Cheapest Way to Send Money
International money transfers are likely to include several intermediary institutions for communication, which may come with additional charges. These types of payments can also be susceptible to market fluctuations. Luckily, remittance companies, challenger banks, and currency brokers are bringing solutions to the problem to help clients move funds globally without paying high fees and they can also protect your money from market volatility.
Cheapest Ways to Send Money Abroad
Best for Bank Transfers: Wise
Best for Cash Pick-Up: Remitly
Best for Mobile Money: WorldRemit
Best for Card Transfers: Paysend
Best for Banking Features: Revolut
Best for Coverage: Xe Money Transfer
Best for Business Transfers: OFX
Best for Large Transfers: TorFX
Best for Making International Bill Payments: Xoom
Wise - Best for Bank Transfers
Wise’s variable and fixed combined fee may come across high in comparison to some of their rivals, but the company makes up for it by providing mid-market rates for currency conversions. Both types of fees change depending on the payment method and currency, with bank (ACH) and wire transfers being the cheapest, albeit slowest payment type. The costs start from USD 0.28 and 0.41%, and there’s sufficient guidance to understand the pricing structure. Here’s an example of sending USD 1000 in EUR:
It is possible to send up to USD 1.6 million to over 80 countries and depending on the payment method, currencies involved, and the amount; transfer times can vary between seconds to 3 working days. Wise doesn’t offer any FX tools but a multi-currency account. Customers can buy currency and store it to transfer in the future and protect themselves from potential market fluctuations.
Wise is utilized more for small transfers and it’s an excellent choice to move money around while traveling thanks to its low-cost (USD 6) debit card, offering competitive fees for ATM withdrawals available in 200 countries.
Remitly - Best for Cash Pick-ups
Remitly distinguishes itself from the crowd with its flexible delivery options to countries with limited access to banking institutions compared to the West. For a small fee, such as USD 3.99 for the Philippines, the recipient can either pick up their cash or have it delivered to their address. The service costs far less compared to peers with similar offerings and allows you to avoid potential third-party fees upon receiving funds.
The operator offers economy and express services with the fees varying based on the currency pair and the amount. The amount is fixed, and it comes along with the exchange markup Remitly has for currency conversion, which hovers between 0.30%-3.6%. There’s a convenient tool with which you can view the fixed fee for your destination. Here’s a breakdown for a transfer between the US and Uruguay:
Express service is only possible via card payments, which come with a fee between 1%-3% and is completed within the same day, whereas economy service is paid via bank transfer and may take between 3-5 days.
While its coverage is not as grand, with only 55 countries, it boasts alternative modes of delivery to key countries such as the Philippines, Sri Lanka, or Vietnam with a fraction of the cost of the high street banks, making it an excellent choice for these destinations.
WorldRemit - Best for Mobile Money
Like Remitly, WorldRemit also offers alternative ways of transferring funds to countries with less commonly traded currencies, like the Ivory Coast, Algeria, or Cameroon, for very small fees. WorldRemit’s Mobile Money functionality includes a good selection of countries, which are likely to require intermediary institutions to accept bank transfers from the US. Customers can also pay via Apple Pay for their transfers, which come with no extra charge.
Mobile money also makes the cheapest form of transfer, along with cash pick up, while bank transfer is typically the costlier option. Here’s a breakdown of a USD 1000 transfer to Cameroon:
WorldRemit has a grand reach of 130 countries and supports over 70 currencies, but features a very low transfer cap of USD 5,000. It also features rapid transfer times and average exchange markup of between 0.5%-1.25%. Depending on the destination of your transfer, it can be one of the cheapest options to send money.
Paysend - Best for Card Transfers
Paysend boasts very low flat fees for card payments for transfers to numerous countries. The fixed fee for transferring money out of the US is only USD 2, and as per the calculator, it remains flat irrespective of the amount. Some currency corridors, such as USD and DKK, are fee-free.
The majority of Paysend’s costs are hidden in its exchange margin which hovers around 0.36% and 1.30%. Nevertheless, it adds industry-standard profit margins on top of unmatched card transfer fees and reaches over 170 countries around the world. Customers are limited to USD 999 per day until they submit their Social Security number.
Much like the price structure, Paysend is not the most transparent about delivery times either. Though the firm makes the transfer in seconds after its completed, it can take up to 4 business days for the beneficiary to access it.
