FNB International Payments: Fees, Forex Rates, and Alternatives

Byron Mühlberg, writer at
Sep 15, 2023
Affiliate disclosure

One of the largest and most established multinational banks to call Africa home, First National Bank (FNB) offers a wide range of retail, business, and investment services to customers in South Africa and across southern and central Africa.

Although FNB gives you excellent banking services all around, when it comes to international money transfers in particular, the bank can be surprisingly pricey. When sending an international payment online (either through your Online Banking or FNB Banking App), the following costs will apply per transaction:

  • 0.55% (min. R275, max. R550) for transfers over over R10,000
  • a 2% to 4.5% exchange rate margin.

In the end, this means that whenever you make an outgoing payment from South Africa with FNB, you'll pay a hefty commission fee combined with a poor exchange rate margin, leaving somewhere between 5% and 20% of the entire value of the transfer chomped up by fees. Save money now by finding the cheapest and fastest alternative with Monito's live comparison engine below. 👇

FNB transfers are pricey. Compare digital alternatives instead:

Key Facts About FNB International Transfers

🏦 FNB forex fees

5% - 10%

💸 Forex fees via Monito

0.5% - 3%

⏱ FNB global transfer time

1-5 business days

⚡Transfer time via Monito

1-2 business days

💵 FNB payment method
  • SWIFT transfer
💸 Payment methods via Monito
  • SWIFT transfer
  • Local EFT
  • Credit/debit card

FNB International Transfer Fees

In most cases, FNB international payments are processed as international wire transfers. This means that, as an FNB customer, you'll need to use your online or mobile banking account to instruct a transfer, and FNB will wire your funds over the SWIFT network to reach its destination in a foreign country and currency.

Alternatively, FNB customers can also send money conveniently through FNB's integration with MoneyGram — a feature that's available via mobile app, SMS banking, in-branch, or over the ATM.

FNB Charges for International Transfers

FNB international transfer fees are levied through a combination of commissions and fixed fees per transaction. For transfer instructions via online or mobile banking, these fees are the following for the 2023/2024 fiscal year:

  • a R100 - R200 fixed fee /transfer for amounts under R10,000 or
  • 0.55% commission /transfer (minimum R275 and maximum R550) for amounts over R10,000.

On the other hand, the fees are similar for transfer instructions in-person or over the phone, albeit with much steeper maximum and minimum fee caps. They are as follows:

  • a R200 - R300 fixed fee /transfer for amounts under R10,000 or
  • 0.55% commission /transfer (minimum R550 and maximum R875) for amounts over R10,000.
info icon

Know your Balance of Payments code. Whenever you transfer funds out of South Africa, you'll be required by SARB regulations to declare the reason for your transfer in the form of a three- or five-digit code. You can find the codes here.

FNB International Transfers: Other Potential Fees

In addition to the mandatory fees highlighted above, you may meet other fees still when sending money abroad with FNB. Depending on your individual circumstances, these fees could include the following:

  • 3.8% commission (minimum R150) fee /transfer if you send money to Namibia, Lesotho, or Eswatini (which, together with South Africa, form the Common Monetary Union and use a shared value across their currencies). This fee is in addition to the fixed fees outlined above and in place of the exchange rate margin fees you'll skip when sending to these currencies.
  • correspondent bank fee can range anywhere between R200 and R2,000 if FNB cannot transfer your funds directly into your beneficiary's bank account and needs to rely on a correspondent or intermediary bank to get the job done.
warning icon

Avoid OUR payments. If you're asked to choose between SHA, BEN, and OUR, we recommend avoiding OUR payments wherever possible. These instructions can open the door to third-party banks levying further fees from you long after the transfer has been sent.

How to Transfer Money Using FNB

To transfer money using FNB Online Banking or to send money on the FNB app, you'll need to do the following:

  1. log in to your FNB digital banking profile,
  2. select 'Forex' from the tabs at the top of the interface,
  3. select the 'Global Payments' option,
  4. specify whether your payment is once-off or recurring,
  5. add all your recipient's banking details,
  6. enter the BoP code for your transfer,
  7. instruct the transfer.

