Best place to buy foreign currency online 2024

Exchanging money online or through an app is quick and convenient – and increasingly popular. There are many different services available in the US market, depending on whether you need online currency conversion to send a payment to someone, to hold a foreign currency balance, to get money for yourself from an ATM, or to send money to someone else to collect in cash near their home.

The range of services available means that the right provider is out there for you – but it also means that you’ll need to do a bit of homework to pick the perfect provider for your specific needs. This guide to the best online currency exchange services in the US has you covered, with reviews of popular services by customer need, including Wise and Revolut which offer flexible digital conversion and spending features..

Quick summary: Online currency exchange companies

Here are the providers we’ll explore in this article, and a quick word on why we picked them:

  • Wise convert 40+ currencies with the mid market exchange rate and low transparent fees
  • Revolut 3 different account tiers, all with some no-fee currency conversion
  • CXI order currencies online for delivery or pick-up in person at a local branch
  • Remitly convert and send money online for cash collection
  • OFX no fees for international transfers in 50+ currencies

Go to WiseGo to Revolut

Best places to buy foreign currency online

There’s no single best place to buy foreign currency online. In fact most providers have features which are aimed at a specific customer niche. We’ll walk through some popular providers available in the US as this guide goes on – here’s a quick overview to get us started:

Currency exchange servicesWiseRevolutCXIRemitlyOFX
Buying foreign currencyHold a foreign currency balance, send international payments , spend with card overseasHold a foreign currency balance, send international payments , spend with card overseasOrder currencies online to collect or for home delivery in cashSend payments to others, to bank and mobile money accounts or for cash collectionSend money to bank accounts internationally
Available foreign currencies40+ including GBP, EUR, CAD, AUD and NZD25+ including GBP, EUR, CAD, AUD and NZD80+ including most major currencies100+ currencies, on popular remittance routes50+ including GBP, EUR, CAD, AUD and NZD
Exchanging foreign currency for USDReceive payments from others in 10 currencies, exchange to USD within accountReceive payments with local or SWIFT details, exchange to USD within accountBuyback service available for unused foreign currencyFund payments in foreign currencies and receive in USDFund payments in foreign currencies and receive in USD
Fees & exchange ratesNo ongoing fees, mid-market exchange rateFees vary by account type, all accounts have some no fee currency conversion, but fair usage and out of hours fees may applyFees may apply for conversion and delivery, including a markup on the exchange rateFees vary based on transfer type, rates include a markupNo OFX transfer fee, rates include a markup
AdvantagesLow cost transactions, mid-market ratesChoice of account types, some no-fee transactions for allGet travel cash delivered to your door, huge range of currencies availablePayments in cash for collection, often instantTransact online – with phone support if you ever need it

Go to WiseGo to Revolut


💡 Great for: anyone who needs to hold, send, spend and exchange currencies online and in-app with the mid-market rate and low fees

You can use your Wise account to hold and exchange 40+ currencies, send foreign currency payments to others, to convert a balance you hold, to make overseas ATM withdrawals to get cash in foreign currencies, to pay for things abroad with your Wise debit card, or to receive money internationally from others.

When you convert money with Wise you get the mid-market exchange rate and low fees from 0.35%. There are no fees to maintain your Wise account and the exchange process can be entirely managed online or with your smartphone app, making this a low cost and convenient option, for people who travel, send and receive foreign currency payments, or shop online with international ecommerce stores.

Go to Wise

How to exchange money online with Wise

Set up a Wise account online or in app by entering your personal and contact information, and getting verified with your ID and address documents and your SSN. You can then add money to your account in USD, and convert within your account by following the on screen prompts. You can also get instant currency conversion when you tap to pay with your card, make a withdrawal or send a payment to someone else overseas.

  • Exchange rates: Mid-market rate
  • Debit card: Available with no ongoing fees to pay
  • Is Wise safe?: Regulated locally and globally by a range of bodies
  • Speed: Conversion can be instant – if you’re sending a payment to someone else, it can often arrive instantly, or within 24 hours
  • Wise reviews: 4.6 out of 5 stars on Google Play, from 868k+ ratings; 4.7 out of 5 stars on Apple App Store, from 67k+ ratings

Wise pros and cons

✅Mid-market exchange rate

✅Hold and exchange 40+ currencies – both business and personal accounts available

✅Debit card for international payment and withdrawals

✅Send money to 160+ countries

✅No ongoing account fees

❌Variable currency conversion fee

❌Transfer delivery times are usually quick – but can vary

❌No cash delivery option

Go to Wise


💡 Great for: choosing the account tier which suits your specific spending patterns, with low or no fee currency conversion and ATM use

Revolut offers 3 different personal accounts, all of which let you hold and exchange a range of foreign currencies, spend with a linked debit card, and get some no fee weekday currency exchange and ATM withdrawals. Accounts have varying no-fee transaction limits, and you’ll pay a fair usage fee if you exceed your plan’s limit – or you can upgrade to a higher tier account to access more features and higher no-fee transaction limits.

