Whether you’re moving to or from Australia, or simply taking a vacation, you will depend on exchanging your money. The biggest mistake surrounding this reality is the dependence that many of us have on banks.
When using a bank to exchange currency (i.e. use your debit card in a foreign ATM), you will be on the wrong end of a ~5% currency spread, meaning you’ll receive around 5% less value than you should after the withdrawal. On top of this, you may be charged a flat fee by the bank (some banks charge ~$10 for a foreign transfer. You may also run into a charge by the ATM itself, which is usually a few dollars’ worth.
The amount of money down the drain is staggering, and it happens to thousands of expats/holiday makers each and every day around the world.
You can avoid this almost entirely by using money transfer companies who, unlike banks, specialise in international transfers. They take either no or very low fees as well as a very strong currency rate (sometimes it’s as strong as physically possible).
Two very strong choices for sending money to/from Australia is OFX and Wise. Let’s take a look at their similarities and differences, and ultimately, which one is better.
First and foremost, both companies are of the highest credibility. Whilst OFX has an extra 12 years of licensed experience over Wise having been founded in 1998, Wise makes up for this is pure stature, reviews and market presence. Both offer the utmost professionalism, with very strong customer service departments.
The key similarity, which is why they both feature in this article, is their overwhelming superiority over banks when it comes to money transfers. You can be guaranteed that either will leave you better off than before, which is the main thing, whilst equally providing security. Both companies are FCA and ASIC licensed, meaning your deposited money is protected and that you have very little to worry about regarding the loss of your deposit or the security of your data.
The first key difference is that Wise is extremely online orientated. With Wise, you’ll be sure to have downloaded their app and trade exclusively using this. This is partly due to the heavy promotion of it on Wise’s part. However, it doesn’t take long to fall in love with its functionality and simplicity.
OFX also offer an app, which is decent, but isn’t quite as focused on it as they still deal a lot over the phone and online. The reason for this will become clear in the next section.
OFX really excels in its service, with a dedicated account manager for each client. Because of the larger choice of services (i.e. hedging possibilities), OFX offer a slightly more personalised service along with 24/7 customer service.
Wise on the other hand really push an independent, fast, automated service through their app. On top of this, there are online reviews suggesting Wise have rude customer service.
All in all, when it comes to being a currency expert and offering a more bespoke level of service, OFX wins.
When using a money transfer company, global reach is important because of the nature of currency transfers being international. Here, OFX wins again in relation to sending money to and from Australia.
OFX have offices close by in New Zealand and Singapore, which if nothing else, suggests a more Australasian and Asian focus. Compare this to Wise, which have offices in neither of those places, and it seems although OFX may have Australia more in mind when it comes to its product and service design along with customer relations.
Wise typically takes around 0.5% for transfers, although when dealing with Australian transfers, this is usually upped to 0.7%. However, this is a flat fee and not a currency spread (technically). Wise claims to use the mid-market rate and apply that fee on top.
OFX, on the other hand, does have a margin spread, of around 1.5%. This can be reduced as the transfer value gets larger, though.
So overall, and forgetting spread and fee differences – the total loss of currency at the end of the transaction seems to be twice as cheap when using Wise. Wise is a little more reliable because you know what you’re getting (written down explicitly regarding which country you’re pertaining to). It’s thus easier to predict.
However, it’s possible that large transfers may become cheaper with OFX – but this is something you have to take on a case-by-case basis.
Although both are reliable and reputable companies, you cannot deny the greater 20-year history that OFX has. Wise is still considered a startup, and whilst it’s scary to think how good and powerful they can become in a few years, OFX is no doubt the more reputable company.
If you’re looking for an overall best money transfer company, one that is more approachable, helpful, bespoke level of service and/or wants to deal in high amounts of cash, then the more established OFX is the answer.
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