matter how much is being transacted. Their $50 minimum transaction size and flat fee makes them a great option for any international payment. Locally, HiFX have Australian offices in Sydney, Melbourne and are expanding to the remaining capital cities. Click here to read the full review

Pros

  • Fantastic bank - beating exchange rates
  • Low fees for transactions less than $10, 000
  • No fees for transactions of $10, 000 or more
  • High security transfers regulated by ASIC and FMA
  • Fast and easy for personal or business accounts

Cons

  • Only electronic bank transfers accepted
  • Limited exotic currencies
WorldRemitRead Review 0.7187 $3.99 1-2 Days $13,917.61$87.64 more expensive Go to site Read Review
So, sending USD 10,000 to United States at an exchange rate of 0.7187 will cost you $13,917.61 which includes a fee of $3.99

About WorldRemit

WorldRemit are particularly good for transfers under $10,000 to destinations across Asia, Africa and South America. Sending money online is significantly easier than using companies like Western Union or Moneygram and their exchange rates and fees are clear and transparent. With 2 million users, WorldRemit has a focus on improving access to remittances for the billions people worldwide who don’t have access to banking. Because of this, WorldRemit has a number of ways to both make and receive transfers. They concentrate on servicing individual needs as opposed to businesses. Click here for the full review

Pros

  • They have a great network in Asia and Africa and number of receiving options like cash-pick up or bank transfer.
  • They are clear about their exchange rates and fees
  • No minimum amount

Cons

  • Maximum transfer sizes for every transfer
  • No support for business customers
  • They are not licensed to provide financial advice.
OFXRead Review 0.7166 $0.00 1-3 Days $13,954.79$124.82 more expensive Go to site Read Review
So, sending USD 10,000 to United States at an exchange rate of 0.7166 will cost you $13,954.79 with no fees.

About OFX

OFX (formally known as Ozforex) is the largest Australian owned money transfer company. It launched in 1998 and grew rapidly until finally listing on the Australian Stock Exchange in 2013. OFX excels in 2 areas – Online experience and customer service. The company was born online and continues to develop easy, intuitive products. While OFX customers do most of their transactions online, they are backed up with exceptional customer service.

Pros

  • Better exchange rates compared to banks
  • Highly safe and secure transfers
  • 1 - 2 days delivery times for most countries
  • Quick response time
  • Fantastic customer service

Cons

  • Credit cards, cheques and cash are not accepted
  • Transfers to Thailand can take up to 4 days
  • Fees for transfers smaller transfers

ANZRead Review 0.6963 $0.00 1-2 Days $14,361.63$531.66 more expensive Go to site Read Review
So, sending USD 10,000 to United States at an exchange rate of 0.6963 will cost you $14,361.63 with no fees.
ANZ International Money Transfer is a secure and fast way to transfer money overseas.

Pros:

  • Fast transfers
  • Safe and secure
  • No fee for transfers under $10 000 via Internet banking

Cons

  • $12 fee for transfers under $10 000 via Internet banking
  • Poor exchange rates
  • 24 hour hotline not available

Commonwealth BankRead Review 0.6857 $12.00 1-2 Days $14,595.64$765.67 more expensive Go to site Read Review
So, sending USD 10,000 to United States at an exchange rate of 0.6857 will cost you $14,595.64 which includes a fee of $12.00
Commonwealth Bank provides secure and easy transfers to over 200 countries and more than 30 currencies.

Pros:

  • Fast transfers+ Easy transfers
  • Security guarantee covers any losses from unauthorised transactions

Cons

  • $6 fee for transfers under $1000 via Internet banking
  • $12 fee for transfers under $1000 via Internet banking
  • Poor exchange rates

WestpacRead Review 0.6736 $10.00 1-2 Days $14,855.61$1025.64 more expensive Go to site Read Review
So, sending USD 10,000 to United States at an exchange rate of 0.6736 will cost you $14,855.61 which includes a fee of $10.00
Westpac is one of the big four banks in Australia offers speedy and secure transfers.

Pros:

  • Fast payment processing times
  • Secure transfers

Cons

  • Must be Westpac account holder
  • $20 fee for transfers via Internet or phone banking
  • $32 fee for transfers at an ANZ branch
  • Poor exchange rates

 

  1. Using a specialist currency transfer company — there are several businesses specifically set up to provide low cost money exchange at good exchange rates. These will let you transfer money directly into the recipient’s bank account using their online services and call centers. Some currency exchange providers like Western Union and Moneygram let the recipient collect their funds in cash.

