CommBank International Transfers

If you’re already a customer of CommBank, they might seem like the obvious choice to make an international transfer. But are they the best one? Just because you’re already registered and frequently use your bank for domestic transactions, you shouldn’t assume they are the smart choice for all transactions. The truth is there are much better options out there.

In this guide we’ll simplify the process of international money transfers, which is often unnecessarily confusing and frustrating. We’ll cover everything you need to know, offering direct and concise answers to the most important questions. We’ll review CommBank’s fees, exchange rates, limits, and how long an overseas transfer with CommBank can take. By the end, you’ll know if CommBank is a good choice for sending your money overseas, and how they compare to alternatives.

Should you use CommBank for sending money overseas?

How much does an international transfer cost with CommBank? There are two types of cost you must consider when making international transfers, regardless of which bank you choose: 

  • Transfer fees
  • Exchange rate markup

CommBank is no different, so let’s look at what they charge for each. 

CommBank transfer fees

In days gone by, banks charged a fee each time you made an international transfer, regardless of whether it was initiated online or in-branch. But, as alternative providers gain popularity, banks are reducing, or even removing their online transfer fees in response.

We’ve summarised CommBank’s transfer fees below:

Transfer methodFee (AUD)
Issued via a branch$30
Issued via NetBank or the CommBank app. Funds debited from an AUD account and converted to foreign currency$0
Issued via NetBank or the CommBank app. Funds debited and credited in AUD currency (no FX conversion)$22

So long as there’s a currency conversion, CommBank no longer charges a fee for transfers initiated via the CommBank app or NetBank, CommBank’s digitalbanking solution.  This is certainly a plus. You want to avoid paying this unnecessary fee, just like you can with alternative providers. But, keep in mind one thing. The area you need to direct much more attention to, is the exchange rate.

CommBank exchange rates

The biggest cost associated with sending money overseas lies within the exchange rate.

Thankfully in Australia, legislation requires banks to publicly advertise their currency exchange rates. What they don’t advertise though is the ‘fx markup’ or ‘margin’. Which is the difference between the ‘mid-market rate’ and the rate your bank actually offers you. This is how banks profit most from your transfer. The higher the margin, the more they make. Banks are notorious for adding hefty margins to the mid-market rate. 

So let’s see if CommBank’s fx markup lives up to the bad rep. 

CommBank’s online currency converter is simple, it includes the exchange rate, fees, and how much your total will be once converted to the receiving currency. At the time of writing, for a $50,000 AUD to GBP transfer, your funds would be converted to £24,875. Compared to the live mid-market rate, that’s an fx margin of 4.18%. But what you want to know is how much that is in dollars. Well, in this instance, that margin would cost you a whopping AU$2,087. A massive cost! 

So like we said earlier, the ‘zero transfer fee’ promise doesn’t come close to making CommBank a cheap method for international transfers. Saving a $30 fee doesn’t exactly soften the blow of losing more than AU$2,000! Whilst this cost might seem shocking, CommBank’s margin is within the normal range for Australian banks. Generally speaking, all of Australia’s ‘big four’ charge a margin somewhere in the region of 2.5% to 5%. With CommBank falling on the higher end of this scale, we can confidently say they are one of the most expensive providers for international money transfers. 

How do CommBank’s costs compare to other providers?

If we’re solely comparing banks, CommBank is one of the most expensive of the ‘big four’, applying a much higher margin than the likes of NAB. But the truth is, all major banks, CommBank included, will offer a much higher exchange rate compared to currency brokers and digital providers.

How much can you save by choosing an alternative?

It’s difficult to be precise here, as only some currency brokers choose to publicly advertise their exchange rates. For those that don’t, we can turn to their verified online reviews, as thousands of these share how much they’ve saved compared to using a bank.

You can take these percentages as an approximate guide: 

Money Transfer ProviderGuideline Margin
OFX0.35% – 2%
TorFX0.15% – 2%

OFX do publicly advertise their rate, and for the same AU$50,000 to GBP transfer we looked at earlier, they applied just a 1% margin. Meaning you’d save AU$1,625 by choosing OFX instead of CommBank! This is consistent with our findings from TorFX and OFX reviews, indicating that customers made savings of 2-3%. It’s even possible to negotiate better rates with currency brokers over time. We’ve known customers to secure a margin as low as 0.2% when transferring much larger sums into a common currency. 

