Sending money overseas

Sharing your wealth

If you have friends or family overseas, you may want to send them money at some point, like for a wedding, a medical expense or just to help with everyday expenses. Here are some tips to help you pay less fees and avoid problems when you transfer money abroad.

Compare costs and exchange rates

A number of government-funded websites can help you to compare companies that send money overseas.

  • SendMoneyPacific - For money sent from Australia to Fiji, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
  • SaverAsia - For money sent from Australia to Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Vietnam.
  • Remittance Prices Worldwide - The World Bank's website for other international transfers.

Shop around for a good exchange rate

It's worth shopping around for a good currency exchange rate. There are significant price differences amongst companies. You can save a lot of money, especially if you transfer a large amount or often.

Also find out if the exchange rate is guaranteed. Not all companies guarantee the rate; but, if they do, you'll know exactly how much money your recipient will get.

Compare the total price

Compare the retail exchange rate and any fees. Just because a service is advertised as 'fee free' does not mean it will be the cheapest option.

Ways to transfer your money

There are a few different ways to send money from Australia to another country.

Smart tip

Keep your receipts and the transfer documents safe. Note the time limit for claiming a refund, in case your recipient doesn't claim the funds.

Online money transfer company

Online transfer companies ask you set up an account online and let you transmit your money yourself using the internet, or even a mobile phone network. The company moves the money to your recipient's bank account or arranges for them to collect the cash.

This transfer method can be cheap and fast, but you need to be comfortable making online transactions and know the bank account details of your recipient.

Bank account transfers

Using your bank account, you can transfer money directly into an overseas bank account. It is also called an international money transfer, a telegraphic transfer (TT), or a wire or SWIFT transfer.

Some banks also have online money transfer services that allow you to send money yourself to an overseas bank account.

Banks can be a more expensive option. The ACCC found the big four banks are consistently more expensive than other suppliers for foreign cash and international money transfers. Common currencies, such as United States dollars (USD) or Great British pounds (GBP), are often cheaper through other suppliers.

Transfers through banks can take 2 to 5 days.

Cash transfer (through a money transfer company)

Money transfer companies let you transfer your money overseas using cash or EFTPOS. You might approach a money transfer company at their store front or use a third-party convenience store counter. The person you send the money to will collect the cash at the money transfer office in their country.

Some money transfer companies will also let you transfer money using the internet, phone or a bank card once you've set up an account with them. You will need to let the recipient know that you've sent the money, and that they can pick it up from their local office.

This kind of transfer is often very fast - it could take just a few minutes - but can be expensive.

Australia Post also offers cash transfers which can be done at all Australia Post offices that have the Bank@Post sign displayed. To find out more see Australia Post overseas money transfer with Western Union.

International Money Order

A safer method than sending a personal cheque overseas is to use an international bank draft. You give your money to a bank in return for an international guaranteed cheque. You post the cheque to your family who then need to cash it at a local bank or deposit it into their account.

While secure, this transfer method can cost more than others, and posting it will be slower than an electronic transfer.

How to complain if you have a problem

If the money has not been delivered, both you and the recipient should speak to the company that is transferring the money. If it still cannot be found, then you can complain to the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA).

Money transfer scams

If you send money to someone and they turn out to be a scammer, it will be almost impossible for you to get your money back. Be very careful who you send your money to. Visit the SCAMwatch website  for more.

Do your research before sending money overseas. You could save yourself a lot of money and time.

Related links

Last updated: 08 Nov 2019