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Best Way to Transfer Money Internationally

Last updated 23rd Sep 2022
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There are now a host of options available to send money abroad other than bank wire transfers. All of these will serve different needs and requirements, but money transfer service, such as Xe Money Transfers or TorFX, are considered the best. Read on to discover more details on these services.

Transfer Money Internationally With Money Transfer Services and Remittance Companies

Quick, safe, and cheap; money transfer services will offer complete solutions for your small transfers. They are handy for holidays, paying bills, or sending money home.

Pros and Cons of Using Money Transfer Services

How Much Do Money Transfer Services Cost?

Online money transfer services are generally the cheapest way to send money abroad, but they are by no means free. Here’s a list of the types of costs associated with such operators:

  • Transfer fees: Operators may require a transfer fee to move your funds to another country. These types of fees can either be fixed or a percentage markup.

  • Exchange rate markup: Some operators add a profit margin on top of the exchange rates and typically ask for no other transaction fees.

  • Additional fees: Some payment methods, like bank deposits or credit cards, may add on extra fees.

How Long Do International Transfers Take?

Payments below a certain limit can take anywhere between a few minutes and three working days, and this will depend on the transfer type.

Some operators, like TransferGo, may ask for a small fee to speed up the process — it’s generally not wildly different from the regular fixed fee. Delivery times with wire transfers are also comparable to that of money transfer services, but they come at a higher cost.

How to Send Money Abroad Using a Money Transfer Service?

Step 1: Compare different operators to find the best service for your needs
Step 2: Sign up for an account
Step 3: Transfer your money

Top Money Transfer Services

Valued at $15 billion and growing at an impressive pace, the global digital remittance market is having its heyday. Here is a list of top platforms leading the way.

Money Transfer ProviderFeesDeposit MethodsRegulatorXe Money Transfers0% above $500, $3 belowDebit card & bank depositFCAWISEFrom 0.37% + fixed feeCards & bank depositFCARemitlyVariesCardsFCAWorldRemitFrom $1.99CardsFCATransferGoFrom $2Cards, bank deposits, Apple Pay, Google PayFCA

The selection above offers the most competitive exchange rates, costs, and delivery times across the market.

What Information Do You Need for International Transfers With a Money Transfer Provider?

While it differs depending on the transfer type and operator, the demands are usually similar. Here’s a generalized list of information you may need to submit:

  • A photo ID.

  • An email address.

  • Proof of address.

  • Bank account information,

  • The recipient’s name, number, and bank details.

Transfer Money Internationally With Currency Brokers

Different than money transfer providers, currency brokers (also referred to as forex brokers) specializes in transferring large sums of money abroad — generally above $5,000.

Pros and Cons of Using Money Orders for International Transfers

How Much Do International Transfers Cost With Currency Brokers?

Currency brokers tend to have a similar fee structure as money transfer providers — but many go with a no-fee policy and add an exchange rate markup instead. This makes it more favorable for larger transfers.

To measure performance, it is best to get a few quotes from different firms and see how they stack up against each other.

How Long Do International Transfers Take With Currency Brokers?

This will largely depend on the size and reason for your transfer. Assuming that it is a large sum transferred for purposes like inheritance, investing in a company, or emigration; the sender will need to submit all relevant documents and satisfy a compliance team. As long as clients submit documents promptly, brokers usually stick to a specified timeline.

How to Send Money Abroad Using Currency Brokers?

Step 1: Get a free quote
Step 2: Sign up for an account
Step 3: Complete the transfer

Top Currency Brokers for International Transfers

Much like money transfer providers, there is high competition among currency brokers. Here’s a list of top contenders.

Currency BrokerFeesDeposit MethodsRegulatorCurrencies Direct0%Cards & bank depositFinCENTorFX0%Bank depositFCAKey Currency0%Bank depositFCAAzimo0%Cards & bank depositFCAVertoFx0%Bank depositFCA

Not only do these operators offer a no-fee policy, but they also come with superior customer service and competitive exchange rates.

What Information Do You Need to Send Money Abroad With a Currency Broker?

As currency brokers generally deal with larger transfers, they may require more information beyond basic personal details. These would typically include;

  • A photo ID.

  • An email address and phone number.

  • Proof of address.

  • Proof of employment.

  • Letter from an attorney, accountant, or employer.

