Making international money transfers from Australia is a much easier process these days than in times gone by. However, with every bank leveraging its own...
XE are a large, global company, offering a wide variety of financial and foreign exchange services including international payments, foreign exchange trading, and currency conversion. It’s worth knowing that as a large business, operating across several major geographies, XE have different websites depending on where in the world you’re resident. Make sure you get the right site for you, by selecting the correct region from the list at the bottom of the XE money transfer homepage, to avoid confusion¹.
Once you’ve found the details you need for XE, you’ll want to compare their service with other providers to make sure you’re getting the best available deal. A little research can really pay off here, as different international transfer services offer different pricing structures, and some use better exchange rates than others. If you find that XE doesn’t suit your needs, it could be worth looking at an alternative provider such as Wise, for international payments which are always made at the mid-market exchange rate - which is the only real rate - and with just a low, flat fee.
Here’s all you need to know to help you decide if using XE for your international payment is right for you.
XE markets a fee free transfer service². There's no upfront, transparent fee added to transfers made internationally with XE. However, in truth there's no such thing as a fee-free, or zero commission international transfer. XE are a business, and naturally need to make a profit from international payments. It’s important, therefore, to look a little closer at the way XE structure their payments, to understand the true costs of international transfers using their service.
Here are a few things you need to know about, which could influence the amount you pay - and the amount your recipient receives in the end.
XE.com shows the real mid-market exchange rate, and is a reliable way to keep up with the changes to exchange rates across the world. However, the exchange rate offered through XE’s money transfer service is not the same as that shown on the main XE.com website. With a lot of providers or banks you won’t get the mid-market exchange rate for your payments, but XE is one of few who is clear about this on their website. In their FAQ’s they state that: “the rate you are offered is not the mid-market rate” and that the mid-market rate “is not achievable via XE Money Transfer”. Instead there's a markup added to cover costs, and make sure that XE can make a profit. We’ll cover this in detail in a moment - but it means it’s important to check the exchange rate you’re being offered if you're considering using XE to send money abroad.
Hidden bank charges
XE do not charge up front fees for their transfers. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that there are no fees at all added to your transfer. In fact, in addition to fees rolled into the exchange rate offered, further charges could be added by other banks involved in the transaction. This is because of the way the SWIFT network - used by XE to make some international payments - is set up. Here’s what XE say about it²:
“Charges may occasionally be applied by a third party bank when transferring the funds to XE Money Transfer or before the funds arrive in the recipient account.”
More about the SWIFT network - and how to avoid it - later.
XE supports a wide range of global currencies including USD, CAD, EUR, GBP, NZD, FJD and HKD².
If XE don’t cover the currency you're looking to send, then check out the broad range of currencies offered for transfer through Wise.
XE publish the mid-market rate on their main XE.com website. The mid-market rate is the real exchange rate, and the one that banks use when they’re selling currencies on big international markets.
However, you might be surprised to realise that the XE money transfer website doesn’t actually offer this rate to retail customers. Instead, they add a margin on top of the real exchange rate to make a profit on the transaction.
Here’s what XE say about the exchange rate they offer³:
“Our exchange rates are linked to the live foreign exchange markets. The mid-market rate is a rate shown in the free information services on our main XE.com website and is derived from the mid-point between the 'buy' and 'sell' rates from global currency markets. This rate is not achievable via XE Money Transfer.”
Exchange rates move up and down all the time, so you’ll need to confirm the rate that will be used by XE at the time you’re placing a transaction, with the agent. You can then compare it with the real exchange rate given on the main XE website. If you don’t think it’s fair, or if you’d rather get the real mid-market exchange rate for your transfer then you might want to look elsewhere.
Although XE won’t use the mid-market exchange rate for their transfers, it's possible to get the mid-market exchange rate for international payments. Wise for example use the real exchange rate for all transactions, and only charge small upfront, transparent fees. This could mean you pay less overall in charges.
It will take 1-4 working days for your money to be received by your beneficiary. The exact length of time taken will depend on the currency being sent, and the country the recipient is in³.
Money sent between bank accounts internationally, is often processed via a global network of banks known as the SWIFT network. Banks work together to move money through the system, much like someone taking a series of connecting international flights to get to their final destination. This means that each single payment could be handled by up to 3 intermediary banks on the way to its final destination.
That’s one of the reasons that transactions take a few days to complete. Unfortunately, the SWIFT network can also mean you’re exposed to unexpected fees. The system of intermediary banks allows for each institution involved in the transaction to add their own costs to the payment as it passes through the system.
Payments don’t have to be made using the SWIFT network. There are alternatives out there. Wise use a smart new approach to making international transfers, payments don’t go through the SWIFT system, and there are no hidden fees to worry about.
To make a payment with XE, you’ll first need to create a personal account online. You can then get a quote for how much your specific transfer will cost, by inputting details of the amount of money you wish to send, where, and in what currency. You can then make your payment online, and track the progress of the payment as it goes through the system².
With XE, you'll pay for your international transfer by bank transfer or using BPAY. XE will provide you with account details to use to make the payment, when you arrange the transaction. Once your payment is received by XE, it’ll be transferred to your recipient³.
With an XE money transfer, the money will be delivered directly into your recipient’s bank account. The recipient doesn’t need to sign up with XE to access the funds.
You can transfer up to USD500,000, or the currency equivalent, using XE money transfer service³.
To get started using XE money transfer, you’ll need to get yourself an account. You can sign up online using the form available on the XE website. However, in some circumstances you’ll need to provide scanned copies of proof of identity and/or your address, which have to be approved by XE to get your account up and running.
You can contact XE through a number of routes if you want to ask about a transfer or get any further information⁴:
- By email: email@example.com
- Py phone, toll-free from Australia on 1800-875-483. If you’re currently outside of Australia, there are other local and toll-free numbers available to contact XE, on their website.
Whether you’re looking to send a small amount of money abroad to pay back a friend - or you need to make a larger international payment, such as a downpayment on a holiday home, you don’t want to pay too much for the transaction. Different money transfer and exchange services offer different terms, and come with different fees attached - so it’s good to know that there are options available to suit every customer’s needs.
If you send or receive money from abroad frequently, you might benefit even more from a Wise multi-currency borderless account.
This new type of account allows customers to hold money in any of dozens of different currencies, all in the same account. It’s then simple to switch between currencies, using the real exchange rate, for just a small fee. You can also receive fee-free payments from regions such as the UK, US, Australia and the euro area, with your own local bank details.
Borderless accounts are fast, flexible, and could mean you pay less overall in bank charges. And with consumer debit cards coming soon, it will make your (international) life even easier. After investing some time in research, you can make your international payment and relax, knowing that you’re getting the best available deal.
1.https://www.xe.com/ (September 18, 2018)
2.https://www.xe.com/xemoneytransfer/au/ (September 18, 2018)
3.https://www.xe.com/xemoneytransfer/au/faq.php#faq.question.5 (September 18, 2018)
4.https://www.xe.com/contact.php#xemoneytransfer (September 19, 2018)
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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