How to make an international money transfer (IMT) from Australia

06.03.18
5 minute read
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Need to send money out of Australia? Whether it’s for business or to connect with friends or family, there are plenty of options for making a foreign transfer - often called an international money transfer (IMT) or telegraphic transfer (T/T) - when you’re Down Under. They include both traditional transfers using a bank, and alternative services from specialists.

They’re not all the same, though. Confusingly, every option is likely to come with its own set of costs. And that doesn’t just mean the fixed fees you often have to pay. Additionally, banks are able to set their own exchange rate when they convert your money into a different currency - and if they charge anything other than the mid-market rate then they’re effectively pocketing the difference. So you should always consider the exchange rate as an extra cost: use an online currency converter, and compare it to a quote from your transfer provider, to see what your transfer is really worth.

A quick example:

Sending AU$1,000 from Australia to a euro bank account in Germany via online bank transfer with NAB, one of Australia’s largest banks, or via TransferWise.

Provider Fees Exchange Rate Total Cost
ANZ $18 Exchange rate + markup $18 + Exchange rate markup
TransferWise $6.95 The real exchange rate you see on Google $6.95

(Source 1 20 February 2018)

Option 1: Choose an alternative transfer service

You might naturally expect the easiest option would be to use a bank to send your money abroad. But more and more people are opting to use specialist international transfer services - many of which have been set up relatively recently and make use of technology to speed your transfer up and save money.

There are older, well-established options like Western Union and MoneyGram that will often let your recipient collect money in cash, if that’s more useful than transferring to a bank account. And there are more recently set up companies like PayPal and TransferWise offering similar online services. The choice is yours.

You’ll find a lot of variety in the fees being charged. Just like the banks, some advertise ‘zero fees’ or ‘no commission’, but you should always be suspicious of this. If a company isn’t charging a flat fee, they might well be hiding the fee in the exchange rate. Which means you could end up paying just as much or even more. PayPal and Western Union even expressly note that they add a profit into the exchange rate they offer you, so it’s quite widespread. So you should always check what the total cost of the transfer is going to be - including the exchange rate.

TransferWise is different in that it only ever uses the mid-market exchange rate: that’s the same rate you’ll find on Google or other online currency converters. That means TransferWise hides zero fees in its exchange rate. The only fee you pay is a small percentage cost, always stated upfront so you know exactly how much you’ll pay, and exactly how much will be received.

For anyone who uses multiple currencies regularly, a borderless multi-currency account can be even more useful. For no monthly fees, you can keep money online in dozens of different currencies, and you even get virtual account details for Australia, the US, the UK and the EU - meaning that you can pay or get paid in those places without anyone having to worry about high transfer fees.

Take a look now and see if you could save on your transfer.

Option 2: Make an international bank transfer online

It’s still possible to use your bank, of course. The major Australian banks all offer their customers a way to transfer money through internet banking. Here’s a quick rundown of what you have to do.

  1. Log in online or use your mobile app. Log in to your online banking account and find the international money transfer section. You’ll be able to do that online, or some Australian banks have apps you can use for this too.
  2. Recipient details. Fill in the recipient’s bank details. Normally this will be a SWIFT transfer, for which you’ll need their name and address, their IBAN, and their bank’s name, address and BIC/SWIFT code. As an alternative, you might also be able to send to someone’s mobile number - CommBank allows you do this, for instance.
  3. Amount and currencies. Enter the amount you want to transfer, and decide which currency you want to use. Double check with the recipient about which currency their bank account is in - that’s the currency to choose, as this will often work out cheaper than sending the money in Australian dollars.
  4. Research fees and exchange rates. Before sending the money, look for a quote, to see how much it’ll cost - both in flat fees and the exchange rate. Don’t forget to check how long the transfer should take, too.
  5. If you’re happy that you’re getting a good deal, hit send.

(Source 1 Source 2 Source 3 Source 4 21 February 2018)

Option 3: Make an international bank transfer in person

Perhaps you’re not set up with internet banking, though, or you’d just rather do it in person. Know that in-person banking often comes at a slightly higher cost than online - some of the Australian banks note this explicitly. But if you still prefer doing it in person, this is what you need to do.

  1. Find your nearest branch. Head to your local bank branch, making sure you have bank details with you - for both yourself and the recipient.
  2. Decide the amount and currencies. Tell the teller what you want to do, including how much you want to transfer, in what currency, and where to. Like if you’re transferring online, it’s worth double checking what currency you should send it in with the recipient.
  3. Research the costs. Ask for a quote before agreeing to the transfer, and make sure you’re happy with the fees - including the exchange rate - before you go ahead.
  4. Provide all the details they require and pay the money.

Good luck sending your money abroad from Australia, however you choose to do it. Just make sure you have the full picture before you hit send.

This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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