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How to get the best exchange rate on international money transfers

Learn some tips and tricks which will help you get the most for your Australian dollars.

The best exchange rates help you get more foreign currency for your dollars. Understanding how to exchange money can make all the difference when it comes to trying to save money. We compared dozens of ways to exchange money and found that the best methods typically avoid banks and in-person exchange kiosks.

How to find the best exchange rates

When transferring funds internationally or exchanging currency for a trip overseas, you will want to get the most bang for your buck. So here's our top tips on how to get the best exchange rates possible:


  • Use money transfer specialists: Providers like OFX, Wise and similar online money transfer services offer competitive exchange rates and lower margins. If you are sending money overseas, these companies typically charge lower fees than traditional banks.
  • Convert cash when rates are favourable: If you know you need to make an international transfer or you will be traveling overseas, then try to exchange your cash when rates are favourable to you. Carry out your conversion at an exchange provider that charges low fees and has a competitive rate, and you'll benefit by saving money.


  • Exchange money at airports or train stations: Although it's convenient, they never offer the best exchange rates. You will find they take advantage of people's need to exchange their money and charge highly for the convenience.
  • Use a credit or debit card abroad: Unless you know for sure, your card will most likely charge fees for use abroad and offer poor exchange rates.

How to get the best exchange rate on international money transfers

If you plan to use an international money transfer service, then it's best to shop around and compare your options. The more time you can leave yourself before needing to send the transfer the better. Here are a few things to think about when comparing money transfer exchange rates:

  • Know the mid-market rate for your currency. Money transfer providers skew exchange rates in their favour. Therefore it is best to use the mid-market rate as a baseline and see who is offering a fair exchange rate.
  • Compare providers. Use our table to compare online providers. It is also worth getting quotes from a few providers and seeing which offers the better deal.
  • Skip the bank. The bank is not your friend in this situation, as they almost always offer weaker exchange rates.
  • Use transfer tools to save money. Consider using recurring payments, forward contracts and limit orders to get a stronger exchange rate.
  • Send larger amounts. You will find that many money transfer providers offer stronger exchange rates for larger transfers. If you send more than $10,000 with OFX you will skip any transfer fees.

Which Australian bank offers the best foreign exchange rate?

Based on reviewing exchange rates for the top three currency pairs, NAB is the bank with the best foreign exchange rates in Australia. This came as a surprise, as we expected to see ANZ take the top spot. Out of the big four banks, Commonwealth Bank provides the weakest rates. Despite the results, we recommend using a money transfer specialist such as Wise, OFX and TorFX if you're sending money overseas.

BankAUD to USDAUD to EuroAUD to GBP
Commonwealth Bank0.65110.60250.5178

The data contained within the table was captured on 13 June 2023.

How to monitor exchange rates?

One of the ways to save yourself money is carrying out your conversion when the exchange rate is most favourable. If you know in advance you will be sending money abroad or travelling overseas, then you should monitor currency trends ahead of time. Take a look at our live currency converter to see what exchange rate you would get for converting your cash today.

Market demand dictates how much one currency is worth compared to another - this is known as the mid-market rate. It is also the rate that banks use to trade money with one another.

When you convert money through a money transfer service, you will typically find that the provider adds a margin on top of the exchange rate to make money. So it is worth keeping this in mind when you are monitoring exchange rates.
Select the currency pair to fit your needs


Compare exchange rates of money transfer services

Our table below lets you compare services you can use to send money abroad. Compare fees, exchange rates and discounts from different money transfer services, and when you have made your choice, click Go to site.

Where to exchange currency before your trip

If you know in advance that you will be travelling abroad, then there are several options for how to get the best exchange rates for your AUD:

  • Check your local bank. If you have an account with one of the larger banks in Australia, they should be able to sell you a wide range of foreign currencies. Just beware of poor exchange rates. Even smaller banks can often order money from larger branches.
  • Use a currency ordering service. Services like Travelex allow you to order more than 50 currencies and have them delivered straight to your door. However, keep in mind you won't get the mid-market rate.
  • Check local money changers. Take a trip into the city and view rates at money exchange services such as United Currency Exchange, Travelex, Travel Money Oz and Crown Currency.
  • Use an international transfer service, but have it delivered to your destination. Find a provider that can deliver your transfer for cash pickup at an agent location and have it waiting for you when you arrive at your destination.

