STAR RATINGS REPORT. International Money Transfers

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1 2014 STAR RATINGS REPORT International Money Transfers

2 International Money Transfers October 2014 Foreword Speak with anyone who has transferred money overseas and you will quickly find out it is a whole different ball game to your standard account transfer. There are so many more factors to consider. You have exchange rates, transfer fees, recipient fees and if you are unlucky you may even be hit with another fee just by enquiring how the transfer is coming along! I found out all about this when a few years ago I had to transfer some money overseas to a family member. I just went through my everyday bank and was in the end surprised at how Mitchell Watson, Research Manager much it cost me. It wasn t just the fees, either, it was the exchange rate that was the heavy cost-hitter. It really does pay to do your research when looking to transfer money overseas as you will see later this report, as we compare the highest and lowest exchange rates in the market and what that means in dollar terms. We also give you an idea as to how much the transfer is going to cost you in fees. We have also for the second year undertaken a comprehensive analysis of the international money transfer offerings in Australia and identified those who are offering outstanding value. International Money Transfers 1

3 WHAT ARE INTERNATIONAL MONEY TRANSFERS? Sending money overseas these days is a common occurrence. So common, in fact, an estimated $581 billion will be remitted globally this year, according to the World Bank. This figure is tipped to rise to $681 billion in The need to send money overseas has spawned a host of specialty businesses that transfer money in the appropriate converted currencies. To send money overseas you will need to engage the services of a foreign exchange institution to transfer your money into the currency of the receiver and deliver it safely to them, usually through their bank account. WHO USES THEM? There are many reasons for sending money overseas. You may be working overseas and sending money home to take care of, say, mortgage repayments. You may be buying goods from another country and selling them here. Or vice versa. You may want to send wedding or Christmas gifts to family and friends overseas. You may also want to send money to your exchange student son or daughter. Those who use foreign currency transfers vary from private individuals who make occasional, low-dollar value transfers overseas to those who make large regular payments to another country. At the top end of the scale are companies who send money overseas almost daily as part of their trading activities. Of course it goes without saying that sending money from one country to another has to be for a purpose that is legal. WHICH IS BEST FOR ME? There are plenty of global organisations offering foreign currency transfer services. These include banks and foreign exchange institutions of all sizes. When comparing money transfer services, we opted for safety and security through financial institutions in this country that offer transparency in their operations and are designated as Australian Authorised Deposit Taking Institutions (ADIs). Our report is a sophisticated and unique ratings methodology that compares both the features offered by a selection of financial institutions to undertake a money transfer to an overseas account and the cost of doing so. CANSTAR star ratings represent a shortlist of financial providers, enabling consumers to narrow their search to providers that have been assessed and ranked. Whether you intend to do a one-off transaction or set up a regular transfer of money, you can have confidence that CANSTAR s International Money Transfer Star Ratings will lead you in the right direction. October

4 HOW CAN MONEY BE TRANSFERRED? Technology has fundamentally changed the way that we transact, shop and relax and it has also changed the way that money can be sent overseas. Sending money overseas easily and safely can now be done online, by phone or by visiting a branch of the financial institution. The transfer method you choose ultimately depends on the frequency of the transfer is it a one-off or a regular payment and the type of interaction that s best for you personally. ONLINE Most financial institutions have easy-to-follow e-banking websites allowing you to instantly setup an overseas money transfer. If you are comfortable transacting online or via your smartphone, this is the most cost-efficient and convenient way to go. VIA PHONE You can also give instructions over the phone to your bank, perfect when you need a real person to talk to and answer your queries. However, this once-popular service is limited these days. Only one of the banks we researched ANZ still offers to do overseas money transfers by phone instruction. IN PERSON Visiting a branch is also a more satisfactory option for many, particularly if you want to send an international money draft which is equivalent to a bank cheque issued in a foreign currency. You may also want to take advantage of extra services like setting up a foreign currency account which holds savings in another currency. Institution Online Via Phone In Branch ANZ Yes Yes Yes Arab Bank No No Yes Bendigo Bank Yes No Yes Delphi Bank No No Yes Bank of Melbourne Yes No Yes Commbank Yes No Yes Citibank Yes No Yes HSBC Yes No Yes Bank of Sydney Yes No Yes NAB Yes No Yes Bankwest Yes No Yes BankSA Yes No Yes St George Yes No Yes Suncorp Yes No Yes Westpac Yes No Yes Source: Canstar International Money Transfer star ratings International Money Transfers 3

