Mozo guides

Expat Money Transfers

As an expat you’re bound to have to send money internationally at some point in time. It may be a one off or it may be on a regular basis. Here are some potential situations for sending money home or transferring funds from back home:

  • Paying off a mortgage or other debts back home
  • Gifts to friends or family e.g. birthday or Christmas
  • If you’re working you might transfer part of your income back to family
  • If you start struggling financially you may have to get money from your savings at home delivered to you
  • If you’re retired, you might get your pension transferred from your home country to your current place of residence  
  • You may need to transfer emergency funds to a relative

As you’ll learn from this guide, expat money transfers can be easy, quick and most importantly cost effective. Read on to learn the best way of making an international money transfer as an expat.

Challenges expats face when sending money overseas

Living overseas as an expat has the potential to be one of the greatest times of your life as you experience a different culture and explore a whole new foreign city and country. The initial excitement of living abroad may be overshadowed by money matters. Transferring money into and out of the country can be stressful and expensive. Here are a few obstacles you may have to overcome as an expat.

  • The language barrier! This can be frustrating and challenging to say the least when you’re trying to send money overseas and the person you’re dealing with doesn’t speak your native language language.
  • A poor exchange rate can be very disheartening. Especially if you want to send your little sister $100 for her birthday but she only ends up with $80 because of the weak exchange rate at the time of transfer. Unfortunately, the exchange rate is out of your control.
  • Fees are just one of those unavoidable aspects to sending money overseas. You can’t escape them! As you’ll read below, making an IMT with a foreign exchange specialist is a lot cheaper than going with a bank as their fees aren’t as astronomical.    

Avoid these common mistakes when moving cash overseas!

Options for sending and receiving cash when living abroad

As outlined above, you’re destined to have to send or receive money from overseas as an expat, regardless of where in the world you may be living. With more and more people choosing to live overseas the foreign exchange market has become a competitive environment. Gone are the days when you could only make an IMT from bank to bank, now there are foreign exchange specialists who transfer money overseas and exchange foreign currencies day in and day out. The big foreign exchange providers are OFX, World First and CurrencyFair. We put the two head to head…Banks vs FX specialist!

Bank Foreign Exchange Provider
Exchange rate
Foreign currency rates offered by banks are typically among the highest, as they generally apply higher margins to exchange rates. As they are the specialists in the field, foreign exchange providers usually offer a more competitive exchange rate.
Transfer fees

Transfer options

Banks charge around $20 per transfer.

Most banks allow you to  transfer money in a branch, online, by an app or over the phone; most options come with a fee.
If you transfer over a certain amount, the provider may not charge a transfer fee.

You can transfer your money online, over the phone and some providers have an app you can use.

So if you're transferring money on a regular basis back home to your savings account or need to make a large one-off transfer to a family member you could save hundreds if not thousands of dollars by choosing a specialist provider over a bank!

Click here to read about more options of sending money overseas.

What to check out when comparing foreign exchange specialists

1# Limits

Some providers have a minimum and maximum amount you can send. You might have to shop around to find one that allows you to transfer the amount you wish to send.

2# Rates

The higher the exchange rate the more you’ll receive for your Aussie dollar. Don’t go with the first exchange rate you come across, take the time to calculate how much you’ll get from the different rates being offered by several providers. A fraction of a difference in the exchange rate could save you lots and lots! Compare the market and save right here!

3# Transfer speed

This refers to the time it takes for your money to be processed by the IMT specialist, to the moment it hits the recipient’s bank account. Some transfers can be done in a day while others may take 2-3 business days. It all depends on the countries the money is being sent and received from.

4# Fees

There are several fees associated with transferring money to but if you do your research a few foreign exchange specialists waive some charges if you meet certain criteria. Fees to be wary of include: a transfer fee, a sending and receiving fee, a cancellation fee and an amending fee.

5# Transfer options

Sending money as an expat really couldn’t be easier, you can make the transfer online, by phone, in a branch and some providers even have an app you can use.

What information do I need to make an IMT?

  • Personal details: Name, address, date of birth, phone number
  • Account privacy: You’ll need to create a username, password and security question
  • Account details: Account number from which the transfer money will be deposited from
  • Recipient’s banks details: Full name and address of the bank where the money is being transferred to including the SWIFT/BIC code
  • Recipient’s personal details: Name, address and bank account details
  • Amount: How many Australian dollars would you like to send or how many dollars would you like the recipient to receive

IMT terminology unleashed

BIC – Bank Identification Code
SWIFT – Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication
IBAN – International bank account number
Recipient – The person or party who received the money being transferred
IMT – International money transfer
IMO – International money order

Mozo Editorial
Mozo Editorial

Mozo’s team of experienced journalists and money experts provide news, insights, practical guides and expert analysis to help you master your personal finances. We follow editorial guidelines that focus on accuracy, reliability and timeliness; helping you make informed financial decisions with confidence and the most of your hard-earned money.