International money transfer - jargon buster
Sending money overseas can be daunting enough, without having to decipher all the mumbo jumbo foreign exchange providers throw at you.
So if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, hold onto your hats as we take you through the must-know terms around sending money overseas.
International Money Transfer Comparison Table - last updated January 21, 2021
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Most countries have their own unique currency code, which is a 3 letter abbreviation of the currency. For instance the United States Dollar is displayed as USD.
In some cases such as a Forward Contract (see definition below), you may need to pay a deposit upfront, which is usually a percentage amount of the money being transferred.
Want a great money transfer deal? Then one of the most important things to check is the exchange rate on offer, which is the rate your Aussie dollars will be transferred at to another currency.
This one’s easy - it’s simply an abbreviation for foreign exchange!
Sending money overseas is obviously best when the Aussie dollar is high - but what if you don’t need to transfer money for some time? Well that’s where a forward contract comes in, which let’s you lock in a competitive exchange rate now for a transfer that you’ll make down the track.
While traditionally the banks were the main providers of international money transfers, today the landscape has changed considerably with a great range of foreign exchange specialists entering the market. These FX providers are generally run entirely online and are different to the banks as they focus solely on providing foreign exchange, generally applying lower margins and fees to international money transfers.
You might see providers use the word “IMO”, which is simply an abbreviation for international money order.
By the same token, “IMT” is frequently used as well, referring to international money transfer (pretty much the same as above!).
Let’s make this as simple as possible. The interbank rate is the bank to bank rate that foreign exchange providers buy that they then pass onto you with a margin applied.
International Bank Account Number
This term is pretty self explanatory. To send money overseas you’ll need to provide the foreign exchange specialist with the recipient’s overseas bank account details.
You’ve probably heard the saying “there’s no such thing as a free lunch” and the same applies in the international money transfer world. When you make a transfer overseas, the bank or foreign exchange specialist will apply a margin (or mark up) of around 1%-5% to cover the cost of providing you with the service and of course to make a profit.
Perhaps you need to send money to more than one recipient. In this case, you would be looking at making a mass payment, which allows you to send money overseas to multiple overseas bank accounts in one go.
If you decide to lock in an exchange rate with a Forward Contract, note the “maturity date”, which is when the contract expires. Some providers allow you to extend the maturity date, but you’ll need to get in touch with them before it expires to organise this.
Peer to Peer FX specialist
A new breed of foreign exchange specialists have entered the world of international money transfers - P2P providers. How it works is peer to peer platforms like TransferWise and CurrencyFair match you with a peer in the country you’re sending money to (this is dubbed member matching). While the peer to peer provider will charge you a small fee for the service, you’ll avoid the mark ups that are generally applied by banks and foreign exchange specialists.
This is simply the person/organisation you’re sending the money to (also known as a beneficiary). The recipient could even be yourself, if you’re moving overseas and are transferring money to an overseas account to fund your great adventure.
Need to make more than one international money transfer? No worries, as many providers offer the option of a regular payment, which you can set up on a fortnightly, monthly or quarterly basis.
Repatriation of funds
If you are an expat in Australia looking to transfer your Aussie dollars to your home currency or vice versa, this is dubbed a repatriation of funds.
Generally speaking, remittance is the act of sending money to a recipient as a gift or for payment. In terms of foreign exchange, when providers talk about remittance they are often referring to workers in a foreign country sending money back to their families in their home country.
When you receive a quote from a foreign exchange provider the exchange figure only applies to that moment. This is the spot rate and can change at any time, which is why if you find a competitive one, you should lock it in by applying for the money transfer on that day or alternatively consider setting up a Forward Contract.
SWIFT/ BIC code
As we mentioned above, when you organise an international money transfer, the foreign exchange specialist will ask for the recipient’s overseas bank account details. On top of this, they’ll also request their SWIFT or Bank Identifier Code (BIC), which is an international bank code that helps the transfer company identify the receiving bank.
While the exchange rate you receive for your money transfer is extremely important, keep in mind the provider may also apply a transfer fee (or commission), which is a lump sum you need to pay upfront when you organise the transfer. Another thing to keep in mind is the transfer fee that applies may differ depending on whether you’re transferring online, in branch or over the phone.
This refers to the amount of time your transfer will take from your bank account to the recipient’s. Transfer times can be anywhere between 2-7 days, so if you’re in a hurry to get that money to a loved one back home, you may need to pay an extra fee to streamline this process.
When you transfer money from one bank account electronically to another, you’re conducting a wire transfer. Yep, it’s as simple as that!
So that’s it, you’re up to date with the common terms of sending money overseas! Ready to kick off your international money transfer comparison? Then make our foreign exchange hub your next stop!
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