How I was going to have access to money was one of my biggest concerns before I left to study abroad. I took a lot of time to research my options because I wanted to ensure I was making the cheapest and best decision for me. I didn’t have the option of using a credit card which doesn’t charge for foreign transactions so these were the three options I considered:
- Getting an Australian bank account
- Using my current bank card abroad
- Getting a prepaid foreign exchange (forex) card
The bank I am currently with didn’t have any agreements or connections with any other bank in Australia so I would have been charged a fixed rate to use my card in store and at cash machines. Even though the rate seemed small, over the course of the year this would’ve become very expensive for me. However, this may be a good choice for you if your bank does have connections with banks in the country you’re visiting or if you’re only staying for a short period of time and your bank doesn’t charge you that much.
I looked into getting a prepaid foreign exchange card because this was recommended to me by a lecturer and a friend I knew who studied abroad in America used one. Many companies offer them with different fees and benefits which may be better than using your current bank card. However, I decided not to go with this because I didn’t have enough time to sort it out and I couldn’t find a forex card that was ideal for me within the time frame I had.
The option I ultimately went for was the Australian bank account because it was the easiest and cheapest option for me. There were no fees involved in setting up a bank account and the whole process was really simple. I was able to set up an account from home so when I arrived in Australia, all I had to do was visit a branch with my passport to finish setting up the account. This was also ideal because I was planning to stay a relatively long time abroad.
Sending money from my UK account to my Australian account was quite simple too. I would definitely not recommend sending money through your bank, unless they charge a very low fee, because they can be quite expensive (Santander charges a flat rate of £25 for every transfer). Instead, I would recommend transferring money using an online money transfer service such as Western Union, Transferwise, CurrencyFair, WorldRemit etc. because they tend to charge a lot less in fees and send the money faster. My personal favourite for sending money to Australia was WorldRemit because they gave a really good exchange rate and it only cost me 99p to send money over to Australia. However other websites maybe cheaper depending on where you’re sending your money to and from.
I hope this helps when deciding on how to access your money abroad. I definitely recommend researching the different options available in order to find the best option is for you.