The Best Way to Transfer Money Overseas Comes Down to These 5 Things

In this article we’ll explore the various reasons you may have for transferring money internationally. For each situation we’ll recommend the best provider for your needs, based on our extensive experience and our intent to keep your fees as low as possible, while maximizing your security and ensuring you get excellent customer service. 

 

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5 Factors that impact your costs to send money internationally

 

These 5 areas will affect the fees you can expect to pay for foreign currency exchange:

#1 The company you decide to use to send money (your bank, PayPal, dedicated currency exchange, etc.).

#2 The mid-market currency exchange rate for the currencies you are converting from and to.

#3 The actual exchange rate provided by your currency exchange provider.

#4 Any additional fees levied on the transaction — These may be “fixed fee” or commission-based.

#5 The amount of money you choose to send.

 

This combination of factors can make it difficult to understand how much of a “cut” the currency providers will take, making a side-by-side comparison quite tricky. We have you covered though, here’s a table that shows roughly how much you could have expected to pay to send $1,000 USD from Australia in February 2017.

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Total Cost to Send 1000 US dollars from Australia

Transfer Method US dollar Amount Exchange Rate Fee Total Cost
World First 1000 0.7604 10.00 $1,325.10
HiFX 1000 0.7596 15.00 $1,331.48
OFX 1000 0.7565 10.00 $1,331.88
TorFX 1000 0.7565 10.00 $1,331.88
Credit Card 1000 0.7680 39.06 $1,341.15
Western Union 1000 0.7458 30.00 $1,370.84
ANZ 1000 0.7330 18.00 $1,382.26
Commonwealth Bank 1000 0.7311 22.00 $1,389.80
Westpac 1000 0.7270 20.00 $1,395.52
NAB 1000 0.7274 22.00 $1,396.76
Paypal 1000 0.7385 66.76 $1,420.85
Moneygram 1000 0.7258 75.00 $1,452.88

 

As you can see, it can be $60 AUD more expensive to send money via your bank, and $100 AUD more expensive to send money via a service like PayPal or Moneygram than through a dedicated currency exchange provider like World First, HiFX or OFX.

 

The right choice of currency provider will depend on your reasons for sending money overseas, and the amount you intend to exchange, Here are our recommendations, based on your circumstances.

 


Fee Free Offer

OFX is a trusted partner of The Currency Shop. OFX customers using this link through The Currency Shop will not incur a transfer fee for their international money transfers, regardless of the size of the transaction.

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Minimum transfer $250. Please note that the receiving bank or intermediary bank may charge fees on transactions.


 

Transferring larger amounts

 

Our recommendation: TorFX


When transferring more than $100,000, it's important to be aware of the exchange rate margin. The highest fees are the banks, ranging between $30 - $32 per transfer, which is marginal when compared to the money you could lose on a bad exchange rate. TorFX is one of the largest foreign exchange companies in the world and they consistently have excellent exchange rates, particularly for large amounts.

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Sending and receiving money to and from friends and family members

 

family

You’re an Expat moving to Australia from overseas
Our recommendation: OFX

 

OFX is one of the most popular choices for people relocating to Australia to live here. Account setup and management is easy, and they provide competitive exchange rates no matter how much or how little money you’re exchanging. OFX has a skilled and dedicated customer support team who can guide you through any financial questions on exchanging and transferring money. OFX rates are consistently close to mid-market rates, and they consistently beat PayPal, Moneygram, and banks when transferring any amount.

 

 

You want to send money from Australia back to your home country
Our recommendation: TorFX


If you’re regularly sending money home, you want a service that’s quick, simple, and easy to use. TorFX provides up-to-date currency information, together with professional currency conversion experts to answer your questions. Their exchange rates are often within 1% of the mid-market rate and they support this with several tools to reduce your risk of currency fluctuations.

 

See also: The best ways for expats to transfer money overseas

 


You want to transfer money to friends and family
Our recommendation: Western Union


Unlike many other providers, Western Union has a low “minimum payment” size, making it more cost effective to send small amounts to loved ones living abroad. They also generally have more competitive exchange rates than banks or Moneygram, and a greater number of funding options than dedicated currency exchange providers. For example, you can fund your account via debit or credit card and your relatives can receive the money into their bank account or in cash.

 

See also: Sending money to family overseas
What you should know about using Western Union for international money transfers

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Life events requiring you to transfer money overseas

 

Man Thinking

You want to get married overseas and need to pay for the wedding
Our recommendation: OFX


Planning (and paying) for a wedding can be stressful! Wedding services always seem to cost more than you think, so getting a good exchange rate is essential. OFX has an excellent track record for these type of payments, and their superb, local customer service teams will help remove any anxiety before your big day.

