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lotsw87

Advice sought on exchanging GBP to AUS ahead of move

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Hi there

I'm moving to Australia from the UK later this year and given the exchange rate is quite good at the moment, i'm thinking about exchanging a large sum into dollars to have ready for my arrival. This money will be used for living expenses, buying a car etc initially before I get a job and earn AUS, but ultimately I will be buying a house with my aussie partner in a couple of years.

I've looked at Wise, but a bit confused about how it works. Does the money just sit in the Wise account as AUS until I want to draw down? It looks like they charge you to convert, and then to draw down.

Is there a better, safer and cheaper way people recommend, to avoid it just sitting in a Wise online (I know I won't get interest in a bank account either!) and faffing with multiple fees of adding and then drawing down a few months later? I have an HSBC account in the UK. Perhaps I could open an international account or HSBC might let me house aussie dollars in a separate account or something? I'm guessing I can't open an Australian bank account from the UK to have the money sitting in.

 

Or is this whole idea pointless and I should just wait until later in the year to buy dollars? It would make a difference of a few thousand dollars I think if the exchange rate changes.

 

Cheers

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2 hours ago, lotsw87 said:

Hi there

I'm moving to Australia from the UK later this year and given the exchange rate is quite good at the moment, i'm thinking about exchanging a large sum into dollars to have ready for my arrival. This money will be used for living expenses, buying a car etc initially before I get a job and earn AUS, but ultimately I will be buying a house with my aussie partner in a couple of years.

I've looked at Wise, but a bit confused about how it works. Does the money just sit in the Wise account as AUS until I want to draw down? It looks like they charge you to convert, and then to draw down.

Is there a better, safer and cheaper way people recommend, to avoid it just sitting in a Wise online (I know I won't get interest in a bank account either!) and faffing with multiple fees of adding and then drawing down a few months later? I have an HSBC account in the UK. Perhaps I could open an international account or HSBC might let me house aussie dollars in a separate account or something? I'm guessing I can't open an Australian bank account from the UK to have the money sitting in.

 

Or is this whole idea pointless and I should just wait until later in the year to buy dollars? It would make a difference of a few thousand dollars I think if the exchange rate changes.

 

Cheers

Issues to consider

 Do have a visa that is guaranteed and are you clear about the difficulties of travel at the moment and how that might affect you if travel is a 'no go' for some months, would you re think your decision?

 there are a lot of unknowns about how economy's are going to fare over the next few months, would you rethink if the job market got tight in Australia 

Check also what regulations are about holding a big chunk of money with a currency dealer, I don't think that they are regulated like banks where the Govt guarantee to refund your money if a Bank goes under.

I have a memory from years back that one of the Australian banks had a branch in London where you  could open a dollar account if you had a visa but I'm talking 16 or 17 years ago,  might be worth a check. 

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You can open a migrant bank account in Australia before you get here, just look on the websites of the big banks here, Westpac, NAB, Bank SA, etc.  you can then transfer to that account via a forex company. You will need to attend the bank in person to activate the account when you get here so won’t be able to take money out until then.


So many wineries ......so little time :yes:

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1 hour ago, rammygirl said:

You can open a migrant bank account in Australia before you get here, just look on the websites of the big banks here, Westpac, NAB, Bank SA, etc.  you can then transfer to that account via a forex company. You will need to attend the bank in person to activate the account when you get here so won’t be able to take money out until then.

You can, but bear in mind that th big banks have the worst reputations in Australia and usually have the worst mortgage rates, fees etc.  So it seems a bit pointless to open an account with them just to have the dollars lie there, then have to move the money to a better bank when you get here.


Scot by birth, emigrated 1985 | Aussie husband applied UK spouse visa Jan 2015, granted March 2015, moved to UK May 2015 | Returned to Oz June 2016

"The stranger who comes home does not make himself at home but makes home itself strange." -- Rainer Maria Rilke

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12 hours ago, lotsw87 said:

I'm moving to Australia from the UK later this year and given the exchange rate is quite good at the moment, i'm thinking about exchanging a large sum into dollars to have ready for my arrival. This money will be used for living expenses, buying a car etc initially before I get a job and earn AUS, but ultimately I will be buying a house with my aussie partner in a couple of years.

