Commonwealth Bank of Australia International Payments Review

This review of Commonwealth Bank International International Money Transfer will explain the pros and cons of using one of Australia’s largest banks specifically for sending money abroad. As always, we’ll focus on the important aspects of Commonwealth Bank’s international payment service like payment fees, exchange rates, and the quality of the service provided. To view specialist money transfer firms in Australia, as well as other banks offering international wires, see our top money transfer companies in Australia list.

Logo
🏛️ EstablishedFounded in 1911, privatised in 1996
🌎 International Clients✗ Australian Clients (Available to large corporates only in NZ)
💱 Currencies Offered36
💷 Minimum TransferNo minimum
📲 Trading viaIn branch or online
🏢 Offices In

Australia.

Branches in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore and Vietnam. Representative offices in China, India and Vietnam.

(Offices/Branches largely for business clients trading with Australia and in need of investment banking solutions)

⚖️ Regulation

 Australian Securities & Investment Commission (ASIC)

✓ Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC)

Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority (APRA)

🤯 Fees

$6 online & app

$30 in-branch

In addition to exchange rate markups (high)

Promotional CodeN/A
👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 Client Reviews

142 reviews on TrustPilot

2,281 reviews on ProductReview.com

⭐ Client Rating

1.5 / 5 (Rated Bad) – TrustPilot

1.5 / 5 – ProductReview.com

Websitehttps://www.commbank.com.au/personal/international/international-money-transfer.html
AwardsWeren’t able to find a list of awards won on CBA’s website
👍 Advantages

Heavily regulated

Financial claims scheme for deposits up to $250,000

Operating since 1911

Provides complete banking service, not just international payments

Attractive website

Make international payments online & through the app

👎 Disadvantages

Up to $30 in fixed fees for CommBank international transfers made in branch

Worse exchange rates than the best fx exchange rate  possible finding in Australia (See exchange rate and fees section).

Vast majority of client reviews are negative*

No dedicated dealers for individuals trading FX like with OFX or TorFX

No small business foreign exchange services, advanced foreign exchange service reserved for larger buisnses

* Client reviews about Commonwealth Bank are not limited to the international payment service offered by the bank. These are all the client reviews we have discovered about Commonwealth Bank online.

 


View Recommended Alternatives:

It’s always worth comparing banks like Commonwealth with competitors who specialise in the provision of international payments only. In particular, be sure to compare the currency rate on offer. Take a look at these alternative providers available in Australia and a number of destinations around the world:

#1
Australia TorFX: Best for Large Transfers and Businesses
Local Australia Offices:
25 Elkhorn Ave, Surfers Paradise QLD 4217
93.4% Editorial rating
3,000 Client Reviews
Minimum transfer:
AU$100
Why Them?
  • Australian Specialists with Local Offices
  • 98% Client Satisfaction
  • Dedicated Dealer for Transfers above A$5,000
+Read more
#2
Australia SendPayments: Friendliest Staff and Platform
Local Australia Offices:
10 Rawlins St, Southport QLD 4215
90.8% Editorial rating
122 Client Reviews
Minimum transfer:
AU$100
Why Them?
  • Best Website - Friendly and Transparent
  • Easy to Sign Up and Trade
  • Competitive Exchange Rates for Both Small and Large Transfers
+Read more
#3
Australia OFX: ASX Traded, Australian Household Name
Local Australia Offices:
60 Margaret St, Sydney, NSW 2000
90.4% Editorial rating
1,500 Client Reviews
Minimum transfer:
AU$100
Why Them?
  • Australian Company
  • Traded Publicly
  • 20bn Turnover per Year
+Read more
#4
UK Halo - UK to Australia Transfers: Bespoke Service by a British Broker
Headquarters:
Battersea Studios 2, 82 Silverthorne Rd, Nine Elms, London SW8 3HE - United Kingdom
91.3% Editorial rating
100 Client Reviews
Minimum transfer:
AU$1,000 / £1,000
Why Them?
  • Feefo 2020 Platinum Trusted Provider
  • Excellent Website and Registeration Flow
  • Highly Professional, Large Transfer Specialists
+Read more

