In today’s globalized world, sending money across borders has become increasingly common. Whether it’s for personal reasons, such as helping family members, or for business purposes, like paying international suppliers, the need for efficient and cost-effective methods to transfer funds is essential. This comprehensive guide aims to explore the best ways to send money internationally, considering various factors such as speed, cost, reliability, and security.
Table of Contents
The Best Way To Transfer Money Internationally
- Currencies Direct (Best Overall): Currencies Direct stands out as the best overall choice for international money transfers. The UK-based company offers competitive exchange rates, low or no fees on transfers, and excellent customer service with dedicated account managers. Their user-friendly online platform and mobile app make the process simple and efficient.
- XE (Best Coverage): XE is renowned for its extensive global coverage, supporting over 130 currencies and available in more than 200 countries. This broad reach makes XE an ideal choice for those who need to send money to less common destinations or deal with less popular currencies. Their exchange rates are competitive, and they do not charge fixed transfer fees.
- Wise (Best for Small Transfers): Wise, formerly known as TransferWise, is an excellent option for smaller international transfers. They use the mid-market exchange rate with a small percentage-based fee, making them cost-effective for smaller amounts. Their transparent pricing, easy-to-use platform, and speedy transfers make Wise a popular choice for many users.
- WorldRemit (Best for Mobile Transfers): WorldRemit specializes in mobile money transfers, providing a convenient option for those who prefer to use their smartphones for financial transactions. They support transfers to mobile wallets, bank accounts, and cash pick-up locations in over 130 countries. Their app is user-friendly, and they offer competitive exchange rates and fees.
- MoneyGram (Best for Cash Transfers): MoneyGram is an ideal choice for those who prefer cash transfers or need to send money to recipients without access to a bank account. With a vast network of agent locations worldwide, MoneyGram allows users to send money for cash pick-up or even home delivery in certain countries. Keep in mind that their fees and exchange rates may not be as competitive as online transfer services.
- OFX (Best for Business Transfers): OFX is a top choice for business transfers, especially for larger amounts. They offer better exchange rates and lower fees for higher transfer amounts, with no maximum transfer limit. Businesses can also benefit from their risk management tools, such as forward contracts and market orders, which help protect against currency fluctuations.
|💱 Currencies||40+ provided|
|🏢Offices||London, Spain, France, Portugal, USA, South Africa and India|
|📱 Platforms||Retail presence, phone service, online service and mobile app|
|⚖️ Regulation||Authorised by the FCA as an Electronic Money Institution (EMI)|
|✔️ Credit Rating||Level 1 credit rating with Dun & Bradstreet (Highest Possible)|
|🏆 Awards||MoneyAge award (three time winner of ‘Money transfer Provider of the Year’)|
|🌟Reviews||Excellent 4.9/5 from 9,169 reviews on Trustpilot|
|💰 Fees||No transfer fees|
|📈 Trading Volume||550,000 payments last year, trading £7.5bn in currency in 2021|
- Highly competitive exchange rates
- No transfer fees
- Personal currency expert support
Traditional Methods to Send Money Abroad
For many individuals, banks are the first point of contact when it comes to sending money abroad. Most banks offer international wire transfer services, which involve electronically transferring funds from one bank account to another in a different country.
Pros and Cons
One advantage of using banks for international money transfers is familiarity. Most people already have an existing relationship with their bank, which can make the process of sending money abroad feel more secure and convenient. Banks also tend to have a global network of correspondent banks, enabling them to facilitate transfers to a wide range of countries.
However, there are several downsides to using banks for international money transfers. First, they often charge high fees, which can include both flat fees and a percentage of the amount being transferred. Second, their exchange rates are typically less competitive than those offered by specialized money transfer services. This is because banks often add a markup to the mid-market rate, which is the rate at which banks buy and sell currencies among themselves. Finally, bank transfers can be slow, taking several days to complete.
Fees and exchange rates
The fees and exchange rates associated with bank transfers can vary significantly depending on the bank and the specific service used. Generally, fees can range from $25 to $50 per transfer, and the exchange rate markup can be anywhere from 1% to 5% of the transaction amount. It’s crucial for customers to carefully review the fees and exchange rates before initiating a transfer to ensure they are getting the best deal possible.
Money Transfer Operators (MTOs)
Money transfer operators (MTOs) are financial institutions that specialize in transferring funds internationally. They operate independently of banks and are known for their quick and convenient services. Western Union and MoneyGram are two of the most well-known MTOs.
Pros and cons
MTOs have several advantages when it comes to international money transfers. First, they generally offer faster transfer times compared to banks, often completing transfers within minutes or hours. Second, they have an extensive global network, with agent locations in many countries, making them accessible to a wide range of customers.