I've looked at Wise, but a bit confused about how it works. Does the money just sit in the Wise account as AUS until I want to draw down? It looks like they charge you to convert, and then to draw down.

@Ken has experience of using the Wise account.  To me, it sounds like a good option for your initial savings, which you'll use for your living expenses, car buying etc.

However if you've got a large amount of savings set aside for buying a home,  I think you need to consider tax as well as exchange rates.  You could leave that money in an ISA in the UK, whereas there is no equivalent to an ISA in Australia.


Scot by birth, emigrated 1985 | Aussie husband applied UK spouse visa Jan 2015, granted March 2015, moved to UK May 2015 | Returned to Oz June 2016

"The stranger who comes home does not make himself at home but makes home itself strange." -- Rainer Maria Rilke

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13 hours ago, lotsw87 said:

I've looked at Wise, but a bit confused about how it works. Does the money just sit in the Wise account as AUS until I want to draw down? It looks like they charge you to convert, and then to draw down.

Wise is unfortunately not a suitable place to keep a large amount of AUD long term. If you hold a balance of more than AUD 23,000 for more than 3 days you have to pay a fee (equivalent to 1.6% per year). This is because of the Capital Requirements rules imposed by the Australian government which incur extra costs on "Purchase Payment Facilities" (or what you probably call Money Transfer Agencies) for holding customer funds.

They obviously do charge you to convert as do all banks/transfer agencies. Some banks hide that charge within the FX rate and then pretend it's "commission free" to convert but if their exchange rates are poor it can be much more expensive. Always look at who will give you the most AUD after all fees.

There is a fee to transfer from your Wise account to an Australian Bank Account but it is only 57 cents (that's AUD 0.57) per bank transfer. I don't think they would be charging such a small amount to make a profit. It's clearly the cost to them that they are charging rather building this into their FX rate. Withdrawals by Debit Card are fee free (well to you it is - the merchant will be paying as with any other debit card).

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Chartered Accountant (England & Wales); Registered Tax Agent & Fellow of The Tax Institute (Australia)

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You can set up an AUD account with HSBC UK and then use Wise (or another fx payments provider) to transfer money from your GBP account to the AUD account.

Then when you get to Oz you can open a current account with HSBC and transfer the money over.  You can obviously set up a current account with any Australian bank but you will have to pay fees to transfer out of the UK AUD HSBC account to any non-HSBC account - I think it is AUD8 per transaction so only an issue if you’ve got a lot to transfer (transfer limits are £50k equivalent a day I think).

HSBC did used to offer a migration support service where they would open up accounts in other countries to make it easier but this is only operating for specific countries at the moment - their excuse for that is COVID.  I tried to use it recently and they just told me there was nothing they could do and that I should contact HSBC Australia to see if they could help. 

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On 16/06/2021 at 02:37, Ken said:

Wise is unfortunately not a suitable place to keep a large amount of AUD long term. If you hold a balance of more than AUD 23,000 for more than 3 days you have to pay a fee (equivalent to 1.6% per year). This is because of the Capital Requirements rules imposed by the Australian government which incur extra costs on "Purchase Payment Facilities" (or what you probably call Money Transfer Agencies) for holding customer funds.

I can't seem to find this additional fee for holding money in the Wise AUD account. Is this somewhere on their website?

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We are moving to Melbourne in August and I have been able to open a Wise Account in GBP and AUD fairly easily. The concept seems great for expats and international travellers and there is a slick app as well. I have used Transferwise a number of times in the past for international money transfers but didn't know you could now hold money in various currencies.

I also spent the £5 for a debit card so that should allow us to be pretty comfortable for any initial spending until we get a proper bank account once we have landed. We also have a low cost credit card (Halifax Clarity) just in case.

