Best Way To Send Money Overseas

Find and compare the best ways to send money overseas here.

Last updated on July 18th, 2022 at 05:34 pm by Cate Cook

Save by comparing the best ways to send money overseas

Australians send billions of dollars overseas annually, either to family or friends or to buy goods and services. If you need to transfer money across international borders, you may be wondering what the best way to do so is. Savvy is partnered with a range of international money transfer providers to help you find the best exchange rates and lowest fees. Compare providers all in one place and start your transfer today.  

site-logos Xe
  Minimum Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Transfer Fee Total Currencies Available  
site-logos $0 1-3 days From $0 100
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Xe is a 2021 Canstar Award Winner and offers the best exchange rates, low to no fees so customers save the most money

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site-logos OFX
  Minimum Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Transfer Fee Total Currencies Available  
site-logos $250 1-3 days $0 50+
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OFX offers speed, security and simplicity with no hidden fees, total transparency and real people support 24/7

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site-logos Wise Money Transfer
  Minimum Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Transfer Fee Total Currencies Available  
site-logos $0 1-3 days From 0.41% 53
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Send money cheaper and easier with Wise with no hidden fees.

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site-logos TorFX
  Minimum Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Transfer Fee Total Currencies Available  
site-logos $200 0-2 days $0 35
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Excellent exchange rates with no transfer fees. Trusted by over 55,000 customers. Awarded Canstar’s 5 star rating 2018-2021.

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site-logos SingX
  Minimum Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Transfer Fee Total Currencies Available  
site-logos $0 0-2 days From $0 30
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SingX offers live exchange rates with no mark ups and only charge a nominal fee shown to you upfront

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site-logos Remitly
  Minimum Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Transfer Fee Total Currencies Available  
site-logos $0 0-2 days From $0 21
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Remitly offers fast, safe and secure money transfers with excellent rates to over 100 countries

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Disclaimer: Savvy is not advising or recommending any particular product to you. We provide general information on products for the purposes of comparison, but your personal situation or goals are not considered here. Although we try to make our comparisons as thorough as possible, we do not have information on all products on the market on our site.

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More information on the best way to send money overseas

What is the best way to send money overseas?

Sending money overseas electronically can either be done through your bank or an international money transfer service. In most cases, international money transfer services are your best option compared to banks. Specialist money transfer services will often offer the best exchange rates and cheapest fees, since they’re specialists at international exchanges. Banks tend to charge from $6 up to $30 to make an international transfer, whereas international money transfer services charge less than $10 per transfer on average (up to $15).  

However, it’s most important to look at the exchange rate hand-in-hand with the fees charged. There’s no point saving money on transfer fees if you pay more to exchange your money. Savvy has partnered with some of the best international money transfer companies so you have a wide range of choices to begin your transfer. 

In what ways can I send money overseas?

Broadly speaking, you can send money overseas in three ways:  

  • electronically to a bank account 
  • with an instant cash transfer 
  • via a cheque or international money order 

Most people these days choose to send money overseas using one of the first two options, as relying on postal services is a rather slow and largely outdated method. Sending money electronically is the cheapest option of the three, as while cash transfers can be completed instantly, you’ll likely have to pay a premium to do so.  

The exact fees will depend on how much you wish to send and the country you wish to send it to. Rates and fees to less popular destinations tend to be more expensive, so transfers from Australia to New Zealand, the UK, the USA and India are typically the cheapest. 

How do I send money overseas with an international money transfer provider?

