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How to send money overseas

Whether you need to send money to family living outside Australia, pay business suppliers or buy an overseas investment property, you might be wondering just how to transfer money overseas.

The good news is, the process can be pretty simple as long as you start out on the right foot - the tricky part is finding the cheapest way to send money overseas, so you get more bang for your buck. But that’s where we come in.

We’ve broken the process of transferring money internationally down into a few easy steps, to help you. In a nutshell, what you’ll need to do is:

Sounds easy, right? But there’s a bit more to know if you’re going to get the best deal, so let’s look at the steps in a little more detail.

1. Choose an IMT service: find the best way to transfer money overseas

When it comes to choosing a provider to send money overseas, there are a few different options. There are pros and cons to each one, so you should do your research and work out which one works best for your needs. Here’s a quick breakdown of the two main options:

Specialist IMT provider

Sending money overseas is what these specialist services focus on, so they’re dedicated to getting it right.

Pros

  • Competitive exchange rates. Bagging a great foreign exchange rate is key to getting the most bang for your buck. Generally speaking, IMT specialists apply lower margins to your transfer, which means you wind up with more foreign currency at the other end.
  • Fee free transfers. If you’re wondering how to transfer money overseas without fees, then here’s your answer. Many IMT specialists charge little to no transfer fees when you send money overseas online or even over the phone, although some may require you to transfer above a certain amount before waiving such fees. Also be mindful, third-party fees (e.g. from the recipient's bank) may still apply. 

Cons

  • Often online only. If you’d prefer to have in-person help when setting up your transfer, keep in mind that many specialists operate online only, though they’ll likely have online chat or phone helplines if you get stuck.

Bank transfer

From the big four banks to smaller providers, lots of Aussie banks offer international money transfer services.

Pros

  • Face-to-face service. Most banks offer the option of setting up and transferring in-branch, in case you want a human touch when sending money overseas, although in-branch transfers tend to come with higher transfer fees.
  • Convenience. Chances are if you’re with a big bank you could easily transfer money overseas through them. This might make sense for you if you’re doing a one-off transfer and don’t want to go through the trouble of choosing a new provider.

Cons

  • Not as cost effective. The big drawback of transferring money to an overseas bank account from a traditional bank here in Australia, is that you’ll often be slugged with higher fees and a lower exchange rate than if you’d opted for a specialist service, which can cost you some serious money in the long run.

Still not sure? Check out our IMT vs bank transfer guide for a full rundown of a number of different options.

2. Nominate your recipient: details you’ll need to send money overseas

Once you’ve got your account set up, you’ll need to tell the international money transfer provider where you want your funds to go. For that, you’ll need to know a few key details:

  • Full name and address. You’ll need to provide your recipient's full name (and account name if it’s different) and some IMT providers also require their address.
  • Full name and address of the recipient’s bank. These are important to identify which bank the money is being sent to. In some countries, you may need an extra bank code, so make sure you double check.
  • The recipient's bank account number. Just like a normal bank transfer, to transfer money to an overseas bank account, you’ll need to provide the recipient's bank account number.
  • The BIC/Swift code. The SWIFT or Bank Identifier Code (BIC), is an international bank code that the IMT specialist or bank that you use to send money overseas will use to identify the bank that receives those funds.

3. Set up your transfer: choose how to transfer money overseas

Finally, after choosing a service for your international money transfer, creating an account and making sure you’ve got the recipient's details all correct, you need to set up the actual transfer. There are a few different options here, and the best way to transfer money overseas in your situation will depend on your needs. Here’s an outline of three of the major IMT features on offer to help you get the best deal.

Spot deal. 

As the name suggests, this is a transfer that happens “on the spot”. You lock in the exchange rate you see at the time, and then your transfer needs to be sent through within 24 hours.

Forward contract. 

This IMT tool allows you to lock in a great rate when it’s available, and then use it for your overseas money transfer sometime in the future, usually up to 12 months or even 2 years later. If you know you’ll have to make a transfer in the future, it’s a good idea to keep this option in the back of your mind, in case an unmissable exchange rate pops up.

Limit order. 

If you’re after the best rate possible but flexible about when the money is sent, then a limit order can help. This tool allows you to nominate an exchange rate you’d like for your transfer, and your money will only be sent when and if that exchange rate is available.

And that’s it! Once you’ve followed these three steps and hit send on your transfer, your money should be on its way to the recipient's overseas bank account.

How to transfer money to an overseas bank account all around the world

Get started

Now that you know the steps to send money overseas, it’s time to get the ball rolling by comparing international money transfer options.

Get started by using our table below to compare competitive specialist offers for AUD/USD exchange rates. You can also customise the exchange rates shown below by entering in your transfer amount as well as sending and receiving currencies. 

Or head over to our overseas money transfer comparison table for even more specialist options.

I want to transfer
to
Today’s foreign exchange rates
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