For Ecommerce and Business Clients Exlusively

#5
UK Australia Hong Kong Singapore Worldfirst: Best FX Rates Online
Headquarters:
Millbank Tower, 21-24 Millbank, London, SW1P 4QP, UK
95.4% Editorial rating
7,000 Client Reviews
Minimum transfer:
AU$1,000
Why Them?
  • Best Rates: Fixed FX Spreads of 0.1% – 0.5%.
  • Authorized by 6 Global Regulators
  • Asian Currency Specialists
+Read more

Most Innovative (Using Ripple infrastructure for Payments)

#6
Australia FlashFX - Innovation in Australian Payments
Headquarters:
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
79.6% Editorial rating
200 Client Reviews
Minimum transfer:
Not Mentioned
Why Them?
  • Innovative - Using Ripple Network for Payments
  • Solid Customer Reviews (although not many)
  • Strong Entrepreneurs with Banking Background
+Read more

Our Rating: N/A

View Rating Breakdown


Read More:

Company Information and Credibility


Company size:  

Headquartered in Sydney, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, also known as CommBank, is the second largest multinational to be listed on the Australian Securities Exchange, with an estimated market capitalisation of $160bn AUD (Feb 2022). It is the largest bank in Australia, bigger in size than Macquarie, NAB and ANZ.

Commonwealth Bank international payments is just one of a multitude of financial services that the bank provides. It also offers a variety of other services which include; full retail banking, business and institutional banking, fund management, insurance, investment and broking services. In fact, Commonwealth Bank international payments for individuals and SMEs make up just a tiny portion of its revenues (and for this reason it’s usually considered a better idea to work with a dedicated international payment company – more on this later).

Founded in 1911 by the Australian Government, its former constituent parts were the Commonwealth Trading Bank of Australia, the Commonwealth Savings Bank of Australia and the Commonwealth Development Bank. The bank was listed on the Australian Stock Exchange in 1991 and fully privatised in 1996. Between 1920 and 1959 the bank performed a number of central bank operations, including the issuing of Australian bank notes for the Department of the Treasury. It was only in 1959 that concerns were raised over the dual functions of the bank, operating as both a central and commercial bank, that the Australian government separated the two roles and created the Reserve Bank of Australia.

The bank has been at the centre of a number of controversies throughout its time in operation. Most recently, a Royal Commission report into the Misconduct in the Banking Industry uncovered a negative culture within the Bank, resulting from allegations of fraud, deception, and money laundering. In 2018 Commonwealth Bank settled an interest rate rigging case brought by the ASIC for $25 million. In the settlement, the bank admitted it engaged in “unconscionable conduct” and manipulated the bank bill swap rate on five occasions between February and June 2012.

Commonwealth Bank international money transfers are offered through the bank’s online banking platform known as NetBank. NetBank allows customers to transfer funds domestically, manage accounts, manage savings and transfer money from Commonwealth Bank abroad. NetBank is also offered through a mobile app available for iOS and Android.


Regulated By: 

✓  Australian Securities & Investment Commission (ASIC)

✓ Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC)

✓ Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority (APRA)

Conclusion: 

Commonwealth Bank is certainly “safe” in the old-fashioned sense of the word. It has a huge market cap of $160 billion and in 2021, their net profit after tax was approximately $8.8 billion AUD. Deposits are covered under the Financial Claims Scheme up to $250,000 and, given the multifaceted nature of its services, the bank is required to adhere to more regulatory obligations than any other Australian financial services provider. It’s certainly well-known and operates over 1,100 branches across Australia (specialist FX companies in Australia usually operate with one sole office and no branches).

On the flip side, despite its size and recognised brand, the firm has had civil proceedings launched against it by ASIC for rigging interest rates and by AUSTRAC for breaching money laundering terrorism financing laws. You can look at this in two different ways – these are very severe allegations levied against the bank but given the culture which is unfortunately all too common in banking, this type of poor publicity is certainly not limited to Commonwealth Bank. In fact, it’s highly similar in nature to the poor reputation of multinational banks in Australia, UK, Europe and USA.

