International Banks in Australia
There is one mistake that expats make when it comes to banking internationally.
“International” banks are not really international in terms of serving you.
What do I mean?
Citibank in the USA is not the same as Citibank in Australia. Yes, it’s the same bank but if you have an account with Citibank in the States it does not mean you also have an account with Citibank in Sydney.
This might seem obvious but I’ve heard it many times that a new expat arrives in Sydney and goes to the Citibank branch to access their accounts only to find out that they actually need to open completely separate bank accounts. Then transfer money from their US Citibank account to their Australian Citibank account.
Not only is this frustrating but time consuming to set then wait for your transfer to go through. I have a quick post on why you should open your bank account BEFORE you move to Australia here.
The other “international” bank is HSBC.
HSBC does have bank accounts for expats but you have to contact them to open one of those accounts. You cannot just transfer over you current accounts at HSBC to an international banking account.
I’m guilty of this mistake too as I thought I could transfer my Etrade.com account back home to an Etrade.com.au account. Instead, I ended up with two different accounts.
If you currently have an account with one of these banks, Citibank or HSBC, and want to stay with them, I’m sure they would LOVE to help you out.
But don’t use them to transfer money overseas!
They will you tell about how convenient it is to transfer money back and forth because you’re doing so within the same bank.
Don’t buy it.
Bank to bank transfers, even within the “same” bank, have the worst rates of exchange and they charge you a fee for the transaction plus a percentage of the transfer.
Instead, check out OFX for better exchange rates and free transfers for LIFE.
Free transfers for LIFE is just for Sydney Moving Guide readers.
You don’t need a promotion code, just sign up by clicking my partnership links in this post.
OFX also allows you to lock in your rate of exchange.
Why is that something you should consider? Well, if you are selling your house, cashing out your pension or retirement fund, or just transferring any large sum of money to Australia, then locking in that rate of exchange can make a huge difference.
And, just in case you’re wondering, it doesn’t matter if you are not presently in Australia.
When you sign up with OFX, just fill out the form online with your current location. You will then be referred to USForex or UKForex or NZForex or another partnership site. They are all the same company just different locations worldwide. (Update: USForex and UKForex are being transferred over to OFX main site.)
The free transfers for life promotion for SMG readers will still apply, just make sure you don’t clear your web browser cookies as that’s how OFX knows you’re a SMG reader.
After you fill out the signup form, you will receive an email from a customer service rep asking you what your plans are. Nice getting personal service especially when it comes to your money.
Trust me on this.
We have transferred money back and forth a number of times and have made all the mistakes, some of them very costly, like international bill pay. What a racket!
Really, learn from our mistakes. Please.
Not ready to open your account yet? Think it’s way too soon?
Here’s why you should open your bank account BEFORE you move to Australia.
Take it from us, this will make your life a lot easier those first few weeks in Sydney.