NAB Foreign Currency Account: Fees and Rates


If you need to make or receive payments frequently in currencies other than AUD, then you might be considering opening a foreign currency account, also known as a multi-currency account.

This account type typically allows customers to hold their balance across one or more currencies other than Australian dollars, and send or receive cash using foreign currency easily. A foreign currency account can also be a handy way to mitigate some of the risks involved with taking payments from abroad - for example, if you’re a freelancer working with clients based in countries other than your own. You can receive and hold your money in different currencies, and switch between them when the market conditions are good.

If you’re thinking of opening a multi-currency account soon, then it pays to do your research. There are many different products available, all of which offer different benefits - and come with different costs. You might find you’re better off if you use a specialist in international payments, like Wise. The multi-currency borderless account from Wise comes with many of the advantages of a foreign currency account from a regular bank - but could work out cheaper to operate as any transfers are done using the real exchange rates, with no mark-up on the exchange rate and no hidden fees.

Before we get started, a quick comparison between NAB’s foreign currency account and Wise’s Borderless multi-currency account

Who can open an account?Both business and private customers⁴Both businessand private customers
Fee for incoming paymentsThere can be a fee of up to AU$15 - depending on the transfer¹⁰There’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 paymentsAU$10 (via NAB internet banking, transfer in foreign currency) AU$30 (via NAB internet banking, transfer in AU$)⁷⁺⁸A small fixed fee, that differs per currency.
Exchange rateNAB says about the exchange rate they use: _“The exchange rate we quote you incorporates an inter-bank market derived rate and margin to compensate us for our costs and profit.”_¹³Wise uses the actual mid-market rate to convert your money
Available currencies19 different currencies¹42 supported currencies. For AUD, EUR, GBP and USD you get your own local account details.
Minimum balanceNAB’s foreign currency account doesn’t have minimum balance requirements⁴There’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 NAB.

What are the benefits of having a multi-currency account?

Multi-currency accounts allow customers to hold their money in one or more different currencies, other than AUD.

With NAB, you can open a foreign currency account in one of up to 19 different currencies, including New Zealand dollars, Singapore dollars, US dollars, euros, pounds sterling, Japanese yen, and several other regional and global currencies¹. You can open an account in Chinese renminbi, also, but this comes with a further set of restrictions and conditions, to comply with Chinese legislation². It’s worth noting that the list of currencies offered by NAB can change over time.

The regular multi-currency accounts offered by NAB charge interest on overdrafts, and only pay interest on positive balances when held in New Zealand dollars¹. They’re intended to be used as day to day accounts, rather than a way to save or hold significant quantities of cash. There’s even a threshold charge for some currencies, which means that if your balance is too high, you’ll face further fees³. This is more likely to apply to businesses or very wealthy individuals, holding the equivalent of several million Australian dollars. If you want to save, and earn interest on foreign currency holdings, a NAB foreign currency term deposit account might be more suitable.

There’s no fee to open or run your NAB foreign currency account⁴ - but there are fees levied whenever you make a payment requiring a currency conversion or international transfer from your account. More on that later.

With NAB you can register for online banking, and may be able to make some payments from your foreign currency account, once registered. However, for security reasons, you must go through a 2-step security process before you can use this option - so leave plenty of time the first time you need to make an online payment.

If you want a foreign currency account for your business, you might be eligible for other features such as a foreign currency overdraft⁴.

Which cards come with the NAB foreign currency account?

It’s not possible to get a bank card to use with the foreign currency account from NAB. If you need a debit card to use with your account, you’ll need to try an alternative provider.

What types of foreign currency accounts does NAB offer?

With NAB, you can get a personal or business foreign currency account⁴, or a foreign currency term deposit account⁵. Personal accounts offer customers the ability to hold their money in a currency other than AUD and access a few other features, while business customers can also get further benefits.

The foreign currency term deposit account comes with a different set of restrictions and terms, compared to the regular accounts. You must deposit at least $100,000, and the amount is then held for a certain fixed period, during which time you can’t access or withdraw your funds without penalty⁶.

What are the fees for a multi currency account with NAB?

The foreign currency accounts offered by NAB come with a set of fees and charges, which can change from time to time. It’s a good idea to check the latest details for your own account, which are published online. You’ll also be notified in advance of any changes to the charges relevant to your account.

The service charges used for a foreign currency account with NAB are set out in the personal⁸ or business⁷ banking terms and conditions. Any fees or charges are then converted into the currency of the account before being applied. It’s important to note that NAB calculate the exchange rate used for this conversion only once every 6 months⁹. That could mean that if the exchange rate changes in your favour, you’ll not see the benefit until the next time the exchange rate is set for this purpose by the bank.