However, MTOs also have some drawbacks. Their fees can be high, especially for smaller transfer amounts. Additionally, their exchange rates may not be as competitive as those offered by online money transfer services. Finally, while MTOs are regulated, their brick-and-mortar agent locations can be more susceptible to fraud and other security risks compared to online platforms.
Examples: Western Union, MoneyGram
Western Union is a global leader in money transfer services, with over 550,000 agent locations in more than 200 countries and territories. They offer various transfer options, including cash pickup, direct-to-bank transfers, and mobile wallet transfers. MoneyGram is another prominent MTO, with approximately 350,000 agent locations worldwide. Like Western Union, MoneyGram offers multiple transfer options, including cash pickup and bank transfers.
Both Western Union and MoneyGram charge fees based on the transfer amount, destination country, and the method of delivery. It’s essentialto compare their fees and exchange rates with other money transfer services to determine the most cost-effective option for your specific needs.
Online Money Transfer Services
Online money transfer services have gained popularity in recent years due to their convenience, competitive fees, and favorable exchange rates. These platforms operate exclusively online, allowing customers to initiate transfers from the comfort of their homes or workplaces.
Pros and cons
One of the main advantages of online money transfer services is their cost-effectiveness. They tend to offer lower fees and better exchange rates compared to banks and MTOs. Another benefit is their speed, with many services able to complete transfers within one business day or even faster. Additionally, these platforms often provide user-friendly interfaces and advanced features, such as rate alerts and multi-currency accounts.
The primary drawback of online money transfer services is that they may not be as widely accessible as banks or MTOs. Some services have restrictions on the countries they serve or require the recipient to have a bank account. Furthermore, not all customers may feel comfortable using an online platform to send large sums of money, especially if they are not familiar with the service.
Fees and exchange rates
Fees for online money transfer services can vary depending on the platform and the specific details of the transfer, such as the amount, destination country, and the funding method. Some services charge a flat fee, while others charge a percentage of the transfer amount. Many online platforms also offer more competitive exchange rates, as they often use the mid-market rate and add a smaller markup compared to banks.
PayPal is a well-known online payment platform that allows users to send money internationally. While it is primarily used for online shopping, it also provides a convenient way to transfer funds to friends, family, or business partners in other countries. However, PayPal’s fees can be high, particularly for international transactions, and their exchange rates may not be as competitive as those offered by specialized money transfer services.
TransferWise, now known as Wise, is a popular online money transfer service that aims to offer transparent and cost-effective international transfers. Wise uses the mid-market exchange rate and charges a small percentage-based fee, which is typically lower than the fees charged by banks and MTOs. They also offer additional features, such as multi-currency accounts and a debit card.
OFX is an online money transfer service that specializes in larger transfers, making it an excellent option for businesses or individuals sending significant sums of money. They offer competitive exchange rates and charge a small percentage-based fee. OFX also provides additional services, such as forward contracts and limit orders, which can help customers manage currency risk.
Payoneer is an online money transfer platform designed for businesses, freelancers, and e-commerce sellers. They offer competitive exchange rates and low fees, as well as additional features like multi-currency accounts and integrated payment solutions for e-commerce platforms. However, Payoneer may not be the best option for personal transfers or smaller transactions.
Remitly is an online money transfer service that focuses on remittances, or transfers sent by migrants to their home countries. They offer competitive fees and exchange rates, with the option to choose between an express service (higher fees, faster transfer) or an economy service (lower fees, slower transfer). Remitly also provides a user-friendly mobile app for convenient transfers on-the-go.
WorldRemit is another online money transfer platform specializing in remittances. They offer a variety of transfer options, including bank transfers, cash pickup, and mobile wallet transfers. WorldRemit’s fees and exchange rates are generally competitive, and they have an extensive network of partner banks and cash pickup locations in many countries. They also provide a convenient mobile app for initiating transfers from anywhere, anytime.
Mobile Money Transfers
Mobile money transfers have become increasingly popular, thanks to the widespread adoption of smartphones and mobile payment apps. These services enable users to send money instantly using their mobile devices, often with lower fees and competitive exchange rates.
Pros and cons
One of the main advantages of mobile money transfers is their speed, as many transfers can be completed within minutes. Another benefit is their convenience, as users can initiate transfers from their mobile devices without needing to visit a bank or money transfer operator. Additionally, many mobile transfer services offer lower fees and competitive exchange rates compared to traditional methods.
