NAB International Transfers

If you’re already a NAB Bank customer, is it a wise choice to use them for an overseas transfer? International money transfers are often unnecessarily complex, as providers either bury vital details in small print, or worse, leave them undisclosed.

This guide was designed to simplify this process for you, offering straightforward and clear answers to the most prevalent questions. We’ll highlight NAB’s exchange rates and fees, NAB’s online transfer limits, and how long an overseas transfer with NAB can take. By the end, you’ll have a solid understanding of how NAB measures up, and whether or not they’re a good choice for sending your money abroad.

Is NAB a good choice for international transfers?

How much does NAB Bank charge for international transfers?

Regardless of which bank or alternative provider you choose to send your money overseas, there are two types of cost you need to look out for: 

  • Transfer fees
  • Exchange rate markup

Let’s break these costs down and see what NAB charges for each. 

NAB transfer fees

Many banks will charge a small fee each time you make an international transfer, the total of which depends on a number of variables. In response to the increasing popularity of alternative money transfer providers, major banks have reduced some of their transfer fees, depending on the way a user completes their transaction.

We’ve included a breakdown of these costs for NAB below:

Transfer methodFee (AUD)
International money transfer made using NAB app or NAB Internet Banking – if sent in a foreign currency$0
International money transfer made using NAB app or NAB Internet Banking – if sent in Australian dollars$30
International money transfer made using NAB app or NAB Internet Banking – if sent in Australian dollars or a foreign currency$30

Providing there is a currency conversion, NAB does not charge a transfer fee for transfers completed via NAB Internet Banking or the NAB app. This is good, they’re unnecessary fees that customers shouldn’t have to pay. But, transfer fees are just a small point of consideration.

Many banks, like NAB, use an appealing claim like ‘zero fee international transfers’ to lure you in. What’s important to understand is that ‘zero fee’ does not mean ‘free’. Which is where the exchange rate markup enters the equation. 

NAB exchange rates

By far the largest expense involved in transferring money abroad comes from the markup added to the exchange rate provided to you.

Banks buy currency at the ‘mid-market exchange rate’. They then sell you the currency at a rate which is worse than this. This difference is known as an ‘fx markup’ or ‘margin’. Put simply, the higher the margin, the more the bank pockets from your transfer. Banks notoriously charge very high markups, which plays a big part in why so many cheaper alternatives exist today. 

On NAB’s website, their currency converter clearly displays their offered rate, associated fees, and an estimated total your beneficiary should receive. What is not advertised of course, is the fx margin. Which, for a $50,000 AUD to GBP transfer, by our calculations, is close to 2.54%. 

But what does that figure look like in monetary terms? 

Well, for that particular transfer, that margin is equal to AU$1,263 lost. A huge cost! And that ‘zero fee international transfer’ that might have lured you in, won’t do much to soften the blow. This markup is fairly normal for a large Australian bank, but to NAB’s credit, as of writing, they’re one of the least expensive banks for international transfers. Generally speaking, all of Australia’s ‘big five’ banks charge a margin somewhere in the region of 2.5% to 5%. 

Despite being one of the cheaper banks, we can still confidently say that banks, including NAB, are one of the most expensive methods for international money transfers. 

How do NAB international transfer costs compare to other providers?

The reality for NAB or any other major Australian bank, is a hard truth. They simply can’t, or don’t want to compete with alternative money transfer providers. They prefer to focus on large corporate customers instead. This is true for both cost and service, but let’s stick to cost for the time being. 

How much cheaper are the alternatives? 

It’s hard to say for exact, as not all of these providers are particularly transparent either. But, we can still gain insight from other sources, as leading providers in this space have amassed several thousand verified reviews. Many of these reviews share how much users have saved compared to using a bank. Customers of OFX and TorFX report margin savings of 2% to 3% compared to the exchange rates offered by banks. 

Here’s a rough guide:

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

As we’ve discussed, a 2% saving can easily equate to hundreds, or even thousands of dollars. You stand to save more if you trade regularly or need to send a large sum. For example, if you’re making a one-off transaction, converting a small amount of AUD to an exotic currency, you may be offered a rate with a total cost equivalent to 1%. 

