WestPac International Transfers

If you need to make an international transfer, your first instinct might be to turn to your bank. 

Westpac is a safe and familiar option if you’re already a customer, but are they a good choice for international money transfers?

The answer might not seem obvious, as sending money overseas can often be a minefield of confusing information and hidden costs. 

This guide will simplify the process for you, by breaking down Westpac’s exchange rates, fees, and transfer limits, offering clear and concise information.

By the end, you’ll have answers to the most important questions, and will know whether or not Westpac is the right choice for sending your money overseas. 

Is Westpac a good option for international money transfers?

How much does an international transfer cost with Westpac?

For all international transfers, there are two types of costs to be aware of, regardless of which bank you choose: 

  • Transfer fees
  • Exchange rate markup

Let’s look at these in more detail, and see what Westpac charges.

Westpac transfer fees

Alternative providers are gaining popularity, which has triggered a response from major banks in how they structure their fees. 

Specifically for online transfers, many banks have either reduced, or completely removed their transfer fees.   

Westpac has a fairly simple fee structure, which we’ve included below:

Transfer methodFee (AUD)
Transfer made in a branch (sent in either Australian dollars or foreign currency)$32
Westpac Online Banking or the Westpac app (sent in a foreign currency)$0
Westpac Online Banking or the Westpac app (sent in Australian dollars)$20

For international transfers made via online banking or the Westpac app, there is no fee. 

This is good, as ‘zero transfer fees’ is commonplace amongst alternative providers. 

But, a crucial point to note, is this does not mean that your international transfer is free.  

Far from it.

Exchange rates are what you need to look out for most. 

Westpac exchange rates

The markup added to the exchange rate you’re offered, is by far the largest expense associated with sending money overseas. 

Due to Australian legislation, you’ll always be able to find a bank’s exchange rate advertised publicly. 

The exchange rate you’re offered is different to the ‘mid-market’ rate that the bank buys the currency at. 

Essentially, banks add on a ‘margin’ or ‘fx markup’, meaning they sell you the currency at a worse rate than what they bought it for. 

This is where banks squeeze as much as they can out of you.  

Exactly how much do they charge? 

A lot.

Let’s look at Westpac’s fx markup for a sample transfer, using their online currency converter.  

Let’s say you’re transferring AU$50,000 into GBP. 

At the time of writing, Westpac’s exchange rate is ​​1 AUD = 0.5004 GBP, meaning your funds would be converted to £25,020.

Compared to the mid-market rate, Westpac are applying an fx margin of 3.71%. 

As this percentage might not mean much, you’re probably wondering how that translates to dollars. 

For this particular transfer, that margin is an equivalent cost of AU$1,855. 

An enormous cost!

This is why exchange rates deserve your attention, as securing a good rate is far more important than saving a few dollars on a transfer fee. 

It might come as a shock to learn that this margin is actually fairly standard across the ‘big four’ banks. 

Typically, they all apply a margin somewhere between 2.5% to 5%. 

Westpac are no exception, making them a very costly option for international money transfers. 

Westpac transfer costs compared to alternative providers?

Compared to other major banks, Westpac’s costs fall somewhere in the middle of the pack. 

But the truth is, even the cheapest banks don’t come close to competing on price with the leading currency brokers and digital providers.

Which begs the question, ‘how much can I save?’ 

It’s difficult to answer precisely, as not all currency brokers are fully transparent about their rates. 

For those that aren’t, we can turn to their verified reviews, where thousands of satisfied customers have provided insight on how much they’ve saved. 

These percentages are a rough guide: 

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

Leading currency broker OFX do publish their exchange rates.

At the time of writing, they applied just a 1% margin for the AU$50,000 to GBP example transfer we discussed earlier. 

So choosing OFX instead of Westpac would have saved you AU$1,350!

These savings are quite normal, as reviews suggest consistent savings of 2-3%.

If you’re transferring much larger sums, you’ll get access to even better rates.