However, mobile money transfers also have some drawbacks. Not all services are available in every country or support international transfers, which can limit their usefulness for certain users. Furthermore, some individuals may be hesitant to trust mobile payment apps with their sensitive financial information or to send large amounts of money through these platforms.
Fees and exchange rates
Fees for mobile money transfers can vary depending on the service used and the specific details of the transaction. Some platforms charge a flat fee, while others charge a percentage of the transfer amount. In many cases, mobile transfer services offer competitive exchange rates, as they use the mid-market rate and apply a smaller markup than traditional methods.
Venmo is a popular mobile payment app in the United States that allows users to send money to friends and family quickly and easily. While it is primarily used for domestic transfers, Venmo recently introduced international money transfers in partnership with Wise. By leveraging Wise’s competitive exchange rates and low fees, Venmo users can now send money to select countries at a lower cost than traditional methods.
Zelle is a mobile payment network that enables users to send money directly between bank accounts in the United States. While it does not currently support international transfers, Zelle’s domestic transfer service is fast and free, making it a convenient option for users who need to send money within the U.S.
Cash App is a mobile payment app that allows users to send and receive money instantly. While it primarily supports domestic transfers in the U.S., Cash App has started to expand its international money transfer capabilities. Currently, users can send money to the United Kingdom, with plans to add more countries in the future.
Google Pay is a mobile payment platform that supports both domestic and international transfers. Users can send money to friends and family in select countries using their Google Pay balance, with competitive exchange rates and low fees. Additionally, Google Pay offers integration with other financial services, such as bill payments and mobile wallet top-ups.
Apple Pay is a mobile payment and digital wallet service provided by Apple. While it is primarily used for contactless payments and in-app purchases, Apple Pay also supports person-to-person money transfers through its Apple Cash feature. Currently, Apple Cash is only available for domestic transfers within the United States, but the company may expand its international transfer capabilities in the future.
Cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, have emerged as a potential alternative to traditional money transfer methods. By leveraging blockchain technology, these digital assets can be sent directly from one user to another, bypassing the need for intermediary financial institutions.
Pros and cons
One of the main advantages of cryptocurrency transfers is their speed, as transactions can often be completed within minutes or even seconds. Another benefit is the potential for lower fees, as users do not need to pay for intermediary services. Cryptocurrency transfers can also offer a higher degree of privacy, as transactions are recorded on a decentralized, public ledger rather than through a centralized financial institution.
However, there are also several drawbacks to using cryptocurrencies for international money transfers. First, the value of cryptocurrencies can be highly volatile, which can result in significant fluctuations in the amount received by the recipient. Second, not everyone is familiar with or has access to cryptocurrencies and the necessary digital wallets, which can limit their usefulness for certain users. Finally, regulatory concerns and the potential for illicit activities may make some individuals hesitant to use cryptocurrencies for international transfers.
Fees and exchange rates
Fees for cryptocurrency transfers can vary depending on the specific digital asset used and the network’s current congestion level. In some cases, transaction fees can be quite low, especially when compared to traditional money transfer methods. However, fees can also increase during periods of high network activity, which can make transfers more expensive.
The exchange rate for cryptocurrencies is determined by supply and demand on various cryptocurrency exchanges. Due to their volatile nature, exchange rates can fluctuate significantly over short periods, which can impact the value of the funds being transferred. It’s essential to consider these fluctuations when using cryptocurrencies for international money transfers.
Bitcoin is the most well-known and widely used cryptocurrency, with a market capitalization of over $1 trillion. It is often considered a “digital gold” due to its limited supply and potential as a store of value. Bitcoin transfers can be fast and relatively inexpensive, depending on network conditions. However, its volatile nature and the need for digital wallet infrastructure can make it less practical for some international money transfers.
Ethereum is the second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization and serves as a platform for decentralized applications (dApps) and smart contracts. While it can be used for international money transfers, Ethereum’s primary use case is to power its ecosystem of dApps and digital assets. Ethereum transactions are generally fast but can be subject to higher fees during periods of network congestion.
Ripple (XRP) is a digital asset designed specifically for cross-border money transfers. Its goal is to provide a more efficient and cost-effective alternative to traditional banking systems for international transactions. Ripple’s network, known as the RippleNet, allows for fast and low-cost transfers between participating banks and financial institutions.
Stellar (XLM) is another digital asset aimed at facilitating cross-border payments and remittances. Its network, the Stellar Consensus Protocol, enables fast and low-cost transactions between various currencies and digital assets. Stellar has formed partnerships with several banks, money transfer operators, and financial institutions to expand its reach and improve the efficiency of international money transfers.
