Compare international money transfer exchange rates and fees
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 your money abroad:
- online money transfer services
- remittance companies (like Western Union or MoneyGram)
Our comparison table is here to help you decide which service is best to send your 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. Here are the steps:
How much is an international money transfer?
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
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:
- Check the information you gave is correct - check names, bank number accounts and the international codes for the destination bank
- 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.
- Ask the person receiving the money to contact their bank and check any issues that could cause a delay.
- 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 a 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.
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
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 TransferWise 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.
International money transfer reviews
We’ve reviewed some of the very best money transfer providers below, and they’re some of your best options if you want to send currency overseas, all with differing fees, exchange rates and services. We’ve shared information on:
- An overview of each provider, giving you some quick, useful insight.
- The advantages and disadvantages of each provider and why you might choose to use them.
- Fees, exchange rates and minimum transfer amounts.
- What customers think of the provider, based on Trustpilot reviews, including good and bad points.
- How to setup an account, create and pay for a currency transfer.
- The currencies the provider can exchange between.
- Safety and security at the provider.
You can find links to all of these reviews below. Remember that to find the best deals for international money transfers, you should use our comparison table.
Transferring money internationally through your bank?
Banks are almost always more expensive than companies that specialise in overseas transfers. They charge high fixed fees and worse exchange rates than you can get from companies like TransferWise, XE Money Transfer, WorldRemit and similar businesses.
We think it’s vital for you to make a fair comparison though, so we’ve reviewed all of these banks and shared what’s good and bad about each one.
Our FAQs for international money transfers, answered
This depends on what is most important to you. Whether you want the cheapest company, looking for fee-free transfers, the fastest speed, excellent customer service, or you have specific business needs. To find out what we recommend for the best international money transfer companies in Australia read our comprehensive guide to help you choose.
A SWIFT code is a unique identification code for a particular bank throughout the world. These codes are Bank Identifier Codes (BIC) and companies use the SWIFT/BIC codes to send money to overseas bank accounts. SWIFT and BIC codes are the same thing.
It consists of 8 or 11 characters. They are a combination of various kinds of letters and are used to identify the branch codes of the banks.
It is often a requirement when making an international money transfer. If you would like to find the SWIFT/BIC code of your account, they often have it on your banks website or you can look it up on the SWIFT website.
The actual length of time between you paying for a transfer and the recipient getting the money varies depending on a few different factors:
- The international money transfer provider or bank that you’re using
- The country and currency you’re sending from
- The country and currency of the person receiving the transfer
- How you’re paying for the transfer (e.g. by a wire transfer, bank transfer, credit or debit card)
- Whether your transfer needs an extra review or validation
That may not be a good enough quick answer though. So, we’ve looked at all the different providers to come up with some average transfer times:
- Online international money transfers: 0 to 5 business days
- Bank to bank transfers: 2 to 5 business days
- Wire transfers and telegraphic transfers: 1 to 5 business days
And here are some average times for some of our most popular specialist providers:
TransferWise: 0 to 3 business days
XE Money Transfers: 0 to 3 business days
WorldFirst: 1 to 2 business days
Western Union: 0 to 3 business days
OFX: 0 to 3 business days
You’re probably not looking forward to a long, exhaustive explanation of currency exchange rates and fees, so we’ll keep this mercifully brief!
When you send money abroad using your bank or a specialist international money transfer company, exchange rates and fees vary because money transfer companies need to make money too. The question is, how much does it cost them to transfer money overseas relative to what you pay them? We don't know. But what we do know is the different ways they can charge you for your international money transfer:
1. They may offer a slightly worse exchange rate
The “best” exchange rate available is the “base” exchange rate.* Some currency providers make money by offering you a slightly worse rate, and take a profit on the difference — this is known as the “margin” or “spread.” For example, the base rate might get you $1,000 US dollars for $1,412 AUD, but a provider charges you $1,430 AUD. That $18 difference is their margin, where they make a profit.
*The standard exchange rate is also known as the standard, mid-market or interbank exchange rate.
2. They may charge a fixed fee
Some providers, especially banks, will charge you a fixed fee to send money. These fees can range from anywhere between $1 to $25 or more. High street banks are particularly bad at charging high, fixed fees — but don’t worry, we’ve got some good alternatives for you.
3. They may charge a commission or service charge
Some providers like TransferWise charge a fee based on the total amount you’re transferring as a commission or service charge. These will typically be shown seperate to the exchange rate, and as the amount you send increases, the service charge will also go up.
Comparing charges for international money transfers
Providers do vary in how they charge for international money transfer services, and they may apply a combination of different types of fees. When we compare providers, we show you the total amount you’ll pay, so you always get a fair, side-by-side comparison.
Something else to bear in mind — if you’re sending money to someone else’s bank account, their bank may charge processing fees. A money transfer company has no influence on these fees, and you should speak to the receiving bank to understand how much they might be.
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