How to Get the Best Exchange Rate When Sending Money Overseas*

Information verified correct on December 9th, 2016

Using a specialist money transfer service generally means that you get a better exchange rate compared to the banks.

If you use specialist international money transfer services, there’s a good chance that you’re already getting the best possible exchange range. However, if you’re still using your bank, then you may be getting ripped off. The value you receive from a money transfer mostly relies on the exchange rates and fees – and with so many options available, the exchange rates can vary greatly.

Click to expand | How do I get the best exchange rate?

Compare international money transfer companies and products below. You can use the table headings to sort through features and fees so you can select the right product for you. If you want to find out more about a product, simple click the ‘More’ link, or if you want to open an account, click ‘Go to Site’.

Rates last updated December 9th, 2016
Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Services Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received
AUD 200 1 day
OnlinePhoneAgent
Rates are always
changing, click to check
your price today
Go to site More
AUD 500 2 days
OnlinePhone
Rates are always
changing, click to check
your price today
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EUR 8 2 days
Online
Rates are always
changing, click to check
your price today
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FC Exchange International Money Transfers
No transfer fee via ... online, branch or phone when transferring more than £10,000 or equivalent.
GBP 3,000 1 day
OnlinePhone
Rates are always
changing, click to check
your price today
Go to site More
AUD 250 1 day
OnlinePhoneAgent
Rates are always
changing, click to check
your price today
Go to site More
Currency Online International Money Transfers
Enjoy regular scheduled ... transfers, one off transfers and a range of currencies. Also enjoy your first transfer for free.
AUD 0 2 days
OnlinePhone
Rates are always
changing, click to check
your price today
Go to site More
Compass Global Markets International Money Transfers
Send money in as little ... as 24-48 hours to a range of countries with Compass Global Markets.
AUD 1,000 2 days
OnlinePhone
Rates are always
changing, click to check
your price today
Go to site More
1st Contact International Money Transfer
$0 online fee without any ... minimum limit on money transfers.
AUD 0 2 days
OnlinePhone
Rates are always
changing, click to check
your price today
Go to site More
Currency Solutions International Money Transfers
Send money overseas for a ... range of reasons, including regular payments and buying overseas property. 97% Trustpilot score.
AUD 3,000 2 days
OnlinePhone
Rates are always
changing, click to check
your price today
Go to site More

How do I get the best exchange rate?

Getting the best exchange rate isn’t difficult, but remember that finding a good rate is only half the battle. The fees for your transfer must also be competitive, otherwise you might still lose out.

Getting the best rate when transferring money

Here are some tips to ensure you get the best deal on fees and exchange rates when transferring money:

  • Find out what current rates are. You should have a reliable baseline to compare the rates offered by money transfer companies and banks. Two well known currency conversion resources include XE and Oanda. These are free tools you can use to see live conversion rates, and both feature currency conversion calculators.
  • Compare by asking for a quote. Getting the best exchange rate can be difficult because money transfer services can charge high fees but offer competitive rates. This means sometimes it’s a good idea to ask for a quote, and then compare this to quotes from other providers.
  • Ensure you’re comparing the most accurate rate. This links in with the above point. Until you register with a money transfer service, you’re more than likely seeing their indicative exchange rates, and not the most accurate rates available. Ensure that if you choose not to compare quotes as the above point suggests, that you compare the exchange rate you’ll actually receive, which usually will require you to register with a service or make a call.
  • Utilise forward contracts. A forward contract basically allows you to lock in an exchange rate for a transfer which will take place in the future. In most cases you can lock in a rate for up to 12 months in advance, saving you from receiving a poor rate when you make a money transfer in the future. Not all transfer companies will allow you to use a forward contract, so ensure you consider this when comparing. Forward contracts can sometimes only be offered on larger transfer amounts, but this depends on the transfer service.
  • Consider a market order. A market order, also known as a limit order, allows you to choose a favourable rate, and then instructs your money transfer company to buy or sell your chosen currencies only once that rate is available. Like a forward contract, some money transfer companies will only offer these for larger transfer amounts.
  • Consider a multi-currency bank account. If you regularly deal in currencies, whether that be due to an international business or for personal reasons, a multi-currency bank account can be a good idea. Also known as a foreign currency account, they allow you to hold different currencies and convert them into AUD when you want. This means you can avoid short term rate fluctuations from harming your balance.
  • Carry out one large transfer rather than several smaller transfers. If you’re looking to send a large amount of money, try to send it as one rather than in smaller batches. This is because many transfer companies can offer better rates, and lower fees for large transfers.