The process to send money overseas is quick and simple. Basically, you’ll need to set up an account with a transfer provider first before making your transfer. Once your account is set up, you can use it to send money overseas multiple times. The basic steps for sending money overseas are: 

  1. First, set up an account with your chosen international money transfer provider, which you can find through Savvy. Once you go to their website, you’ll be asked to provide your name and email address so you can be sent a link to open your account. 
  2. Follow the link and provide the requested details, including any identification documents that may be required. The exact ID required will depend on where the transfer provider is based in the world, as all identification regulations are different. You’ll only need to provide your ID once as you set up your account.
  3. Once your account has been established, enter the details of the person to whom you wish to send funds. You’ll be asked to provide the name of the recipient, the method they’d like to receive the funds and bank identification details. This could be their SWIFT code or a BIC or IBAN. All these are internationally-recognised bank codes that help identify the exact account, branch, bank and location where the money will land.
  4. Double-check that all the transfer details are correct and send it on its way. It’s as simple as that. Your recipient will receive the funds within one to five business days, depending on who you transfer with. Transfers to the most popular destinations will often arrive the next day, while more obscure countries may take longer to transfer your money. 
  5. Once your transfer has been completed, you’ll be sent a transfer confirmation and receipt. Keep this information safe just in case there are any issues with the transfer in the future.  

What is the quickest way to send money overseas?

Some online transfer services can have your transfer sent, processed and received in another country in seconds. This makes them a highly useful option if you need your money to arrive at its destination quickly, as it often doesn’t cost much to complete. If your transfer is urgent, you may also consider a cash transfer. You can pay for your transfer in cash or use EFTPOS or a debit card to make the payment. Once you send it off, your recipient will be able to access the cash immediately.  

However, instant transfers may not be the best way to send money overseas, as they can be more expensive than standard transfers. If you don’t need your funds to be received urgently, you’re likely to be better off transferring with a provider that offers higher exchange rates and lower fees. Additionally, not all international money transfer services permit the use of cash, limiting your potential options.  

How should I compare international money transfer providers?

Naturally, the exchange rate you’re offered is the most important consideration, followed by the fees you’ll be charged to make the transfer. Always look for exchange rates as close to the mid-market rate as possible (which is midway between the buy and sell rate for the two currencies) as this represents the best deal for you and will maximise the amount your recipient will receive in their currency.

Some international money transfer providers charge a flat fee (averaging around $10) and others work on a percentage of the transfer amount as a fee. For example, SingX charges around 0.45% of the transfer amount depending on your money destination. Other areas to look at include: 

  • means of paying for your transfer – some providers will accept cash, whilst others will require the transfer to be funded electronically from your bank account. Some will allow you to use either a debit card or a credit card, while others won’t allow payments by a credit card (as the card services companies may also charge an additional fee for international transactions) 
  • countries and currencies serviced – check to make sure the provider you choose does service the country you wish to transfer to, and deals in your required currency before commencing your money transfer 
  • destination details – some providers require bank details, whilst others can arrange for the money to be sent in cash (which can be collected at the destination), to a digital wallet through Apple Pay or as a phone top-up if the receiver can’t or doesn’t want to provide bank details 
  • transfer limits – some companies have minimum limits (often around $250 for retail providers) while others have maximums ranging from as low as $50,000 to $500,000. Therefore, if you wish to send either very small amounts or a large amount, it’s important to check what your provider’s limits are 
  • customer service – does the international money transfer provider have customer service available in your time zone and language, as well as that of your recipient? 
  • transfer speed – in terms of how long they take, transfers to more popular destinations from Australia such as the UK, New Zealand, the USA and India tend to be faster than those to more unusual destinations. Therefore, if you want to send money to Romania, for example, allow yourself more time for the transfer to go through. Often your transfer will arrive the same day (or even instantly), although it’s worth allowing between two and five days for any transfer, to take into account weekends and holidays in other countries 

Is using a limit order or forward contract the best way to send money overseas?

Another benefit of using an international money transfer provider in preference to a bank is that many providers supply very useful currency exchange tools via their online or mobile apps. These tools include the ability to track your transfer, fix your exchange rate for a set period or set a limit order on your transfer, which are all highly useful tools if you don’t wish to send money immediately. 

Limit orders 

Limit orders work by setting an exchange rate at which you’re comfortable for the transfer to take place. Because international exchange rates move so quickly, it’s not always possible to exchange currency at a rate you’d be happy with. Therefore, with an app that offers limit orders, you can decide on an exchange rate and set it to make the transfer take place when the rate reaches a certain level. From there, the system will make your transfer when the specified transfer limit is reached. This means your transfer may even go ahead whilst you’re asleep in bed!

