Receiving money from overseas with Commonwealth Bank: fees revealed

Roberto Efflandrin

If you bank with Commonwealth Bank (CommBank) in Australia, you might well be interested to know how you can receive money from abroad: perhaps some friends or family from overseas are sending you some money, or maybe you’ve done work for an overseas client.

Here’s a look at how the process works with CommBank, and what you’ll need to do to receive an International Money Transfer (IMT).

💸 Receive payments from abroad with tiny sender fees and at the real exchange rate. Just like the one you see on Google.

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What are the fees for receiving money from overseas with Commonwealth Bank?

Take a look at the likely fees in the table below:¹

Fee per transferAmount
Intermediary bank fee(s)May or may not apply. Charged by the intermediary bank(s), not CommBank
Receiving fee into a CommBank accountUp to $11
Receiving fee for a foreign chequeUp to $20
Exchange rateMid-market rate + probable markup

Intermediary / correspondent bank fees

You’ll almost certainly receive the money into your account via the SWIFT network, which handles most overseas transactions between banks. One thing that using SWIFT means is that there’s a chance that multiple banks will be involved in the transfer — not just the banks that send and receive. The problem is that each of these ‘intermediary’ or ‘correspondent’ banks might charge a fee.

Commbank states:¹

Overseas bank charges (which may vary from country to country) could apply in addition to the charges listed above.

You can skip all the headache by trying having your money sent via Wise.

CommBank international transfer receiving fees

The fee from CommBank itself for you to receive money from overseas is up to $11. CommBank notes that the precise value ‘depends on arrangements with overseas banks’ — so, depending on which bank is sending the money, it could vary. But $11 should be the maximum if it’s an IMT into a Commonwealth Bank account.

If you have a foreign cheque to pay in, the CommBank cost for that is up to $20, again depending on the overseas bank¹.

SWIFT transfers fee structures

Here is some important information to know on how SWIFT transfer fees work. The person sending you money might be able to choose between several different options that affect how the fees are distributed. The options are sometimes referred to as OUR, SHA or BEN.

Fee BearerMeaning
OURThe sender pays all transfer charges
SHACharges for the transfer are shared between the sender and the recipient. This is the most common option
BENThe recipient pays all transfer charges

Not all banks offer all options for every transfer. But it could be worth having a conversation with your sender about this.

CommBank international transfer exchange rate

Remember, the exchange rate is just as important as the fixed fees. Banks can set their own exchange rates, opening up the possibility that they set a lower rate than they have to, and simply hold on to the difference. This means less money for you, the recipient.

To better understand how the exchange rate affects how much money you get, let's say a friend of yours from the UK sends 500 GBP to you in 2 ways:

  • Directly to your Commbank account and
  • through Wise to your Commbank account.

This example only considers the effect of the rate on the amount you get, not the extra fees.

Exchanging 500 GBP to AUD — Wise vs CommBank

Rates* Wise CommBank²
Exchange rate 1 GBP → 1.85889 AUD 1 GBP → 1.78476 AUD
Recipient gets 929.445 AUD 892.38 AUD

*Rates as seen on 29 December 2021

As you can see, with Wise, the recipient will get 37.065 AUD more, even without considering any fees. Just off the exchange rate alone.

While banks add margins and make money off the exchange rate, Wise is a rare exception. It's a service that will always convert your money at the mid-market exchange rate, which it believes is the only rate that’s fair to use.

Whatever service you use — a bank or a specialist — make sure you’re getting a decent exchange rate. Compare the rate you’re offered to the mid-market rate using an online currency converter.

How can I receive an international transfer?

The easiest way is for the sender to send the money to your bank account directly. They might be able to do so online, or via telephone banking, or otherwise in person at their local bank branch.

One alternative is to have them send you a cheque, which, as mentioned above, will cost you up to $20. It’s probably slower, and of course there’s a chance it’ll get lost in the post. So the bank transfer option is likely better in most cases, it’s at least more secure.

How long does it take to receive money from overseas?

A SWIFT international money transfer usually takes between 2-5 business days to process (just like sending IMTs from your account to others). It may however take longer depending on your sender's country and bank.

The best way to find out when your money is likely to arrive is by asking the bank that’s sending the money as they only can trace the payment. Chances are that you still might only get an approximate date, though, but than at least you have a bit of an idea.

What are the details that I should give to the sender?

Here are the details of your Commonwealth Bank account you need to provide to receive an international transfer:¹

  • Your full name and address
  • Your bank’s full name: Commonwealth Bank of Australia
  • CommBank’s BIC/SWIFT code: CTBAAU2S
  • Your 14 digit account number — Eg 06XXXX XXXXXXXX

Commonwealth Bank contact details.

You can reach out to Commonwealth Bank using the details below.³

  • Call 13 2221 from anywhere in Australia
  • From overseas, call +61 2 9999 3283
  • You can also get fast-track access to customer services through the CommBank App.

Wise: a cheap hassle-free alternative to Commonwealth Bank

If you’re not keen on the thought of unknown intermediary bank fees and bad exchange rates, you might be interested to explore an alternative method of receiving money from abroad. Wise charges a simple upfront fee, shown right at the start of your transfer.

The offered exchange rate is the real mid-market rate. The money will be transferred via local transfer methods, which means that both you and the sender could save a lot.

Open your Wise account in minutes 🚀

Even better, with a Multi-currency account from Wise you can get local virtual account details in Australian and US Dollars, Euros, Pounds Sterling and many more.

If someone from these regions needs to send money to you, they can make a simple, local bank transaction and avoid any international transfer fees. There’s no monthly fee for a Multi-currency account, and you can withdraw your money whenever you want.

However you choose to receive your international payment, don’t let the banks take more of your money than they have to.


Sources:

  1. Commbank international transfer page
  2. Commbank currency exchange calculator
  3. Commbank contact us

Sources checked on 29 December 2021


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