Litecoin (LTC) is a cryptocurrency often considered the “silver” to Bitcoin’s “gold.” It was designed as a faster and more scalable alternative to Bitcoin, with lower transaction fees and shorter confirmation times. While Litecoin can be used for international money transfers, its adoption and use cases are more limited compared to other digital assets like Bitcoin and Ethereum.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Money Transfer Method
When deciding on the best method for sending money internationally, it’s essential to consider several factors:
- Speed: How quickly does the transfer need to be completed? Different methods offer varying transfer speeds, from minutes to several days.
- Cost: What are the fees and exchange rates associated with the transfer method? Lower-cost options can save users significant amounts, especially for larger or more frequent transfers.
- Reliability: Is the transfer method secure and reputable? Ensuring the safety of the funds being transferred is a crucial consideration.
- Accessibility: Can the sender and recipient access the chosen transfer method easily? Some methods may not be available in certain countries or may require specific technology, such as a smartphone or digital wallet.
- Convenience: How easy is it to initiate the transfer? The simplicity of the process and the availability of user-friendly interfaces can make certain methods more appealing to users.
- Regulatory requirements: Are there any legal or regulatory requirements to consider when sending money internationally? Some methods may have restrictions or additional documentation requirements, depending on the countries involved and the purpose of the transfer.
Tips for Safe and Secure Money Transfers
- Research the service provider: Before choosing a money transfer method, it’s essential to research the service provider’s reputation, security measures, and customer reviews to ensure they are trustworthy and reliable.
- Verify the recipient’s information: Double-check the recipient’s name, contact information, and bank account or digital wallet details to avoid sending funds to the wrong person or account.
- Be cautious of scams: Be aware of common money transfer scams, such as requests for urgent transfers, promises of high returns, or unsolicited offers from unknown individuals. If something seems too good to be true, it likely is.
- Use secure devices and networks: When initiating a money transfer online or through a mobile app, use a secure device and a trusted network to protect sensitive financial information from potential hackers.
- Monitor the transfer: Keep track of the transfer’s progress and follow up with the service provider if there are any delays or issues.
- Maintain records: Keep records of all money transfers, including transaction details, receipts, and correspondence with the service provider, in case any issues arise.
Sending money internationally has become increasingly common in our interconnected world. With various methods available, it’s essential to carefully consider the factors that impact the speed, cost, reliability, and convenience of each option. By researching and comparing different money transfer services, users can find the best method for their specific needs and ensure their funds are transferred safely and securely.
Whether it’s through traditional banks and money transfer operators, online platforms, mobile apps, or even cryptocurrencies, the global financial landscape continues to evolve, providing consumers with more choices and greater flexibility in sending money across borders. As technology continues to advance, we can expect even more innovative solutions to emerge, further improving the efficiency and affordability of international money transfers.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Can I Send Money Internationally For Free?
Sending money internationally for free can be challenging, as most service providers charge fees for transfers. However, there are a few ways you can minimize or even eliminate costs:
- Use a money transfer service with no fees: Some online money transfer services, like Wise (formerly TransferWise) and Revolut, offer fee-free transfers for specific amounts or under certain conditions. Check the terms and conditions of the service provider to see if your transfer qualifies for a fee waiver.
- Bank partnerships: Some banks have partnerships with banks in other countries, which may allow you to send money internationally without fees. Check with your bank to see if they have any such arrangements and if your transfer qualifies.
- Friends and family: If you have friends or family members traveling to the destination country, you can give them the money to deliver it in person. However, this method may not be practical for large sums or frequent transfers, and it depends on trust between the parties involved.
- Promotions and referral bonuses: Some money transfer services offer promotions or referral bonuses that can cover the cost of your transfer fees. Keep an eye out for these offers and take advantage of them when available.
- Use a credit card with no foreign transaction fees: If you have a credit card with no foreign transaction fees, you can use it to send money internationally through a service like PayPal. However, be aware that PayPal might still charge fees for international transfers, so this method may not be entirely free.
What Is The Best Way To Send Money Internationally Overall?
The best way to send money internationally overall, considering factors such as cost, speed, reliability, and ease of use, is Currencies Direct. This UK-based money transfer service offers competitive exchange rates, low or no fees on transfers, and an easy-to-use online platform.
Currencies Direct is known for its excellent customer service and dedicated account managers, who can guide you through the process and help you secure the best exchange rate possible. With a wide range of currencies supported and the ability to make transfers through various methods, including online, over the phone, or via their mobile app, Currencies Direct provides a convenient and efficient solution for international money transfers.
Whether you’re sending money for personal or business purposes, Currencies Direct offers a comprehensive solution that combines affordability, security, and user-friendly features, making it the best overall choice for sending money internationally.
