International Money Transfers FAQs

Answers when you need them

When you need to send money overseas, it's important you know what you're doing! Happily, international money transfers are simple enough once you know one or two things about how they work.


What’s the difference between a forward contract, limit order, or spot rate?

A forward contract is when the currency you transact is agreed to be sent in the future at a fixed rate of exchange. The spot rate is what the exchange would cost right now. A limit order is different to this. Instead of locking in a rate, you’re setting the maximum or minimum rate at which you agree to send the money at. Typically, forward contracts, limit orders and spot rates are all employed by businesses; especially importers and exporters.

All of the above are ways in which you can minimise the risks of sending money overseas, as you can lock in a rate you think is good right now, so that you don’t have to pay a (potentially) higher rate later on. In addition, you have to pay a fee, although this fee can be negotiated with some providers based on how often you do this.

What is a limit order?

A limit order is where you set a minimum or maximum price for your international money transfer in terms of exchange rate and fees. Your order will only be placed once it hits this limit.

What is a spot deal?

A spot deal is when you lock in the exchange rate on a future international money transfer. You agree to exchange one currency (e.g. AUD) for another. This way, if the AUD weakens over the following hours or days, your funds could still be sent overseas at the higher exchange rate.

Such a deal is only available for a certain period of time before the transaction (e.g. a few days) and may entail some extra fees.

How do one-off payments differ from regular payments?

The more money you transfer overseas, the better the exchange rate you can typically attract from your provider. Some providers may even waive the transfer fee altogether!

So, if you do a one-off international money transfer with a considerable sum of funds, you may benefit (or your recipient will, at least) from a greater amount in foreign currency – as opposed to sending smaller amounts on a regular basis.


Does the overseas bank charge fees?

There may be a cost to send and receive money between banks during an international money transfer, yes. As such, you may incur these fees, which will be factored into the final price of the transfer.

Will my recipient have to pay any fees?

It depends on their bank. Some recipients will likely need to pay a small fee, while others may not owe a thing. The recipient will need to check with their financial institution beforehand to be sure if there’s a cost to receive an international money transfer.

How it works

How long does it take to process an international money transfer?

Your overseas funds transfer could take a couple of hours, or several days. It depends on a lot of factors, such as which provider you choose and where you send your money. In addition, if you send your money on a weekend or public holiday, it may take longer to process than during the week.

What is the minimum amount of money you can transfer internationally?

The minimum amount of money you can send overseas will vary from provider to provider, so you’ll have to try our comparison service to be sure what you can and cannot send. It could be anywhere from $0 to several thousand.

Ask yourself: is the amount going to be worthwhile once you pay fees, and exchange rates bite into your amount? Perhaps you can instead load up a travel money cards and send this overseas in the post.

What do I need to perform an international money transfer payment?

To make an international money transfer, you’ll need sufficient funds to complete the transaction; covering fees, commissions, etc. You will also need to provide some information about yourself in order to satisfy the Australian Anti-Money laundering regulations.

However, once you set up an account with a provider, much of this information may be saved for future transactions. You will always need to provide sufficient details about the recipient of your funds transfers (e.g. their name, phone number, residential address, and bank account information).

What is an international payment?

An international payment could be a standard payment from a sender in Australia to a recipient overseas. Or, it could be a funds transfer to purchase goods or services. It is functionally the same as an international money transfer, so you’ll still need to get the recipients bank account details to finalise your transfer.

Can I transfer money overseas if the recipient doesn’t have a bank account?

If the recipient does not have a bank account, you’ll be unable to use our service to help you determine a provider to send money to them via. Our comparison service allows you compare providers who transfer money to an overseas bank account.

I need to make monthly overseas business transactions. Can I sign up for a provider long-term?

You can use an international money transfer as a business in the same way as you would if you were a regular customer. The process can be started by simply creating an online account, and you can indeed stay with a single provider for the long term. For example, you can schedule payments for the future, or even lock in an exchange rate for a transaction you plan to make in a few days (which may incur a fee).

All this will depend on which provider you choose, however, talk to them once you’ve tried the service out. Some provide account features like 24-hour servicing and online/telephone transactions.

How often are exchange rates updated?

You’ll always get provided with the most up to date exchange rate at the point of transaction.

Exchange rates are updated daily on our website. As such, they may differ from any exchange rate listed by a provider. That being said, the rates on our website can help you decide which of our providers you might use for your international transaction based on security/reputation, service offering (online/over the phone) and cost.

What is international money transfers and how do they work?

An international money transfer is when you send money to a recipient account in another country. While the same service is available through a number of companies and banks, an international money transfer is a cost-effective way of getting funds overseas for a variety of reasons (e.g. sending money to family in another country, or when moving abroad, purchasing goods abroad).

How much it costs

What is the cheapest way to wire money internationally?

Typically, the cheapest way to send money overseas is through an international money transfer. While it’s possible, you may find a bank, cash transfer provider, or an international money order provider who offer cheaper fees and commissions, it’s typically not the case (i.e. the exception, rather than the rule).

How much does an international money transfer cost?