Where to exchange currency outside of Australia?

When traveling internationally you'll typically get better exchange rates at banks, ATMs and post offices. If you have a bank card that doesn't charge international ATM fees, this will most likely be the strongest and most convenient option.

It may be possible to exchange money at your hotel, but double-check the rate against the mid-market rate to see how strong it is. You may also find that some local shops and restaurants offer to accept payment in your native currency.

Here's our dos and don'ts when it comes to exchanging currency outside of Australia:

Do exchange money at:

  • ATMs
  • Post offices
  • Banks
  • Your hotel

Do not exchange money at:

  • Tourist destinations
  • Street-side exchange bureaus
  • Airports, train stations, bus stations and the like

Frequently asked questions

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15 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    peteOctober 24, 2017

    I need to transfer $20000 US from Australia to an elderly man in the USA but am not sure how to do this safely. I want assurance he will get the money but I need assurance I get what I pay for.
    Any suggestions ?

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JhezelynOctober 24, 2017Staff

      Hi Pete,

      Thank you for your comment.

      There are different ways you can go about transferring money to the US. You may do online banking, wire transfer, or money transfer services. Meanwhile, you may compare a fast and secure way of sending money to the US. Bank transfers are safe and reliable, though they are by no means the most cost-effective or fastest option. Inter-bank money transfers and transferring money from one bank or one financial institution to the other within the same country is mostly free of cost. However, sending money from one country to another includes different types of fees (some hidden), so be sure to factor this into your decision-making process.

      Hope this helps.


    Default Gravatar
    JonathanJuly 22, 2017

    Hi Jeff,

    Thank you for writing to us. :)

    You are on the right page. Please enter the AUD transfer amount and choose the desired currencies on our comparison table then click “Calculate”. It will prompt you the list of transfer services available and their updated rates.

    Alternatively, you can also fill out the Enquiry form located a bit below for a FX expert to check on your options.

    Hope this helps.


    Default Gravatar
    SteveMay 29, 2017

    My existing FX account now does not handle small amounts for my family in the U.K., EG UKP100.00 transfers. They are happy to continue to handle my company transfers to China. Are you able to recommend a service for both of these accounts?

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JhezelynMay 31, 2017Staff

      Hi Steve.

      Thank you for your inquiry.

      You may consider a multi-currency bank account if you regularly deal with currencies due an international business or personal reasons. This is also known as the foreign currency account wherein they would allow you to hold different currencies and convert them when you want to so you can avoid short-term rate fluctuations from harming your balance.

      Please refer to the table above to compare international money transfer companies.

      Hope this helps.


    Default Gravatar
    PokiMarch 27, 2017

    what is one advantage of floating exchange rate?

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      DeeMarch 28, 2017Staff

      Hi Poki,

      Thanks for your question.

      Flexible exchange rates are said to be ‘floating’ and can fluctuate regularly due to many factors. To learn more about these factors, please check our foreign exchange rates guide.

      A floating exchange rate offers several advantages. One of which is the flexibility and automatic adjustment of the rate in case of disequilibrium (deficit or surplus) as an effect of import and export transactions. The exchange rate is also stable and predictable, which is a good thing especially for exporting firms.

      I hope this answers your question.


    Default Gravatar
    JanisJune 26, 2016

    i want to know please what is best – AUD to USD or British pounds?
    I intend to set up a multi-currency account and would also like details.
    Thank you.

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      ShirleyJune 28, 2016Staff

      Hi Janis,

      Thanks for your question.

      Please note that exchange rates are different for every provider.

      If you intend to apply for a multi-currency account, you will need to check what the exchange rates are from that specific financial institution.

      You can get an indicative idea of what exchange rates the providers are offering by opening that link.