Go to Revolut

How to exchange money online with Revolut

Set up a Revolut account online or in the Revolut app, and add money in USD to get started. You can then use your account to exchange your balance to foreign currencies, to spend and withdraw with your debit card, or to send payments to others. In all cases you can exchange currency with no fee on weekdays, to your plan limit.

  • Exchange rates: Mid-market rates to your plan limits, fair usage fee applied after that. Weekend markups also apply
  • Debit card: Available with all accounts, although card features can vary between account plans
  • Is Revolut safe?: Safe, and fully regulated in the countries and regions where it offers services
  • Speed: Currency conversion can be instant, bank transfers have variable delivery times
  • Revolut reviews: 4.6 out of 5 stars on Google Play, from 2.7 million+ ratings; 4.7 out of 5 stars on Apple App Store, from 43k ratings

Revolut pros and cons

✅Choose from 3 different account types

✅Standard plan has no monthly fee

✅Some fee free currency conversion Monday to Friday on all account tiers

✅All accounts have some no fee ATM withdrawals monthly

✅Lots of other features and perks available

❌You’ll pay a fairly high monthly fee to get all features

❌Fair usage and out of hours currency conversion fees may apply

❌You can’t send cash to others

Go to Revolut


💡 Great for: travel cash in 80+ currencies which can be delivered right to your door

CXI has a very good range of currencies with 80+ available for online order. You can pick up your cash in one of 35+ branches or have it delivered to your home or office if you’d prefer. CXI extras include a buy back service – you can pay extra to guarantee that you get the same rate you bought for if you’d rather have peace of mind about exchange rate fluctuations. Exchange rates are likely to include a markup.

Go to CXI

How to exchange money online with CXI

You can order any of 80+ currencies online with CXI to pick up in a store location or to have delivered to your home. If you’re having money delivered you’ll need to be home, with a valid ID to take receipt of your money.

  • Exchange rates: Exchange rates include a markup
  • Debit card: Not available
  • Is CXI safe?: CXI has a large network of US branches and is considered safe to use
  • Speed: Varied pick up and delivery times based on currency and location

CXI pros and cons

✅80+ currencies available for online order

✅Pick up your cash or have it delivered to home

✅Buy back service available if you have unused travel cash on return to the US

✅35+ branches to pick up from

✅Online rates may be better than on the spot conversions

❌Exchange rates are likely to include a markup

❌You’ll need to wait in for a home delivery of cash

❌Delivery fees may apply

Go to CXI


Remitly can be a strong option if you want to send money to someone who doesn’t have easy access to a bank or ATM. You can send money to 170+ countries and choose a variety of delivery options including sending money to a bank or mobile money account, or for cash collection.

Cash collection payments are often fast or instant and can be very handy if you need to get money to someone in a foreign currency quickly. Remitly transfers have variable fees, depending on where you’re sending money to, and the Remitly exchange rate is calculated based on the live mid-market rate plus a markup.

Go to Remitly

How to exchange money online with Remitly

Exchange money online by registering a Remitly account – you can send low value payments with little verification required, but to send more, or more frequently, you’ll need to provide some ID documents. Once you have an account you can easily enter the details of your payment and pick your preferred funding and delivery method, from those available at your destination.

  • Exchange rates: Mid-market rate + a mark up
  • Debit card: Not available
  • Is Remitly safe?: Regulated in the countries it serves – safe to send to people you know and trust
  • Speed: Payments for cash collection and mobile wallets can arrive in minutes – bank transfers may take a little longer
  • Remitly reviews: 4.8 out of 5 stars on Google Play, from 816k+ ratings; 4.9 out of 5 stars on Apple App Store, from 1.5 million+ ratings

Remitly pros and cons

✅Send to bank and mobile money accounts or as cash

✅Payments to 170+ countries available

✅Transfers for cash collection can arrive in minutes

✅Extremely well rated apps

✅Regulated service that’s safe to use

❌Exchange rates include a markup

❌Transfers can have very low limits

❌Variable delivery times

Go to Remitly


OFX offers ways to convert USD to 50+ currencies to send to 170+ countries, for deposit to a bank account. There’s no OFX transfer fee, and no fee to set up your account in the first place. Instead, OFX adds a small mark up to the exchange rate. This is a fee – but it’s often smaller than the mark up you’ll find used by banks. OFX has strong customer service, and offers 24/7 phone support, as well as digital transfers.

