Mozo provides general product information. We don't consider your personal objectives, financial situation or needs and we aren't recommending any specific product to you. You should make your own decision after reading the PDS or offer documentation, or seeking independent advice.
While we pride ourselves on covering a wide range of products, we don't cover every product in the market. If you decide to apply for a product through our website, you will be dealing directly with the provider of that product and not with Mozo.
Getting the best deal on your international money transfer
Sending money as a gift, or to help out loved ones overseas is a great thing to do, but it can be trickier than you think.
If you want to be sure as much of your money makes it where you want it to go - Ow! - an international money transfer can be perfect for you. But how do you find the best deal?
Setting up an account with an international money transfer specialist can be a good choice, as their rates are generally better than the major banks. If you’re transferring large amounts, you could save serious money. The amount of foreign currency you wind up with can vary on a couple of factors. The exchange rate, where the provider margin can affect the rate you receive - an IMT specialist will generally have a lower margin - and the fees you pay if you submit the transfer over the phone, in person or online. Mozo compares deals from specialist providers as well as the major banks, with rates update hourly, supported by a load of information, guides and calculators.
So, if you want to transfer money overseas an international money transfer could help you hit your target.
Head to Mozo.com.au to find out how you can get the best deal on an international money transfer.
Simply put, an international money transfer (IMT) is any transaction you make from one country to another.
Unlike a domestic money transfer that occurs locally, an IMT involves a sender moving funds across national borders to a destination of their choice - like from Australia to the US, for instance.
Usually, those funds are deposited into a recipient’s or the sender’s own foreign bank account or can be retrieved at a bank branch or remittance centre overseas (this is known as a ‘cash pick-up’).
IMTs can consist of small or large amounts, ranging from a few hundred bucks to millions of dollars. They can be one-off or done on a regular basis, depending on the purpose of your transfer.
Top reasons why people send money internationally
There's a whole range of reasons why you might consider an international money transfer, including:
Gifting cash to family and friends abroad
Providing emergency funds to loved ones in need
Transferring part of your income back home (if you’re an expat)
Paying overseas bills, such as mortgage repayments and tuition fees (if you’re an international or exchange student)
With the wonders of modern technology, transferring money overseas has never been simpler. But while there are many ways to transfer money overseas, being careful about what provider you transfer with could save you a pretty penny.
In Australia, there are different types of providers available for sending money overseas. The right option for you will depend on factors like whether it’s a one-off or regular transfer, how much money you need to transfer, where you're sending your funds to, and how quickly you need to transfer money.
You’ve got a choice between:
Specialist international money transfer providers:
These companies are listed in our comparison tables above. Unlike banks and credit unions, specialist IMT providers have built their whole business around transferring funds around the globe, so they have a lot of expert knowledge in this area.
Plus, they generally offer sharper exchange rates and lower fees than the options below. Most of their platforms are online - so you can make transfers any time of the day or night.
With many IMT specialists like OFX, TorFX and WorldFirst, there are no maximum limits to how much you can transfer, but a minimum limit ranging from $50 and $10,000 can apply, depending on the provider.
Banks and credit unions:
Most banks and credit unions will have money transfer facilities. They will usually charge more if you go to the branch to do a transfer than if you did it yourself online, and their exchange rates and fees also tend to be less competitive than specialist IMT providers.
Often the maximum amount you can transfer online is subject to your ‘pay anyone’ limit. However, you could potentially increase that threshold by visiting your local branch and requesting a raise there.
At Mozo, we compare international money transfers offered by the big four banks: ANZ, NAB, Westpac and Commonwealth Bank.
Cash transfers via PayPal or Western Union:
For smaller transfers, you may consider services like PayPal and Western Union.
With Western Union, you can send up to AUD $50,000 each time, while the maximum amount per transaction for PayPal is AUD $60,000 (the cap may change depending on your currency). However, both options can get expensive, as they come with weaker exchange rates and higher fees than other money transfer options.
That said, if you're looking for speed and convenience, transactions between PayPal accounts take place almost instantly, while for Western Union, funds via cash transfer could reach the recipient within minutes.
With Western Union, you can either deposit money into your recipient’s bank account or arrange for a cash pick-up.