Transfer Money Internationally Using Wire Transfer

Wire transfers run the funds through a bank-administrated global network. It involves multiple banking systems, but does not always require a bank account to deposit or withdraw funds.

Pros and Cons of Using Wire Transfers for International Transfers

How Much Does a Wire Transfer Cost?

Banks charge for both outgoing and incoming wire transfers, with fees ranging from $15 to $50. On top of the flat fee, customers usually get a much poorer exchange rate compared to remittance companies and currency brokers.

If you can arrange the transfer yourself online instead of going to a branch or on the phone, you may save up an extra $10 charge. Senders can also convert their money elsewhere to avoid poor exchange rates.

How Long Do Wire Transfers Take?

While domestic transfers can be completed on the same day, international wire transfers typically take between 1 to 5 business days. In extreme cases, transfers can longer due to human error or system failure.

How to Send Money Abroad Using Wire Transfer?

There are two options for wire transfers:

  • Bank-to-bank transfers: You can arrange bank-to-bank transfers in person at your bank’s local branch, on the phone, or through the online bank account.

  • Wire transfer services: You’ll need to contact the specific wire transfer service to learn about their process. You may cash in with these services, but you will have to visit a branch in person and fill out a form.

What Information Do You Need for International Wire Transfer?

Bank and wire service may require the following information based on the service you choose;

  • A photo ID.

  • Sender’s full name and contact information.

  • Bank account and transit number.

  • Name and contact information of the recipient.

  • Recipient’s bank account details and transit number.

Transfer Money Internationally With a Bank Account

Sending money abroad through your bank account is easy, convenient, and secure — but comes with a high cost unless your bank has another branch at the destination of your transfer.

Pros and Cons of Using Bank Account Transfers for International Transfers

How Much Do Bank Account Transfers Cost?

Bank transfers are usually the costliest option to send funds abroad. Like brokers or money transfer services, banks may also ask for a flat fee or a percentage markup on your transfer. The flat fees can go as high as $50, while the rate can go up to 5-6%. There may be fees cut both from the sender and the receiver, and the exchange rate is notoriously poor.

You may minimize the fees if your bank has a branch at the destination. If you would like to know how to send money to different countries or destinations, please check out the following guides:

How Long Do Bank Account Transfers Take?

Bank transfers usually take between 1-5 business days. Due to the long and tedious security checks that come with the SWIFT system, bank transfers are typically the slowest way to transfer money abroad.

How to Send Money to a Bank Account Abroad?

If you don’t already have one, you will need to apply for a bank account. If you do have one, you can arrange an international transfer via your online account, over the phone, or by visiting your local branch.

What Information Do You Need to Transfer Money Abroad With a Bank Account?

As your bank already have your personal details, you will only need your recipient’s details for your transfer.

  • Recipient’s name and contact information,

  • Recipient’s IBAN and BIC.

  • Name and address of the recipient’s bank.

  • Reason for your payment.

Transfer Money Internationally With Challenger Banks

Created to “challenge” the legacy banks; challenger banks are new-generation of digital-only banking institutions. They are also referred to as immigration banks as they support extensive multi-currency services.

Pros and Cons of Using Challenger Banks for Transfers Abroad

How Much Do International Transfers With Challenger Banks Cost?

As digital-only entities, challenger banks are able to compete with their long-established counterparts as they can offer services at a low-cost, but it's not the case for international transfers. There are options of fixed fee and percentage markup — which can go up to 4%. The exchange rates are typically less than ideal.

How Long Do International Challenger Bank Transfers Take?

Challenger banks are convenient and get the job done very quickly. Your transfer may reach the recipient on the same day, if not in minutes, though you may have to wait longer for exotic currencies or large sums.

How to Send Money Abroad Using a Challenger Bank?

Step 1: Set up a bank account
Step 2: Fill in your transfer details
Step 3: Complete your transfer

Best Challenger Banks for Money Transfers

Neobanks market is quite vibrant, with new options popping up regularly. Here’s a list of leading names today.

Challenger BankTransfer TimeFeesRevolutSame day0.5% above $1000Monzo2 hoursFrom 0.37% + fixed feeStarlingImmediately0.4% + fixed feeN26Up to 4 daysFrom 2%GlintImmediately0.5%

Regulated by leading institutions, the selection above makes up the safest and cheapest options in the market.

What Information Do You Need for International Transfers With a Challenger Bank?