5 FAMILIARISE YOURSELF WITH FEES In order to transfer money, and depending on what type of money transfer service you use, you may be charged a combination of fees. These can include: A sending fee This can go under many names but is essentially the fee that your financial institution will charge in order to send the money either via a bank branch or online to an overseas account. A receiving fee Financial institutions may also charge you for the privilege of receiving funds from overseas into the nominated bank account. Cancellation fee You might also be charged cancellation fees if the transaction needs to be cancelled for any reason. An amendment fee Similarly, if a change of payment details is required, there may be a cost attached. An enquiry fee Should you need to follow up with your bank to ensure that the funds arrived safety, this may elicit another fee. CANSTAR found the following minimum, maximum and average fees on the products assessed for this rating: Sending fee Online Branch Cancellation fee Amendment fee Enquiry fee Minimum $20 $ Maximum $30 $35 $32 $30 $30 Average $21.46 $27.87 $25.50 $23.29 $25.58 ALSO Another fee to watch out for is the fee charged to send money from one institution to a completely different one. Fees are easy to predict if the money transfer is sent and received by different branches of the same bank. They are much more difficult to unravel if your bank sends to a third party. It s difficult to give examples of these fees, as they vary greatly between institutions. Being aware and asking about this fee beforehand is the most sensible approach. October

6 DON T FORGET ABOUT THE EXCHANGE RATE When making an international money transfer, it s important to understand that the exchange rate is the hidden fee and is often where the currency suppliers make most of their money. Don t expect to receive the rates quoted on the nightly television news. The rates we are all accustomed to seeing in the nightly bulletins generally are the average buy/sell rate for each currency. When it comes to getting an exchange rate quote it will be a combination of the current true exchange rate and then each currency broker applies a spread or difference to that rate. This margin can vary considerably between banks and foreign exchange brokers. Some may give you less for your foreign currency but will charge you more to buy it. While you cannot effectively control this hidden fee, it pays to know what to expect when shopping around for the best currency rate deal. As an example, the table below shows the average exchange rates for the 15 ADI institutions in our rating, captured over four weeks and then averaged over the prescribed period (27/08/2014 to 19/09/2014). This is compared with the RBA headline rate averaged over that same period to show the difference between quoted rates and the rates eventually applied to consumers international money transfers. Currency RBA (Headline Rate) Average Quoted Rate (Selling Rate) Difference ($) Margin (%) EUR % GBP % USD % CHF % HKD % INR % JPY % NZD % SGD % Currency Highest Quoted Rate (Selling Rate) Lowest Quoted Rate (Selling Rate) Source: Canstar International Money Transfer star ratings That s the average quoted selling rate but what was the variation? This is clearly shown in our table below. If you were to send $100,000 overseas, the difference is quite remarkable between the highest and lowest quoted rates across the 15 ADI institutions in our rating. Difference on a $100,000 transfer EUR Euro GBP GBP USD USD CHF CHF HKD HKD INR INR JPY JPY NZD NZD SGD SGD Source: Canstar International Money Transfer star ratings Our tip? Set aside plenty of time to make a short list of providers and check their rates over a number of days before choosing who to finally go with. This homework will go a long way towards ensuring more of your money ends up where it is supposed to. International Money Transfers 5

7 WHO OFFERS OUTSTANDING VALUE? CANSTAR s second international money transfer star ratings cemented its findings from last year. Citibank and HSBC again achieved a five-star rating for outstanding value. Citibank and HSBC were within a whisker of each other in the areas of pricing, features, low transfer fees for the countries assessed and competitive exchange rates. Both banks pride themselves on being global players and so place great importance on remaining competitive in the services and currencies they offer. CITIBANK Citibank s standard transfer fee of $25 is competitive and they also offer a reduced fee of $0 for transferring between international Citibank accounts. Citibank s exchange rate was superior to its competitors, with CANSTAR finding that for a $15,000 transfer of $AUD to Euro or US dollars, a typical consumer who was to use Citibank could have been 360 euro and 311 USD better off when compared against the average exchange rates observed. In terms of features, the following offered by Citibank are some of the highlights: Transfers online and in a branch. Standard delivery time is 72hrs but Citibank to Citibank accounts is real-time. No cost to enquire on the status of a payment, cancel a payment, modify a payment or if a payment is returned or rejected. 18 currencies available to transfer. Offer a specific helpline for international money transfers. Offer a currency calculator on their website. HSBC HSBC offer a low average transfer fee of $20 and also offer a reduced fee of $0 for transferring between international HSBC accounts. HSBC s exchange rates also place them above their peers, with CANSTAR finding that for a $15,000 transfer of $AUD to Euro or US dollars, a typical consumer who was to use HSBC could have been 300 euro and 311 USD better off when compared against the average exchange rates observed. In terms of features, the following offered by HSBC are some of the highlights: Transfers online and in a branch. Standard delivery time is 48hrs. No cost to enquire on the status of a payment. 16 currencies available to transfer Offer a specific helpline for international money transfers which is available 12hrs a day. CANSTAR congratulates Citibank and HSBC on their 5-star achievement. October