Client Feedback


Research:

142 reviews on TrustPilot and 2,281 reviews on ProductReview [True February, 2022]. The bank receives the same score across both review platforms, just 1.5 / 5, rated ‘bad’.

Please note, the Commonwealth Bank client reviews discussed here relate to a wide variety of services offered by the bank and are not specific to Commonwealth Bank international transfers. They provide an indication into the culture, customer satisfaction and overall level of service at CommBank.

True as of Feb, 2022


Positive
  • Best mobile app of any bank
  • Good service in branch
  • Retrieved customer funds back when scammed
Negative
  • Huge waiting times to speak to somebody over the phone
  • Service has got progressively worse for long-standing customers
  • Terrible customer support
  • Issues accessing online platform with firefox browser
  • Inflexible policies for SMEs around two-party authentication
  • Transfers which were taking a few minutes started taking 3 days
  • Bad business banking
  • Charging excessive fees
  • Poor interest rates

*/ This is just a sample. Too many complaints to list here.


Conclusion:

There is significant discontent with the service offered by CommBank. The overriding issue for the majority of users is the incredibly long wait times when contacting the bank by telephone. Many are leaving their 1* reviews whilst still being on hold 2 hours after calling the bank. Some users were more understanding and believed long wait times were simply par for the course when working with one of the big four banks in Australia. What we can say is that users wishing to speak to somebody over the phone with regards to international payments can easily access their dealer by phone when working with the likes of TorFX or OFX. OFX also leverages its global offices to offer 24/7 customer support – if clients call out of hours in Australia they can still speak to a member of the OFX team from the UK or US. With any top rated currency broker, there will almost always be no wait times, no automated robots to speak to and if clients are put on hold it will be for no more than a couple of minutes.

In all fairness – our global research has show that bank CONSTANTLY rank poorly in customer review websites, and hence it’s difficult to judge Commonwealth Bank of Australia against a small brokerage in Australia, but that is no excuse why customers would be THIS discontent with the service they are receiving.

Exchange Rate & Fees


Fees:

Payment fees depend on how you are planning on making the international payment with Commonwealth Bank. A full breakdown of all associated fees related to CommBank international transfers can be found here:

Source: www.commbank.com.au/personal/international/international-money-transfer

Feb 22, 2022

A $30 payment fee is quite excessive for arranging a payment in a branch, though this is the norm for banks – they always charge more for this functionality. The other fee to look out for is $22 when transferring money from Commonwealth Bank abroad in AUD and there is no FX conversion taking place (i.e. the recipient is set to receive money into an AUD account abroad).

A $6 international payment fee with CommBank when initiating a transfer online or over the app is quite reasonable though this is still beaten by dedicated FX firms. In comparison, commercial FX companies like TorFX charge $0 per transfer from Australia on any amount. And whilst they don’t have branches like CommBank, they also charge $0 for customers who prefer to arrange payment over the telephone.

Rate comparison for AUDGBP transfer:

  • Interbank rate (taken 20:00 08/02/22) – 0.5264
  • CommBank rate (taken 20:06 08/02/22) – 0.5038

An analysis on these rates suggests an estimated 4.3% exchange rate markup on Commonwealth Bank international wires from AUD to GBP. It’s worth pointing out the six minute differential in the data (due to the data points accessible online) but the ten-minute intervals that were available indicated a pretty constant AUDGBP rate between 20:00 and 20:10 so this should be seen as a reasonable estimate. It’s certainly not an uncommon markup when converting currency through a bank either. A standard private or small business customer can expect to pay around 4% with most major banks around the world.  The currency converter also suggests no improvement in the exchange rate markup when sending larger amounts, though we think this probably a limitation to the online calculator as 4.3% would be ridiculously excessive on large international transfers with Commonwealth Bank.

A 4.3% markup is certainly higher than the likes of TorFX or OFX. These firms provide a better rate the larger the amount that is sent but should never be as high as the estimated markup applied by CommBank, even for low-value transfers. Wise (formerly TransferWise) charges a fixed margin of 0.45% on these two currency pairings, which is around 9 times cheaper. OFX and TorFX could be even cheaper than this on large transfers.

