Before I migrated to Australia, I did some researches to transfer my money to Australia. I was looking at Australia banks (i.e. Commonwealth Bank and Westpac Bank) at that time and they all require service charge % which is quite a big amount. Since Malaysia doesn't have these 2 banks, the charges is at 2 sides (i.e sender and receiver banks)!
Alternatively, a friend of mine told me HSBC Bank is free of charge but I checked, it was not free. I guessed it was an offer for certain period only. At the end (another friend recommended me to use Citibank), it turned out Citibank Global Transfer is the best and cheapest solution. No additional fees and charges are required!
So now you may wonder is there a hidden cost? The only thing the bank can play around is the foreign exchange rate. So I did a comparison with HSBC at that time (few months ago of course), it is about the same and in fact Citibank's conversion rate is slightly better. I don't think it will vary a lot unless you compare to money changers which usually have a better rate.
However there are few limitations. Not all countries are available to use this Global Transfer feature. For example, Europe and Canada are not part of the list. For a complete list, you can check it out in Citibank website. Another limitation is the transfer limit is cap at USD 12,500 daily. I'm not that rich, so it is not a concern for me! :)
Open Foreign Bank Account First
Before you start using this "Global Transfer" feature in Citibank, you must open the bank account first in the foreign country where you want to transfer your money to.
You have 3 options to open an account oversea:
- Go through your local bank - I didn't know we can do that until a Citibank banker told us that we can make such arrangement. Basically they will send an officer from Australia to Malaysia's branch to help you on this. Of course there are some requirements like how much money you would like to transfer. Sorry I forgot the amount already, I think is RM 20K roughly.
- Apply it remotely - You can open a bank account remotely. The hardest part in this process is personal identity verification. I think you can choose "Online Verification" but I haven't not done this myself. You probably need to fax some documentations over. If online verification is not feasible, then you must go to the last option below.
- Go there and apply directly - I applied directly there when I visited Australia. Since most of us need to do the "Initial Landing" once you get your PR, I would recommend you this unless you do not plan to visit the country at all. During the application, you need to provide your original passport and any original ID that shows your real name (e.g. your credit cards) for verification.
Notes: If not mistaken, you can open the bank remotely and start transfer your money already. It is just that you can't withdraw the money until the verification is done either remotely or you go there directly.
Well, I have been using "Global Transfer" feature in Citibank for months and I find it very convenient! If you have other cheapest way of transfer money oversea (excluding hand carry cash), feel free to share.