Similar to banks, you will only need your recipient’s details to conduct your transfer, these would include;

  • Recipient’s full name and contact information,

  • Recipient’s address,

  • The recipient’s IBAN and BIC (bank code)

  • Name and address of the recipient’s bank.

Transfer Money Abroad Using Mobile Apps and Payment Services

Some providers produce sleek, easy-to-navigate, and highly convenient mobile apps to do their transfers on the go quickly. They are particularly popular among the younger generations.

Pros and Cons of International Transfers With Money Transfer Apps

How Much Do International Transfers Cost With Money Transfer Apps?

Money transfer apps have the same types of fee structures and additional costs as remittance companies and currency brokers — which include fixed fees, percentage markups, and exchange rate markups.

How Long Does It Take to Send Money With Money Transfer Apps?

Transfer times depend on the choice of transfer type. Here are the most common transfer types supported by money transfer apps:

  • Bank transfer: If providers have contracts with the banks used, transfers can take between 1-3 working days.

  • Cash pickup: Cash is generally ready to collect within minutes, or a couple of hours.

  • Mobile wallet: Some apps support mobile wallets from which the recipient can withdraw the money — transfer to the wallet typically takes minutes.

How to Send Money Abroad Using Money Transfer Apps?

Step 1: Download the app
Step 2: Log in or sign up for an account
Step 3: Get a quote and complete your transfer

Best Money Transfer Apps

There are many firms aiming to unseat the services of Apple Pay and Google Pay. Here are the best contenders.

Money Transfer AppTransfer TimeFeesWISEIn minutesFrom 0.37% + fixed fee, varies by currencyGoogle Pay1-3 working daysVariesRevolutImmediately0.5% above $1000PayPalImmediatelyFrom 4%Azimo1-3 working daysFrom $1.80 or percentage markup

The apps above have near-perfect user feedback due to their easy navigation and attractive interface.

What Information Do You Need to Transfer Money Abroad With an App?

While there are apps that only require contact information, some may require further proof of identity. Here’s a generalized list of requirements;

  • A photo ID.

  • An email address and phone number.

  • Bank account information.

  • The recipient’s name, number, and bank details.

Transfer Money Abroad With PayPal

PayPal has been around for decades and its scale makes it very user-friendly with comprehensive buyer protection. However, the high costs of the platform push many to seek alternatives.

Pros and Cons of Using PayPal for International Transfers

How Much Does PayPal Cost for Sending Money Abroad?

PayPal imposes three forms of fees on international transfers. Besides the fixed and percentage markup, there’s also a 4% exchange rate markup when there’s currency conversion is involved.

Payment MethodFeePayPal balance or bank transfer5% + $0.99 — $4.99Credit/debit card5% + $0.99 — $4.99Amex Send5% + $0.99 — $4.99

How Long Do International PayPal Transfers Take?

PayPal transfers are notoriously fast, with most taking only minutes. If you are buying through PayPal from an unverified seller it may take longer as they need further verification.

How to Send Money Abroad Using PayPal?

Step 1: Log in or sign up for a PayPal account
Step 2: Fill in the details of your transfer
Step 3: Complete the transfer

What Information Do You Need to Send Money Abroad With PayPal?

PayPal now requires proof of identity along with contact information,

  • A photo ID,

  • Bank details,

  • An email address and phone number,

  • Recipient details.

Send Money Abroad With Cash Transfers and Deposits

Collecting cash is sometimes the best and most convenient option — it is accessible and fast, and loads of operators offer the service.

Pros and Cons of Using Cash Deposits and Transfers

How Much Do Cash Deposits and Transfers Cost?

Services typically add an additional cost for cash pickups, but it tends to be quite modest, ranging from $2 to $10. The exchange rate markup varies by provider. If you are cashing in the transfer you’ll be avoiding any unexpected bank fees.

How Long Do Cash Deposits and Transfers Take?

Cash transfers now take only a couple of hours, if not minutes, depending on the amount and local availability.

How to Send Money Abroad Using Cash Deposits and Transfers?

Step 1: Locate your local branch
Step 2: Arrange and complete the transfer

What Information Do You Need for International Cash Transfer?

You will only need a few details for a cash transfer,

  • A photo ID.

  • Address and phone number.

  • The recipient’s name, address, and phone number.

Transfer Money Internationally With Money Orders

Money orders are one of the best ways to send money abroad if you don’t have a bank account or simply want physical cash in hand.