Forward contracts 

Forward contracts are like setting your home loan interest rate for a set period. The longer you wish to set your rate, the more expensive it may become. Most international money transfer companies can give you a quote that will be valid for up to 24 or even 36 hours. This is known as a spot price. However, some transfer companies allow you to fix your exchange rate into the future even up to a year or more so you know exactly how much your transfer will cost in the future.  

This can be very useful if you’re doing business overseas. For example, if you order your football team’s shirts to be screen printed in China, you may have to pay for them when you’re notified they’re ready to send. You can lock in your exchange rate of the Australian dollar for 30 days so that when you do want to send your money to China, you’ll know exactly how much your team’s shirts will cost to print. 

Top tips for getting the best international exchange rate

Monitor the market

If your transfer isn’t time-sensitive or urgent, take the time to monitor the exchange rate between the Australian dollar and your destination currency. This way, when you come to complete the transfer, you’ll know what a good exchange rate looks like and be able to grab a bargain when you see one with Savvy. 

Always get a spot quote

Make sure you compare spot quotes before committing to the transfer. Be suspicious of any company which doesn’t quote you the exact exchange rate you’ll receive before you complete the transfer. Savvy has teamed up with a panel of reputable international money transfer companies who can tell you the exact cost of your transfer in advance.  

Send larger amounts less often

If you intend to send money home to family regularly, it may be worthwhile sending a larger amount less often rather than a small amount more frequently. This is especially true if you’re using a provider who charges a set amount per transfer. With less frequent transfers, you stand a better chance of getting the best exchange rate for your transfer, as you’ll have time to monitor the market and do your transfer when the exchange rate is the best.  

Transfer currency and store until it’s needed

If the exchange rate between the Australian dollar and your destination currency is travelling in the wrong direction and you know you’ll need to send money overseas in the future, it could be worth opening an international account, transferring the money into your destination currency and storing it in your international account until you need to send it overseas.  

Frequently asked questions about the best way to send money overseas

Do any international money transfer providers offer transfers with no fees?

Yes – you can send money overseas with no fees. Some companies offer the first transfer free, whilst others charge no fees on transfers over a set amount, such as $10,000. It’s always worth comparing the exchange rate you’ll receive on top of the fees charged to make sure you’re getting the best deal.  

Are international money transfers refundable?

If you’ve made a mistake with your transfer, it may be possible to cancel it if it hasn’t yet been delivered or arrived at its destination, particularly if you’ve sent money to New Zealand, which shares Australia’s banking system. However, once it’s been delivered, it usually isn’t possible to get a refund. It’s a safe rule to only send money overseas to people you know or companies you’ve had prior dealings with. Cash pickup transfers overseas are particularly high-risk.  

Are all international money transfer providers reliable?

Savvy has partnered up with some of the safest and most reliable providers in Australia, so you can be sure that any provider partnered with us is licenced through ASIC and uses the same encryption methods as the big banks to keep your private banking details safe. Make sure you always use a provider which is registered and accredited in the country they operate from. 

Is the best way to send money to Africa by phone top-up?

It may be, particularly if you don’t have the option of sending money to a bank account. This is a common occurrence in many African nations, where a smaller percentage of the population have bank accounts. In such circumstances, a very popular way of sending money is to use a pre-paid phone top-up (also known as a recharge or refill). Most major network providers allow you to top-up someone else’s phone on the same network: all you need is their phone number.  

Do international money transfer providers offer 24/7 customer support?

Many international money transfer service providers do offer great customer support, but this is one area of service provision worth comparing. If you think you may be needing customer support quite regularly, it may be worth looking at a service provider which is based in the same time zone as Australia (if they only offer support during their business hours) and who speaks your language. Some providers offer 24/7 customer support in several languages (such as Xe, which offers customer support in English, French and Spanish).