 

Fees to Transfer Money Internationally

International Money Transfer Fees

There are a few factors that impact how much the recipient will get when you exchange money. The main areas are:

  • The currencies and countries you are moving currency between — different currency pairs have different exchange rates.
  • Fees levied by the currency exchange provider — different banks and providers will levy different fees.
  • The difference between the base exchange rate and what the currency provider offers you — you are unlikely to get the “mid-market / interbank” exchange rate. Instead, the rate you will get is often one or two percentage points worse than that rate.
  • Fees levied depending on how the exchange is funded — some providers will charge you a  fee if you fund the transfer in certain ways.
  • Recipient bank fees — some banks charge additional fees when funds from a money transfer are paid into an account.
  • The fees charged by the money transfer provider — different providers charge different fees, both as a flat rate and as commissions.

 

The Best and Worst Fees by Money Transfer Providers

In all cases, PayPal and the banks will charge you higher fees and offer you worse exchange rates than specialist currency providers. This can significantly reduce the amount of money the recipient gets, often by as much as five percent.

 

Here’s a quick comparison, sending $10,000 AUD to the US and converting into $USD.

  • The midmarket rate means that the recipient would get $7,563 USD.
  • A specialist currency exchange provider would send the recipient around $7,520 USD (0.6% lower).
  • ANZ Bank would send the recipient $7,230 USD (4.5% lower).
  • Westpac bank would send the recipient $7,145 USD (4.6% lower).
  • PayPal would send the recipient $7,110 USD (6% lower).

 

This is as a result of fees levied by the banks and PayPal, and the poorer currency exchange rates that they provide.

 

We always recommend using a specialist money transfer provider. We have an easy-to-use money transfer calculator that will tell you exactly how much you can save.

 

Using a Specialist Currency Exchange Provider

There are several major currency exchange providers including Transferwise, OFX, World First, TorFX, and HiFX. All of these providers can save you money and make sure your recipient receives more funds than if you were to use a bank or PayPal.

 

Once you have decided which specialist money transfer service you want to use, you just need to create an account with them. This takes around ten minutes and you can complete the signup process online. Once that’s done you can use their online currency exchange portal to send money to the recipient, fund your transfer, and have the cash in the recipient’s account within a couple of days.

 

Advantages of Currency Exchange Providers

There are several advantages to using a specialist service to transfer money internationally:

  • Lower fees than PayPal or banks.
  • Fast transfers, money can sometimes be transferred within one working day.
  • Dedicated customer support and advice.
  • Online options for sending money through their website or app.
  • Forward or limit orders to manage risk and reduce market fluctuations.
  • Mobile apps and other tools to manage the money transfer processes.
  • In some cases, local pickup is available for the recipient.

 

How it Works: International Money Transfer Process

International Money Transfer Process

  1. Use our comparison tool to see who can offer you the best deal.
  2. When you’ve decided on a provider, just visit their website directly from our tool.
  3. Create an account with the currency provider — you will generally need a proof of identification and a proof of address (drivers license, bills).
  4. Get an up-to-date quote for transferring between currencies.
  5. Arrange your transfer using their online service or over the phone. If you call up, they will generally provide a dedicated account manager.
  6. Provide details of the recipient receiving the money.
  7. Send money to your currency provider by funding your account, normally by bank transfer or debit card.
  8. Your currency provider will make the exchange and deposit funds into the recipient bank account.
  9. The recipient can then do what they need to with the transferred money.

And that’s it — our simple and complete guide to sending your money around the world. Just remember, using a specialist money transfer service could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars, and they make money transfers quick and easy.
 

More Information

Entering Recipient Details

You will need to provide details of the person or business that you’re transferring money to. Generally, a money transfer service will need the following information:

  • The recipient’s full name and address.
  • Their bank’s name and address, and the recipient’s bank account number.
  • The SWIFT BIC (Bank Identifier Code) or Branch Number (some countries accept this) of the recipient’s bank.
  • The IBAN (for payments to Europe and selected other countries) or Routing Number (for payments to the US).

 

Funding Your Transfer

Once you’ve entered all the necessary details, you will need to fund your transfer. Depending on the provider you’ve chosen, you could fund your currency exchange via bank transfer, bank draft, credit, or debit card. When you’ve made payment, the money transfer specialist will let you know and they will convert the funds.

 

Payment Made to the Recipient

Once funds have been converted they will be sent to the recipient’s bank account. The whole process generally takes between one and three business days. The recipient can then withdraw their money or use it through their normal bank online portal.

Helping You Save Money on Currency

Buying travel money or transferring money overseas can be expensive and confusing. So how do you make the best choice and get the most out of your money?

An easy way is to use a comparison table for either international money transfers or currency exchange. These tables list and compare the banks with other large foreign exchange companies.

We’ve also put together tons of helpful videosguides and reviews that will help you make the right decision. You can work out a cheaper way of converting currency while still keeping your money safe.