What Is the Cheapest Way to Send Money Internationally?
The cheapest way to send money internationally varies depending on the specific transfer details, such as the amount, destination, and currencies involved. However, online money transfer services are generally known for offering low fees and competitive exchange rates compared to traditional banks and money transfer operators. Some of the most cost-effective options include:
- Wise (formerly TransferWise): Wise is known for its transparent pricing, using the mid-market exchange rate with a small percentage-based fee. This approach often results in lower costs compared to other services, especially for larger transfer amounts.
- Revolut: Revolut offers fee-free international money transfers within certain limits, depending on the type of account you have. However, be aware that they may apply a markup on the exchange rate during weekends or for certain currencies.
- Currencies Direct: As mentioned earlier, Currencies Direct provides competitive exchange rates and low or no fees on transfers, making it an affordable option for many international money transfers.
- OFX: OFX is another cost-effective option, particularly for larger transfers, as they offer better exchange rates and lower fees for higher amounts. There is a minimum transfer amount, but they do not charge any transfer fees.
WHAT IS THE FASEST WAY TO SEND MONEY INTERNATIONALLY?
- Instant Money Transfer Services: These services, often available online or through mobile apps, can process transactions in minutes. They typically offer various options for receiving funds, from direct bank deposits to mobile wallets or cash pickups.
- Bank Wire Transfers: Traditional banks offer wire transfer services that can move money quickly, usually within one to two business days. However, fees can be higher, and not all banks offer same-day international wire transfers.
- Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Platforms: Some P2P platforms facilitate near-instant transfers between users, particularly if both the sender and receiver use the same platform.
- Blockchain-Based Transfers: Blockchain technology can be used to transfer digital currencies like Bitcoin across borders nearly instantly. However, the recipient will then need to exchange the digital currency for local currency, which could take additional time.
- Cash Transfer Services: For recipients who need to pick up cash, certain money transfer services can facilitate this process quickly, often within minutes.
What is the Easiest Way to Send Money Internationally?
The easiest way to send money internationally is to use a user-friendly online money transfer service or mobile app. These platforms are designed to simplify the process and make it convenient for users to send money across borders. Some of the easiest methods include:
- Currencies Direct: Currencies Direct offers an easy-to-use online platform and mobile app, making international money transfers simple and hassle-free. Users can set up an account quickly and access dedicated account managers for assistance if needed.
- Wise (formerly TransferWise): Wise is known for its straightforward and transparent process. Users can quickly set up an account, enter the transfer details, and initiate the transfer with just a few clicks. Their website and mobile app are user-friendly and easy to navigate.
- Revolut: Revolut is a digital banking app that allows users to send money internationally with ease. The app interface is intuitive, and transfers can be initiated within seconds. Revolut also offers other financial services, such as currency exchange and budgeting tools.
- PayPal: PayPal is a popular online payment platform that enables users to send money internationally with just an email address or mobile number. Its widespread adoption and simple interface make it a convenient option for many users. However, be aware that PayPal’s fees and exchange rates might not be as competitive as other money transfer services.
- Western Union and MoneyGram: These money transfer operators allow users to send money through their websites, mobile apps, or agent locations. Their extensive global networks make them accessible and convenient for many people, but their fees and exchange rates may be less competitive than online money transfer services.
What is the safest way to send money internationally?
The safest way to send money internationally is to use a reputable and well-established money transfer service that employs strong security measures to protect your funds and personal information. While many services offer secure money transfers, some of the safest options include:
- Online money transfer services: Reputable online money transfer services like Wise (formerly TransferWise), OFX, and Currencies Direct are known for their strong security protocols, including encryption, fraud monitoring, and regulatory compliance. These services usually offer better exchange rates and lower fees than traditional banks.
- Money transfer operators: Established money transfer operators like Western Union and MoneyGram have a long history of secure transfers. They provide the option of sending money through their agent locations, which can be convenient for recipients without access to a bank account. However, their fees and exchange rates may not be as competitive as online money transfer services.
- Banks: Banks are typically considered safe for international money transfers due to their regulated nature, stringent security measures, and long-standing reputation. However, they may charge higher fees and offer less competitive exchange rates compared to other methods.
Matt is a veteran of the moving industry, a recognized moving expert and is the founder of Mover Focus. Matt holds a Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) majoring in Finance and Marketing and Bachelor of Arts (BA) majoring in Economics and History. He also has completed the EiM (Essentials in International Moving) course from the FIDI Academy. His advice has been featured in Reader’s Digest, Yahoo Finance, MSN Money, Business News Daily and The SpareFoot Blog Go. Read more.