5 ways to send money overseas or pay with international currency

When sending money overseas there are a range of ways you might choose to do it depending on the scale and purpose of your transaction.

Your everyday bankcard

If you've arrived at a foreign destination and need some cash fast, the good news is it's very likely your everyday bank-card will work in a foreign ATM and you'll be able to access some emergency cash. Look for the CIRRUS or PLUS symbol on the back of your card. However, between overseas/foreign ATM fees around $5 and currency conversion fees as high as 3.95%, it can be a very expensive way to go if you're overseas for an extended period of time.

To minimise the fees you'll need to pay, withdraw sums in larger amounts rather than withdrawing small amounts of cash regularly as you'll get charged the same fee if you withdraw $50 or $500.


PayPal has done well to build up its brand as a trusted, go-to payment system for online retailers and for small-scale transfers it can be quite efficient. However, even the company acknowledges that because it charges a percentage of the amount sent "there are more competitive services available" if you're sending more than $200.

Prepaid Travel Cards

Prepaid travel cards are essentially modern day travellers cheques. They allow travellers to pre-load the currency they might need when in a foreign currency. They are like travelling overseas debit cards and offer many positives, including pin code security, flexible credit card-like payment options, and inexpensive foreign currency withdrawals. These benefits, however, must be balanced against the expense of loading a prepaid debit card and the cost of retrieving any unspent money. Compare prepaid travel cards on Mozo here.

Bank Transfer

It is possible to directly transfer money from your bank account to most banks in the world through the use of a BIC or SWIFT code. A SWIFT code is a unique identification code for a particular bank consisting of 8 or 11 numbers and used to transfer money between banks via international wire transfers. This can be an easy way to move money around the world, but it is seldom the most cost effective. If you choose to move money by bank transfer you will pay a sending fee ($30 is typical) a receiving fee ($25-$50) and make the transfer at the banks choice of exchange rate ? which usually has a hefty charge built in, even if they say they won't charge a currency conversion fee. Bank exchange rates are typically more expensive than an independent broker and there's no way to know exactly how much might go missing in the course of an international money transfer.

Foreign currency broker

Non-bank online money transfers are one of the more competitive ways to transfer money overseas. Brokers like OzForex, World First and CurrencyFair are all better options than the banks for large transfers. See here on Mozo to compare rates and fees of these international money transfer providers. To use them all you have to do is open an account and verify your identity. If you're sending money overseas on a regular basis, or need to transfer a large one-off you could save hundreds of dollars by choosing a broker over a bank. The larger the transfer, the more you'll save however brokers have a minimum transfer amount which vary from $5 to $2000 or even $10,000 so check before you sign up.