Here’s all you need to know about foreign currency accounts with Bank of Sydney. The fees requirements and foreign exchange rates.
A foreign currency account (sometimes also called a multi-currency account) can be useful for a number of people, but most notably, those who travel frequently, spend time between multiple countries or do business overseas. Not sure if a foreign currency account is right for you? Read on to find out more about the benefits, as well as all the rules and policies that come with a foreign currency account at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.
Before we get started, a quick comparison between CBA’s foreign currency account and Wise’s Borderless multi-currency account
|Who can open an account?||Both personal and business customers¹⁺²||Both business and private customers|
|Fee for incoming payments||Up to AU$11 per transfer for receiving a payment into your foreign currency account⁴||There’s no fee charged by Wise for receiving AUD, EUR, GBP and USD. You can’t receive the other supported currencies, yet.|
|Fee for outgoing payments||Issued via NetBank or the CommBank app - AU$6 per transfer⁴ Issued via CommBiz - AU$13.20 per transfer⁴||A small fixed fee, that differs per currency.|
|Exchange rate||Although you can find exchange rate information on CBA’s website, they do say: Exchange rates are indicative only ⁵||Wise uses the actual mid-market rate to convert your money|
|Available currencies||Personal customers: 14 available currencies¹ Business customers: 19 available currencies²||42 supported currencies. For AUD, EUR, GBP and USD you get your own local account details.|
|Minimum balance||No information about a minimum balance could be found.||There’s no minimum balance required for any supported currency.|
Let’s get started. Here’s all you need to know about opening a foreign currency account with CBA.
Foreign currency accounts are beneficial for a number of reasons. They allow you to hold money in foreign currencies in Australia. You can hold money in a stable currency, and then convert that money into another whenever the exchange rate is favorable to you, which means you save money on exchange rate fluctuations. Foreign currency accounts at CBA come with a few more benefits¹:
- You can choose from 19 major global currencies (though some are only available to business account holders; more on that below)
- You can access your account via NetBank online banking and CommBank mobile app and see real-time account information
- You can transfer money between linked CBA accounts for free
- You can earn interest on some currencies
No checks or cards are available for foreign currency accounts at CBA. Instead, you can deposit or withdraw money via NetBank or at any CBA branch. Payments can be made from your foreign currency account via international money transfer or bank draft.
Having a foreign currency account at CBA requires also having a CBA transaction or savings account in Australian dollars. Many of these come with debit cards, and transfers between linked CBA foreign currency accounts and other types of accounts are fee free, meaning you can easily transfer money from your foreign currency account into an account with a debit card, allowing for easy spending. Keep in mind, however, that transferring funds from a foreign currency account into a transaction account will require converting the funds from whatever currency they’re in to Australian dollars at CBA’s current exchange rate¹.
CBA offers foreign currency accounts for both personal and business banking customers, but some currencies are only available for business accounts. Personal account holders can have accounts in¹:
- Canadian dollars (CAD)
- Danish kroner (DKK)
- Euros (EUR)
- Great British pounds (GBP)
- Hong Kong dollars (HKD)
- Japanese yen (JPY)
- New Zealand dollars (NZD)
- Norwegian kroner (NOK)
- Singapore dollars (SGD)
- South African rand (ZAR)
- Swedish kronor (SEK)
- Swiss francs (CHF)
- Thai baht (THB)
- United States dollars (USD)
Business account holders can have accounts in all of the above currencies, plus²:
Chinese Renminbi (CNY)
Czech koruna (CZK)
Hungarian forint (HUF)
Israeli new shekels (ILS)
United Arab Emirates dirham (AED)
Interest can be earned on an account in NZD if you have a balance of 120,00 NZD or more, and on an account in ZAR if your balance is 250,000 ZAR or higher. Be aware that CBA does charge a debit interest on accounts in all of the above currencies³.
As both the debit and credit interest rates vary per currency, and can be changed, you should always check the latest rates on CBA’s website.