What are my best international money transfer options?
When sending money overseas, two of the most popular options in Australia are using a specialist IMT provider or making an international bank transfer.
They don’t offer face-to-face service, but their phone and online service options are often fee-free. Many also provide their customers with a personal account manager who can talk you through your money transfer options and answer any queries or concerns.
Meanwhile, international bank transfers happen with your existing Australian bank account, so you won’t need to set up any additional accounts. Banks may charge higher fees and offer lower exchange rates than IMT specialists, but they usually have the option of in-branch customer service, where a banker can assist with the transfer process (though there are often fees attached to this).
Is it best to go with a bank or IMT specialist?
There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing between a bank or an IMT specialist for your money transfer, as the decision should be based on what pros and cons work best with your individual circumstances.
For instance, while banks are convenient to access and offer face-to-face customer service and assistance, you might not get a competitive exchange rate and may have to pay a high transfer fee.
So if you care about getting your money’s worth, sticking with your existing bank might not be enough. When you’re sending tens of thousands of dollars overseas, even a small difference in the exchange rate could mean hundreds of dollars lost or saved. So for large or regular transfers, it may be financially wiser to shop around for an IMT specialist, as they typically offer better rates and are often fee-free.
However, in most cases, IMT specialists are 100% online and can only be reached by phone or live chat, so they may not suit customers who prefer to do all of their banking in person.
How do I find the cheapest international money transfer?
If you’re looking for a cheap way to transfer money overseas, Mozo has you covered. We make searching for a competitive international money transfer provider easy, comparing a range of IMT specialists and big banks side-by-side, so you can clearly find up-to-date exchange rates and any hidden fees.
For a more personalised quote:
Get started by entering the amount you want to transfer and your start and end currencies.
Hit ‘Go’ for an estimate of how much you’ll get in the currency of your choice, as well as information about transfer speeds and transfer limits.
If you opt to go with a specialist international money transfer provider and this is your first time sending money overseas, you may be unsure of how to create an account and make a transaction.
The good news is, it's quite straightforward, and there are usually only a few steps involved:
STEP 1: Open an account
You’ll first need to set up an account with your chosen provider. This is usually a quick process and can be done online.
Some IMT providers promise this step won’t take more than a few minutes, but to save yourself any further hassle, make sure to have your personal identification documents (such as your driver’s licence and passport) by your side before you sign up. This information will help the provider verify your identity.
STEP 2: Move funds into the account
Once the provider has verified your identity, you’ll be issued with an account and account number. You’ll have the option to transfer funds to this account from your bank account in your local currency. You can also receive funds from overseas into this account.
STEP 3: Provide transfer details
When it's time for you to make an overseas transfer, just go to the platform, select the currency and the amount you want to transfer, and agree on the exchange rate and fees.
Then you’ll need to provide the account details of the recipient, including:
Their full name and address
Their account number or IBAN (International Bank Account Number)
Their bank’s name and address
BIC/SWIFT code (the bank’s unique identification code, which should be available on its website)
STEP 4: Let your provider handle the rest
Once the funds are cleared, your money will be sent to your recipient. It can take up to five business days for the money to appear in the recipient’s bank account. However, in many instances, it should take less than 24 hours - especially if you’re sending it in a major currency like the USD or EUR.
To be on the safe side, it’s best to double-check the timing with your provider before making your transfer.
Some IMT specialists also offer real-time tracking, which means you’ll be able to see where your money is at all times. You should be able to track your transfer online or over the phone, with the confirmation number you would have received from your provider after completing your transaction.
Can I complete an international money transfer online?
Yes! Not only can you transfer your money online, but it’s also usually cheaper than over-the-phone and in-person transfers, as the latter two options come with higher fees.
In fact, many IMT specialists like XE, Worldfirst and OFX, whose business solely focuses on sending money overseas, will encourage you to transfer through their specialised website or app.
This option is generally free, helping you get more bang for your buck. Meanwhile, with the big banks, online transfers can go up to $12, while in-branch transfers can cost as much as $32.
Our comparison table above shows how much each IMT provider in our database charges for different transaction methods if you want to do the maths yourself.