 

See also: Paying for an overseas wedding

 

You want to receive pension payments or transfer your pension from overseas
Our recommendation: OFX


When it comes to receiving payments or moving your pension, the security of your personal information and your money is essential. For regular transfers from overseas, OFX is a great choice. In addition to considerable experience with pension transfers, their customer service team can make sure you get a great exchange rate.

 

See also: Transferring money back to Australia from overseas

 

You’re inheriting money from overseas and want to access it in Australia
Our recommendation: OFX


Losing a family member or friend is a traumatic experience, and the last thing you want to think about is the details of finances and exchange rates. The dedicated customer service and support team at OFX is used to dealing with these situations and will be understanding and sensitive, while giving you the right information to transfer your inheritance into Australia.

 

See also: Inheriting assets from overseas - what you need to know about international money transfers

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Paying for goods and services in another country

 

Cash

You want to pay bills or small invoices in another currency (typically under $200)

Our recommendation: Your debit or credit card

 

We’re going to go against our usual recommendations of using a dedicated currency provider here, and simply suggest using your debit or credit card. Although dedicated currency providers have better exchange rates than debit or credit cards, they often charge a “per transaction” fee of $10 - $20. When it comes to small bills and invoices, that just doesn’t make sense. The extra 3% to 5% premium you will pay on international debit or credit card payments will be more cost-effective than currency providers for smaller amounts.

 

See also: Five cheap ways to pay your overseas bills

 

You want to pay for services you’ve received overseas
Our recommendation: OFX


OFX provides transparent fees and very competitive exchange rates, making them a good alternative to Paypal, Moneygram or Western Union. They have a simple, fast, easy-to-use platform that also provides tools to help you reduce risk and exchange rate volatility.

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Foreign currency exchange for property

 

Property

You want to buy, sell, or invest in a property abroad
Our recommendation: World First


When you’re transferring money in relation buying, selling, or investing in a property, you need to do it at the best time to take maximum advantage of the exchange rate. You also need to make sure that money is there when you and other parties need it. When you’re juggling offers, contracts, and settlement dates, you need reassurance your transfer is secure and safe. 

That’s why we recommend World First. You will get a dedicated account manager who can talk you through every step of transferring your money, help you with any issues, and make sure your money is where you need it to be, when you need it to be there. They have a global support network, so they will help wherever you are moving money from or to.


See also: What to consider when you’re buying a property overseas
Sold your overseas property? Here’s the best way to transfer the money back to Australia


You want to make a mortgage payment overseas
Our recommendation: TorFX


TorFX provides an excellent service for regular mortgage payments, including locking in exchange rates so you’ll be certain how much you will pay. Their low minimum payment size of $250 allows you to transfer large or small amounts at a low cost. 

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Currency transfers for businesses

 

Business Transfers

Your business is importing goods from overseas
Our recommendation: WorldFirst


If you’re in business and you’re importing goods from elsewhere, WorldFirst is hard to beat. They work closely with Australian businesses and specialize in international payments, receipts, processes, and documentation. They assign a manager to each business client and provide useful currency exchange tools like Forward Exchange Contracts, Options, Limit Orders and Currency Options to help you get the best value.


See also: Your 10 step guide to importing goods into Australia


You want to export goods and receive payment from overseas customers
Our recommendation: HiFX


If you regularly take payments from customers in other countries, variations in the exchange rates can eat into your profits. HiFX helps you get around this problem through providing foreign currency accounts where you can keep your money until exchange rates improve. They also have a $0 fee structure, which can prove very useful if you’re moving smaller amounts on a regular basis. 


See also: Export tips to take your company from Australia to the world

 

You have an ecommerce store and want to sell goods and take payments internationally
Our recommendation: WorldFirst


Ecommerce is big business, and many currency providers are realizing this. Leading the charge is World First, who have a specialized service for online retailers. You can avoid the hidden fees associated with some online international ecommerce payment options, and choose to transfer money back to Australia when the exchange rate is in your favor.

See also: Payment gateways — PayPal, Stripe, Shopify, and Pin Payments reviewed and compared

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Other circumstances for foreign currency exchange 

 

Friends

You have some other reason for sending small amounts overseas
Our recommendation: PayPal


Although PayPal can sometimes be an expensive option, it’s not too bad if you’re just sending small amounts (typically under $200). Unlike many providers, they have no minimum payment size. In some cases, Paypal may be a cheaper alternative to using a bank transfer because they charge a relatively small transfer fee. Be cautious though — The exchange rates and fees PayPal provides are not at all competitive for amounts of around $300 and over. Please note that transfers must go to another PayPal account. The funds cannot be picked up in cash.