8 International Money Transfers STAR RATING METHODOLOGY METHODOLOGY INTERNATIONAL MONEY TRANSFER What is the CANSTAR International Money Transfer Star Ratings? CANSTAR International Money Transfer Star Ratings is a sophisticated and unique ratings methodology that compares both Cost and Features to undertake a money transfer to an overseas account. CANSTAR star ratings represent a shortlist of financial providers, enabling consumers to narrow their search to providers that have been independently assessed and ranked. What types of providers are evaluated by CANSTAR International Money Transfer star ratings? Only Australian Authorised Deposit Taking Institutions (ADIs) are considered in this rating. How are the stars calculated? Each provider reviewed for the CANSTAR international money transfer star ratings is awarded points for its comparative Pricing and for the array of positive Features attached to the product. Points are aggregated to achieve a Pricing score and a Feature score. To arrive at the total score CANSTAR applies a weight (w) against the Pricing and Feature scores. This weight will reflect the relative importance of either costs or features in determining the best product. This method can be summarised as: TOTAL SCORE = PRICING + FEATURES SCORE Pricing 80% Exchange Rates 50% Transaction Scenarios 50% Features 20% International Money Transfers 7

9 The following weights are applied: Category Price Weighting Feature Weighting International Money Transfers 80% 20% Pricing Score The pricing score consists of two components (1) the exchange rates offered and (2) the cost to make a transfer. Exchange Rates The exchange rates across a range of currencies were captured over a prescribed period. On each currency the provider with the highest average rate over the prescribed period received the top score. Each currency is then provided a weight. The currencies currently being captured are listed below: Currency Weight United States Dollar 30% British Pound 15% New Zealand Dollar 15% Euro 15% Indian Rupee 5% Japanese Yen 5% Singapore Dollar 5% Hong Kong Dollar 5% Swiss Franc 5% Transaction Scenarios The transaction scenario component takes into account the financial outcome of making an international payment across a number of currencies. The calculation includes the exchange rate and cost to make the transfer. It is also broken into two categories (1) same institution and (2) other institution. Other Institution 90% Transaction Scenarios 80% Same Institution 10% Should a provider not have an international presence, their standard international fee structure is used for the same institution component. 500 scenarios based on average transfer amount of $15,000 were considered. October

10 Feature Score The feature component takes into account over 70 product features and allocated points. These product features are grouped into 4 different categories with weights given to each relevant area. The following table outlines the weightings of each of the feature categories per profile: Category Weight International Payment Facilities 40% Fees and Charges 20% Currency Information 20% Top Tier Currencies Available 60% 2 nd Tier Currencies Available 20% Total Currencies 10% Rate Information 10% Customer Service, Tools & Education 20% How many products and financial institutions are analysed? In order to calculate the ratings, CANSTAR analysed 15 international money transfer providers in Australia. Does CANSTAR rate all products available in the market? We endeavour to include the majority of product providers in the market and to compare the product features most relevant to consumers in our ratings. However this process is not always possible and it may be that not every product in the market is included in the rating nor every feature compared that is relevant to you. How often are all the products reviewed for rating purposes? International Money Transfers is an annual rating and will be reviewed every twelve months. How are the stars awarded? The total score received for each profile ranks the products. The stars are then awarded based on the distribution of the scores with the objective to award the top 5-10% of products with the CANSTAR 5-star rating. The results are reflected in a consumer-friendly CANSTAR star rating concept, with five stars denoting outstanding value. International Money Transfers 9

