Ask LH: Can I Cheaply Transfer Funds From Overseas?

Dear Lifehacker, As one of Sydney’s many expats, I have a bank account locally as well as a bank account abroad. Do you know of a way to transfer money between accounts without incurring the $20-odd fee for making international transfers? Can I use PayPal to make a transfer from my Aussie account to my overseas account for a smaller fee, or am I stuck transferring larger sums of money to make the fee worth transferring the money? Thanks, Expat Expenses

Money Transfer picture from Shutterstock

Dear EE,

As a general rule of thumb, it’s always better to transfer larger sums of money rather than doing it in small allotments. PayPal does indeed have lower transfer fees compared to most banks — you can expect to pay between 0.5 and 1 percent of the total transfer amount, depending on the country you’re sending money to. (Transferring $1000 between a US and Australian PayPal account will incur a fee of around $10, for example.)

However, it’s important to ensure that the entire amount is actually in your PayPal account — if the transfer is entirely or partially funded by debit card or credit card, the transfer rates will be higher. You can read more about PayPal’s fee policies here.

VoIP service provider Pennytel is another option that’s worth looking into — it provides international money transfers with zero transfer fees or commissions.

If you can log into your overseas bank account, you may also be able to pay off local credit cards through a BPAY-like mechanism, though this will naturally vary from country to country.

Do any expatriate readers have some transfer tips of their own? Share your advice in the comments section below.


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