Go to OFX

How to exchange money online with OFX

To exchange money with OFX you’ll need to register an account which you can do online or by phone. You may find you need to make your first transfer by phone so a member of the team can talk you through your options. You’ll be notified of the exchange rate being used and your available payment methods – usually bank transfer and card. Fund your transfer and the money is on the way.

  • Exchange rates: Mid-market rate + a small markup
  • Debit card: Not available
  • Is OFX safe?: Safe, trusted and highly rated on customer service
  • Speed: Transfers can take 1 – 5 days depending on the currency
  • OFX reviews: 4 out of 5 stars on Google Play, from 3k+ ratings; 4.8 out of 5 stars on Apple App Store, from 2k+ ratings

OFX pros and cons

✅Transact digitally and by phone, 24/7

✅Send payments in 50 currencies to 170+ countries

✅Transfers in major currencies are usually available in 1 – 2 days

✅No transfer fee

✅Currency risk management and business services available

❌Exchange rates include a markup

❌More exotic currencies can take 5 days to arrive

❌No cash payment options

Go to OFX

How to exchange currency online

As we’ve seen, there are many different online currency exchange options in the US, each of which has its own process for converting currencies.

There are a few common ways to manage your conversion online – using a multi-currency account and card from a service like Wise or Revolut, or buying foreign currency for collection of delivery from a provider like OFX. You could also try a service like OFX or Remitly if you need to send foreign currencies to someone else.

Here’s an outline of how the options work:

Online multi-currency account with a linked card

Online multi-currency accounts from providers like Wise and Revolut let you hold a balance in a selection of foreign currencies and spend with a linked card when you travel. You can also use your account to convert, send and receive currencies with just a phone or laptop.

  1. Register an account with your preferred provider and get verified
  2. Order a card, and add a balance in USD to your digital account
  3. You can use your balance to convert to your preferred currency, to send to others, or to spend with your card

Go to WiseGo to Revolut

Buy foreign currency online for delivery or collection

Services like CXI specialize in travel money, which you can order online and have delivered to your home or office – or collect in a store near you. Online orders often have better rates than if you just walked into an agent with cash, and also guarantee that the currency you need will be there when you visit the location to collect.

  1. Go to your preferred provider’s website
  2. Order your currency and pay with card
  3. Collect your money at your preferred location or have it dispatched to your home

Go to CXI

Buy foreign currency online to send to someone else

The final common way to convert currencies online is when sending a payment to someone else. Multi-currency account providers like Wise and Revolut offer this service, as well as specialists like Remitly and OFX. Depending on the provider you pick you could convert your USD to a range of currencies to be deposited to a bank or mobile money account or collected in cash.

  1. Visit your preferred provider’s website or app and register an account
  2. Enter the amount you want to transfer, and the currency, to generate a quote
  3. Review your options and pay using your preferred payment method – usually bank transfer or card
  4. Your money can be collected – often instantly – or will be deposited to the recipient’s bank or mobile money account automatically, depending on your transfer type

Go to RemitlyGo to OFX

Which service has the best exchange rate?

Exchange rates change all the time, so getting to know the rate for your currency pair is handy so you can make sure you’re getting a good deal. The rate you’ll see on Google is the mid-market rate, which is used as a benchmark to compare service options. It’s common to find a markup is added to the mid-market rate, which is a percentage fee. Looking for the mid-market rate, or the provider with the smallest possible markup, is usually the best way to get a good deal.

Here’s a reminder of the exchange rates for the providers we reviewed earlier:

ServiceExchange rates
WiseMid-market rate, conversion fee from 0.35%
RevolutMid-market rates to plan limits, fair usage fee applied after that. Weekend markups also apply
CXIExchange rates include a markup
RemitlyExchange rates include a markup
OFXExchange rates include a markup

Do you get a better exchange rate online?

This can very much depend on the provider you pick. When buying travel cash it’s pretty common to find that online orders offer better exchange rates compared to walking into an office with cash for an on the spot exchange. That’s because online transactions involve less labor and so the provider can charge a smaller fee. Other services, like Wise, will use the same exchange rate when you convert currencies or pay with a card, so the rates you get will always be the best available live rate at the point of conversion, no matter what type of transaction it is.