FNB MoneyGram Fees

In addition to standard wire transfers, MoneyGram from FNB is an alternative method for FNB customers to send money internationally. The service is primarily geared toward cash pick-up services, although MoneyGram — the second largest currency exchange company in the world — also processes bank transfers and mobile wallet payments too.

MoneyGram from FNB is accessible via the FNB mobile app, at an FNB ATM, in-branch, or by dialling *120*321#. The bank charges its own set of fixed fees and uses MoneyGram's forex rates (which are usually better than FNB's). These fixed fees are as follows:

Amount Sent (USD)

Fee (USD)

$0 - $50


$50 - $100


$100 - $150


$150 - $200


$200 - $250


Quoted: 15/9/2023

FNB Forex Rates: The Hidden Fees

In addition to the costs outlined above, FNB will also include another (less transparent) fee in your transfer. These fees, known as exchange rate margins, are charged when banks or other currency exchange providers offer poorer exchange rates than the "real" exchange (called the mid-market exchange rate), thereby making a small profit on every rand converted into a foreign currency.

While FNB forex margins may not appear very high (typically between 1% and 4% of the total transfer amount), these costs stack up quickly.

It's worth noting that — as with other South African banks — FNB charges lower exchange rate margins on the three major world currencies (i.e. the British pound, the US dollar, and the Euro) than on less-traded world currencies.

What's more, currencies pegged in value to the South African rand (i.e. the Namibian dollar, the Lesotho loti, and the Swazi lilangeni) have no exchange rate margins with FNB. As a customer sending to these countries, you'll be able to dodge one of the biggest fees in the international money transfer world entirely!

The Costs Combined

With both the service fees and the exchange rate margin fees taken into account, it becomes evident that the cost of international payments with FNB can be exorbitant. For smaller transfers (under R5,000), the fees can quickly come to more than a sixth of the entire transfer amount, and even for large transfers (over R50,000), they can reach nearly 5% of the total transfer amount for some currencies.

Suppose, for example, you were to use FNB for a R10,000 transfer to a family member in Australia. After you'd paid R745 in total fees (a R493 service fee plus a R252 exchange rate margin fee), your rand amount would be converted across to Australian dollars and leave your friend with $756 at the time of writing.

To see how FNB exchange rates affect the total cost of an international payment, take a look at the graph below for several major currencies:


Total Fee

Total Fee (%)

Received (USD)













Quoted: 2/3/2023 15:30 GMT +1

Contrast this to making the same transfer with CurrencyFair, a Dublin-based money transfer specialist available to South Africans and the cheapest on our comparison engine for this transfer at the time of writing. With CurrencyFair, you'd pay around R49 in service fees and around R55 in exchange rate margin fees at the time of writing. Even including a possible R365 FNB processing fee for transferring to CurrenyFair's international bank account would get your friend $778 — or over 3% more than they'd have received with FNB.

Compare the market now to find the best deals in real time:

Compare the market and save up to 95% in fees compared to FNB:

Receiving Money From Overseas in South Africa With FNB

While FNB makes receiving money from overseas in South Africa very easy, it's nevertheless almost as expensive as the other way around. To receive a wire transfer from an international bank via SWIFT, FNB will charge the following fees:

  • a R75 - R175 fixed fee /transfer for amounts under R10,000 or
  • 0.55% commission /transfer (minimum R175 and maximum R450) for amounts over R10,000.

Similarly to the FNB international transfer fees outlined earlier, the fee will still be higher if you'd like to receive money from overseas in person or over the phone.