What happens if I have a problem and the money doesn’t arrive?
International money transfers can take up to five business days to be delivered, so if your recipient hasn’t received your transfer after this period, it could be worth tracking your transfer with your confirmation number.
This will show you if the transfer was delayed and allow you to make sure you’ve entered the correct details. Getting in touch with your IMT provider could also provide you with an update or more information on the status of your transfer.
Another reason why your international money transfer hasn't been received could be that your provider is performing a security check to ensure all transfers are legitimate.
If it’s been over a week and your transfer still hasn’t been delivered, you might want to consider cancelling the transfer. This can be done either online or by calling your IMT provider directly, and while you should receive a full refund, you may have to pay a cancellation fee.
If you go with a reputable international money transfer provider, your money should be in safe hands. Both banks and IMT specialists must undergo regular audits, and they are also regulated by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) to ensure they’re following best practices.
All IMT providers that we compare on our site are authorised by ASIC and hold an Australian Financial Services (AFS) licence. This means that should something go wrong and you end up in a dispute with your provider, you’ll have an independent government body - the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) - to turn to for a resolution.
Besides regulatory compliance, IMT providers on our site also use top of the line security systems so that they can protect your personal details and get your cash to where it needs to be safely.
Jean-Paul (JP) Pelosi is an experienced journalist and editor who has contributed to many of Australia's leading media outlets including The Guardian, News.com.au, Domain.com.au, Investment Magazine and ANZ's Bluenotes. He has also edited news and communications for large financial services companies such as CommBank, Suncorp, Allianz and Amex. He loves a well told story and applying his editorial experience to content that readers both care about and enjoy. JP heads up our writing team.
More International Money Transfer FAQs
As you start crunching numbers to figure out what the best IMT deal is for you, you can also go through our list of frequently asked questions to simultaneously get some of your queries answered.
Whether you’re an expat sending funds to family back home or you’re an investor handling a mortgage on an overseas property, chances are you'll need to make international money transfers every month or fortnight. But instead of going through the hassle of completing a new transaction every single time, it’s usually far more convenient to sign up for a regular payment plan with your IMT provider. This plan may work for people who:
Transfer the same amount each time
Want to secure an exchange rate for future transfers
Want peace of mind that their payments will stay the same for each transfer
Speak to your provider to see if they allow for regular scheduled transfers, and make sure you understand all the costs involved before hopping on board.
Absolutely! Opting to tie up with a service provider can save you both time and money. For instance, some companies may offer to lower or completely waive their commission if you set up a regular account with them, especially if you’re transferring above a specific amount. You may also be able to negotiate a transfer limit and lock in an exchange rate if your transfers stay fixed, helping to protect your money from any periodic negative fluctuation in rates.
If you’re planning on moving overseas permanently, then you may have to do things differently to a regular IMT transfer, as you’ll need to have access to the money the second you land.
When it comes to finding the best way to transfer large sums of money for your big move, the decision is up to you and what suits your situation the most. Here are your three options:
Spot rate contract: This is when you organise a transfer and lock in the current exchange rate then and there. Exchange rates fluctuate all the time, and once you’ve locked in yours, you’ll need to transfer the money to the provider within 24 hours. Bear in mind that even though these transactions would occur as soon as your provider has received your funds, they can take a bit of time to reach your chosen destination. For major currencies like USD, EUR or GBP, it could be 1-3 working days before the money enters your foreign bank account, and it may be even longer for less common currencies. So remember to factor in those timeframes to minimise delays.
Forward contract: This involves fixing the exchange rate that will apply to a future transfer, three months up to two years in advance. This is a great way to safeguard yourself against potential currency fluctuations. However, the downside of a forward contract is that you could potentially miss out on even better rates down the track.
Limit order: This allows you to nominate an exchange rate that you would like for your future transfer. Your IMT provider then monitors the market for you and will make the transfer only when the rate you’ve requested becomes available. While this is a good option if you aren’t in a rush to transfer the funds, limit orders are usually only available for major currencies and may have larger minimum requirements for a transfer. Depending on the provider, this can be as much as $50K.
