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Hi,

First of all, Fatwallet forum is amazing! A colleague told me about it recently and I am hooked.
Wish I had found it sooner.


I am moving to Australia for a job and I need to transfer USD $50,000 to Australia.
I use my local credit union in the USA.

* Any suggestions as to what is the best bank in Australia that has no monthly fee?

* What is the best way to transfer my money to Australia? I'd like to keep the fee as low as possible.

* What is the best strategies to move money to Australia, especially since the exchange rate varies over time?
Now 1 USD = 0.96 AUD .. a couple of years ago it was 1 USD = 1.20 AUD


From reading this forum, it seems that there are multiple fees involved:
- Sending bank's fee
- Spread over USD-AUD conversion rate
- Receiving bank's fee
- Intermediary bank's fee


I have spent over 2 hours reading the FatWallet Finance forum and found the following options:

- Citibank Global Transfer
- HSBC
- XE.com
- IB
- Plain wire transfer

Would appreciate any information.

Member Summary
Most Recent Posts
XE exchange rates have a smaller spread than wire transfers and have no additional fees. How does the exchange rate kil... (more)

ellory (Nov. 08, 2012 @ 6:02p) |

Simple, the exchange rate they offer sux!

Compare the exchange rate of either XOOM or XE to that offered by any local ban... (more)

fattywallace (Nov. 08, 2012 @ 11:39p) |

yea citi forex is horrible, and you are doing it wrong if you just transfer it from a US USD account to a AU AUD account... (more)

dawhim (Nov. 09, 2012 @ 1:01a) |


I suggest contacting a bank there. One that comes to mind is ANZ Bank. They do let you start the account opening process before you get there, but the account won't be fully activated so you can withdraw money until they can see you in person.

I had to internationally transfer a similar amount only once, to the philippines.

citibank's conversion rates were AWFUL, and it would have been really expensive on a significant dollar amount. the wire transfer fees are pretty trivial at this point.

I ended up using xetrade, which was actually kind of a pain (took a couple of weeks to complete the transfer, lots of followup forms that they didn't inform me I needed up front). But it worked. I also talked with torfx some, they're more "hands on" with their customer service angles, so you can't just get a quote on a website... but they were at least upfront about the paperwork required.

Buy some Crown Vics from Bubble King and ship them over there.

fatwjr said:   - Citibank Global Transfer
- HSBC
- XE.com
- IB
- Plain wire transfer

Would appreciate any information.

Do note Citi Global Transfers are subject to daily/weekly/monthly limits:
https://online.citibank.com/US/JRS/pands/detail.do?ID=InterCiti

Otherwise, it should be the cheapest since you won't get dinged with both inbound AND outbound transfer fees---provided you have easy access to a Citi branch in Oz.

If it's a one-time deal, just do it through wire transfer and get it over with.

xetrade to transfer. I used them and they were great You should start the process while you are in the US and get all the paperwork filled out.

When I lived there I used Commonwealth, but I had relatively low balances. At the time with low balances (2006) all banks had fees, as do most Australian credit cards. Often surcharges for credit purchases and sometimes (like airlines) even for EFTPOS

I actually sent money from australia to the us by opening PayPal accounts in each country. It was a bit of a pain for it was cheaper for small amounts than anything I could find. For $50k though I'd say you'd want something pretty different. Loved Australia though, super jealous!

Also try Western Union.

I spoke to a US Bank account manager: sending an international wire transfer from a US Bank account is a fixed $50 fee, regardless the amount of money sent. The currency conversion rate and receiving fees would depend on your Australian bank.

Western Union would be very expensive. PayPal would also be expensive and not be a reliable way to transfer your money (i.e. what would you do if they freeze your account or place a hold on the payment?). I also believe it may be against their TOS to send money to yourself, but I don't remember for sure.

I don't think there's anything cheaper than XE -- they withdraw and deposit your money using ACH or EFT (so that part is free), and I hear the currency conversion rates are competitive. Someone I know worked in Australia and used XE. You'll still need a bank account in Australia, but you should be able to open one easily. You'll probably need it anyway.

