5 Cheaper Ways to Transfer Money Overseas

Using a bank is one of the easiest ways of transferring money overseas, but can also be the most costly.
Sending money to an overseas bank account is full of hidden fees which can be confusing and hard to spot.

According to the ACCC, "if you send AU$1000 overseas from Australia, on average you’ll pay AU$9 more than if you sent an equivalent amount from the United Kingdom, and AU$23 more than if you sent it from the United States."

At the end of this article you'll find some practical steps on how to transfer money overseas without paying too much. But first, let's look at 5 of the cheapest international money transfers.

1. A Bank Transfer Minus the Bank

A bank transfer allows you to send foreign currency to another bank account overseas. But like we said, doing this directly from your bank can be expensive. There are Australian and international companies that specialise in doing exactly the same thing, except they do it with much lower fees and better exchange rates.

When and why it’s cheaper:

If you are sending more than $1000, ‘non-bank’ money transfer companies can be the best way to transfer money overseas. This is because their fees are lower and their exchange rates are more competitive. Transfer fees vary between $0-$15 for small amounts but most companies offer fee free transfers for amounts over $10,000.

2. Peer to Peer Transfer (P2P)

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.  TransferWise and CurrencyFair are two of the biggest companies that offer P2P transfers and send your money this way.

Often a P2P transfer can be quicker because there are less banks involved. It can also reduce or eliminate a common hidden fee called a correspondent bank fee. Which again makes the transfer cheaper. Win-win!

When and why it’s cheaper:

P2P transfers are often a good option when you're transferring up to $10,000. They are usually very transparent which makes it easier to calculate the cost of your transfer. Sometimes, companies like this charge a percentage based fee. So you need to be careful of this if you're making large transfers because the cost can add up.

3. Money Remitters (for smaller amounts under $2000)

According to the World Bank, international remittances totalled 585 billion dollars in 2017. Now, thanks to increased competition from money remitters, the cost of these transfers is being brought down.

The more popular remitters include WorldRemit (click here to get your first 3 Transfers fee-free), Orbit Remit and InstaRem.

When and why it’s cheaper:

Money remitters specialise in smaller payments. They can be a much cheaper option for transfers under $2000, because their fee structure and exchange rates are usually much better. This is particularly true to less common destinations in Asia, Africa and South America. Unlike companies like TorFX or OFX, these companies rarely have a minimum transfer amount.

4. Send Money Overseas Online

It doesn't matter which bank or company you use - it's almost always cheaper to send money overseas online when compared to doing it over the phone or in person.

Many companies like TransferWise only offer online ways to transfer your money overseas. It might seem inconvenient but it does mean that they can lower the overall cost of each transfer because they don't have to pay the costs of running a store.

When and why it’s cheaper:

In Australia, all four major banks charge a lot less for using internet banking to transfer money overseas. This is compared to going into one of their branches. This is largely because it costs a lot less for the banks to transfer money online than in person. You should still compare your options for transferring money online, before deciding to use your bank.

5. Bitcoin

You can use Bitcoin to send money overseas, but be aware that it can be quite complicated. Especially if you are not familiar with using a digital currency. To do it, you’ll have to set up a wallet with a Bitcoin company, like Coinjar, then fund your online wallet with Australian dollars. This will then need to be converted to Bitcoin and sent to the person you are paying overseas. They also need to have a Bitcoin wallet and can then convert 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, that there can be more risk using a cryptocurrency than the other options we have discussed.

Fee Free Offer

The Currency Shop has partnered with OFX to offer fee free money transfers. Click on this offer, register your details and avoid paying a fee to transfer money overseas.

  • After 20 years, OFX is one of the oldest money transfer companies and they have the expertise to go with it.
  • Their rates are often better than the banks, especially for larger transfers.
  • 24/7 phone support.
  • They have a minimum transfer amount of $250
  • Receiving or intermediary banks may charge fees on transactions

Learn More About OFX

The Best Way to Transfer Money Overseas Depends on One Thing

It really comes down to your situation. For some people, the "best way" means the cheapest option around. For others, it's the fastest.

