If you need to send money out of Australia, you might be looking for an alternative to the banks. While foreign transfers are a service most banks offer, they don’t tend to offer a particularly good deal, with considerable extra fees and often a bit of a wait too. But there are many specialist companies whose aim is to make foreign money transfers as easy as possible - so this is something you could well want to investigate.
Ria Money Transfer is a well established option. Founded in New York in 1987, Ria operates in 149 countries these days, and it offers various options through which you can make a transfer overseas¹. This article will explain how it works.
It’s not your only option, of course - in fact, it’s an increasingly competitive market, with many companies having emerged in recent years that use new technology to their advantage. One of these is TransferWise, which uses its own system of interlinked local bank accounts around the world to ensure it can always offer the mid-market rate to its customers. But more on that later. Here’s what you want to know about Ria.
Before you read on, here’s a quick comparison between Ria and TransferWise. In this table we’ve used an example transfer of AU$1000 to the United Kingdom (GBP), that will be paid for by a bank transfer.
|Fees||AU$15⁽²⁾||AU$5.97From AUD to GBP the fee is: 0.5% of the AUD amount + $1|
|Exchange rate||Exchange rate + likely mark up.||The mid-market exchange rate|
|Supported currencies||You can make transfers from 4 countries: Australia, the UK, the US and Spain⁴. You can make transfers to 149 countries⁴.||Transfers to 48 currenciesTransfers from 22 currenciesMore information on the supported currencies FAQ page|
Banks and money transfer providers often give you a bad exchange rate to make extra profits.
TransferWise is different. Its smart new technology skips hefty international transfer fees by connecting local bank accounts all around the world. Which means you can save up to 8x by using TransferWise rather than your bank when you send your money abroad.
Check out how to make your first transfer with TransferWise. And give it a try.
Oh, and while you’re at it, check out TransferWise’s free borderless multi-currency account. Where you can manage and send dozens of currencies all from the same account.
Now, back to what you came here to read.
The costs are variable, but they’re summarized in the table below - read on for some notes on what it all means.
|Transfer fee|| Varies, depending on:|
|Exchange rate|| |
Use Ria’s Price Calculator² to get an estimate of what it’ll cost. Once you’ve keyed in the details, you’ll see a little ‘Transfer fee’ pop up at the bottom. That’s the main upfront fee you’re charged by them, and it depends on various factors:
Firstly, the transfer fee varies depending on where you’re sending to. To take just one example, an AU$1000 transfer - paid for with a direct bank payment - to India would cost you AU$3, to Pakistan that same transfer would cost you AU$6, and to the UK it would cost you more than the transfer fees to India and Pakistan combined, namely AU$15.
Ria lets you pay with a credit card or a debit card, or directly from your bank. They tend to charge a slightly higher fee for card payments.
You can also pay in cash, though you’ll need to go into a store for that.
Lastly, you’ll pay a different transfer fee depending on how much you want to send. Because Ria’s fees aren’t a simple percentage calculation of the transfer amount, you may have to pay a little more for transfers of a lower amount, compared to transfers of a higher amount. For example²: a transfer of 100 Australian dollars (AUD) to British pounds (GBP), paid for by a direct bank payment, will cost you AU$15 in upfront fees. 1000 AUD to GBP, also costs AU$15 in upfront fees. And lastly 4999 AUD to GBP - the maximum amount you can send - also carries an upfront fee of AU$15.
What you should also keep in mind, is that Ria adds their fee to the amount you want to send. So if you want to transfer AU$1000 to the UK and pay your money to Ria via a direct bank transfer, their AU$15 fee will be added on top of that, and you have to pay them AU$1015.
We’ll deal with this in detail later on. For now, just note that Ria offers you a different exchange rate depending on whether you make the transfer in a store, or in person²⁺³. So if you’re researching online before going into a store, be prepared to find a different rate waiting for you when you get there.
Ria operates in 149 countries around the world, so the full list of currencies they support is too long to include here. It includes all the usual suspects, though, including US, Canadian and New Zealand dollars, euros, British pounds, Japanese yen, and so on, with many African countries also covered⁴.
However, Ria only lets you pay online from four countries: Australia, the US, the UK and Spain⁴. So if you’re looking to establish a payment route going in both directions, it might not be much of an option after all.
First of all, as already mentioned, Ria’s exchange rate depends on where you are: if you’re on your computer or phone, you’ll get one rate, and if you’re in one of Ria’s stores, you’ll get another. You can see the rate they offer online via their price calculator, but you might have to rock up in person to discover what they plan to charge you at a store. Or you could try giving them a call.
Does the exchange rate make that much of a difference, though? Isn’t the main fee to worry about the ‘Transfer fee’ we’ve already discussed?
Unfortunately, that’s not right. The exchange rate can make just as much a difference to your transfer as the fixed fee you also have to pay.
