The concise guide to international bank drafts

Information verified correct on March 26th, 2017

Send money overseas safely and inexpensively with a bank draft.

If you’re looking for a safe, secure and reasonably affordable way to transfer money overseas, you may wish to look into the possibility of taking out an international bank draft. Also known as a bank cheque, bank drafts are accepted in most countries and are created in the currency of the destination where they are sent.

Although there are much quicker methods of sending money overseas, international bank drafts still offer several benefits to consumers. If time is not a factor when you’re transferring money to someone overseas, bank drafts can be perfect.

How does a bank draft work?

A bank draft is effectively a cheque from a financial institution, which means the funds for the transaction are withdrawn from the institution rather than from the cheque drawer’s account.

This offers an important benefit over an ordinary cheque from an individual. The funds from a normal cheque are not withdrawn from the drawer’s account until the cheque is cleared, which means there may not be sufficient funds available when the cheque is cashed and it may therefore bounce.

With a bank draft, however, when a person requests one they must immediately transfer the funds from their account to cover the amount of the cheque. This adds a crucial extra level of security over a normal cheque.

Drafts can be drawn in the foreign currency you choose and are available for personal or business use.

Make your comparison of bank drafts that much more effective

  • Fees. This is the most important factor to look at when comparing bank drafts. Look at the different fees charged for obtaining a draft and see if you could save money with a different provider.
  • Available currencies and countries. Speak to your bank or financial institution about the currencies in which you can obtain a bank draft and the countries to which you can send them.
  • Processing time. Once you apply for a draft, how long will it take for your financial institution to process it?
  • Application options. It’s also a good idea to compare the different methods available when applying for a bank draft. You’ll typically need to visit a branch or apply in writing.

Weigh up the pros and cons of a bank draft

Pros

  • Accepted in most parts of the world. International bank drafts are accepted in the majority of countries around the globe.
  • Inexpensive. Although you will have to pay a fee when you apply for an international bank draft, drafts are still a relatively cost-effective method of sending funds overseas.
  • In local currency. As the cheque is made out in the local currency where it will be sent, it does not require conversion and is therefore able to be banked quicker than a cheque written in Australian Dollars.
  • Secure. Bank drafts must be deposited into a bank account and cannot be cashed.

Cons

  • Slow. Bank drafts typically take several weeks to process, so they’re only a viable option where the speed of the transaction is not a concern.

What are the risks?

Keep an eye out for the following risks when it comes to bank drafts.

  • Funds not arriving in time. As mentioned, international bank drafts are quite a slow method of sending money overseas. If you need to send funds urgently, do not bother applying for a bank draft.
  • Fees. As with any financial product or service, it’s important that you’re aware of the fees and charges that apply to your bank draft. This can save you a lot of money in the long run.
  • Your country of choice may be unavailable. Make sure to check which countries and currencies your bank will allow you to send a draft in and to.

Need to send money quickly?

The transfer services below are not bank drafts, but rather allow you to make bank transfers which can be received by your recipient in their bank account or as cash.

Rates last updated March 26th, 2017

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Read answers to your most common questions about bank drafts

Can businesses use bank drafts?

Yes. If your business has overseas invoices that need paying, you can use an international bank draft to do so. However, they are not a reliable option for invoices which require quick payment.

What documents can I use to provide 100 points of identification?

You’ll need more than one document to reach the necessary 100-point ID minimum. Items you can use include your driver’s licence, passport, birth certificate, citizenship certificate, council rates notice, lease agreement and many more.

What are some quicker ways to send money overseas than using an international bank draft?

Banks offer international money transfers which can be typically processed between 24 hours and five days. Specialist online money transfer providers also offer quick funds transfers but with lower fees and better exchange rates than banks, while companies like Western Union and MoneyGram offer instant overseas money transfers.

Can I receive an international bank draft?

Yes. Check with your bank to see which countries it will accept bank drafts from and to find out what sort of fees apply for doing so.

How common are bank drafts?

Thanks to modern technologies like the internet, credit and debit cards and online transfer services, the use of international bank drafts is declining. However, they do offer a secure and affordable way to send funds overseas.

I need to send an urgent transfer overseas - how should I do it?

Your best bet is probably to find a trusted service which allows the cash you send to be picked up within minutes. Some such companies include WorldRemit, MoneyGram and Western Union.

Can I deposit an overseas cheque into my Australian bank account?

Yes you can, but expect to be charged fees for cashing the cheque and also to be slugged with your bank’s likely poor exchange rate.

How long do bank cheques take to clear?

Domestic bank cheques typically take up to three business days to clear, while international bank drafts often take between four and six weeks.

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