Limits: Not stated but we can assume with confidence there would be no minimum or maximum value when you transfer money from Commonwealth Bank abroad.


Conclusion:

Commonwealth Bank international payment fees and exchange rates are much higher than with any commercial fx provider.

Global Reach & Service


Research:

  • Dedicated Dealer: Private clients are not offered with a dedicated FX dealer.
  • Offices: Headquartered in Sydney, thousands of branches across Australia.
  • Ways to approach: Telephone, In branch or Online.
  • Translations: CommBank is focused on Aussie clients and thus has only an English language version of its website.
  • Accepts clients: Australian citizens + some select countries for business customers.
  • Currencies Handled: 36 for private customers and SMEs, though we expect more would be available to large corporates and institutional clients.
  • Client reviews: Majority of online reviews are highly negative.

Conclusion:

By and large, CommBank international transfers are available to Australian residents only. In comparison, the Sydney-headquartered but truly global FX company OFX is available in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, USA, UK & Europe. And whilst CommBank is likely to offer virtually every currency on the planet to its large corporate customers, only 36 are made available to individuals and SMEs. With all of the major routes covered, this shouldn’t be an issue for most people sending an international transfer with Commonwealth Bank but those with more niche requirements are likely to have better luck with a dedicated FX company.

The customer service for Commonwealth Bank international transfers and Commonwealth Bank as a whole is generally regarded as awful. The best money transfer companies offer a dedicated FX dealer that provides individual guidance to clients on the currency markets and the hedging tools that are best suited to meeting their objectives

Additional Functionalities


Needless to say there are a huge array of different financial services available through a multinational bank like Commonwealth that go far above just the ability to transfer money from Commonwealth Bank abroad. It is difficult to apply the same criteria used for commercial foreign exchange companies and a bank like this. Other services such as private loans, corporate loans, mortgages, credit cards, current accounts, saving accounts and investing are all available.

Hedging:

Interestingly, however, individuals and SMEs are able to access a greater variety of FX hedging tools with a dedicated FX company. Large corporates and financial institutions can enjoy access to any number of FX contracts and derivatives with CommBank but SMEs and individuals looking to transfer money from Commonwealth Bank abroad simply can’t access these.

Even the most vanilla of hedging tools like a forward contract, which allow users to agree today’s exchange rate for a point in the future, can be difficult for individuals to access with a big bank like Commonwealth.

App:

CommBank has, as expected, an app for both iPhone and Android.  Amongst a number of banking activities, clients can use these apps to send CommBank international payments from their mobile devices effortlessly.

The app is generally appreciated by clients and considered a much better experience than dealing with CommBank over the phone. The functionality is similar to the apps featured in our  best money transfer apps page (though being non-FX oriented it lacks functions like being able to place a limit order on FX or receive rate alerts.)

Conclusion:

CommBank has a whole array of financial services available to its customers. However, when it comes to FX, its hedging tools are reserved for large corporate and institutional clients only.  Given the sheer volume these clients trade, individuals and SMEs trade just a tiny volume compared to this, hence the bank doesn’t make them a priority (even large corporate FX volumes appear small compared to financial institution clients like pension funds). Still, outside of banking spheres, it’s by no means a small volume that individuals and SMEs trade overseas and a number of specialist FX companies recognise the value in providing these services for these clients too. It’s only fair they should be able to access the same kind of hedging instruments, which allow for better management of their currency exposure.

Commonwealth Bank (CommBank) International Payments Review Summary

CommBank is the largest universal bank in Australia. It’s been operating for over 100 years, is heavily regulated and has a huge amount of assets under management. It hasn’t however been without its fair share of bad press and has made some astronomical out of court settlements with Australian regulators, including a $700m settlement with AUSTRAC for malpractice around anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism.

When making a Commonwealth Bank international transfer, large corporations can access a huge variety of FX tools through the bank but individuals and SMEs cannot. The fee for making a CommBank international payment online is not too unreasonable at $6 but the exchange rate markup (which looks to be 4%+) is pretty awful. It’s worth comparing the costs with at least one specialist international payment firm who are likely to provide a much smaller FX margin and no payment fees.