The information below gives an overview of the fees and charges associated with a foreign currency account held for personal or business use. The terms applied to the foreign currency term deposit account are somewhat different.

Service requiredNAB foreign currency account fee
Intra-account transfer$30 for an over the counter transaction$20 for online transactions not including a currency conversion$10 for online transactions with a currency conversion⁷⁺⁸
Receiving an international paymentThere could be a charge for receiving an international payment of up to AU$15 - however, this is set according to the currency received, and whether the sending bank adds any fees¹⁰
Deposit or withdrawal of foreign cash2.2% of total value of deposit or withdrawal, minimum $30⁷⁺⁸
Foreign currency holding feeNAB may charge extra for accounts with a high balance. Here is what they say about it: _“A fee may be charged on large balances in currencies where market conditions and interest rates are such that the bank makes a loss on the currency."_⁷⁺⁸
Interest ratesInterest rates for all foreign currency accounts are published online. Interest is payable by the customer on any debit regardless of currency, and will only be paid to customers with a positive balance if that cash is held in New Zealand dollars¹.
International payments - SWIFT fees and chargesIf you’re making a transfer to or from an account held in a different currency, there may be additional fees which are added by intermediary banks, or the recipient’s own bank. More on that below¹¹
International payments - exchange rate markupIf you need to make an international payment including a currency conversion, it’s common practise for the exchange rate used to be the mid-market rate + a markup
Other fees and chargesMaking an enquiry about an international payment from your NAB foreign currency account $25 Cancelling an international payment¹⁰ $20

It’s also important to know that it’s not only NAB which could deduct fees and charges from your money if you make an international payment. Other banks can also add a charge, if the payment is made using the SWIFT system. Here’s what NAB say about it in their FAQ section:

*“A majority of international banks levy processing charges which vary between banks and countries and could result in additional fees being charged. In most cases, NAB will pay overseas bank charges on your behalf. However, in some instances beyond NAB’s control, overseas banks will directly deduct these overseas bank charges from the money you send instead.”*¹¹

In effect, this means that you can’t be sure of the fees that will be charged on an international transfer from your NAB account, until it’s already been processed.

You’ll also want to look at the exchange rate used, if you need to send any money from your NAB foreign currency account, to an account held in a different currency. It’s typical for banks to convert your money using a rate which isn’t actually the real exchange rate, but a markup is added to it, to make sure they make a profit on the transaction. You can check this out by using an online currency converter to see the real, mid-market rate, and comparing it with the rate your bank is offering. If you don’t like what you see, it might be time to use an alternative provider like Wise, which always uses the real exchange rate for international transfers.

How to apply for a NAB foreign currency account?

To apply for a NAB foreign currency account you can either call into your local branch, contact the NAB customer service department on their phone number - listed below - or go to the foreign currency account web page, and request a call back.

However you choose to arrange it, you’ll be put in touch with a member of the NAB team who can talk you through the application process, and confirm you’re eligible for the account. You can expect to be asked for the following:

  • Proof of identification, such as a passport or drivers licence
  • Proof of address
  • Your Tax File Number (TFN) if relevant

How can I get in touch with NAB?

If you need some more help to open or manage your foreign currency account with NAB, you can get in touch with them in several different ways¹²:

  • Phone number for general queries - 13 22 65. There are other numbers available for calling from outside of Australia or regarding a specific issue such as a lost or stolen bank card. You can find theses on the NAB website.
  • Send a secure email to NAB by logging into your internet banking
  • Call into your local branch - you can find your nearest branch by using their branch locator on the contacts page
  • Contact NAB on Twitter, by sending a direct message to @NAB
  • NAB’s registered head office address is: 800 Bourke Street, Docklands, Melbourne, Victoria 3008

Before you choose which foreign currency, or multi-currency account to open, it is a good idea to do some research into the options available. Many high street banks, as well as specialists such as Wise, offer multi-currency accounts, which come with different eligibility criteria, benefits and costs.

To make sure you’re getting the best deal for your needs, you’ll need to check out not only the upfront costs, but also any potential hidden fees including exchange rate markups and SWIFT fees. Because foreign currency accounts aren’t core business for traditional banks, they're not always the best option - you might find you’re better off using a specialist in international payments, such as Wise.


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¹³ (May 15, 2018)

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*Please see terms of use and product availability for your region or visit Wise fees and pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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