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23 hours ago, fatal3rror said:

I can't seem to find this additional fee for holding money in the Wise AUD account. Is this somewhere on their website?

I live in Australia, what fee am I charged to hold large amounts of money? | Wise Help Centre

If you want to know how to find that on their website, at the very top of the screen select the Multi Currency Account drop down and from that choose pricing. On the screen that appears you'll see a list of Account Pricing all say "Free" until you get to the last item "Hold 50+ currency balances" where you click on "See Free Allowances".

Edited by Ken
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Chartered Accountant (England & Wales); Registered Tax Agent & Fellow of The Tax Institute (Australia)

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2 hours ago, Ken said:

I live in Australia, what fee am I charged to hold large amounts of money? | Wise Help Centre

If you want to know how to find that on their website, at the very top of the screen select the Multi Currency Account drop down and from that choose pricing. On the screen that appears you'll see a list of Account Pricing all say "Free" until you get to the last item "Hold 50+ currency balances" where you click on "See Free Allowances".

Thanks for that @Ken - it doesn't show up for me but that's probably because I am in the UK and the fee only applies for Australian residents. This is a helpful data point and I agree, it limits the benefit of keeping large account balances over a long period of time.

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Just open an account with a bank in Australia on line as a migrant. Pick one with lots of branches where you are going as you will need to go in person to activate once here. You can always change to a different bank later if you want. 

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So many wineries ......so little time :yes:

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8 hours ago, rammygirl said:

Just open an account with a bank in Australia on line as a migrant. Pick one with lots of branches where you are going as you will need to go in person to activate once here. You can always change to a different bank later if you want. 

What would be the benefit of doing this? Not comfortable with being unable to withdraw money out until the account has been activated in person, especially given the uncertainty with Covid. 

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30 minutes ago, fatal3rror said:

What would be the benefit of doing this? Not comfortable with being unable to withdraw money out until the account has been activated in person, especially given the uncertainty with Covid. 

I agree, we opened an account with Westpac before moving and then had all kinds of trouble getting it activated when we arrived.   That may be a rare occurrence, but if there's a better way, why not use it.

Bottom line though, never ever close your UK accounts because you'll need them in the future, and you can use your British debit and credit cards in Australia with no problems.   It would be worth looking into British banks which have favourable/no fees for international transactions and then you're all set.

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Scot by birth, emigrated 1985 | Aussie husband applied UK spouse visa Jan 2015, granted March 2015, moved to UK May 2015 | Returned to Oz June 2016

"The stranger who comes home does not make himself at home but makes home itself strange." -- Rainer Maria Rilke

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We had no issues activating neither did our sons who were backpacking at the time. Banks are open in lockdown too. 
 

I do agree to keep uk account open. Check they are happy for you to have a foreign address. We have kept several accounts and all gave our Aus address’s send cards here. 


So many wineries ......so little time :yes:

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57 minutes ago, rammygirl said:

We had no issues activating neither did our sons who were backpacking at the time. Banks are open in lockdown too. 
 

I do agree to keep uk account open. Check they are happy for you to have a foreign address. We have kept several accounts and all gave our Aus address’s send cards here. 

I think the problems being referred to are those of getting in to the country due to Covid, not those of getting in to a bank branch once they've arrived. As of the beginning of this month Morrison announced that only 3,000 travellers a week would be allowed in to Australia. That number doesn't include travellers from New Zealand (or celebrities apparently) so the total number of arrivals is a lot higher than that - but pre-covid arrivals into Australia averaged 400,000 per week. 

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Chartered Accountant (England & Wales); Registered Tax Agent & Fellow of The Tax Institute (Australia)

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Like Rammygirl we opened an account with the ANZ when still in the UK, we transferred funds across with (i think) Moneycorp and then when here popped into a granch to collect our cards. All very easy, straight forward and we had no issues at all.

 Cal x


If you don't go after what you want, you'll never have it. If you don't ask, the answer is always no. If you don't step forward, you're always in the same place...

If you get a chance,take it, If it changes your life,let it. Nobody said it would be easy they just said it would be worth it...

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