Best Way to Transfer Large Sums of Money Internationally

Like most Australians, Jason had never sent money overseas so he was pretty nervous when he had to transfer over $100,000 to his brother in Singapore.

'I've used my bank for 20 years so I just assumed it would be the best way to do it.' said Jason. 'It wasn't until he asked me to check the exchange rate, that I realised I was getting ripped off.'

Unfortunately, he's not alone. Research from TransferWise showed more than two thirds of Australians use their bank which means we pay over 3.9 billion dollars in fees to transfer money overseas.

One of the biggest problems is trying to work out all the costs involved, given each bank or money transfer company charges different fees.

To make things easier, here are 3 factors you should look at before deciding how to transfer a lot of money to and from Australia.

Exchange Rates and Fees

1. Baseline Exchange Rate

Otherwise known as the ‘mid-market’ or ‘interbank’ rate, the baseline exchange rate indicates how much money one currency is worth when you exchange it to another.

3. Commission Fees

Some providers and banks will charge a commission fee on top of their other fees and exchange rates. This can vary between 1-5%. For larger transfers, this can be a big cost to you.

2. Exchange Rate Margin

Difference between the baseline rate and the offered rate. This margin is important because it will determine how much money you get at the end of your transfer. Banks tend to apply a larger margin.

4. Flat Fees

Nearly all providers and banks will charge a flat rate fee for transferring your money overseas. However, for larger amount of $100,000, this will usually be waived due to the amount of money.

The Currency Shop Says:

 

For larger amounts being transferred, the most important cost to focus on is the exchange rate you receive. Even the smallest difference in an offered rate can be a huge change in costs when you're transferring $100,000 or more.

 

Related Articles: Fee Free Money TransfersCurrency Conversion Fees or Foreign Transaction: What’s Best For You?

4 ways to transfer large amounts of money overseas

Buildings of banks HSBC Citibank Barclays State Street
1. Bank-to-Bank Transfer

Using an Australian bank is the most common way to send money to another country. Unfortunately, Australian banks are particularly aggressive in charging hidden fees. And if you're transferring money to countries with more exotic currencies, the fees are often higher.

Major Australian banks charge a fixed fee between $28 and $32 to wire money from a branch and between $10 and $20 to do it online.

But they also charge a currency conversion rate, which can bring up the costs of your international money transfer.

 

For example:

If Jason sent $100,000 from a major Australian bank to another bank in Singapore, he would have to pay the following amounts (assuming the Australian bank is doing the currency conversion)

Costs are calculated from exchange rates as of 5th December, 2018

In Jason's case:

It doesn’t cost a bank over $3,000 for Jason to send his brother $100,000 in Singapore. Because these fees are hidden, Jason didn't pay attention to it and used to believe it was the normal cost of transferring money. Now he knows better.

Related: How Much It Costs to Transfer Money Overseas8 Sneaky Bank Fees and How to Avoid Them

2. Online Money Transfer Specialists

Money Transfer specialists are companies that transfer money from your account to another account overseas. It’s similar to using a bank, except with much lower fees and better exchange rates.

Some specialists in Australia include:

  1. TransferWise - transparency and an easy online experience are the 2 things that set TransferWise apart from the banks and other money transfer companies
  2. OFX (formally Ozforex) - more focused on large transfers and they cut their currency fee as you transfer larger amounts
  3. World First - strong customer reviews and in a recent study, 98% of their clients said they would use them again

 

 

Costs are calculated from exchange rates as of 5th December, 2018

3. No Bank Account? Try Peer-to-Peer (P2P) options

If you need to send money to someone without a bank account, there are several P2P payment tools available using either an app or an online payment tool.

P2P transfers work a little bit differently. Instead of wiring money overseas through a bank, companies that make these types of transfers match people buying currency in one country with people who are selling it in another. Again, TransferWise is a good example of this type of option or PayPal.

P2P transfers are often a good option when you're transferring up to $10,000. However, for larger amounts, the costs can add up. This is because some companies that offer these services charge a percentage-based fee.

 

Related: TransferWise vs PayPal

Paying using debit card
4. Bitcoin

You can use Bitcoin to send money overseas, but be aware that it can be quite complicated. Especially if you're not familiar with using a digital currency.

 

How to do it:
  1. Set up a digital wallet with a Bitcoin company, like Coinjar
  2. Fund your online wallet with Australian dollars
  3. Convert to Bitcoin
  4. Send to person overseas with a Bitcoin wallet
  5. Recipient converts it to their local currency

 

When and why it’s cheaper:

Bitcoin can be cheap and fast for most transfer sizes. You just need to make sure you and your recipient are comfortable using digital currency. Also remember, there can be more risk and more complexities using a cryptocurrency than the other options.

Making sure your money is secure

The most important part of any payment overseas is the safety of your money. When it comes to international money transfers, Australia is one of the most highly regulated countries in the world. This doesn’t mean there are no scams, but it does give you the opportunity to do your homework first on the company you're thinking of using.

Make sure the bank or company you use has these 3 things:

  1. An Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL)
  2. Is registered with AUSTRAC
  3. A member of the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS)

All the banks and companies that we compare on our table meet these requirements.

Our most frequently asked questions

How do I know when my transfer has been completed?