There are no monthly fees for having a foreign currency account with CBA, but foreign currency account holders must also have a CBA transaction or savings account in Australian dollars, which may have fees associated with it¹. There are also fees for some products and transactions when using a foreign currency account:
|Depositing foreign currency notes⁴||1% of the transaction amount with a $10 minimum|
|Withdrawing foreign currency notes⁴||1% of the transaction amount with a $10 minimum|
|Transfers between linked CBA accounts¹||Free|
You can send and receive international transfers from your foreign currency account with CBA, but those have fees associated with them:⁴.
|Sending an international money transfer t via a CBA branch||$30 per transfer (this fee has to be paid in AUD, or debited from an AUD account)|
|Sending an international money transfer from a foreign currency account via NetBank or the CommBank app||$6 per transfer|
|Cancellation of an international money transfer||$25 per request, plus overseas bank costs|
|Amendment to an international money transfer||$25 per request, plus overseas bank costs|
|Investigation of an international money transfer||$25 per investigation|
|Receiving an international money transfer to a foreign currency account||Up to $11 per transfer|
It’s also important to note that any time CBA converts money from one currency to another in your foreign currency account, it does so at an exchange rate of its choosing rather than the mid-market rate, or the actual exchange rate. CBA says about the exchange rate they'll use⁶:
Exchange rates are indicative only. The exchange rate will be determined when your transaction is confirmed and this is the rate that will apply to your payment, regardless of when the payment is processed
Those rates will most likely be marked up, allowing CBA to profit from each conversion. So while there are no monthly fees for having a foreign currency account at CBA, you can see how the costs of operating an account can add up, particularly if you frequently need to send or receive transfers, or convert money into different global currencies.
You can check CBA’s current foreign exchange rates online, and compare them to the mid-market rate using an online currency converter to see if you’re getting a good deal.
You can open a CBA foreign currency account either online by logging into your existing NetBank account, or in person at any CBA branch¹. Since opening a foreign currency account requires already having an open CBA account, the process is pretty simple and straightforward; the bank should already have most of the information necessary for opening the foreign currency account, though you’ll need to be prepared to choose the currency you want your new foreign currency account to operate in. You also should be aware that certain currencies are only available for business account holders, which may have different eligibility criteria.
If you still have questions about foreign currency accounts at CBA, there are a number of ways you can get in touch with a bank representative for further information:
- Search for the answers to some questions on the Help and support page⁷
- Get in touch with CBA’s customer support via their Contact page⁸
- Contact CBA via different social media platforms
Before opening a foreign currency account, it’s important to know all of your options to ensure you’re choosing the best account for your needs. That may be CBA, or it could be an alternative like Wise, which offers borderless multi-currency accounts that allow you to send, receive and manage money in dozens of global currencies, all from the same free account. Though borderless accounts aren’t bank accounts, borderless account holders can also get access to local Australian bank details, as well as local account details for USD, EUR and GBP. And with Wise, international transfers are always made at the mid-market rate, and only cost you a small, fair transfer fee which they show you upfront. You can also get a linked Wise debit card so you can use your AUD balance to pay in stores directly, and beat ATM fees entirely. See if you can get a better deal with Wise, today.
No matter what option you choose for your foreign currency account, this guide will help you make sure it’s the right choice for you.
¹https://www.commbank.com.au/personal/international/foreign-currency-account.html (May 31, 2018)
²https://www.commbank.com.au/business/international/international-payments/foreign-currency-accounts.html?ei=fca (June 4, 2018)
³https://www.commbank.com.au/content/dam/commbank/business/pds/International-foreign-currency-rates.pdf (June 4, 2018)
⁴https://www.commbank.com.au/content/dam/commbank/personal/apply-online/download-printed-forms/ADB1784.pdf (June 4, 2018)
⁵https://www.commbank.com.au/content/dam/commbank/personal/apply-online/download-printed-forms/NetBank-IMT-termsandconditions.pdf (June 4, 2018)
⁶https://www.commbank.com.au/content/dam/commbank/personal/apply-online/download-printed-forms/NetBank-IMT-termsandconditions.pdf (June 4, 2018)
⁷https://www.commbank.com.au/support.html (June 4, 2018)
⁸https://www.commbank.com.au/personal/support/contact-us.html (June 4, 2018)
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| This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date. |
This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
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