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 losing too much money? In fact, when you arrive, you will need to have a comfortable enough budget to be able to find accommodation and food while waiting to find a job. The cost of living is relatively high (especially in big cities). There are numerous options to do so and some of them will make you save money! Read on to find more about it.
Open an Australian bank account
The first thing to do to be able to transfer money from your European account to Australia is to have an Australian bank account. Not only will this save you from international withdrawal or payment fees, but it will also allow you to be paid if you plan to work in Australia.
How does it work?
Opening an Australian account can be done remotely before your departure, as offered by Westpac and NAB banks, or in a branch when you arrive. In both cases, once you arrive in Australia, you just need to go to a branch of the Australian bank you selected and confirm your identity.
You will then obtain a bank identification number made up of two numbers: the BSB number (6 digits) and the Account number (between 6 and 9 digits depending on the bank).
These two numbers are similar to the European IBAN number, that is to say the international bank identification number. Whichever money transfer method you choose, you will need these numbers.
How much does it cost?
Opening a current bank account is free at most Australian banks. However, fixed account operating fees (often monthly) may apply (around $4 or $5 / month). Check with the banks, these fees can be “waived” under certain conditions (if you are under 25 or are a student, or you have a minimum income…).
The best way to transfer money to Australia
Once your Australian account is available, you will have 2 options to transfer your money:
- Go through your bank in Europe and make a classic international transfer
- Go through a specialized international transfer platform (recommended)
Make a bank transfer to Australia (through your bank)
This solution, which seems to be the simplest, is not always so. Too often European banks don’t even know how to make a transfer to Australia. And when they know, they’ll ask you to provide them with the IBAN and BIC numbers of the account you want to transfer to, which doesn’t exist in Australia. But do not panic! Bring your BSB + Account Number (= IBAN) and ask your Australian bank for its SWIFT code (= BIC) and voilà!
Once your bank in Europe has made the transfer order to your Australian account, allow an average of 5 days to receive your money. To avoid any delay, make sure that you do not exceed the transfer limit authorized by your bank and of course that you have sufficient funds in your starting account.
How much does it cost?
The main disadvantage of international transfers is that it is expensive! Generally, European banks will charge you transfer fees (around 25 Euros of fixed fees + commissions). In addition, the procedure is often long and the exchange rate that will be applied to your transfer will be very low.
Indeed, most of the time the bank does not tell you the exchange rate that will be applied during your transaction … Although some banks in the UK and US have agreements with Australian banks they still charge high transfer fees or apply daily limits.
To get an idea of the official exchange rate, you can also visit xe.com. With the app, you can even alert yourself when a rate exceeds a certain threshold. Very useful if you want to transfer at the right time!
Transfer money with specialised companies: recommended
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.
How to transfer money to an account in Australia via this system:
- You make a transfer free of charge (Euros -> Euros) to a European account of which the chosen company (Transferwise, CurrencyFair,…) you will receive contact details.
- The company receives the money in their European account, it converts it to a rate close to that of the market (Euros ->Dollars) and makes it available on your Australian account.
- It performs a wire transfer to your account in Australian Dollars -> Dollars) and you will receive dollars from an account in Australia, here again, you will have no bank charges.
How much does it cost?
These transfer companies are remunerated on the margin they make by applying an exchange rate very slightly below the market rate, to which can be added transfer fees, of around 3 to 8 EUR, depending on whether you want a faster transfer.
Comparison of the two options
For a transfer of €1000 (March 2020)
|Via bank||Via CurrencyFair|
|Fixed costs||20 – 25 EUR |
|0 AUD |
(1st transfer free)
|The market rate (xe.com)||1 EUR = 1.87 AUD||1 EUR = 1.87 AUD|
|The exchange rate applied||1 EUR = 1.70 AUD||1 EUR = 1.869 AUD|
|Amount received||1700 AUD||1869 AUD|
A difference of more than 150 AUD!
Recommended international money transfer companies
Here is a small selection of three major international transfer platforms which, according to our experience and the various user comments, constitute the most advantageous means of transferring money to Australia. All these companies are very secure and their services have obviously been tested by us and many travellers.
We remind you, however, that it is necessary to open an account in Australia in order to be able to make a transfer.
- Exchange rate very close to the real rate with the possibility of choosing a time to exchange the currency according to the rate
- Very secure system
- Transfer fees: 4 AUD or 0 AUD (the first 5 transfers are free thanks to our partnership)
- Transfer time from 1 to 2 days (4 to 5 days for the first transfer)
- Ability to exchange currency with other members, allowing you to obtain conversion rates sometimes above the market rate!
- Online assistance available
- Simple system
- For us, the most economical solution
CURRENCYFAIR: 5 FREE TRANSFERS
To benefit from 5 free transfers, register here:
For more information on CurrencyFair: CurrencyFair – Free transfer
- 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 + 0.63 EUR
- Transfer time: 1 to 2 days (allow 4 to 5 days for the first transfer)
- Simple and easy system
- Mobile app available
TRANSFERWISE – 1st Free Transfer
Create your Transferwise account and make your first transfer for free (for any transfer of more than €500)!
For more information on TransferWise: TransferWise – Info and reviews
Other solutions to transfer your money to Australia
If you are just passing through and do not want to open an Australian bank account, there are different ways you can still use your money there.
Use an online bank
More and more online banks are offering free payments abroad, regardless of the currency! Practical, especially when travelling, online banks are more economical than conventional banks and allow you to carry out all your transactions from your smartphone. The best known are the banks N26 and Revolut which will allow you to withdraw and pay in Australia free of charge.
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 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.
Last updated: 28th April 2020. Published, November 2015