How Long Do International Money Transfers Take?

Find out how long your international money transfer may take to complete and compare your options with Savvy.

Last updated on July 19th, 2022 at 04:50 pm by Cate Cook

Find out how long international money transfers take

International money transfers are a highly efficient way for you to send money to just about any country around the world. However, you might be wondering how quick this process actually is. Find out how long it takes for your transfer to reach its destination and compare a variety of providers right here with Savvy 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 325,000 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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More information on how long international money transfers take

How long does it take to send an international money transfer?

In general terms, it takes between zero and five days for an international money transfer to arrive at its destination. However, the time between your transfer being sent and received will ultimately come down to the provider you choose to transfer with.

Specialist transfer providers will get your money to its destination, on average, in zero to three days, with some providers able to have the transfer completed in seconds to certain countries and under certain conditions. International money transfer providers are specialists at transferring money 24/7, so they’ve developed very efficient processes for moving funds overseas.

Sending your money overseas via a bank will probably take longer than if you use an international money transfer provider, with an average transfer time of at least three to five business days. This is because banks generally use the SWIFT payment network, which can be slower comparatively.

In addition, if you transfer your money using a bank, the funds first have to go through the Australian banking system and then your destination country’s system, which can delay the process. How long your money takes to arrive can be impacted by many banking delays at multiple points in its journey. International money transfer companies don’t use the international SWIFT banking system, so they can move money faster.

You could also pay for an express cash service and send money overseas to be collected in cash by someone waiting at the other end instantly. However, you’ll pay a premium for this express cash delivery service, so it may not be the most affordable and convenient option available.

What are the main factors which can impact the speed of money transfers?

It’s not only the delivery provider which can affect how quickly your transfer is made. There are other factors at play, which include:

Destination

The destination you wish to send money to will also affect how long it takes to arrive. International transfers are faster to more popular destinations, just like there are wider, faster motorways leading to the most popular tourist spots. However, if you wish to send money to a less popular or common transfer destination, your funds may take longer to arrive at their destination. Some of the most popular (and therefore often the fastest) transfer destinations from Australia are:

  • New Zealand
  • the United Kingdom
  • the USA
  • India
  • China

Timing of transfer

Weekends and public holidays either in Australia or in your destination country can delay the delivery of your funds. Therefore, if you make your transfer well before the banks close for the weekend (such as mid-week), you stand a higher chance of having your money delivered swiftly. If you book your transfer over the weekend in Australia, you’ll likely have to wait longer for it to be received overseas.

Size of transfer

The size of your transfer can also affect how long your money takes to arrive and the speed of delivery. Under Australia’s anti-money-laundering rules, all international transfers over $10,000 have to be reported to the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC). This is the government’s intelligence agency responsible for detecting and disrupting criminal abuse of the financial system for serious criminal activity. AUSTRAC requires an explanation to be provided for the nature of the transfer, which could cause delays to occur in transferring the funds in some cases.

Banking system

Another factor influencing international transfer speed is the banking system used by the destination country. If the destination banking system is compatible with Australia’s (like New Zealand’s, for example), the transfer will be quicker. If you send money to New Zealand, you may even get same-day service because of this bank compatibility.

What costs are involved in sending money overseas?

Some companies charge a set fee to transfer funds overseas for you, which can range up to $15. Others charge a small percentage fee (usually from 0.4% to 0.5%) based on the size of the transfer you wish to make. On average, banks charge between $6 and $30 for an international transfer. However, international transfer companies on average will charge less than $10 to transfer your funds, making them the cheaper option in most cases.

However, others don’t charge a fee at all in some cases, which may be offered on transfers above a certain amount, such as $10,000. One of the ways lenders may make money from the transfer is by marking up the exchange rate they quote you. A mark-up, otherwise known as a ‘margin,’ is a small percentage increase (or decrease) in the international exchange rate you’re quoted to change your money from Australian dollars to your destination currency. This margin can make the difference of hundreds or even thousands of dollars if you’re transferring a large sum. The closer your quote is to the mid-market exchange rate, the better it is for you.

Which type of transfer fee will be the cheapest will depend largely on the amount you wish to send overseas. Generally, if you want to transfer small amounts more frequently, a percentage fee may prove to be your cheapest option. If you wish to transfer a large amount of money on a one-off basis, though, a set fee may be your best choice.

For example, if you wanted to complete a transfer to Japan of $40,000 to pay for some business machinery you’re having made, you can compare fee structures to see which would be the best for you:

Provider Exchange Rate Fees Total converted Total Received
Provider 1
92.6190
Set fee $15
$39,985
JPY 3,703,371
Provider 2
92.6190
Percentage fee 0.5% = $200
$39,800
JPY 3,686,236
Provider 3
92.1538
No fee
$40,000
JPY 3,686,152

As the example shows, in this instance, the best way to send your money overseas would be to pay a $15 set fee (with a better exchange rate) rather than a percentage of the transfer amount or a free transfer with a lower exchange rate. However, if you were only sending $100 overseas, a percentage fee would be your cheapest option rather than a $15 flat fee, as this would only cost you less than $1.

How do I complete an international money transfer?

Frequently asked questions about international money transfers

Can I cancel my international money transfer before it arrives?

Generally, once you send an international money transfer, you can’t cancel it. However, if you realise you’ve made a mistake in time, and the transfer hasn’t yet been delivered, there may be a chance for you to cancel it if you act quickly before it arrives at its destination.

Are phone top-ups the fastest way to get money overseas?

This will depend on which country you want to transfer money to but, in general terms, a phone top-up through a phone provider may be one option to get money to Africa fast, as it’s more common to not have a bank account in that part of the world. However, plenty of international money transfer companies also service African nations, so it’s important to check first with your transfer provider to see if they can offer you a great deal at a good speed.

Will the recipient of my transfer also have to pay fees?

In some cases, the recipient of your funds may have to pay a fee for receiving the money. This will depend on how the money is sent (such as through a cash transfer, a bank-to-bank transfer, a transfer service or through other means such as Apple Pay). The receiving fees will depend on the overseas bank, but could be between $5 and $30.

Are international money transfers safe?

Yes – international money transfer companies provide some of the most reliable and safe methods to send funds overseas quickly and use the same encryption technology as used by the big banks, so your personal banking details are secure. It’s important that the transfer company you use is licenced in the country it is registered in. Savvy’s partners are all reputable transfer providers who have the necessary registration and licencing, so you can be sure you are dealing with a reputable company when you choose from our partners.