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International money transfer resources

Studying in Australia soon? A step by step guide to sending money overseas

Roisin Kelly-Goldsmith

Thursday 23 February 2017

Moving to Australia for a study stint requires plenty of planning. From applying for a visa to a place in your favourite university course, the list of forms to fill out goes on!

And being an international student costs money. So it goes without saying that you’ll need to open an Aussie bank account and deposit funds into it, well before semester begins.

You’ll also want to give yourself the flexibility to send money back home (like when your studies wrap up in the land down under). This guide will take you through the process of opening a bank account, to transferring cash between countries. And don’t feel daunted by it - we can assure you that it’s really quite easy.

Step 1: Opening an Australian bank account

Setting up an Aussie bank account in your name is a must (unless you want to deal with the foreign exchange fees and poor currency exchange rates attached to your credit card while you’re a student!).

The good news is, that there’s a range of student bank accounts designed for global students just like you. Some banks even accept applications three months in advance of you arriving in Australia.

Here are some of the accounts you can choose from:

All it takes to become an Aussie banking customer these days is to submit an online form. You’ll be asked to provide personal info such as your passport number, approximate arrival date and enrollment details. Your bank will take around three days to open the account.

Step 2: Choosing a money transfer provider

After your bank account gets sorted, the next step is to choose an international money transfer provider. Here’s a snapshot of your provider options.

Foreign exchange specialist

Also known as international money transfer (IMT) providers, these FX experts usually apply lower margins on exchange rates than banks and keep fees to a minimum. That’s more money in your pocket to spend on living the student lifestyle!

Pros: Generally offer the cheapest way to send money to and from Australia. Transfers are low risk and you can authorise them online from your personal account.

Cons: Requires a few minutes to choose a provider and sign up for an account (which you link to your bank account), and nominate a username and password. Some IMT specialists have transfer minimums, so you’ll need to compare carefully and go for one that suits your FX needs best.

PayPal

This well-known US owned company offers online money transfer services to customers around the world. Currency conversion fees range from 0.5% to 7.4% (depending on the country of origin and destination), so most customers use it to send small amounts of cash.

Pros: PayPal is a reputable brand and every transaction is secure.

Cons: You’ll need to set up two accounts, one in your home country and the other in Australia. A fee is charged to the person receiving the funds too (which in this case would be you).

Your banking provider

The bank you use in your home country will most likely offer an international money service, where you can arrange to transfer funds from your personal account into your Australian bank account.

Pros: Involves going for a provider that you’re already familiar with.

Cons: Banks have a reputation for setting the least competitive exchange rates and highest fees, compared to boutique IMT specialists.

Step 3: Sending money to Australia

When the time comes to deposit money into your student bank account, you’ll need your bank account info to complete the transaction:

  • Full name
  • Account number
  • BSB
  • SWIFT or BIC code

Depending on the money transfer service you decide to use, you can either complete the transfer online or at a bank branch. The currency you send gets converted into Australian dollars and appears in your student bank account.

Then you can use your money to pay for things like textbooks, rent and socialising once you’re in the land down under.

Step 4: Using your card, once you’re on Aussie soil...

When you arrive in Australia, visit the nominated bank branch to receive a debit card and sign up for internet banking. You can use your card to withdraw cash and make store purchases. In Australia, if you use an ATM machine that isn’t part of your bank's network, you’ll be charged a fee for it. These fees can be as high as $2.50, so it's a good idea to know where the nearest network ATM is to you - read our beating bank fees guide for more info.

Money transfer features to look for

  • Best exchange rate: It’s easy to shop around for a top exchange rate here at Mozo, where rates are updated daily. Be sure to use our money transfer calculator on the page too, so you’ll have a fair idea of what will end up in your Aussie account.
  • Low (or no) fees: No one likes paying fees, especially uni students! Don’t forget to compare the extra costs providers are asking for, and choose a service with few or zero fees.
  • Quick transfers: Who knows when you’ll be in a rush to make a payment in Australia, whether it’s for tuition fees or bond money to your landlord. Opt for an IMT provider where you have the option to pay more for express delivery, or at least one where transfers take a couple of days at most.
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