Pros and Cons of Using Money Orders for International Transfers

How Much Do International Money Orders Cost?

The fixed fees are significantly higher than domestic orders, and may go up to $10. The exchange markup is also comparable to that of high street banks, hovering around 2%-10% of the total transfer amount.

If you still wish to send cash, high street services or providers with cash delivery features may offer more competitive costs.

How Long Do International Money Orders Take?

International money orders are usually mailed to the recipient, so the transfer times largely depend on the countries involved. On average, it takes 2-3 working days.

How to Send Money Abroad Using an International Money Order?

Step 1: Purchase a money order certificate
Step 2: Fill out and sign the form
Step 3: Mail the certificate to your recipient

What Information Do You Need for International Money Order?

Much like cash transfers, you only need a few details for this method,

  • A photo ID.

  • Address and phone number.

  • Name of your recipient.

  • The recipient’s address and phone number.

Transfer Money Internationally Using a High Street Service

You can opt for high street services to send money abroad easily without a bank account.

Pros and Cons of Using High Street Stores for International Transfers

How Much Do High Street Stores Charge?

Varying from service to service, there are usually fixed fees involved. While some services keep their fixed fees as low as $2, they usually give poor exchange rates.

How Long Do International Transfers Take With a High Street Store?

Depending on the countries involved and the amount, the cash can be ready for collection within half an hour. Your chosen service may offer an express service for an additional fee.

How to Send Money Abroad in a High Street Store?

Step 1: Go to a local branch or their website
Step 2: Arrange your transfer
Step 3: Complete the transfer

What Information Do You Need for International Transfer From a High Street Provider?

The information you need will depend on your chosen payment method,

  • A photo ID.

  • The sender’s phone number and address.

  • The sender’s bank details.

  • The recipient’s name, phone number, and address.

Top High Street Money Transfer Providers

Money Transfer ProviderFeesDeposit MethodsRegulatorWestern Union0%Cash, cards, bank depositFCASmallWorldFSVariesCash, bank depositFCAMoneyGram0%CardsFCARia Money TransferVariesCards, bank depositOFAC

Unlike local transfer stores, operators listed above have an impressive global reach — senders can conveniently choose from many local destinations.

Cheapest Way to Transfer Money Internationally

You should note that speedy delivery and low cost is a rare combination to find, and minimizing your cost will largely depend on the amount you are sending and the specialization of the provider.

Money Transfer ProviderFeesRegulatorCurrencies Direct0%FCATorFX0%FCAXe Money Transfers0% above $500, $3 belowFCA

The bunch above offers either very modest transfer fees or one of the most competitive exchange rates for market standards while not sacrificing in speed or safety.

Fastest Way to Transfer Money Internationally

While many operators claim to get the job done in minutes, not all of them guarantee it. You may secure it by paying a little extra for delivery — or simply opt for expensive but reliable operators.

Money Transfer ProviderTransfer timeRegulatorPayPalImmediatelyFCATransferGoImmediatelyFCAWISEImmediatelyFCA

The bunch above presents a range of options for senders to choose from. You can opt for an established service with guaranteed delivery times, pay a little extra for express delivery, or opt for the cheapest option if you are using a common currency corridor.

Safest Way to Transfer Money Internationally

Safety is always crucial, but it's particularly vital when sending large sums. While bank transfers are traditionally conceived as the only safe option, there are plenty of regulated options that cost much less.

Money Transfer ProviderSecurity featuresRegulatorPayPalBuyer protection planFCAWISEDedicated fraud teamFCAWestern UnionAnti-fraud hotlineFCA

The operators listed above have a vast global presence with offices all around the world. Should there be a problem with the transfer, the senders are much more likely to get local help.

Overall Best Way to Send Money Internationally

In terms of satisfying basic requirements, remittance companies and currency brokers make up the cheapest, fastest, and most secure. When stacked against each other, Xe Money Transfers and TorFX are the leading names with low-fee and specialized services.

FAQs

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Idil Woodall

Idil Woodall

Idil is a writer with interests ranging from arts and politics to history and finance. She spent several years in publishing before becoming a full-time writer, and learning the inner workings of an industry she loved ignited her interest in economics. As an English graduate, she cultivated valuable research and storytelling abilities that she now applies to make complex matters accessible and understandable to many. When she’s not writing, she can be found climbing or watching a movie.