Find out how to send money with a debit card
Revolut - Best for Banking Features
Revolut is by far one of the most outstanding challenger banks that popped up over the last decade. Its 0.3% cost is capped between a minimum of USD 0.30 and a maximum of USD 6 per transfer, with mid-market rates for popular currency corridors. It’s fully functional as a basic bank account, with additional features like investing in stocks or crypto or personal budgeting and spending analysis.
Those who usually make regular payments abroad can also benefit from subscribing to the higher tiers where all transfer fees are scrabbed, and get a higher interest rate for their savings account.
As an FCA-regulated financial entity with a reach of over 100 countries, Revolut is a cheap, accessible, and secure service for those who wish to handle their accounts and transfers in the same place. The only catch of the service is its delivery times: it can take between 1-3 business days and there isn’t an option to speed up the process.
Xe Money Transfer - Best for Coverage
Xe provides access to over 220 countries with very low transfer fees. There isn’t a fee applied for transfers from the US, irrespective of the amount or destination, with exchange markup rates varying between 0.4%-1.2%. Credit and debit card payments are subject to variable fees starting from 1%, whereas bank transfers are free-of-charge. To be on the right side, it’s wise to check with your bank before using the service to see how much they will charge for the transfer.
Xe may complete transfers between frequently used currencies, like USD and EUR within minutes, but it may take up to 3 business days for transfers between less traded currencies, such as FJD and USD. XE Money Transfer is also the cheapest way to send money from Canada to the USA because it offers great exchange rates.
Xe also has other products, such as forward contracts, allowing customers to protect themselves against market fluctuations, and senders can use the online services to send up to USD 475,000.
OFX - Best for Business Transfers
As a currency broker, OFX operates with a no-fee policy and charges for its services through the agreed-upon currency exchange rate markup. The firm is known for its favorable exchange rates, with profit margins being as low as 0.40%. A whopping 85% of all transfers are settled without an intermediary or receiving bank fees.
OFX’s services are geared toward transferring larger sums and have a high minimum transfer of USD 1,000. OFX is an excellent service for SMB owners and sole traders, with functionalities ranging from global payroll to facilitating international investments and acquisitions. All customers, business or personal, performing high-value transfers are assigned a dedicated broker who helps to identify market fluctuations and mitigate currency challenges.
The firm only supports bank transfers and claims to perform most transfers between popular currencies within a couple of days, whereas transfers involving an exotic currency may take up to 5 business days.
TorFX - Best for Large Transfers
Much like OFX, TorFX is also a broker with a no-fee policy. Similarly, it charges for its services through the exchange markup rate, which hovers around 0.5%-2%. As a bespoke service, it offers custom quoting for all its clients and, when applicable, assign a dedicated account manager to help complete the transfer.
Its services are geared towards certain types of large payments sent abroad, including buying a property, paying for tuition, setting up regular payments, or emigration. Serving 120 countries in over 40 currencies, it is fairly widespread.
It has a lower minimum transfer limit than OFX at USD 200, but it's still a more suitable service for larger payments. Clients will have the help of a dedicated broker and certain FX tools when securing a favorable exchange rate for their current, ongoing, and future transfers.
Xoom - Best for Making International Bill Payments
Sending money home to pay for the utilities? Xoom’s rapid and convenient services work just perfectly for this purpose. Partnered with energy, telephone, and water suppliers in selected countries, Xoom powers your payments with only a fee of USD 2.99. Customers can save more if paid with a bank transfer.
There’s a fixed fee of USD 2.99 for amounts below USD 500 for bank deposits and no fee for any amount above. Other payment methods, on the other hand, may go as high as 8% and include PayPal balance, and credit/debit card payments. Here’s a breakdown of fees for a USD 1,000 transfer from USD to ARS:
The service is available in over 160 countries globally but works the best with popular currency corridors, such as between the US and Mexico, Argentina, El Salvador, and the Philippines.
How to Make Cheap Money Transfers Abroad
Step 1: Compare the services. You can start by using online engines like Monito to identify available services moving funds to your beneficiary’s location. Then you can start eliminating services depending on your transfer, considering the sum, regularity, or urgency.