When you set up an account with a money exchange provider, you will need to provide your personal details, including either your email address or phone number. This is for the exact reason of notifying you when your money has successfully transferred. With some companies or banks you can set up SMS alerts, or simply just receive an email.

 

Are there different types of transfers that I can do?

Yes, there is. Providers offer various types of transfers to their customers. You will have the option of a standard single transfer, a forward exchange contract (where you can lock in an exchange rate on a payment you wish to make in the future), or a regular (recurring) payment. You will need to do your research on this beforehand.

Should I compare currency providers before transferring my money?

Yes. All banks and currency providers will offer competitive rates against one another. These rates will reflect the details of your transfer such as where to and how much you are transferring, as well as what payment method you choose. It is important to research this before you transfer.

Do some currency providers offer fee-free transfers?

Yes. All providers will waive their flat rate fee for larger transfers such as $100,000.

How quickly will my money take to transfer?

Money will usually take between 2-5 working days depending on when you transfer during the day, and whether you choose to transfer through a provider or a bank.

 

What other charges should I look out for?

The bank you are transferring to abroad will usually take their own cut, so it is important to research how much this will be and be aware that it will be taken off the final amount you or your recipient will receive.

 

Are there minimum and maximum limits to transferring money overseas?

Yes. These limits will vary with each company or bank, for instance WorldFirst have a $250 minimum transfer, as does OFX and TorFX. In comparison, HiFX has a $50 minimum amount. Depending on how much you wish to transfer, it is worth researching.

 

Do I have to report large transfers into Australia?

Yes. If you’re receiving more than $10,000 or a foreign currency equivalent, you’ll need to abide by Australian laws put in place. AUSTRAC (Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre) collects data on all cash transfers that exceed $10,000. This is to help prevent money laundering or terrorism.

Australian law requires banks and money transfer companies to report personal, identifiable information, which can include the following:

  1. Your name and contact information.
  2. The name and contact information of the person who sent you the money.
  3. If it’s a bank transfer, the financial details of the recipient, including SWIFT code.
  4. Your banking details, including your bank account number.
  5. The amount you received.

 

Security

All currency providers listed in this article hold Australian Financial Services Licenses and are members of the Australia Financial Ombudsman Service.

Compare the best ways to transfer money overseas

The best deal for you

TransferwiseRead ReviewTotal (USD)$7,089.16Exchange Rate0.7120Transfer Fees$43.32Transfer Time1-2 DaysLearn MoreTotal (USD)$7,089.16Rate Updated less than 2 mins ago
So, sending 10,000 AUD to the United States comes to $7,089.16 including $43.32 in fees
GO TO SITE
So, sending 10,000 AUD to the United States comes to $7,089.16 including $43.32 in fees

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

More trusted money transfer options

Provider Exchange Rate Transfer Fees Transfer TimeTotal (USD) Rate Updated less than 2 mins ago
TorFXRead ReviewTotal (USD)$7,084.40$4.76 more expensive Exchange Rate0.7084 Transfer Fees$0.00 Transfer Time2-3 DaysGet discounted rate $7,084.40$4.76 more expensive GO TO SITE
So, sending 10,000 AUD to the United States comes to $7,084.40 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 ReviewTotal (USD)$7,078.70$10.46 more expensive Exchange Rate0.7079 Transfer Fees$0.00 Transfer Time2-3 DaysGet discounted rate $7,078.70$10.46 more expensive GO TO SITE
So, sending 10,000 AUD to the United States comes to $7,078.70 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 ReviewTotal (USD)$7,077.28$11.88 more expensive Exchange Rate0.7077 Transfer Fees$0.00 Transfer Time2-3 DaysGet discounted rate $7,077.28$11.88 more expensive GO TO SITE
So, sending 10,000 AUD to the United States comes to $7,077.28 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

  • No 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
WorldRemitRead ReviewTotal (USD)$7,051.69$37.47 more expensive Exchange Rate0.7055 Transfer Fees$3.99 Transfer Time1-2 DaysGet discounted rate $7,051.69$37.47 more expensive GO TO SITE
So, sending 10,000 AUD to the United States comes to $7,051.69 including $3.99 in fees

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 ReviewTotal (USD)$7,014.46$74.70 more expensive Exchange Rate0.7025 Transfer Fees$15.00 Transfer Time1-3 DaysGet discounted rate $7,014.46$74.70 more expensive GO TO SITE
So, sending 10,000 AUD to the United States comes to $7,014.46 including $15.00 in 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 ReviewTotal (USD)$6,880.00$209.16 more expensive Exchange Rate0.6880 Transfer Fees$0.00 Transfer Time1-2 DaysGet discounted rate $6,880.00$209.16 more expensive GO TO SITE
So, sending 10,000 AUD to the United States comes to $6,880.00 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 ReviewTotal (USD)$6,733.91$355.25 more expensive Exchange Rate0.6742 Transfer Fees$12.00 Transfer Time1-2 DaysGet discounted rate $6,733.91$355.25 more expensive GO TO SITE
So, sending 10,000 AUD to the United States comes to $6,733.91 including $12.00 in fees
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
Take into account that we have not compared absolutely every bank and company in Australia. We compare the large, safe and reputable banks and foreign exchange companies that we have already researched, tested and approved. We also may receive a referral fee if you choose one of these banks or companies, but that wont affect the exchange rates or fees you get.