See also: Converting and sending currency via PayPal - How does it compare?


You have some other reason for sending large amounts overseas

Our recommendation: TorFX


If you’re transferring more than $100,000 overseas, it's critical that you get the very best exchange rate from a company you know is safe and secure. TorFX is one of the largest foreign exchange companies in the world and they consistently have excellent exchange rates, particularly for large amounts.
 

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Financial protections for your money

 

Payment

You want to make sure your money and personal data are protected. Whichever bank or currency exchange provider you choose, ensure they have the following:

  • An Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL).
  • A registration with Austrac.
  • A membership of the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).

All the companies listed in this guide meet these criteria.


See also: Transferring money back to Australia from overseas

 

 

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Resources to help you learn more about overseas funds transfers


Here's some more information on the most common ways to transfer funds into and out of Australia.

 

Using an Australian bank

Transferring money via an Australian bank is the most common way to send funds to another country — Unfortunately, it is also one of the most expensive ways to exchange currency. Banks have different charges to send money abroad, but the 'Big 4' charge between $22 and $32 to wire money from a branch and between $18 and $22 to do it online. 

It’s easy to send money overseas using your bank. Here’s how:

  1. Log on to your internet banking.
  2. Click on the "Payments" or "Transfers" section and choose "International Money Transfer."
  3. Enter the banking details of where you are sending the money. They are usually called the "Beneficiary" or "Recipient."
  4. Choose which of your accounts your bank will debit for the transfer.
  5. Confirm the details and transmit your request.

 

See also: How to transfer money overseas using an Australian bank


 
Western Union

Western Union is a popular choice for sending money overseas. It’s best for sending small amounts that can be picked up in cash by the recipient. They allow you to pay by debit or credit card, and transfers can be made online or in-person. Due to the many different options available, fees, charges and exchange rates are not transparent. The fees do depend on how much you are sending overseas and what country you are sending it to.

What you should know about using Western Union for international money transfers

See also: What you should know about using Western Union for international money transfers


PayPal

Although PayPal isn’t generally good value for transferring money internationally, it is fast, easy, and convenient. It is particularly quick if the person you are paying also has a PayPal account.

See also: Converting and sending currency via PayPal - How does it compare?

 

OFX, TorFX, World First,  HiFX, and other international currency provider specialists


These are specialized currency exchange providers, based in Australia and around the world. Due to their specialization, they generally have much lower fees and better exchange rates than banks, PayPal, and other services. Currency exchange providers in Australia include OFX (formally Ozforex), HiFX, TorFX, and World First. 

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Exchange Rate Comparison Tool

 

 
 

 


Useful resources and links


Information you'll need to transfer money overseas — Before you transfer money overseas, check what information you will need first to save you time, money, and stress. Find out about SWIFT Codes, IBAN numbers, and other information you'll need to transfer money internationally.


What is a Wire Transfer? — We cover what a wire transfer is, how they work, if they are safe and the fees involved.


Exchange Rates: How to Work Out If You Are Getting Ripped Off — Exchanging money from one currency to another doesn’t need to be complicated, but it’s important to make sure you’re getting the best deal. Foreign exchange businesses make money every time we buy and sell currency. We’ll explore the common ways currency exchanges charge fees and let you know how to avoid getting ripped off.


Locking in (fixing) your exchange rate — Forward Exchange Contracts (FECs) are the most common tool that Australian businesses use to lock in an exchange rate. This article is a collection of those stories, experiences, and misconceptions that will tell you everything you need to know about Forward Exchange Contracts.


How long does it take to transfer money overseas? — International Money Transfers can take anywhere between a few hours and a week. So why is there such a big gap between the quickest and slowest ways to transfer money overseas?


Exchange Rates

 

Fees

 

Notes

  • The exchange rates quoted are indicative and were taken from publicly available websites. See “free resources” to help you learn more about sending money overseas for all the links.
  • Outside of the exchange rate and fees, each method has it's own pros and cons. Make sure you research each provider before deciding if they are right for you.
  • TorFX, OFX and World First have minimum transaction requirements.
  • Exchange rate margins and fees are different for other currencies and are subject to change. 
  • We have compared the most common methods of payment.
  • The Currency Shop has commercial partnerships with some, but not all of the banks and companies listed. For more information, see our list of partners here.
  • Credit card charges do vary. We used the typical charges and exchange rates from a Mastercard.
  • Western Union fees and exchange rates vary. They change depending on if it is a bank transfer or pick-up, whether you pay via bank transfer or using a credit card, and finally whether you transact online or in-person. In this example, we used the rates and fees for a cash pick-up, paying by card.

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