Step 2: Choose the cheapest payment and deposit options. These are usually bank transfers, but note that charges may apply from either bank independent of the service of your choice. If it comes with a reasonable fee, opting for cash pickups may eliminate this risk.
Step 3: Choose the right time. Although many money transfer companies work 24/7, some may apply additional charges, typically through exchange markup rate, on weekends and after hours. Pay and complete your transfers within office hours.
What Costs Are There for Making International Transfers?
Every service has a unique fee structure t. Whether hidden or not, all transfer services charge for their services. Here are the typical fees involved with international transfers;
Transfer Fees: May be variable or fixed, and may change based on the currency pair, payment/deposit method, and the transfer sum.
Exchange Rate Margin: Is the profit margin transfer services added on top of the mid-market rate; the rate at which banks trade with one another.
Third-party Fees: Are not always explicitly disclosed and refer to the additional charge the sender or the recipient’s banks may impose for sending and receiving funds.
What Affects the Cost of Money Transfers?
All elements of an international transfer may affect the cost of it, predominantly the originating and destination countries and regions, the transfer sum, and requested services.
Transfer Limits: Even though your service of choice has very high transfer limits, like TorFX, your bank may apply strict limits per day, which means having to transfer to the operator several times. In those cases, the payment charges may add up.
Market Fluctuations: The currency market is constantly shifting the exchange rate you had when you initiated the transfer may change unless the service is locked the rate for a small window.
Speed of the Transfer: Is one of the major factors affecting the cost. Many operators today have optional express services for a small fee. The fastest transfer options are also card payments, which usually come with a fee of up to 4%.
Currency Pairs: Are also very effective in the final cost of the transfer. Services may charge more for less frequently traded currencies or add higher exchange rate markups.
How Can I Minimise the Costs of Transfers?
Some steps can be taken to minimize the cost of an international transfer based on your specific needs.
Banks and Payment Methods
Some banks have more favorable international and domestic transfer fees. Even when using a money transfer service, it’s sensible to check your bank’s domestic transfer fees as you may have extra charges paying for your transfer via bank transfer to the service provider.
Nevertheless, bank or wire transfers are usually the cheapest options to pay for your transfers when using a service provider like Xe or Remitly. Credit and debit card payments are usually the quickest yet costliest options. Avoid using card payments and seek out low-cost transfer options.
Plan Ahead for Your Transfer
You can save big if you arrange your transfers in advance. For starters, eliminating the urgency means senders can opt for the slowest modes of transfer which also happen to be the most affordable.
It’s also sensible to take market fluctuations into account. You can make use of certain FX tools to secure a favorable currency conversion rate under the guidance of a dedicated broker with services like TorFX. Alternatively, you can opt for a service with a native wallet, like Wise, to have the flexibility of converting and sending out the transfer whenever you wish.
Note that for your regular transfers, it can make sense to combine them into one larger transfer.
Use the Appropriate Money Transfer Services
The suitability of a money transfer service predominantly depends on the specifics of your transfer. You may be able to minimize your costs by avoiding upselling or finding a tailored feature for your needs.
For Cheap Regular Transfers to the Same Place
Some banks, like HSBC, allow two accounts in different countries to transfer money between each other for free. This is a convenient and safe way to secure low-cost regular transfers as you only pay the bank’s exchange rate markup. So, it may be feasible to research the banking group’s branch locations at the destination of your transfer.
Alternatively, you can opt for tailored services: some money transfer services allow customers to lock an exchange rate for a given time and will complete their transfers at the agreed-upon rate, which ensures the fees will be consistent.
For Transfers Under $5000
Irrespective of the amount, banks always incur high fees for international money transfers. For sums this small, it's almost always more sensible to opt for a remittance company. Some, including WorldRemit or Currencies Direct, specialize in transferring smaller funds across countries and therefore have pricing models geared towards it.
For Large Transfers Over $5000
Regulated currency brokers with tailored services are typically the best choice for moving large sums. Most operate on a no-fee policy and charge customers through exchange rate markups. It’s wise to opt for services where you can get a dedicated broker to go through your options, and shop around to get quotes from several services before settling on one.
Why Are Money Transfer Providers the Cheapest Way to Send Money Abroad?
Remittance companies are currently operating in a very competitive market and many offer low-cost services to stay ahead of the curve. When compared to banks they can offer much lower prices due to several factors;
Low Overheads: The majority of these firms are predominantly digital entities, meaning that their operational and overhead costs are much lower than that of a bank, which is likely to maintain several branches in potentially multiple countries.
