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CBA International Transfers: Everything You Need To Know

Byron Mühlberg, writer at Monito.com
Nov 27, 2020
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Arguably Australia's most important bank, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CommBank or CBA) is a Sydney-based multinational financial services giant offering a wide range of retail and business banking, investment, and insurance-related services to tens of millions of clients across the globe.

Founded in 1911, CommBank today employs nearly 45 thousand people and operates more than 1,100 branches and 4,300 ATMs across the globe. This has combined to make CommBank not only the largest bank in Australia but indeed the largest bank in the entire Southern Hemisphere!

Among CBA's retail banking services is the ability to make international money transfers to more than 200 countries in over 30 currencies, all accessible via online or mobile banking. However, these services come at a surprisingly high cost. By delving into CommBank's exchange rates, we found that the bank charges an exorbitant hidden fee of as much as 5.00% to 6.00% of the entire transfer amount, making the service significantly less competitive than many alternatives available on the market.

What Will CommBank Charge You?

When making an international money transfer as an ordinary bank transfer using CBA's online or mobile banking features, you will face the following fixed fees per transfer:

  • A A$6.00 fee for transfers of A$1,000.00 or less from Australian dollars into a foreign currency;
  • A A$12.00 fee for transfers greater than A$1,000.00 from Australian dollars into a foreign currency;
  • A A$22.00 fee for funds transferred into a foreign bank account in Australian dollars.

If you're simply planning to transfer money across into another currency, then it will be one of the first two fees that's relevant to you. On the other hand, if you'd like your beneficiary to receive Aussie dollars into their bank account in a foreign country, then the third fee is the one that concerns you.

International Money Transfers with CBA: Beware the Hidden Fees

The total fees you'll be paying when sending an international money transfer with Commonwealth Bank won't end at the transfer fee, however. In addition, you'll also be paying an exchange rate margin on every international money transfer, meaning that CBA will be taking a hidden share of your transfer by charging you an exchange rate that's poorer than the real one used by banks to trade between one another (known as the mid-market exchange rate).

At CBA, these exchange rate margins can be steep — upwards of 4.00% of the total transfer amount depending on the currency to which you're sending.

The Costs Combined

Putting things into perspective, we can see that when CommBank's exchange rate margin fee is combined with its fixed fee, international money transfers is an expensive business with the bank — particularly when it comes to the transferral of smaller amounts of money abroad.

For example, if you were to send A$500 to a friend living in Indonesia using CBA, you would pay A$6.00 in fixed fees and a further A$31.19 in exchange rate margin fees for a combined fee of A$37.19 (or 5.00% of your transfer amount), at the time of writing. Once your bank receives this cut, your friend would be left with Rp4,810,983.

Contrast this to making the same transfer with Remitly, a US-based money transfer specialist service that was the cheapest provider for this transfer on our comparison engine at the time of writing. With Remitly, you'd pay no fixed fees and get a better exchange rate than the mid-market rate by the equivalent of A$3.07. What's more, all of this information would be laid out clearly and transparently before needing even to sign-up. When your transfer arrives in Indonesia, your friend would receive Rp5,228,855 — nearly 9.00% more than they would've received with CommBank!

Take a look at the table below to get a better picture of exactly how the costs of CBA's international money transfers break down:

The Costs Visualised

Amount Transferred

A$250

A$1,000

A$5,000

Exchange Rate Margin Fee

A$10.36

A$42.19

A$211.71

Fees & Commissions

A$6.00

A$6.00

A$12.00

Total Cost

A$16.36

A$48.19

A$223.71

Total Cost (%)

6.54%

4.82%

4.47%

Amount Received (INR)

₹12,694

₹51,714

₹259,507

Quoted: 26/11/2020 13:00 +01:00 GMT

Compare all your options and save upwards of 95% in fees compared to the bank:

CommBank International Transfers: Other Fees to Anticipate

Over and above the exchange rate margin and fees outlined above for international money transfers CBA, you may find yourself subject to further fees still:

  • An A$9.00 service fee for telephonic transfers less than A$1,000.00 from Australian dollars into a foreign currency;
  • An A$32.00 service fee for telephonic transfers into a foreign bank account in Australian dollars;
  • A correspondent bank fee (typically ranging between A$10 and A$100) if your bank transfer cannot be made directly to your beneficiary's bank. These fees may occur for all currencies except for all US dollar transfers, British pound transfers to the UK, New Zealand dollar transfers to New Zealand, Indian rupee transfers to India, and Euro transfers to Eurozone countries, for which CommBank will cover these fees. If you're not transferring to one of these currencies, you can find more information here.

Is CBA Right for Your International Transfer?

Without a doubt, CBA is a world-class bank with an impeccable record of service, and one in which you can most certainly place your trust as a client.

However, when it comes to international money transfers, in particular, CommBank remains behind the pack for those who wish to keep costs down. Not only does the bank charge a steep set of fees that usually come in at more than 6% of your entire transfer amount, but it also leaves the door open to even steeper correspondent bank fees for transfers in many currencies.

As a result, if you're somebody who'd like to save money on every transfer abroad and find a service where there's no risk of being charged extra in unexpected fees, then we'd recommend you explore the marketplace of low-cost money transfer service to discover which will best suit your needs. Our comparison engine allows you to do just that — drawing on real-time data and exchange rates to help you find the best deals on money transfers abroad.

To get a better picture of how CommBank's foreign exchange services weigh up against those of a few of the low-cost currency exchange services mentioned above, see how the services compare on an A$250 transfer to India in the table below (as of 26/11/2020 at 12:00 +01:00 GMT):

Provider

Time

Recipient Receives (in Indian rupees)

Payment Option

Cost Overview

CommBank

≈ 3 days

₹12,694

Wire transfer

In advance

See More

Remitly

In minutes

₹13,598

Bank transfer, credit/debit card

In advance

Transfer

TransferWise

≈ 1 day

₹13,594

Bank transfer, direct bank payment, credit/debit card

In advance

Transfer

CurrencyFair

≈ 2 days

₹13,514

Bank transfer

In advance

Transfer

OrbitRemit

≈ 2 days

₹13,477

Bank transfer

In advance

Transfer

WorldRemit

≈ 1 day

₹13,433

Debit/credit card

In advance

Transfer

Quoted: 26/11/2020 13:00 +01:00 GMT

Find Cheaper Ways To Send Money From Australia

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