Things to consider when choosing an online currency exchange service

Different online currency services have their own features, benefits and costs. Often you’ll find that providers have a particular target customer in mind – which may be someone sending money to a friend overseas, someone getting travel cash before a break, someone paying overseas bills, or someone looking for easy ways to spend with a card when they travel.

Picking the right provider for you will need a bit of thought. Depending on what you need to do, one provider may offer significantly better value than another. Here are a few considerations when you’re choosing:

  • Exchange rate – the exchange rate will be important in dictating how far your USD goes when you’re spending in a foreign currency. Exchange services set their own rates, so looking for one with the mid-market rate or as close as possible to it will usually net you the best deal
  • Fees – depending on why you need to convert funds you may find there are fees to pay. These could be transfer fees, commissions or delivery fees for example. Providers should show these charges transparently, but sometimes costs can be buried in the exchange rates used – so do look at both fees and rates when you pick a service
  • Convenience – if you’re converting currency online you need a provider which is convenient to use, with a good app or website. It’s also worth considering how convenient it’ll be to get your cash. Collection services can be a bit of a hassle, but having a digital multi-currency account and card from a provider like Wise or Revolut can be a convenient alternative
  • Speed – currency conversion in a digital account can often be done instantly, but if you’re sending a payment to someone overseas delivery times can vary widely, so comparing a few is a smart option

Understanding exchange rates

We’ve mentioned that it’s important to check the exchange rate a provider will offer you before you convert currency online. But what does that really mean?

To know if an exchange rate is any good or not you’ll need to know the mid-market currency exchange rate for your currency pair – so for USD to EUR for example. You can find this on Google or with a currency exchange calculator. What you’ll be shown is the mid-market rate, which is the one that’s used as a benchmark by banks and currency exchange services trading on wholesale markets. However, this rate isn’t usually passed on to customers.

Generally providers will add a markup – a fee – to the mid-market rate to calculate their rate for currency exchange. This is hard to spot, and can mean you’re paying fees you weren’t expecting. Looking for a provider which offers the mid-market rate with no or low markup is the best bet.

Where to avoid exchanging currency

As tempting as it may be, it’s usually best to avoid exchanging currency at the airport. Airport currency exchange desks tend to have little competition, and know that travelers just want to get their money sorted, and won’t be scrutinizing the costs at this stage. That can lead to a high markup fee being added to the exchange rate, which ultimately means you pay more than you need to for your travel cash.

When should I use my bank to exchange currency?

Some banks in the US offer travel cash services which allow you to walk in and exchange dollars to the currency you need instantly. You’re likely to need to already hold an account with the bank before you can use this service.

Using a bank may not be the cheapest option for some common currencies – but they can be handy if you’re in a hurry and need to get your money quickly, or if you’re looking for a more unusual currency. Compare your options across banks, digital non-bank alternatives and physical money changing providers to see which is best.

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Conclusion: Best online currency exchange websites

Exchanging currency online is convenient and fast. You’ll often find you need to register an account before you can make an online exchange, but this can be done with just your laptop or phone. There are lots of different online currency exchange services which could work for you depending on what you need.

  • If you want convenient ways to exchange a foreign currency balance, spend on card, and make cash withdrawals as you travel, consider Wise or Revolut.
  • If your priority is sending a payment to someone that they can get in cash, Remitly may be right for you
  • For bank deposit transfers you can arrange by phone as well as online, check out OFX.

By comparing a few options, you’ll find the right service for your unique needs.

FAQs – Currency exchange companies online

What is the cheapest way to get foreign currency online in the US?

The cheapest way to exchange currency really depends on what currency you are buying, how much and where you are. If you need cash instantly, a physical bank or currency exchange store is your best bet – choose one in a city center where there’s lots of competition if you can. If you have more time, get a digital account from a provider like Wise or Revolut for great exchange rates and low cost ways to spend and withdraw overseas.

Where can I get money exchanged at the best exchange rates?

Wondering where to exchange currency in a store? Use these city guides to help you get the best exchange rates deals

Claire Millard
Fintech Content Writer
Claire Millard is a content and copywriter with a specialty in international finance. Her work has featured in The Times and The Telegraph, as well as industry magazines and leading personal finance blogs.
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Seyma Mektepli
Seyma is an experienced content writer and editor-in-chief at Exiap, delivering informative articles on personal finance, and money transfers.
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Last updated
June 19th, 2024