Getting the best rate when travelling overseas

If you’re travelling to a country and looking for tips on receiving the best exchange rate, here are some things to consider:

  • Avoid busy areas and airports. Unless you’re organising a currency pickup, like you can with companiess such as Travelex, these areas can provide poor exchange rates. Other businesses such as Flight Centre kiosks can give competitive rates.
  • Exchange in the country you’re travelling to. While you may want to exchange a small amount before you leave your home country to ensure you have money to get you from the airport to your hotel, save the majority of your currency exchange until when you get into the country if you can. Once you touch down, avoid the airport and tourist destinations when looking for a currency exchange provider.
  • Consider an international debit, credit or travel card. Some of these cards are offered by major banks and offer 24/7 support, as well as exchange rates offered by Visa and MasterCard, which can be competitive. Read more about these options below.
  • Avoid exchanging at a restaurant or hotel. These locations can offer convenient, on-the-fly currency conversion but unfortunately might not offer the most competitive rate.
  • Avoid purchasing in your own currency. Some retailers will offer you the option to pay in your home currency, and will then convert the funds themselves. This can be tricky if you don’t have a currency calculator on hand, meaning you might lose out on the exchange.
Definition: exchange rate

An exchange rate is a way of showing the value of one currency compared to another. Exchange rates are impacted on by the supply and demand of a currency, a country’s inflation, trade between two countries and more, so rates can fluctuate throughout the course of a day. Indirectly, exchange rates dictate the costs of many day-to-day items you’ll buy which are purchased from overseas or made using materials which come from foreign countries. Directly, you’ll come across exchange rates when travelling overseas, purchasing goods from overseas, or sending funds overseas. This guide will explain how to get the best exchange rate available when sending money overseas.

Where can I exchange money?

The answer to this question depends on the reason for your exchange. If you’re looking to convert money to send it overseas, some of these providers won’t be the best option for you.

  • Money transfer companies. These are specialist currency exchange and money transfer companies, and therefore can offer competitive exchange rates and low fees. Many of them also offer a large range of services such as forward contracts and market orders.
  • Walk in kiosks, banks, post offices. These are the most well-known currency exchange and money transfer destinations for many Australians. Some of them, such as Flight Centre, Western Union and MoneyGram can offer competitive deals for sending money overseas or converting money depending on the service.
  • Credit cards, debit cards and travel cards. Apart from travel money cards, these will exchange your funds from AUD to the currency of your choice instantly using the applicable exchange rate. For some cards this will be the Visa or MasterCard rate, which by itself isn’t uncompetitive, but if you’ll pay a transaction fee or ATM withdrawal fee for the transaction, may become expensive. Travel cards will allow you to transfer funds onto your card at the exchange rate set by the card provider. This allows you to avoid exchange rate fluctuations.

Comparing exchange rates

Below is a comparison of the advertised rates for three different money transfer companies. As mentioned above, whenever you carry out a comparison be sure to get an accurate quote from the provider rather than using the advertised rates, as the two may be different.

CBAOFXMoneyGramCurrency Online
$1 AUD to USD0.84020.88060.87160.8814
$1 AUD to EUR0.65430.69330.68500.6936
Fees for $1000 transfer$22 AUD through Netbank

$5 USD

€10 EUR

$15

$9 USD

€7 EUR

As you can see, the highest rate in this comparison was offered by CurrencyOnline, but their fee was almost double that of OFX, with the next highest rate. This comparison doesn’t take into account transfer speed, which may be an issue for you. It also doesn’t take into account transfer methods, for example sending money to be picked up in cash by your recipient.

Frequently asked questions

Where can I find up-to-date foreign exchange rates?

As mentioned above, you can check sites such as XE or Oanda to find out up-to-date exchange rates. Also remember that banks and money transfer companies will publish their own exchange rates.

Does my income need to be converted into Australian dollars for my tax return?

Yes, all foreign income needs to be translated into Australian dollars when filling out your tax return.

Why are bank exchange rates not as competitive as money transfer service companies?

This is because money transfer companies specialise in foreign currency transactions and deal in large amounts, giving them savings that they can in turn pass on to consumers.

How will a money transfer or currency exchange service make money from me?

These services will profit from your transaction in two ways. One is through adding a margin to your exchange rate, and the other is by charging you a transfer fee. Some services will do both.

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