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, 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 May Not Be What You Think

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 website screenshot.
TransferWise website screenshot.

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

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 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 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.

Your currency knowledge centre

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Need a hand? Call to speak to a human 1800 004 930 or send us an email.