This will depend on your IMT provider, as some do not allow transfers to be processed if the recipient doesn’t have a bank account. Your next option would be to transfer money as an international money order or as an overseas bank cheque. For this to work, your provider would need to have an office in the country the money is being sent to, so the recipient can pick up the payment upon presenting their ID. Just keep in mind that this can be a more expensive option than an electronic money transfer.
While using your bank is the more convenient option, it’s not always the cheapest way to transfer money overseas. Instead, you may find that specialist FX agencies offer more value for money, as they tend to have stronger rates and fewer fees. Plus, they often give their customers access to a wider range of currencies than banks and equip you with features like forward contracts and limit orders that your bank may be unable to.
A SWIFT or BIC (Bank Identifier Code) is a unique identification code for a specific bank. These codes are used when you transfer money to an overseas bank account to help make sure your money goes to the right place. They should be pretty easy to find - you can ask the bank for the appropriate code or check on their website.
Depending on your provider, international money transfers from one bank account to another can take anywhere between 1-3 business days for major currencies, although some IMT specialists like OFX and TorFX also offer same-day transfers for frequently traded currencies like USD and GBP.
Transactions usually take a few days’ longer if you’re sending in more uncommon currencies (although they shouldn’t be any longer than a week). Either way, it’s worth confirming the timing with your provider before making a transfer.
Generally speaking, all reputable IMT specialists should be able to facilitate IMTs in popular currencies like the USD, GBP and EUR, and many may extend their services to less frequently traded currencies or more exotic countries too. You’ll need to get in touch with your provider or find a full list of offered currencies on their website for the specifics.
If you need a hand, our comparison table above can also help, as it gives you the option to search for providers in our database based on currency. Just scroll up and fill in the blanks, including the amount you want to move as well as your start and end currency, then click on the green ‘Go’ button to see which exchange rates are available for your transfer today.
There are two types of limits to watch out for: one that restricts how much you can send per transfer, and the other that restricts how much you can send over a certain period of time.
Some IMT specialists require a minimum amount for every transaction, ranging from $50 to $10,000, while many have little to no maximum limits. By contrast, with the big banks, your transfers will usually be capped at your ‘pay anyone’ limit (which may be $10,000 to $25,000 a day). For this reason, IMT specialists are often a more suitable option if you’re moving larger sums of money across borders.
Check our comparison table above for further details on each provider’s transfer limits.
Depending on the provider, transfer fees for your IMT could go anywhere from $0 to $32. However, even if your provider doesn’t directly charge any transfer fees, your transaction could still be subject to what’s known as ‘third party fees’. These are fees that your recipient’s bank may charge for processing your money transfer, and there’s not much you can do about them.
Yes, but only if your funds haven’t yet been picked up or deposited into another account. You can cancel your transfer by calling your provider or jumping online and doing it yourself. However, you may have to pay a cancellation fee.
Just bear in mind that any cancellations you request aren’t guaranteed to go through. For instance, if your money has already been processed by your receiving bank, it’s most likely too late to cancel, but you could still be hit with a cancellation fee regardless.
Your IMT tax obligations will come down to the source of the funds you’re receiving from abroad. The rule of thumb for an Australian resident is that if it’s income, then it’s taxable. This could include any money that you’ve earned from a business venture, employment or investment property. However, if it’s a cash gift or a one-time occurrence such as a lottery win, then the transaction is likely to have no tax implications.
But at the end of the day, it’s always best to seek out professional advice, as every person’s circumstances will differ, and there could be consequences if you don’t report your IMTs properly to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
If you’re running a business, you’ll probably need to pay overseas suppliers or contractors at some point. The good news is, banks and IMT specialists usually extend their services to business money transfers, so you’ll have plenty of providers to pick from when making these international payments. Just as you would with a personal money transfer, it’s worth shopping around and looking out for features like high exchange rates, low to no fees, fast transfer speeds, few transfer limits and top-notch customer service. That way, you can ensure you’re getting the most bang for your buck while also minimising any delays to your payments.
The information on IMT rates is updated hourly, but due to the fluctuating nature of foreign exchange, there may be a small difference to the ‘live’ price you receive at the exact time of your overseas money transfer.