You don't specify how quickly you need the funds. Why not drop half of it in Schwab and half of it in Fidelity and pull their maximum ATM limit each day? If you have a spouse, you could create two accounts with each brokerage, and you'll be done inside of a month.

I lived in Australia for 1 year, and I simply used Schwab ATM to pull money out at ATMs fee free, and used a US credit card with no foreign transaction fee (capital one for example still offers this) which I then paid with money in my US accounts. All new money I earned in $AUs I put in a newly opened Australian bank acount. I opened a WestPac account (http://www.westpac.com.au/), since they seemed to have the most favorible fee structure and largest networks of ATMs in Sydney, although my research was rather limited.

Assuming your plan is to stay in Australia long term, this plan has a few advantages. You can use your US$ while you build up a savings in Australia. You can average out the short term flucuations since you are only "transfering" money that you are currently using. I still received Credit Card bonus points for my australian purchases, which (at least when I looked) were more competitive than the Australian offerings. You avoid the aweful transaction rate or high fees imposed by transfering money from banks/exchange services.

Where in Australia are you moving? If it's sydney feel free to PM with any questions you may have, although my advice may be limited to things like go to "Scruffy Murphys" on Tuesday night for live music and cheap VB.

ETA: I remember now the major reason I chose westpac, they are BoA's Australian partner, so I could also use my BoA debit card to pull money for free from their ATMs. Although this has less value with online transfer and the fact I could use my schwab card at the 7-11 across the street.

wire transfer

Not sure if this will work. Open a Forex trading account with global brokerage house like Interactive Brokers. Buy AUD and in the process get the best exchange rate, open a IB Australia account, link the US account and transfer assets. Disclaimer: I am just throwing this idea there, have no clue whether this is going to work.

Look into xoom.com. I see ads for them all the time.


sabhinav said:   Not sure if this will work. Open a Forex trading account with global brokerage house like Interactive Brokers. Buy AUD and in the process get the best exchange rate, open a IB Australia account, link the US account and transfer assets. Disclaimer: I am just throwing this idea there, have no clue whether this is going to work.
Bingo. That is the absolute cheapest.

Certainly this works with IB in other parts of the world, but whether it works for AUD depends on whether IB has an Australian bank. The answer is most likely yes, because they trade in the Australian stock exchange (ASX).

Note that IB is also the only transparent way to exchange currency. Other FX brokers who work with deliverable assets hide their fees in various ways - usually by padding it into the exchange rate and not using a realtime market for the trade. An IB trade is $2.50 (min. $10/month), plus a ~2 pip spread on the realtime market exchange.

WTH is IB?

kvs25 said:   Look into xoom.com. I see ads for them all the time.

Xoom has transaction limits and 30 and 180 day total dollar transaction limits. Advantage is the fee is only $5. Disadvantage is it's probably not best for large sums. Their website says one can apply for higher limits, but I think they would be hesitant with a new customer.

Hide it in the pouch of a kangaroo. Then just tell Customs that you're returning her to her natural habitat.

unimeg said:   I actually sent money from australia to the us by opening PayPal accounts in each country. It was a bit of a pain for it was cheaper for small amounts than anything I could find. For $50k though I'd say you'd want something pretty different. Loved Australia though, super jealous!

For Paypal customers in the U.S. they only let you link U.S. bank accounts. It must be some U.S. regulation. It would be a convenient way for someone to move money between accounts they have in different countries if possible if you didn't mind the spread Paypal takes in converting currencies. Even if it was possible I would only do it in small amounts. Paypal probably would end up freezing your account otherwise.

Regarding XETrade, how does their rate compare to wire transfer?

If I want to send onetime USD $50,000 using XeTrade vs Wire Transfer, what will be the difference in the cut?

Re: Wire Transfer, I think we can ask to convert the USD upfront to AUD (australian dollars). Will this make any difference?

ubermichaelthomas said:   Hide it in the pouch of a kangaroo. Then just tell Customs that you're returning her to her natural habitat.

