What’s the best money transfer company?

We compare the good, the bad, and the ugly.

There are almost more money transfer companies for the purposes of foreign exchange than there are grains of sand on Bondi Beach. It can be difficult to know where to go, when they all seem to promise the best rates possible.

You know that they can’t all be right about that.

PayPal and banks that aren’t upfront – the ugly

PayPal is far and away the most famous of all the international money transfer engines, but it’s not a good tool for business. Any online wire transfer that hides its cross border and conversion fees so well isn’t being completely honest with their customers. Although fees for currency conversion are available when you’re referring to personal accounts, they become much harder to find for business. All PayPal will give up is how to view their exchange rates after a payment has been made.

Westpac’s website looks very professional but it’s difficult to find the information about exchange rates that you need. They advise you to give them a call for amounts above a certain threshold, instead of giving you their rates straight away.

Other banks across Australia – the bad

These banks have personable staff and a good reputation in Oz. Unfortunately, the margin of their exchange rates is where they fall down.

Banks typically trade currency amongst themselves using interbank rates, which are almost free of expensive fees—it’s bad business to annoy people in the same industry, after all. They mark up the currency when they sell it to ordinary Australians, though, and that makes it harder for small businesses to recoup their costs and expand. Banks aren’t the enemy, but they don’t make international FX money transfer easy for those who need to use it.

Banks like the Commonwealth Bank and the ANZ both have rates calculators that show the exchange rates they use (even if they’re hard to find). Doing this helps you make an informed decision about the rate you should expect if you look at transferring money through your bank — not a great one. But at least you know the upper parameters of the rates you’re willing to accept before you look at other ways of transferring your rates.

Peer to peer services – the good

Peer to peer services, like us, cut out the brokers and the bankers along with all their fees. For those who want to do business internationally, and long for interbank rates, peer to peer services help.

Peer to peer services work by swapping and couldn’t be simpler. You tell us you want a buyer for your currency, and our matching engine finds one. You tell us you’d like to buy some currency, and we find a seller and pass the money for you both. If there’s no seller or buyer, we use a wholesale liquidity provider who offers the mid-market rate.

AquireFX is different because we take the midpoint between the buying and selling point of the two currencies to find a fair price for you both, and add a transaction fee only based on how much money you’re converting. That’s a whole lot better than business fees charged by plenty of banks around the country — especially as we don’t restrict it to certain customers.

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