How to transfer money to Australia

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When preparing your trip to Australia for your Working Holiday adventure, there is one important question: How to transfer money to Australia from your bank account without loosing too much money? There are numerous options to do so and some of them will make you save money! Read on to find more about it.

Why transferring money to Australia?

When you first arrive to Australia, you need to have some money to eat and sleep until finding a job. Life in Australia is expensive, especially in big cities. Therefore, only a handful of cash would probably not be enough to survive in the first weeks there.

Some people ask themselves “why not using my credit card of my home bank to withdraw money?” or “why not changing cash at an exchange office?”

Here are some reasons why we don’t advise you to do that:

Withdrawing money with your national credit card

There are several banks and different types of credit cards, but with all of them, you have to pay fees when withdrawing money from an ATM in Australia. Most of the banks apply fixed fees for each withdrawal plus a commission on the withdrawal amount (usually between 2% and 3,5%).

For example, if you withdraw 100£:
+ 4£ of fixed fees,
+ 3% commission,
+ 2£ to pay to the bank of the country you are withdrawing from
= 100 + 4 + 100 * 0,035 = 109,5£

Using your bank services, you already lose approximately 10£ on a 100£ withdrawal!
And even if your bank is promising you a free withdrawal, just think about the exchange rate! Since banks apply low exchange rates, you will definitely lose money.

Pay with your visa card

As for withdrawals, your bank applies a fixed rate for each payment. They are usually lower than rates applied when withdrawing money from an ATM. However, an exchange rate is applied by the Visa or MasterCard center for each purchase. The rate is less good than the actual market rate for sure!

Exchange money in an exchange office

Exchange offices offer exchange rates lower than the market rate to obtain a commission on each exchange. Using those services is recommended for short trips or stopover in a country but it is not suitable for people intending to live in the same country for several months. Moreover, be sure to avoid offices in airports as they usually offer even lower exchange rates!

Western Union

Western Union allows you to withdraw cash overseas. Its services are quick, however, its fee is pretty high. We recommend you to use this option only if you urgently need some cash.

transfer money to australia

Transfer money to Australia: BEST options

We tested a lot of options to transfer money overseas and here are some tips to get you to save money on your international transfers.

First of all, you will need to open a bank account in Australia. Indeed, when you work in Australia it is necessary to have an Australian bank account, as your employer will only transfer your salary to a bank account from Australia. Besides, it is more convenient to have an Australian credit card to get cash from ATMs and pay all your day to day expenses (e.g. restaurants or shops). The big four in Australia are Westpac, ANZ, Nab and Commonwealth. We recommend you to transfer your money from your bank account at home to your Australian bank account (or opposite) to avoid fees.

Find more information about how to open a bank account: Arriving in Australia – To do list for the first week

Bank transfers: not the best option

Some banks don’t even know how to make a money transfer to Australia (problems with BIC/ Swift Code/ IBAN. But above all, international transfers are very expensive. Banks charge high fees or use lower exchange rates compare to the actual market rate.

Although some banks in the UK and US have agreements with Australian banks they still charge high transfer fees or apply daily limits.

To sum up: International transfers via banks can be costly, take time and exchange rates are not necessarily in your favor.

Transfer money with specialised companies: recommended

A good alternative is to choose a company that is specialised in international money transfers – such as CurrencyFair or TransferWise.

If you want to transfer money to Australia, CurrencyFair and TransferWise are definitely the best options to save money. All companies are accredited and secured online platforms specialised in international money transfers. They are able to offer you good exchange rates (very close to the actual market rate) and only charge you a small transfer fee per transfer.

Comparison between a money transfer from a bank and one from a specialised company:

USING YOUR BANK  

You wish to transfer 1000£.
You supposedly do not pay transfer fees (in reality you do most of the time)
Market rate is : 1£ = 1.8 AUD
The exchange rate offered by your bank would probably be around 1.75
So for 1000£ you will get 1755£.

USING CURRENCYFAIR (for example)

You wish to transfer 1000£.
You pay 0,7% transfer fees (without discount) so approximately 7£ fees.
Market rate is : 1£ = 1.8 AUD
The exchange rate with Currencyfair will be around 1.79
So for 1000£ you will get 1790£ (or even less if you use the referral link)
Meaning you could save around 45£ by transferring only 1000£

Recommended companies

Below is a presentation of the main transfer platforms you can use. We personally tried all of them to determine their pros and cons.

Currency Fair

CurrencyFair charges a fixed transfer fee so you will only pay $4 per transfer. Through our partnership with CurrencyFair you will get FIVE transfers for free!

Characteristics:

  • Really good exchange rate (close to actual market rate)
  • Online assistance available
  • Fixed fee applied 4 AUD (thanks to our partnership, you get the first 5 transfers for free)
  • 5 free transfers offered to our readers
  • Simple system
  • Extremely secured
  • Application available on your mobile phone
  • Transfer time from 1 to 2 days (4 to 5 days for the first transfer)

To get 5 free transfers (no matter the amount), use the above widget or click here:

CurrencyFair – Get 5 free transfers

TransferWise Characteristics:

  • Offers one of the best exchange rate (really close to actual market rate with the capacity to “lock a rate” for your transfer)
  • Online assistance
  • 0,35% fee per transfer + 0.60 EUR
  • Transfer time: 1 to 2 days (allow 4 to 5 days for the first transfer)
  • Simple and easy system
  • Mobile app available

For more information about TransferWise : Money Transfer with TransferWise  / TransferWise Review

To set up your account with TransferWise, click here:

TransferWise – Set up your account

TransferWise vs CurrencyFair

The decision whether you should choose CurrencyFair or TransferWise depends on how much money and how many times you want to transfer money overseas.

When you use TransferWise the transfer fee (0,7%) varies depending on how much money you want to transfer. The more money you transfer, the more fees you pay. Whereas CurrencyFair charge a fixed fee of 4 AUD per transfer.

If you only intend to do one small transfer, then Transferwise seems to be the best option.

However, if you intend to do multiple transfers during your trip, then you should use CurrencyFair as they charge fixed fees no matter the amount of your transfer.

CurrencyFair has the lowest fees and you can have 5 free transfers using our link. We found CurrencyFair to be a real tool for money transfers as it is offering more services than the other companies. To create your profile and verify your identity, you will need to provide them with 2 proofs of residential address, but you can use your address in your home country.

GOOD TO KNOW
You can open an Australian account from your home country and transfer money to Australia. Once in Australia, you will have to go to your new bank to complete the opening of the account by confirming your identity and your money will be available. It’s probably a good idea to exchange a few euros in AUD for the first day to have a bit of cash. You can either go to a foreign exchange office in your home country or in Australia (city of arrival or at the airport). You can also use your bank card. Just make sure you can use it abroad

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Last updated: 16th Mai 2019 – Originally posted on November 2015