That’s because money transfer providers are able to set their own exchange rates - so they can vary hugely. It’ll always be based on current, constantly fluctuating market rates, but it doesn’t have to be the real mid-market rate. The mid-market rate is an average of all the buy and sell rates currently in use for a currency, and it tends to be the rate that banks use between themselves. But it’s not the rate they pass on to customers: instead, they mark that rate up, which means two things: you get a worse deal, and they get to keep more of your money.
And yes, it can make a huge difference, especially on higher transfer amounts. Is it fair? Not really. Because there’s actually only one real exchange rate, and you aren’t getting it with most payment providers or banks.
So whenever you’re offered an exchange rate, whip your phone out and check that rate against the mid-market rate, which you can find easily via an online currency converter like Google, XE or TransferWise. And decide if you’re really happy with the exchange rate you’re being offered.
One advantage Ria has is that it isn’t a bank. Banks tend to be tied into the complex international SWIFT network, which is how banks transmit payments across borders when they’re handling the transfers themselves. It’s a system with a lot of benefits, but speed and cost-effectiveness aren’t among them.
If you’re using Ria’s cash pickup option - meaning your recipient will collect the money in cash - then the process is pretty fast, and the same goes if you get the money delivered direct to the recipient at home. In those cases, it’s often available the same day³.
Of course you also need to make sure your money gets to Ria in the first place, and the fastest way to do that is via a card payment, which they say should be just 15 minutes to clear, although this is the faster option, don’t forget that you do have to pay an extra fee for that. Directly from your bank, it’s between one and two days’ worth of banking hours³.
Ria also notes that if they review your transfer for some reason, that may cause a delay. And as for a transfer going directly to the recipient’s bank account - they don’t provide an estimate on their website³.
Here’s a quick overview of how to actually make your transfer via Ria³. This will assume you’re looking to use the online service - the process is likely different if you’re going into a branch.
- Firstly, you’ll need to register for an account, which you can do online for free. You’ll need to verify your identity, so make sure you can do that.
- Then key in the details of the transfer you want to make - where to, how much, and so on.
- Then you’ll need to enter information about your recipient. You'll have to enter their full name - as shown on their ID document - their phone number, and their address. The rest of the information that you have to enter here depends on how your recipient wants to receive the money:
- For a bank deposit, you need to enter their correct bank account details.
- For a cash pick up you need to select a preferred pick up location and your recipients needs to show their ID document when they pick up the money, they’ll also need the order number and the PIN for your transfer.
- For a home delivery - which is only available in a few countries - you won’t have to enter any other details, but your recipient might have to show their ID document to the courier.
- And of course you’ll need to select your payment option and provide the necessary details of your bank account or card.
- The first time you use the service, you’ll also need to complete your registration.
There are three main types of transfer³:
- Send the money to a recipient’s bank account.
- Cash pickup - your recipient can go and collect the money themselves.
- Home delivery - in certain countries, the money can be driven directly to the recipient.
The recipient shouldn’t have to sign up, but as noted above they may need to show ID depending on the delivery method. And of course if you want to transfer money to their bank account, you’ll need to provide those details.
Yes³, there’s a maximum limit for online payments of AUD 5,000. That’s only for online payments, though - give them a call for further options, or of course go into a branch and speak to someone.
To use Ria’s online Australian service, you’ll need to be ‘located within Australia, Spain, the UK or the US’. Obviously the same applies if you want to send money from one of Ria’s Australian branches³.
- You can contact Ria via email through a form on their website⁵.
- Or - from Australia - give them a call on 1800 531 581.
- They also recommend browsing their FAQs, which may contain the answer you need.
- Or, of course, go into one of their branches with any questions you may have.
Ria is a huge worldwide operation, and certainly knows how to get your money from A to B. It’s a particular good option if you want your recipient to get the money in cash, or perhaps if you have cash yourself that you want to send on - in which case you can go into a branch.
It’s not such a good option if you want a service that’ll let you receive money from a variety of places, though, because Ria only sends money from four countries. What’s more, it might not offer you the very best deal available. It’s always worth comparing not just fixed fees, but also exchange rates, to get a complete picture of what a transfer costs - so when you’re getting an estimate from Ria, take note of the total send and receive amounts before agreeing to it.
If you want total clarity that you’ll get the mid-market exchange rate, TransferWise is the way to go. Instead of marking up the exchange rate and keeping the difference, TransferWise only ever charges the mid-market rate, and simply charges a transparent fee directly based on the amount you want to transfer. TransferWise also offers more flexibility in that you can make transfers from far more than just the 4 countries Ria offers.
And if you often need to send money abroad - or receive money from abroad - then a borderless account from TransferWise is better still. There’s no monthly fee, but a borderless account lets you hold money in over 40 international currencies, withdraw it any time you want, and even gives you virtual bank details in US and Australian dollars, euros and British pounds. So you can both pay and get paid just like a local in any of those countries.
However you choose to make your transfer, good luck in finding a deal that’s right for you.
*All sources have been checked on September 25, 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.
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