Westpac Bank is Australia's oldest and one of its biggest banks, serving over 13 million customers. If you're a Westpac customer - or are considering becoming one - you can use this guide to help you understand how to make an international money transfer (sometimes called international telegraphic transfer) and what to expect in terms of process times and fees. Either way, you might be able to save if you use a service like TransferWise. But more on that later.
Here’s your guide to what you need to know, and how much it will cost you.
A quick example before we get started.
Let’s say we’re sending $1,000 from Australia to a dollar account in New Zealand.
|Provider||Fee||Exchange Rate||Total Cost|
|Westpac (Australia)¹||AU$10||exchange rate + markup||AU$10+ exchange rate markup + possible correspondent bank fees|
|TransferWise||AU$5.97||The real exchange rate - the same one you find on Google||AU$5.97|
It seems clear that Westpac’s fees are higher. However, if the fees alone aren’t reason enough to consider an alternative, that isn’t taking into account any exchange rate markup — on average a spread of an additional 4-6%. In addition, there are normally 1-3 intermediary and recipient banks who also charge fees.
Those costs start adding up. Fast.
To make sure you really know what you’re getting before you commit, compare the exchange rate you’re being offered with an online currency converter to find out how much your international transfer is really costing you.
Fees change depending on where you’re sending money to, your account type and the type of transfer you send. They’ll also depend on whether you set up the transfer online or in the branch. Therefore we suggest you check the fees with your bank before transferring.
|Incoming international transfer in AUD or foreign currency||AU$12|
|All other disbursements in foreign currency||AU$50|
|Outgoing international transfer via online banking in a foreign currency||AU$10|
|Outgoing international transfer via online banking in AUD||$20|
|Outgoing international transfer via local branch||AU$32|
If you’re sending or receiving money in a currency different to the currency on your bank account, your transfer will generally rely on the SWIFT network to get across borders. This means that your bank may send your money to your recipient through intermediary banks. More banks along the way often means more fees. Intermediary banks generally deduct a fee from the amount you send as well as sometimes convert your money with an exchange rate of their choosing, meaning they can mark up the real mid-market rate that you can find on Google and make a profit on the difference.
For example, if Westpac charges AU$ 12 to receive an international transfer, then the total fees of the transaction are likely to be higher if there are other banks involved; as Westpac notes on its website:
Overseas banks may impose fees and charges or convert the currency of the payment. Westpac might not have any control over the fees, charges or foreign currency conversions imposed by these institutions. Any overseas financial institution handling charges will by default be borne by the recipient of the International Payment and deducted from the payment amount, unless otherwise organised. It is possible that the overseas bank could convert the currency of the payment at an unfavourable exchange rate.²
It’s likely that Westpac won't be able to estimate the exact charges of the intermediary banks, however, it’s good to be aware that these fees exist before you initiate a transfer. If Westpac does the currency conversion, you can compare its daily exchange rates to the mid-market rate using an online currency converter to see how much your transfer is really costing you.
|Westpac international transfer||Additional fees|
|Sending/recipient bank and/or intermediary bank(s)||As mentioned above Westpac acknowledges that intermediary banks may charge fees and use their own unfavourable rate to convert your money². You can check with Westpac to see if they can give you an estimate of these fees.|
|Cancellation of international payment¹||A$25|
|Amendment of an international payment¹||A$25|
|International transfer advice of fate¹||A$25|
TransferWise has been saving customers hidden fees when they transfer money abroad for years now. Instead of transferring your money through intermediary banks, TransferWise allows you to send your money locally, therefore keeping the costs down. Once you’ve sent your dollars to TransferWise, they deduct a small fee and convert the rest into a currency of your choice using the real exchange rate. This way you don’t have to worry about the hidden fees associated with the usual international transfers.
If you bank in Australian Dollars, you can also try TransferWise’s new borderless multi-currency account, which helps you move and manage your money around the world quickly, easily and always with the real exchange rate. Want to learn more? Send money now with TransferWise and see how transparently and efficiently it works.