Eliminating Intermediary Institutions: One of the biggest drivers of the cost of an international transfer is the involvement of an intermediary bank. This happens when two corresponding banks can’t communicate directly, and all participating banks (up to five) may deduct charges for their services. Remittance companies typically have bank accounts in the countries they serve, which means they can transfer money easily and avoid using intermediary institutions altogether.
Range of Services: Specialized service providers may have the capacity to facilitate cheap transfers by using certain currency tools or supporting alternative payment and delivery options.
Remittance Company Examples
Here we mention some money transfer providers. You should always compare the different providers to find out which is the cheapest option.
What Are the Cheapest Ways to Send Money Abroad in My Country?
The services vary widely depending on their specializations and by extension, the features they offer. But they also differ greatly regionally.
Cheapest Way to Send Money From the US
The US banks are notorious for their high wire transfer fees, which may go up to USD 50 for outbound international transfers. Below is a good collection of money transfer services with options for alternative payment and deposit methods, no-fee transfers, and additional banking features.
Cheapest Way to Send Money From Australia
Australian banks impose a flat fee of between AUD 15 and AUD 30 per international transfer on top of an unfavorable exchange rate. Below, you can find services with competitive transfer fees and exchange rates, along with a reach to countries that high street banks may require an intermediary to connect with.
Cheapest Way to Send Money From the UK
UK banks may charge between 3%-4% of the total currency spread while transferring funds abroad, which adds to the exchange rate markup and bank fees. Money transfer companies like those below offer affordability with options for quick transfer or alternative transfer methods.
Cheapest Way to Send Money From Europe
Countries within the SEPA region, including all of the EU, can send money to each other for free-of-charge, conveniently through their banks. Transfers outside of the region can get very costly. Below listed are the cheapest service providers with more attractive features to move money out of the EU.
What Is the Cheapest Way to Send Money Domestically?
The popularity of money transfer apps like those listed here is largely due to the fact that with the US banking system, there’s a trade-off between speed and affordability for domestic transfers. ACH transfers are free-of-charge, yet may take up to three days, whereas wire transfers cost as much as USD 20 per transfer but are settled within the same day. Find the services bringing solutions to this problem below.
What Is the Cheapest Way to Send Money for Cash Pickup?
Western Union is the household name when it comes to international cash transfers, yet, due to its high fees and unfavorable exchange rates, it is losing relevance rapidly. Luckily, there’s a large number of services that can fill in the gap with more competitive exchange rates and lower fees.
What Is the Cheapest Way to Send Money With a Credit Card?
Credit card payments are usually the quickest but more expensive option, but not in all cases. Here’s a list of services with relatively more reasonable credit card fees.
What Is the Cheapest Way to Send Money Instantly?
Mostly geared towards smaller sums, these services don’t jeopardize the affordability to quickly get the transfer done, both internationally and domestically.
What Is the Cheapest Way for a Business to Send Money?
International business transfers, especially regular payments to employees, contractors, or suppliers quickly add up. Providers below like VertoFX have tailored services for businesses of all sizes, focused on minimizing the costs while overcoming challenges that come with the currency market.
Is It Cheap to Send Money Instantly?
Speed is generally a trade-off for low cost, meaning that the quickest options are usually the costliest. That being said, there are many remittance companies tapping into this niche by offering rapid services at a low cost. Unfortunately, cheap instant money transfers are limited mainly to smaller sums and transactions between popular currency pairs, such as USD and GBP or USD and JPY.
Alternative Ways to Make Cheap Money Transfers Abroad
While remittance companies are very competitive in terms of cost and convenience, they may not give the same sense of security as more traditional ways of moving funds. Other ways of transferring money, like bank transfers or international money orders, are not as cheap as remittance companies. Still, clients may minimize the costs by shopping intently and finding a suitable solution.
Bank Transfers: Global banks tend to have lower transaction fees, especially if the transfer is between two accounts of the same banking system.
International Money Orders: Money orders are a non-electronic way of moving funds, where the sender purchases a check, fills it in, and mails it to the recipient. It's a feasible solution for countries close to each other, such as the US and Mexico, and it is accessible and easy to set up.