How do I compare foreign exchange rates?

How do I compare foreign exchange rates?

Currencies are exchanged around the world in a 24-hour cycle every weekday. Why? Apart from tourists and travel, there’s international trade (import/export of goods & services) and investment. And of course, people overseas who send money to support family and friends back home.

There’s a constant fluctuation in the exchange rates of one country (eg, AUD) compared to many other countries (say USD or EUR). This means you can determine an exchange rate; how much does 1 AUD cost in relation to USD or EUR?


For example, the USD would be available in this form 0.7910 USD per 1 AUD. Theoretically you can buy (or sell) 100 AUD and receive 79.10 USD. The reality is different, as transfer providers adjust that rate to make money from moving it across borders.

exchange rates

Here are some other variables to help you compare foreign exchange prices and services:


Most banks and foreign exchange providers will charge a transaction fee for converting currencies. These can vary wildly depending on who you go with. Some banks and companies will charge a percentage rate of the total transfer amount, and others will charge a flat fee, which can be as much as $10-$30.

Exchange rates

In addition to transaction fees, most providers and especially banks will add a margin to the exchange rate they offer you. Some foreign exchange providers especially will add a very large margin to rates, while more competitive providers will minimise this margin. Exercise your due diligence before going with one provider and you’ll be sure to get more value out of your exchange.

Processing times

This is increasingly important. The usual international transfer will take between 2-5 business days. With the emergence of new technology within the payment space, this could be reduced to 1-2 business days or less. Be sure to add this to your comparison because the longer your transfer takes, the less value you’re getting for your money with the many different hands it passes through.

Processing options

You might want to set up regular transactions if you have to make recuring payments to your family or pay for a mortgage for example. So add this to your comparison of foreign exchange providers to be sure your needs are met.

Service model

This is about how you as a customer like to roll. Are you happy to walk into a branch? Or do you transfer online? Do you mind only knowing fees when you get the final payment page, or do you want more transparency and to know where you stand up front? Some providers offer phone support and some are email only. Others offer live chat as a way to support their customers. Choose one that suits your needs and how you like to do transfers.


Keep in mind that some providers might offer competitive exchange rates but high fees, while others might offer low fees but unfavourable foreign currency rates because they take a large margin there. What service you decide to go with should depend not only on convenience but also on the rates and fees they offer.

With Flash Payments, you will not pay any transaction fees. We charge a rate margin that is subject to the amount you are sending and we aim to be very competitive.

Given we are using the innovative Ripple distributed ledger technology, our processing times are very fast and we immediately convert and process your payment. We can run recurring payments if you need them. And we offer phone support plus a live chat function, where we can engage while you’re on our website. We found this is the most effective way to help.

We'd love to be one of your preferred international payments provider.

To learn more see our article on currency exchange rates.