Below, you’ll find simple guides on the cheapest, fastest and safest ways to send money abroad from Australia.

Instant Ways to Send Money Overseas Online

Sometimes, you just need it done, now! For those moments when you urgently need to send money overseas, we know the fastest ways to get funds to the right people. Here’s our guide to instant money transfers.

We trust two main companies for super-fast money transfers:

WorldRemit

WorldRemit offers a same day service to selected banks around the world. They have a large presence in Asian countries, so they’re a great choice if that’s where your recipient is. WorldRemit always displays the expected delivery time before you pay for the transfer, so you know exactly how long it will take.

Transferwise

The fastest-growing money transfer service, TransferWise is known for their low costs and speedy currency exchange. They’ll display the time to transfer and you can speed that up depending on how you pay.

Best Ways to Transfer Cash Overseas

If you want to send cash directly to the recipient, rather than pay money into their bank account, you have three options — Western Union, MoneyGram or WorldRemit. Western Union has the largest network and is competitive for certain destination countries like India. WorldRemit is cheap and their online service is easy to use.

Let’s compare Western Union and WorldRemit. Here’s how much the recipient would get if you’re sending $500 to the Philippines.

Provider Fees Exchange rate Amount received
Western Union $5 - $7 50.25 PHP 25,124 PHP
WorldRemit $3.99 51.56 PHP 25,780 PHP

How to Transfer Money Overseas without Fees

You can keep fees to a minimum, but you’ll still end up paying for your transfer due to the exchange rate you get. Don’t worry, we’ve read the fine print. The companies we’ve shared below provide the safest and securest overseas currency transfers that have no transfer fees and lower exchange rates than your bank. Find out more about how to transfer currency overseas with no fees.

  • XE.com offers fee-free international transfers and is a trusted name in the world of currency exchange
  • TorFX provides excellent customer service and fee-free currency exchange
  • World First is one of the fastest and easiest ways to send money abroad without any upfront fees

How to Transfer Currency Overseas Safely

If you want to keep your funds secure when you transfer large sums of money overseas, you have a few options. All the specialist providers we compare adhere to the strongest security standards and are fully regulated.

  • Bank transfer — you can send directly between your bank and a bank in another country, but you will pay high fees
  • Online money transfer services — specialist providers like TransferWise and World First are transparent, safe and fully regulated
  • Peer-to-peer transfer services — companies like TransferWise and PayPal match you with people buying or selling the currency you want to exchange with

How to Transfer Money Overseas from your Australian Bank Account

Transferring money overseas from your Australian bank account is simple once you know how to do it, but you might be short on time to figure it out. Not to worry, we’ve put together this step-by-step guide to show you what you need to do. This includes registering your details (you’ll only need to do this once), providing details of the money transfer, and the final payment.

Transfer money overseas from Australia in 3 easy steps

1

Register your details To transfer money internationally, you'll need to register first. Make sure you have valid ID like your passport or driver's license

2

Provide money transfer details Your money transfer service will need to know the currency, amount, and the account or person you’re sending money to

3

Pay for your transfer Choose how you want to pay for the transfer. Your bank or money transfer service will then convert the money and send it overseas

How to transfer money overseas using ANZ, NAB, CBA, Westpac or any money transfer service (well almost)

Every bank and money transfer service is different. There are a variety of ways to send money for international transfers and money transfer companies have a mixture of payment systems and payment types.

That's why we've put together these detailed step-by-step guides on how to transfer money overseas from Australia using the following popular companies:

Our most frequently asked questions

What are the best international money transfer apps to use?

Most providers have smartphone apps so you can access and make money transfers on the go. You can install these apps on Apple and Android devices, then use them to create, pay for and track your international money transfer.

Here are some of the best apps from our specialist providers.

  • TransferWise money transfer app
  • WorldRemit money transfer app
  • WorldFirst money transfer app
  • OFX money transfer app

Learn more about the best international money transfer apps.

