If you do international business regularly or are otherwise constantly changing money, one of the most helpful financial products St. George Bank offers is their Foreign Currency Account.
For those who do business overseas (especially importers and exporters) or have international clients, it can be crucial to have a bank account which carries your foreign currency, to avoid the hassle of transfer and exchange fees. Also, holding a foreign currency account can help reduce the risk that comes with the standard fluctuations in exchange rates.
Like any financial product, there will be benefits and drawbacks to how this account works. In this article, we’ll examine St. George Bank’s Foreign Currency Account to help you determine if it’s right for your business needs.
- Account is interest bearing
- Available in 10 major currencies
- No monthly account keeping fee
Minimum balance kept must be equivalent to $1000 AUD
Minimum transaction size of $25000 AUD equivalent
Minimum opening balance of $50000 AUD equivalent
Features of St. George Foreign Currency Account
As we discuss the details of St. George’s Foreign Currency Account, it’s important to remember that transaction fees are a normal part of all international banking. One of the benefits of a large bank like St. George (which became part of Westpac Group in 2008) is that monthly account keeping fees can be eliminated.
The balance of your foreign currency account will accrue interest, which is credited to your account at the end of each month. Interest is calculated daily, based on current rates, and rates will differ based on the currency of your account.
The interest rate on this account is variable, set by the bank, and is subject to change at any time. Interest rates will also differ based on the amount of balance kept. You will be contacted any time the interest rate changes, but can also find out the current interest rate by contacting St. George’s Investments and Deposits team.
There are no fees for opening this account, nor monthly fees for maintaining it. There is a required minimum of the equivalent of AUD $50,000 to open a foreign currency account.
Deposits and Withdrawals
Deposits and withdrawals can only be made either online or by phone or fax. Deposits and withdrawals cannot be made in branch. Deposits and withdrawals are not allowed between your Foreign Currency Account and an outside account. Your interest payments cannot be credited to another account.
Foreign Currency Overdrafts
Once you’ve established your Foreign Currency Account, Foreign Currency Overdrafts are also available. These overdrafts are a great way to provide you with capital to work with and otherwise act as a hedge for exporters and to protect against delayed payments or receipts.
Foreign Currency Term Deposit
A foreign currency term deposit is a fixed term investment held in foreign currency at a fixed interest rate, set at the time of deposit. This is not a transaction account. Your one-time deposit, which must be greater than the equivalent of AUD $150,000, can be held for a term anywhere between 7 days and 12 months.
Withdrawals during the fixed term must be approved by the bank, and are subject to a lower interest rate.
St. George Foreign Currency Accounts are available to open in the ten major denominations listed here:
USD (US Dollar), GBP (Great British Pound), CAN (Canadian Dollar), NZD (New Zealand Dollar), CHF (Swiss Franc), EUR (Euro), HKD (Hong Kong Dollar), JPY (Japanese Yen), ZAR (South African Rand), SGD (Singapore Dollar)
If you don’t see your preferred denomination on this list, contact St. George for further information or to see if an exception is available.
Despite the fact that fees will accompany all international banking, an important thing to watch out for with any foreign currency account is hidden fees.
One of the benefits of the St. George Foreign Currency Account is that there are no monthly account keeping fees, as long as a minimum balance is kept the equivalent of $1000 AUD.
On the other hand, any time currency is converted, even between accounts held under the same name or title, St. George does charge a $10.50 conversion fee. This differs from some of the larger banks which do not charge internal transfer fees. As with most of the other foreign currency accounts on the market, there is also a conversion fee for transfers between your account and an account with another bank.
For any foreign check deposited to your account, there is a $32.00 fee.
Like most foreign currency accounts, the exchange rate will constantly be changing and will be set by St. George based on up-to-date information on current market values. Even if you’re staying abreast of the market, before you make a transfer a conversion it’s always a good idea to consult with your St. George representative to find out about current applicable rates.
How to Apply for a St. George Foreign Currency Account
If after reading this review you’ve decided that a St. George Foreign Currency Account is right for your business, your next step is to contact your St. George Bank Relationship Manager to discuss further details.
For those with further questions about opening a St. George Foreign Currency Account, feel free to contact St. George online or call toll free at 1300 665 616.
Other Similar Accounts
For many customers, St. George will have the Foreign Currency Account that’s right for you. If it doesn’t seem like a good fit, many of Australia’s major banks will have similar foreign currency accounts with features that may be preferable to you.
ANZ (Australian and New Zealand Banking Group Limited), NAB (National Australia Bank), and Commonwealth Bank (CBA) are all large, reliable banks with similar accounts available, each of which has slightly different fee structures as well as unique pros and cons. HSBC, Citibank, and Bank of Queensland will also have similar products that may meet your needs.
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