When you need to make an international money transfer (international telegraphic transfer) from your Australian Westpac account, you can do so³:
- Via mobile banking
- At your local Westpac branch (in person or in writing)
You can transfer money overseas using Westpac online banking. Note that they sometimes call international transfers ‘telegraphic transfers’, which is just an older, more traditional way of saying ‘wire transfer.’ In order to transfer funds online, you’ll need to register for online banking and follow these steps³:
- Register for a Westpac Protect SMS code by signing into online banking, selecting “preferences” from the “Services and preferences” menu, selecting “security” and following the steps on-screen. You must do this before you can send any kind of transfer online.
- Sign into online banking
Select ‘Make a payment’ on the overview page
- Follow the steps to send a payment
To make an international payment via the Westpac mobile banking app³:
- Sign into Westpac Mobile Banking
- Select “Pay” from the bottom menu
- Follow the instructions on-screen
You can also send money overseas to most countries at your local branch. Follow these steps³:
- Find your local branch
- Have identification
- Know the details of the person you want to send the money to
- Know the amount you wish to send and the currency they wish to receive it in
- You can make your telegraphic transfer request in person or in writing, either by mail, email or fax
You will need the following information in order to make an international money transfer with Westpac³:
- Your recipient’s full name as it appears on their bank account
- Their personal address
- Their bank’s name and address
- Your recipient’s account number used for international transfers. Should you be sending money to Europe, this will be their IBAN
- Recipient bank BIC/SWIFT code
- The amount and currency you’d like to send
When you receive money from overseas, it will be sent directly to your bank account. You can receive overseas transactions into any Westpac transaction or savings account. You or the sender will need to know³:
- Westpac’s SWIFT code: WPACAU2S
- Your full name is it appears on your account
- Your Westpac Branch (BSB) number and full account number
- The amount and the currency you want to receive
- Agree with the sender who will cover the costs of the transfer
International payments to and from Westpac generally take 1-3 working days to be received. Depending on the country you’re sending the money to, it can also take up to 10 working days in some instances.⁴
Westpac also offers customers the opportunity to make payments overseas to the Philippines, India, Europe or the United Kingdom using LitePay. LitePay offers lower fees, between AU$5- AU$8 per transfer and they advertise that payments are usually received within hours. However, in small print at the bottom of the same page on their website it states:
Payments are subject to our foreign exchange rates applicable at the time of the transaction. Other fees and charges may apply such as fees charged by the recipient bank. Payments must be made from a Westpac personal transaction or savings account, and will usually arrive within 2 Banking Days, but may take longer. Daily transfer limit of AUD 3,000 applies.⁵
LitePay payments can be made online or via mobile banking.
Westpac doesn’t list any options to make a faster transfer for an extra fee. If you're on a tight timeline, be sure to initiate your online transfer before 10 pm so it's processed the same day⁴. Bear in mind it can still take a few working days before the money is received into the recipient account, however.
Transfers to some countries and in certain currencies may take up to 10 working days, especially if it needs to go through one or several intermediary banks⁴.
- Westpac domestic phone number: 132 032
- Westpac international phone number: (+61 2) 9155 7700
- Westpac Connect support chat
Westpac offers customers a range of options when making international transfers.
However, if you’re interested in what could be a cheaper and more transparent alternative, consider using TransferWise to help simplify your transactions and lower the fees involved.
¹https://www.westpac.com.au/docs/pdf/bb/International-Service-Fees-0811.pdf, March 5th, 2018
²https://www.westpac.com.au/international-travel/international-transfers/, March 5th, 2018
³https://www.westpac.com.au/faq/transfer-funds-overseas/, March 5th, 2018
⁴http://westpac.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/871/~/how-long-does-it-take-you-to-process-payments%3F, March 5th, 2018
⁵https://www.westpac.com.au/international-travel/international-transfers/litepay/, March 5th, 2018
|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.|