In other words, it can be more than 10 times cheaper choosing a currency broker over a bank…not even close.

Use CommBank’s fx calculator to get an indicative exchange rate for your transfer 

How long does it take to transfer money internationally with CommBank?

CommBank states that most International money transfers usually take 3 business days, but may take longer depending on the destination country and the recipient’s bank. All transfers submitted on a public holiday, weekend, or past the cut-off time, will not start processing until the next business day. 

CommBank’s website has details on cut-off times, which varies based on the destination country. Popular currencies like the US Dollar (USD), Canadian Dollar (CAD), Euro (EUR), and British Pound (GBP) all share a cut-off of 4:30pm Sydney time. 

If you want to track the status of your international transfer, CommBank charges a AU$25 dollar fee. As if it wasn’t already expensive enough. 

CommBank international transfer limits

For security reasons, CommBank sets a default daily limit of AU$0 for international transfers. This is a slight inconvenience, but can be easily updated within the CommBank app.

The bigger issue is that CommBank’s maximum daily limit for international transfers is AU$5,000. You have to message or call CommBank directly to discuss any transfers above this amount. It isn’t clear if calling CommBank gives you the option to further increase your daily limit, or if you’d need to contact them separately each time you wish to transfer >AU$5,000. Having to visit a branch each time you wanted to make a sizable transfer would be even worse. Not to mention, you’ll also then have to pay a AU$30 transfer fee.

It’s all rather frustrating.

Having to message, call, or visit a branch each time you want to transfer >AU$5,000, essentially rules CommBank out as an option for sending medium-to-large sums abroad. You’ll need to contact CommBank for all international transfers >AU$5,000

Can you use the CommBank app to make international transfers?

Yes, CommBank makes it easy to send money overseas using their app. Their app, which has had more than 10 million downloads, has largely been well received, and is currently ranked #1 in finance by the App Store.

With CommBank, as well as the traditional route of adding your payee’s bank details, you can also make an international transfer simply by supplying the recipient’s mobile number. It’s then left to the beneficiary to enter their own bank details using the CommBank Payment Collections system. 

This could be seen as both a pro and a con. 

By putting the onus on the beneficiary to ensure their bank details are entered correctly, you could argue it reduces the chance of error. 
On the other hand, being able to breeze through the process so quickly, makes it easier to miss a key piece of information and risks a costly mistake. Risky when there’s thousands of pounds at stake. 

For all medium-large sized international transfers, you’re best off working with a currency broker, so you can check everything over with an fx expert.    

Is CommBank a good option for international money transfers?

Compared to other Australian banks, CommBank ranks towards the bottom when it comes to sending money overseas.

They have some of the highest exchange rates – a crucial factor in our review.

And while you can make an international transfer within the CommBank app, you’re stuck having to message them every time you want to transfer more than AU$5,000.

So, as is the case with many banks, CommBank is an expensive and restrictive route for overseas transfers.

We do not recommend using CommBank for international money transfers. 

Instead, for all medium-large sized transfers (>AU$20,000), opt for a currency broker. In doing so, you stand to potentially save thousands of dollars, experience less restrictions, and gain access to award winning customer service from fx experts. Being assigned a dedicated account manager is pivotal. These account managers are experts in their field, and will be on hand to ensure everything goes smoothly. They can even help you time your trade to capitalise on favourable currency swings, or leverage other fx tools, which can lead to even greater savings. 

By using CommBank for sending money overseas, you’d get none of these benefits or expertise. That’s why for those making large international transfers, choosing a currency broker is a no brainer!

But should you still use CommBank for smaller international transfers? 

We don’t think so. For smaller transfers under AU$20k, your best bet is a leading digital provider like Wise. They have a slick app, solely focused and optimised for international transfers. Wise is also a far cheaper option than CommBank, as they offer some of the industry’s most

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