While you’re living in Australia, you’ll almost certainly need to access and move your money, whether it’s to send money home or to pay for your tuition. While most banks now offer online banking and mobile apps for money management, international money transfers can be costly and banks still take a big cut. Transfer terms, fees, and exchange rates can be complicated or unclear, so you run the risk of paying more than you need to just to get your hands on your own cash. 

So, where to start? It pays to understand your options, so we’ve put together some pros and cons on various money transfer methods to help you make an informed decision.

International wire (or telegraphic) transfer

A wire transfer is a way of transferring money electronically, usually through a bank. The advantage of doing a wire transfer is that you can easily do it through your bank, so it’s a relatively streamlined process. It’s also relatively quick, only taking a few days.

The risk is that if the recipient’s bank details haven’t been properly entered you could also end up sending your money to the wrong account, and tracing these transfers is not always straightforward. Because these types of transfer are difficult to trace, there is the risk of not being able to recover your money if something goes wrong (after all, payment scams do happen).

Fees for this type of transfer can be high and are often hidden, so make sure you read all the terms and conditions before you decide to use this method. 

International money orders 

Money orders are considered one of the more economical ways of performing a money transfer. To take out a money order, you usually head to your bank with your identification in hand. You can choose to have the order filled in your currency or the currency of the country you’re sending it to. It’s then mailed off, which can take several days (if not weeks), so this option isn’t ideal if you need the money to reach its destination quickly. There’s also a small risk it could be lost in the post and counterfeiting money orders is a big problem, exposing you to the risk of fraud. 

Transfer companies 

This method usually involves heading to a shop where a company representative will walk you through the transfer. You can use cash or card when using a transfer company, and the money will then be collected by the recipient at the money transfer office in whatever country they’re located in.

If you choose this option, make sure you do your research first. Ensure the company is reputable and be aware that these companies usually charge a commission for doing the transfer for you, require a lot of documentation to ensure your transfer isn’t fraudulent, and will also charge a fee to perform the transfer. Their rates may be a lot higher than your bank’s, so make sure you check how much they charge. 

E-wallets

PayPal is a good example of this method of transfer. If you’re already familiar with PayPal or providers like it, this option can be convenient and quick.

Make sure to check your transaction limits as your education provider’s tuition fees might be higher than the platform allows. If you decide to make two payments or split the amount, you’ll need to make sure your education provider knows this is what you’re doing and that this doesn’t breach any of their terms and conditions. 

Online payment platforms 

Online payment platforms are designed to make money transfer as easy as possible. They will usually let you pay using your credit or debit card, as well as via your bank. It’s wise to use a card in your country’s currency to avoid charges though. Also, be wary of dual currency cards that may charge you a currency conversion fee on top of the transfer fee. 

There are several online payment platforms available, including Flywire. This easy-to-use payment solution allows you to pay in your local currency, select a preferred payment method, and benefit from discounted exchange rates that can be cheaper than your bank’s. You can also track payments through an online dashboard and access multilingual support via phone, chat, and email if you need it.

Flywire also offers a best-price guarantee on local currency bank transfers. If you can show your bank offers a better rate, they’ll match it and give you a gift card for your trouble. 

Other helpful tools

If you’re looking for a quick currency converter, you can simply use Google. Type in the two currencies, press search, and a converter tool will pop up at the top of the results page. This is a live representation of a current market currency conversion, but note that it doesn’t include fees or commission payments. This can be a good way to gauge if you’re being charged over-the-top fees to transfer your money.