How To Receive Money From Overseas With FNB

When receiving money from overseas in South Africa with FNB, all you'll need to do as the recipient is provide your sender with your banking details and complete the SARB paperwork. Here are the bank details you'll need to provide to the person overseas before they send you money:

  1. your full name;
  2. your bank account number;
  3. the FNB SWIFT code: FIRNZAJJ.

The international bank sending money to your FNB account probably won't require any other information, not even your account type, branch, and branch code (this information is usually only relevant to domestic EFTs in South Africa). However, you should know the reason for the transaction, as FNB sometimes requires additional documentation for certain transactions.

Finally, when your money arrives from overseas, FNB will contact you to complete a SARB Reporting Mandate Form. This is an obligatory step for all South African recipients of foreign exchange, requiring you to fill out a few personal details and declarations via an online form before the transaction is settled into your account.

Best FNB International Alternatives

According to our analysis based on thousands of independent comparisons on Monito, the following three money transfer services offer the cheapest money transfers from South Africa to various countries worldwide. If you plan to send money to a specific country, be sure to double-check in advance whether the providers below facilitate transfers there:


WorldRemit is a popular UK-based money transfer app that offers low-cost transfers from South Africa to an impressive number of foreign countries and currencies, mainly in Africa, the Asia-Pacific region, and North and South America (but sadly not to Europe).

  • Cost /transfer: R7.50 + 2-3%
  • Payment method(s): Credit/debit card, EFT
  • Time: 1 - 2 business days
  • Best for: Small transfers of R5,000 or less to countries in the Americas, Asia-Pacific, and Africa.

Mama Money

Mama Money is a Cape Town-based fintech that lets you send money from your smartphone to countries across the globe transparently and reliably. It supports transfers to many countries in Europe, Asia, and Africa.

  • Cost /transfer: R48-R89 + 2-3%
  • Payment method(s): Credit/debit card, cash, EFT via Ozow
  • Time: 5 hours - 2 business days
  • Best for: Transfers to Europe. Also for transfers paid for in cash (which can be done at a Mama Money agent location.).


CurrencyFair is an Irish-based international money transfer provider that supports bank transfers from your FNB account to 22 foreign currencies worldwide, including the USD, GBP, EUR, and many others. However, because their client trust account is located overseas and not in South Africa (like WorldRemit's and Mama Money's are), FNB may charge an additional fee to process your transfer, making them sometimes a pricier option (though still a lot cheaper than transferring with FNB directly!)

  • Cost /transfer: R50-R100 + 0.75% + possible R360
  • Payment method(s): International SWIFT transfer
  • Time: 2 - 4 business days
  • Best for: Larger transfers of R10,000 or above.

Is FNB Worth It for International Transfers?

All things considered, FNB is indeed a world-class partner for your everyday banking needs, and as a customer, you'll be able to rely on a secure and distinguished institution to help you with a wide range of services. As such, if you're happy to pay a little bit extra for the comfort and security of making an international money transfer with a bank such as FNB, then we'd recommend you stick with them, as they'll most likely give you everything you need.

However, if you value saving money on these often expensive services, FNB may not be the best choice for you. Instead, we advise you to explore your options on the many money transfer specialist services to see which one will offer you the best rates. To get the job done, compare on Monito to find real-time rates and fees with all major providers available to South Africans:

Find your best deal in real-time:

How Do FNB International Transfers Compare?

To get a better picture of how FNB's foreign exchange services weigh up against a few of the specialist money transfer services mentioned above, take a look at how the costs weigh up on a R4,000 transfer from South Africa to the UK in the table below:

Transfer Time

Received (GBP)

Payment Option

Cost Overview

1-5 days


SWIFT transfer

Upon paying

See alternatives

1-2 days


  • Bank transfer
  • Credit/debit card

In advance

Try WorldRemit ❯

1-3 days


International bank transfer

In advance

Try CurrencyFair ❯

2 days


Credit/debit card

In advance

Try Xendpay ❯

Quoted: 24/11/2022 19:00 GMT +01:00

FAQ About FNB International Money Transfers

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