Commonwealth Bank Foreign Currency Account Review

We take a closer look at everything you need to know about a Commonwealth Bank foreign currency account in this review so you can decide if they’re the right partner for your business.

A Commonwealth Bank foreign currency account may be an excellent choice for your business banking needs. Each day, the global economy becomes increasingly connected, leading more businesses to search for a banking partner that can provide them with the know-how and flexibility they need to handle banking in any currency.

Pros
  • Transact in many major currencies
  • Real-time account info and management
  • No monthly account fees
  • Free transfers between linked Commonwealth accounts
  • Reasonable conversion costs
Cons
  • Accounts can’t be accessed overseas
  • No chequebook or keycard – payments must be made via international money transfer
  • Fairly high fees when purchasing foreign currencies, sending or receiving foreign money
  • Only pays interest on certain currencies, and a high balance is required to accrue interest

Features of the Commonwealth Bank Foreign Currency Account

Commonwealth Bank is a leading financial institution with branches throughout Europe, Asia and North America as well as here in Australia. For over 100 years, Commonwealth Bank has shown to be an institution that you can trust to handle your banking and financial service needs. Commonwealth bank also has a wealth of experience when dealing with foreign banking.

 

In addition to their established reputation for excellence, there are several noteworthy features you’ll be able to take advantage of with your Commonwealth Bank foreign currency account.

 

NetBank

By opening an account with Commonwealth, you’ll have access to NetBank, Australia’s leading online banking platform. Recently voted Canstar’s Best Online Bank, you can rest assured that you can handle many important banking transactions safely and securely through the NetBank platform.

 

Commonwealth also provides a security guarantee that protects you in the event of unauthorized transactions through your NetBank account, which provides unparalleled peace of mind.

 

Free transfers between Commonwealth accounts

If you or your business use Commonwealth for your other banking needs, you’ll be able to enjoy fee-free transfers between your Commonwealth accounts. In a world where seemingly every banking transaction carries a fee, having the ability to make fee-free transfers between accounts is a useful, money-saving feature you may want to take advantage of.

 

Comprehensive coverage for foreign currencies

Unlike some accounts, which allow you to deal in a limited number of foreign currencies, your Commonwealth Bank foreign currency account will let you deal in nearly twenty different foreign currencies, which allows you the flexibility you need to maintain an edge.

Which Currencies Are Available?

With your Commonwealth Bank foreign currency account, you’ll have the flexibility you need to bank in nearly all major currencies.

 

Currently, Commonwealth allows you to transact using the Canadian dollar, Chinese renminbi, Czech koruna, Danish kroner, Euro, Great British pound, Hong Kong dollar, Hungarian forint, Israeli new shekel, Japanese yen, New Zealand dollar, Norwegian kroner, Singapore dollar, South African rand, Swedish kroner, Swiss franc, Thailand baht, United Arab Emirates Dirham and the United States dollar as well.

 

You’re likely to find that your Commonwealth account provides you with the currency flexibility you need and then some. There are a few accounts which allow you to transact in even more currencies, but most banks offer far less in the way of foreign currency options.

Fees

When it comes to the fees you can expect with your Commonwealth Bank foreign currency account, there’s a lot to pay attention to.

 

As far as upfront charges for having an account, there are none, which is certainly nice. You can also transfer money between linked Commonwealth accounts without a fee as well. But, you’ll be paying fees on seemingly every other transaction you make.

 

For example, you can expect fees of $17-37 for international money transfers sent, and $11-35 for transfers received. Depending on the amount of transfers you complete on a monthly basis, this may become cost prohibitive.

 

It’s important that you learn about and understand all of Commonwealth’s fees before setting up an account. Their fees are fairly standard and are in line with what many of the other major banking partners in Australia have to offer.

Exchange Rates

Exchange rates are volatile and are subject to change at a moments notice. Fortunately, Commonwealth provides their customers with real-time updates to exchange rates through their NetBank online banking application.

 

Regardless of this robust application, calculating rates with an exchange rate calculator is still the best way to ensure you’re aware of the exchange rate for a particular currency before making a transaction.

 

If you’re unsure about exchange rates or have questions about a specific currency, it may be a good idea to stop into a Commonwealth branch to discuss your transaction with one of their banking professionals.

How to Apply for a Commonwealth Bank Foreign Currency Account

After you’ve carefully considered all your different options for foreign currency banking, you may decide that a Commonwealth bank foreign currency account is best for your needs. If that’s the case, applying for a new account is simple and easy.

 

To open your account, you can visit your local Commonwealth Bank branch, or discuss an account over the phone with one of their banking professionals. Setting up a new account is a quick process, and in less than an hour your account will be set up and ready to use.

 

From there, you can familiarise yourself with the NetBank application, where you can adjust your preferences and settings and learn how to use the different features offered by the application.

A better multi-currency account with lower fees

TransferWise released the Borderless Account in Australia. At first glance, it is significantly easier to set-up, receive and send foreign currency. The fee structure is also better than any of the other foreign currency account we've reviewed in Australia.

The thing that makes it different to every other foreign currency account, is that it allows you to up a local bank account in AUD, GBP, EUR or USD. That means if you open up a USD account, you’ll have your own ABA and account number (think BSB and account number).

It’s a big deal. Why?

Having your own local bank account makes it significantly easier, faster and cheaper to receive money.

To read our full review of the TransferWise Borderless Account, click here or watch this video

Learn More About the Borderless Account