Why the red? It's a joke dude.

gtalum said:   Buy some Crown Vics from Bubble King and ship them over there.
Crap..what is crown Vic and bubble king I keep seeing in here...someone explain...

Can't you just open an account here with a bank that is also in Australia and move the money there? Citi, HSBC, etc. That way if the job doesn't work out, you don't get hit moving the money in both directions.

chibimike, thanks for the suggestion.

CitiBank indeed has Citi Global Transfer which allows you to transfer money from USA's Citibank account to Australia's Citibank, and many other countries. However, from reading the Fatwallet Forum - while it is free, Citibank dings you in the exchange rate. One FW-er, I read, that moved money from Citibank USA to Citibank India, noted that the exchange rate difference is 4% compared to the actual exchange rate.

Not sure about HSBC though...

I guess then it depends on if you think the Aussie $ will increase or decrease vs the American $. If you think the Aussie will go up, you'll want to move it all now. If you think the American $ will go up, then you want to trickle it over as needed.

fattywallace said:   WTH is IB?interactivebrokers

fatwjr said:   Regarding XETrade, how does their rate compare to wire transfer?

If I want to send onetime USD $50,000 using XeTrade vs Wire Transfer, what will be the difference in the cut?

Re: Wire Transfer, I think we can ask to convert the USD upfront to AUD (australian dollars). Will this make any difference?
Ask your bank what the fees will be. Then go online with XeTrade and they will show you exactly what they will deliver to the account in Oz

Been almost 5 years since I was there, but XeTrade was a huge difference.

Why don't you investigate and post back with what you found

ellory said:   fatwjr said:   Regarding XETrade, how does their rate compare to wire transfer?

If I want to send onetime USD $50,000 using XeTrade vs Wire Transfer, what will be the difference in the cut?

Re: Wire Transfer, I think we can ask to convert the USD upfront to AUD (australian dollars). Will this make any difference?
Ask your bank what the fees will be. Then go online with XeTrade and they will show you exactly what they will deliver to the account in Oz

Been almost 5 years since I was there, but XeTrade was a huge difference.

Why don't you investigate and post back with what you found


XE and XOOM are only good for small amounts, 2K to 3K at most, otherwise the exchange they offer will literally kill you. Wire transfers are the most safe, legit and profitable way to do considerable amounts.

fattywallace said:   
XE and XOOM are only good for small amounts, 2K to 3K at most, otherwise the exchange they offer will literally kill you. Wire transfers are the most safe, legit and profitable way to do considerable amounts.
XE exchange rates have a smaller spread than wire transfers and have no additional fees. How does the exchange rate kill you?

ellory said:   fattywallace said:   
XE and XOOM are only good for small amounts, 2K to 3K at most, otherwise the exchange they offer will literally kill you. Wire transfers are the most safe, legit and profitable way to do considerable amounts.
XE exchange rates have a smaller spread than wire transfers and have no additional fees. How does the exchange rate kill you?


Simple, the exchange rate they offer sux!

Compare the exchange rate of either XOOM or XE to that offered by any local bank at any country you are thinking of sending money to, comeback and post the difference.

A wire transfer would cost $30.00 to $50.00 max and even offered for free for some business accounts and certain banks.

fatwjr said:   chibimike, thanks for the suggestion.

CitiBank indeed has Citi Global Transfer which allows you to transfer money from USA's Citibank account to Australia's Citibank, and many other countries. However, from reading the Fatwallet Forum - while it is free, Citibank dings you in the exchange rate. One FW-er, I read, that moved money from Citibank USA to Citibank India, noted that the exchange rate difference is 4% compared to the actual exchange rate.

Not sure about HSBC though...


yea citi forex is horrible, and you are doing it wrong if you just transfer it from a US USD account to a AU AUD account.

when you are in AU, set up an USD account in the citibank. this way, you have no forex done by citi, thus, totally cost free to move your money.

now you need to find a money changer in AU to exchange that.



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