11 Does CANSTAR rate other product areas? CANSTAR also rates the suite of banking and insurance products listed below. These star ratings use similar methodologies to guarantee quality, consistency and transparency. The use of similar star ratings logos also builds consumer recognition of quality products across all categories. Please access the CANSTAR website if you would like to view the latest CANSTAR star ratings reports of interest. Account based pensions Business life insurance Deposit accounts Health insurance Landlord insurance Margin lending Package banking Reward programs Travel insurance Agribusiness Car insurance Direct life insurance Home & contents Life insurance Online banking Personal loans Superannuation Travel money cards Business banking Credit cards First home buyer Home loans Managed investments Online share trading Pet insurance Term deposits Youth banking COMPLIANCE DISCLOSURE and LIABILITY: DISCLAIMER: To the extent that the information in this report constitutes general advice, this advice has been prepared by CANSTAR Research Pty Ltd A.C.N AFSL and To ACL the extent that ( CANSTAR ). the information The information in this report has constitutes been prepared general without advice, taking this into advice account has your been individual prepared investment by Canstar objectives, Research financial Pty Ltd A.C.N. circumstances or 909 needs. AFSL Before and ACL you decide whether ( Canstar ). or not to The acquire information a particular has financial been prepared product you without should taking assess into whether account it is appropriate your individual for you investment the light objectives, of your own financial personal circumstances, having or needs. regard Before to your you own decide objectives, whether financial or not situation to acquire and a needs. particular You may financial wish to product obtain you financial should advice assess from whether a suitably is qualified appropriate adviser for before you in making the light any of decision your own to acquire personal a financial circumstances, product. having CANSTAR regard provides to your information own objectives, about credit financial products. situation It is not and a needs. credit provider You may and wish in to giving obtain you financial information advice it is not from making a suitably any suggestion qualified or adviser recommendation before making to you any about decision a particular to acquire credit a financial product. Please product. refer Canstar to CANSTAR s provides FSG information more information. about credit products. It is not a credit provider and in giving you information it is not making any suggestion or recommendation to you about a particular credit product. Please refer to The Canstar s information FSG in for this more report information. must not be copied or otherwise reproduced, repackaged, further transmitted, transferred, disseminated, redistributed or resold, or stored for subsequent use for any purpose, in whole or in part, in any form or manner or by means whatsoever, by any person without CANSTAR s prior written consent. All information obtained by CANSTAR from external sources is believed to be accurate and reliable. Under no circumstances shall CANSTAR have any liability The information in this report must not be copied or otherwise reproduced, repackaged, further transmitted, transferred, disseminated, redistributed or to any person or entity due to error (negligence or otherwise) or other circumstances or contingency within or outside the control of CANSTAR or any of its directors, officers, resold, employees or stored or for agents subsequent in connection use for with any purpose, the procurement, in whole collection, or in part, compilation, in any form analysis, or manner interpretation, or by means communication, whatsoever, by publication, any person without or delivery CANSTAR s of any such information. prior written Copyright consent All CANSTAR information Research obtained Pty Ltd by Canstar A.C.N. 114 from 422 external 909 sources is believed to be accurate and reliable. Under no circumstances shall Canstar have any liability to any person or entity due to error (negligence or otherwise) or other circumstances or contingency within or outside the control The of word Canstar CANSTAR, or any the of its gold directors, star in a circle officers, logo employees (with or without or agents surmounting connection stars), are with trademarks the procurement, or registered collection, trademarks compilation, of CANSTAR analysis, Pty Ltd. interpretation, Reference to third communication, party products, publication, services or or other delivery information of any by such trade information. name, trademark Copyright or otherwise 2014 CANSTAR does not Research constitute Pty or Ltd imply A.C.N. endorsement, sponsorship or recommendation of CANSTAR by the respective trademark owner. The word CANSTAR, the gold star in a circle logo (with or without surmounting stars), are trademarks or registered trademarks of CANSTAR Pty Ltd. Reference to third party products, services or other information by trade name, trademark or otherwise does not constitute or imply endorsement, sponsorship or recommendation of CANSTAR by the respective trademark owner. October

12 International Money Transfers REPORT DATE:SEPTEMBER 2014 We endeavour to include the majority of product providers in the market and to compare the product features most relevant to consumers in our ratings. This is not always possible and it may be that not every product in the market is included in the rating nor every feature compared that is relevant to you. International Money Transfers Company Name Online Transfer Fee* Branch Transfer Fee* Direct Account Payment Delivery Time (Hours)* Phone Helpline Exchange Rate Set US Dollar (USD) Euro (EUR) British Pound(GBP) New Zealand Dollar(NZD) Indian Rupee(INR) Japanese Yen(JPY) Currency Calculators Citibank Real Time HSBC Real-time ANZ Daily Commbank Daily nab Real Time Suncorp Daily Westpac Daily Arab Bank NA Daily Bank of Melbourne Daily Bank of Sydney Daily Bank SA Daily Bankwest Daily Bendigo Bank Daily St George Daily Delphi Bank NA Daily your guide to product excellence * To External Institutions Report Date: September, 2014 (All information correct as at 19 September 2014) INTERNATIONAL MONEY TRANSFERS PAGE 1

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