The cost to send money overseas will vary based on your provider. For example, a transfer fee might cost you up to $100, or be waived entirely. Here are some other fees to consider:

  • currency conversion fee
  • a third party fee, for the cost to transmit money through various banks
  • an “inbound” fee for when the recipient finally receives the money

Lastly, you should consider the exchange rate itself.

Is it cheaper to go with an international money transfer provider or a bank?

You might spend more money through a bank transfer than you would with an international money transfer provider, so you should check out rates for both before you decide which to use. While using your bank may be convenient, it can cost more in fees, and be more difficult to secure a competitive exchange rate.

International accounts & bank codes

What is a routing number?

A routing number is a US designation used to coordinate the correct destination of international payments, but we don’t use it in Australia. Instead, we use SWIFT codes, so if you plan to receive money from overseas, you’ll have to contact your bank to see what your sender will need to transact money successfully.

How do I obtain an IBAN?

You do not need an IBAN to send money internationally. You may instead have to provide a SWIFT code, instead of an IBAN, if you plan to receive money from overseas. Contact your financial institution to see what is required of you to receive money.

What must my recipient provide to receive funds?

Your recipient will have to provide you with the following.

  • Bank’s SWIFT/BIC number, so that the funds go to the correct institution,
  • An international account number (or IBAN),
  • Their residential address, name and phone number.

What’s a bank code and how do I find my receiver’s bank code?

A BIC (Bank Identifier Code), or SWIFT code, is an international bank code of eight to eleven digits used to identify an overseas bank account. You will have to provide this when sending money overseas, so ask the recipient to get this code from their bank.

What is an International Bank Account Number (IBAN) and which countries require one?

An International Bank Account Number will help your international money transfer provider identify the right bank account of your recipient. Your recipient must provide you with this number in order for you to process certain transactions. Each country has a unique IBAN code of two digits, followed by up to thirty (or more) others for the account number itself.

As of December 2018, the following countries require an IBAN, according to the Commonwealth Bank:

BosniaHungarySaudi Arabia
BulgariaItalySlovak Republic
Czech RepublicMaltaSweden

What is a SWIFT/BIC code and how can I get one?

A SWIFT code (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) – sometimes known as a BIC code (Bank Identifier Code) – is an international bank code of eight to eleven digits used to send money overseas.

In order to send money to someone overseas, you’ll need to get their details to ensure the funds end up in the right place. This may mean you have to get this code from them.

While SWIFT/BIC codes are fairly common, they’re sometimes called something else in other countries:

  • BSC: Bank Sort Code (Great Britain)
  • CHIPS: Clearing House Inter-Bank Payment System (United States of America and Canada)
  • IFSC: Indian Financial System Code (India)

An International Bank Account Number (or IBAN) also helps to identify the right bank account of your recipient, so make sure you ask them about this before you get ready to send your funds.

Security and guarantees

What is the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act of 2006 (AML/CTF)?

The AML/CTF Act is a legislative package which prevents terrorism financing and money laundering in Australia. Under this legislation, you’re required to confirm your identity when sending money internationally.

You can learn more about it on AUSTRAC.

Will my funds be secure?

Each provider protects their transaction to a point. Once the funds are sent to a foreign country to a different private institution, it’s no longer at the discretion of your transfer provider.

So, your transaction is secure provided you (a) ensure the details of the recipient are correct, and (b) you adhere to Australian Anti-Money laundering regulations, which will be explained to you as you set up your account.

Also, make sure any provider you use holds an Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL).

Why use an international money transfer?

What are the best ways to transfer large sums of money internationally?

Your options for transferring large sums of money overseas are fairly open.

  • Transfer funds online. Use an international money transfer provider and you only need to set up an account, enter the recipient's details, and you’re away! Online payment services like PayPal or Google Pay will also let you send money to someone else who has an account through their service, but make sure you check out the exchange rate and any fees to determine if this is the best value option.
  • Cash transfer. If your recipient doesn’t have a bank account, instead organise a cash transfer. They will be able to pick up the cash in their country from your provider’s ‘brick and mortar’ storefront.
  • International Money Order. This is a cheque guaranteed internationally, which makes it a secure form of sending money to someone overseas. It is, however, slightly slower and more expensive than an online money transfer. It can be on hold for up to six weeks because banks have to process and verify it.

You can also send money through your bank, but this can be more expensive than a standard international money transfer through an online provider.

Why should I compare providers instead of going to a bank?

International money transfer providers will typically offer a cheaper service to use than a bank when it comes to transfer fees and more attractive exchange rates. While a bank can be convenient to use if you’re already a customer, it only takes a few minutes to create an account with an online provider, who will then be the more cost-effective option.

What’s the best way to convert my money into foreign currency?

It depends on what you want to use your money for. If you need to have money in a foreign currency for a trip abroad, you may want to use a money exchange company to convert AUD funds into a foreign currency or use a travel money card. This will incur a currency exchange fee and a commission, which will vary from provider to provider.

If, however, you wish to convert AUD to foreign currency for the purpose of sending it to someone overseas, you should instead consider an international money transfer. You can see exchange rates and fees from our providers when you compare on our website.