However, if you need to transfer much larger sums into a common currency, it’s possible to secure an fx markup as low as 0.2%. This is more than 10 times cheaper than the average markup of a major bank like NAB!
Use the NAB calculator to carefully check what exchange rate you’re being offered

How long does a NAB international transfer take?

NAB confidently states that ‘funds are usually received within 24 hours by the payee’s bank’. This excludes transfers submitted on the weekend or during a public holiday. They do include a note in the small print that delays can occur that are out of their control, but they seem confident on their own processing speed. 

NAB does also provide a comprehensive list of cutoff times for transactions to be processed the same day. This is based on the receiving currency, and the table has grouped 39 currencies into 6 different groups, with 6 cutoff times. Popular currencies like the British Pound (GBP), US Dollar (USD), Euro (EUR), and Canadian Dollar (CAD), all have a cutoff time of 5:00pm (AEST/AEDT). 

Once a user has confirmed an overseas transfer, they can check the progress of the payment using the NAB app or NAB Internet Banking. This is a real-time tracker and quite an impressive feature that not all banks offer. NAB assigns a unique tracking ID to follow your transaction through to completion

What is the maximum amount I can transfer internationally using NAB?

If you’re making your transfer using NAB Internet Banking, then you’re subject to a default daily limit of AU$5,000.

If you want to make larger transfers, you have to call NAB to discuss this over the phone. It’s not clear whether this allows users to increase their daily limit online, or whether you’d need to do this every time you wanted to make a transfer >AU$5,000.

If the latter is true, this would prove very inconvenient indeed. It pretty much rules NAB out as a viable option for sending medium-to-large sums overseas.

There is no mention of a maximum limit for international transfers made in-branch. But, aside from being highly inconvenient, this means you’d also be charged a AU$30 fee. Having to visit a NAB branch for transfers >AU$5,000 is far from ideal

Can you make international transfers from the NAB app?

Yes, making international payments within the NAB app is pretty simple. First, select ‘Transfer and Pay’ and choose which account you wish to transfer funds from. You’ll then see a button that says ‘Overseas’ which will take you to a ‘new payee’ page with specific fields to enter for international transfers. Once you’ve correctly entered all your payee’s details, you’ll then see the same currency converter as NAB has on its website.   

As a reminder, this clearly highlights the offered exchange rate and any applicable fees. Just remember that you’ll need to calculate the fx markup yourself to know the true cost.

The NAB app is available on both Google Play and the App Store, and has more than a million downloads, receiving mixed reviews. Apple users seemingly prefer the app to Android users, as the NAB’s App Store rating at the time of writing, is an impressive 4.7 out of 5 stars. Sending money abroad can be done easily within the NAB app

Is NAB a good option for international money transfers?

As is the case with many banks, at first glance, NAB may seem like a good option for transferring your money overseas. They have great instructional videos and other resources dedicated to international transfers on their website. The NAB currency converter appears transparent to users not wise enough to lookout for an fx markup.   

The reality is, when you step back and assess the true cost and practicalities of sending money overseas with NAB, the verdict on their international transfer service is pretty clear. NAB is not a good option for transferring money abroad. 

The overarching factor that led us to such a clear decision is cost. NAB’s exchange rates include a much higher markup to the interbank rate than alternative providers. This results in customers potentially losing thousands of dollars unnecessarily. Dollars that could be saved, simply by choosing a different provider.

To give NAB credit where it’s due, we were impressed with their real time transfer tracking feature, particularly as it is also available in-app. They also make international transfers easy to complete by allowing users to initiate overseas payments within the NAB app. Sadly, these benefits quickly lose value for many potential users due to NAB’s very restrictive maximum daily limit of AU$5,000.

Even if you did decide to call NAB to make a larger transfer, you’d still be missing out on getting to work closely with a dedicated account manager. Most leading currency dealers assign you an fx expert to act as your dedicated point of contact, helping guide you through the process of a large international transfer. You stand to make even greater savings from their guidance, which will include how to best time your trade and leverage other fx tools where appropriate. With NAB, you get none of this. Just generic customer support with no fx expertise.

So, if you need to send a large sum overseas, consider using a currency broker. If you need to send smaller amounts, you’d still be missing out by using the NAB app. For all transfers under AU$20k, we recommend skipping the banks and choosing a leading money transfer app like ‘Wise’. You’ll have access to a slick mobile app, multi-currency accounts, and some of the best exchange rates in the industry. 

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