We’ve known customers to have secured margins as low as 0.1%.

That means currency brokers can work out more than 10 times cheaper than a bank for sending money overseas.

Get an indicative exchange rate for your transfer using Westpac’s currency converter

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

Westpac claims that your funds will normally arrive in your beneficiary’s account within 1-3 business days.

Their website has no other information regarding specific cut-off times, or how quickly Westpac processes an international transfer on their end. 

Westpac also offers very few options to track the status of your transfer. 

It would seem the most detail you can find is by tracking your pending payment status, which once updated to ‘sent’, means the transfer has been processed by Westpac. 

It doesn’t give you the sense that Westpac is well equipped to offer a comprehensive service for international payments. 

Westpac international transfer limits

Westpac’s minimum limit for international transfers varies by currency and destination country. 

For transfers to any of the following 9 countries, a minimum amount of AU$1,000 applies:

Cambodia, Ghana, Indonesia, Laos, Mexico, Pakistan, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam 

The same minimum amount applies to transfers into the following currencies, regardless of destination: 

Thai Baht (THB), Philippine Peso (PHP), and Pakistani Rupee (PKR).

Let’s also look at Westpac’s maximum transfer limits 

For international transfers, Westpac applies a default daily limit of AU$750 to those using online banking or the Westpac app.

You can increase this limit yourself either online or within the app. 

For larger transfers, Westpac will require you to have registered with one of two security protocols. 

For transfers up to AU$200,000 you must be registered for Westpac Protect™ SMS code.

For anything larger, you’ll have to use a SecurID® Token, which is a small portable device that generates a single-use digital security code. 

Westpac does not specify whether or not they have a maximum daily limit. 

With that said, they do support fairly large international transfers, as they have a maximum international transaction limit of AU$2,000,000.

You can increase your daily limit for international transfers using the Westpac app

Can you use the Westpac app to make international transfers?

Yes, you’re able to send money abroad with relative ease using the Westpac app. 

In 2023, Forrester awarded Westpac the ‘overall best mobile app’ and ‘overall digital experience leader’ awards, based on an assessment of Australia’s five leading banks.

With that said, recent iterations of the app have been met with mixed reviews, which include several mentions of the app being buggy, or not very intuitive to use. 

This is concerning if you’re considering relying on this app to securely transfer thousands of dollars. 

There are alternative digital providers with more reliable app solutions, that are solely optimised for international transfers.

It’s also a good question to consider whether or not you should be using an app at all.

For medium-large sized international transfers, we’d recommend working with a currency broker.

It’s definitely worth the added peace of mind having an fx expert check everything over before finalising your transaction.

Many leading currency brokers also have a slick mobile app that you can use to track the status of your transfer, or to complete smaller transfers independently. 

Westpac’s app has received critical acclaim, but many of its users disagree

Is Westpac a good option for international money transfers?

Westpac isn’t the cheapest bank for international transfers, nor is it the most expensive. 

But that’s not really the point. 

Across the board, banks simply can’t compete with alternative providers. 

Put simply, Westpac offers an expensive solution with sub-par service, and it is not a good option for international money transfers.  

So what is the best option?

If you’re transferring underAU$20,000, we recommend a leading digital provider like ‘Wise’. 

They offer some of the best exchange rates in the industry, likely far lower than any major bank can offer you. 

Plus, their apps and digital platforms have been developed specifically for international transfers.  

If you’re sending over AU$20,000, we recommend using a currency broker. 

Probably one of TorFX, OFX or Send Payments.  

They all offer bank-beating rates, and their service is top notch.

A currency broker is the smart choice for big transfers, as you’ll be assigned an fx expert to guide you through the process. 

Aside from added peace of mind, their guidance has the potential to make you even greater savings.

They can help you leverage fx tools to secure a desirable exchange rate, or guide the timing of your trade to capitalise on favourable currency swings.

Use Westpac for international transfers, and you miss out on all of these benefits, all while being offered a lousy exchange rate.

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