Can I get free international money transfers?

Kind of… There are several providers that don’t charge a fee for sending your money overseas. Instead, they make money by giving you a slightly worse exchange rate, known as a “spread” or “margin.” So while you won’t pay a fixed fee or commission, you’re still paying for the money transfer in one way or another. Sadly, nothing comes for free!

Learn more about fee free international money transfers.

Can I send money overseas instantly?

Yes, you can. A few of the specialist international money transfer providers do offer a close to instant service. What this means is that they can typically get money there the same day. Now, the speed of your transfer does depend on a few different areas, like where you’re sending from and to, and how you pay for the exchange.

We recommend the following providers for the fastest transfers.

  • WorldRemit
  • TransferWise
  • OFX

Learn more about same-day money transfer providers.

Can I send money overseas using a credit card?

Yes, you can send money overseas using your credit card, but it can get very expensive. There are several reasons for this:

  • Your credit card provider will probably see this as a “cash advance” and will likely charge a higher interest rate from the moment you fund the transfer
  • You will probably pay more in fees to the money transfer provider
  • Using a credit card may make the exchange rate you get slightly worse

We recommend paying for your transfer by using your bank account, an electronic funds transfer or a debit card. Using your bank account is the cheapest way to transfer money overseas. The fees are lower for other options and your money will go further.

Learn more about paying for a money transfer using a credit card.

How do I complete an international money transfer online?

Making an international money transfer using your app is just as easy as going online and using your laptop. First step is for you to visit the provider's website. You can do this from our comparison tool or the links in this article. Almost all of the providers have dedicated apps available for both Apple and Android devices. Here are the key steps to making an international money transfer using digital means. 

  1. Visit the provider’s website or download their smartphone app.
  2. Set up an account with the provider.
  3. Create a transfer to the recipient.
  4. Pay for the transfer and wait for your money to be converted and sent overseas.

Learn more about the best ways to transfer money overseas.

What is a wire transfer (telegraphic transfer) and how does it work?

A wire transfer is where you transfer money electronically, typically between financial institutions like international banks or credit unions. Wire transfers generally take one to three business days, and they are safe and secure. For international telegraphic transfers, you will need the relevant details of the recipient’s account information, like a SWIFT or IBAN. Some banks do charge a fee to send or receive money using a wire transfer, so if you’re using this to send money overseas or fund a currency exchange, make sure you know how much you’ll pay.

Learn more about wire transfers and how they work.

How much money can you transfer overseas from Australia?

The amount you can send varies by provider. For example, WorldFirst have a $250 minimum transfer, as does OFX and TorFX. In comparison, HiFX has a $50 minimum amount. When you compare using our tool, we’ll show you what providers are available for the amount you’re sending. It’s also important to note that Australian laws and legislation will track some transfers. 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.

Learn more about how much you can send overseas.

How do I transfer money overseas using my post office?

Australia Post lets you easily send money overseas. The transfers are actually handled by Western Union and WU will determine the fees you pay and the exchange rates you get. You can send money online or at an Australia Post location. You’ll need:

  • SWIFT code of the bank you are sending the money to
  • The name of the bank
  • An account name
  • An account number

Learn more about using the Post Office to transfer money abroad.

Will I get taxed for sending money abroad?

You won’t generally get taxed by the Australian government for money you send out of the country. You may get taxed on money you bring into the country, including:

  • After you become a resident of Australia, transferring money into your Australian bank account
  • Earning income from overseas sources while you’re in Australia

Learn more about taxes you may pay when transferring money into or out of Australia.

Things You Need to Know About Receiving Money from Overseas

There are ways you can increase the amount of money you get and the time it takes to transfer money from overseas to your account.

International Money Transfer Comparison and Reviews

Find the best international money transfer exchange rates to send money overseas from Australia. Compare the rates and fees from leading banks and money transfer services.

How to Transfer Money Overseas from your Australian Bank Account

Transferring money overseas from your Australian bank account is simple once you know how to do it, but you might be short on time to figure it out.

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