6 Cheap and Safe Ways to Pay International Invoices

Do you have to pay overseas invoices? Paying international invoices for things like school fees, medical expenses, or utility bills can be difficult, time-consuming, and expensive. Sometimes it can even be risky. But it doesn’t have to be.

In this article, we will look at 6 methods that offer safe, cheap, and fast ways to pay international invoices. We’ll explore their pros and cons, and when they can be a good option.

6 Cheap and Safe Ways to Pay International Invoices

In this article, we’ll cover:

  1. International money transfer
  2. Wise
  3. Setting up a local bank account
  4. Western Union
  5. PayPal
  6. Credit Card

Learn more about WiseLearn more about OFX

1. International Money Transfer Online

International money transfers are transfers made directly into a recipient’s bank account. This is the traditional way of paying for overseas bills and can be done through traditional banks like Chase, Wells Fargo, or Bank of America, or specialist money transfer providers like Wise, OFX and WorldRemit.

When is this a good option?

An international money transfer is a good option if the issuer of the invoice has a bank account. Some banks and money transfer providers only allow bill payments over a certain amount, which would make it more suitable for paying larger invoices. To pay the invoice via money transfer, you will likely need to include a reference such as an invoice number.

Pros an Cons of paying a bill via an International Money Transfer

  • Exchange rates used for international money transfers are often more favorable than using credit or debit cards.
  • Transfers via traditional banks and specialist providers are generally safe and secure.
  • You can complete the transfer at a branch if you need more assistance.
  • You can easily setup a transfer online with specialist money transfer providers, and with some banks.
  • Alternative providers like OFX, Wise, and Remitly may be faster and cheaper
  • You usually need an account with the bank to make an international money transfer.
  • Banks may have high transfer fees. Can be expensive for sending small amounts.
  • Some providers may include a markup on the exchange rate, making the overall cost higher.

Go to WiseGo to OFX

Best international money transfer apps

There are many alternatives to traditional banks and money transfer services. International money transfer apps like OFX, Wise, and WorldRemit are often faster and cheaper than banks and traditional transfer providers. The best international money transfer app for you will depend on your needs, you can compare providers and choose the best one for yourself.

OFX: Send money to more than 150 countries in more than 50 currencies. OFX offers various money management tools, including risk management.

Wise: Fast, convenient, low-cost payments to more than 70 countries in more than 50 currencies. Wise always uses the mid-market exchange rate and has a transparent fee structure.

Revolut: Pay bills in more than 30 currencies. Tiered account options offer various services, including an interest-bearing account option. Revolut provides analytics tools to monitor spending.

WorldRemit: Send money to more than 130 countries via the WorldRemit mobile app. An account can be funded using popular credit and debit cards, as well as ApplePay. WorldRemit offers 24/7 support in 6 different languages.

Remitly: Transfer from 28 countries to more than 100 countries worldwide. Remitly offers low to no transfer fees and fast transfers, and a money-back guarantee for late delivery. A cash pickup option is available in some countries.

Go to WiseGo to OFXGo to WorldRemit

2. Wise

Wise is a specialist international money transfer provider that offers low, transparent fees, mid-market exchange rates, and fast transfers. With Wise, you can pay invoices and make recurring payments to more than 70 countries in more than 50 currencies. Launched in 2011 in the UK, Wise is trusted by more than 15 million customers worldwide to transfer money quickly, cheaply, and safely.

When is this a good option?

Wise is a good option for those who are looking for a fast, convenient, and low-cost way to pay invoices, once-off, recurring, or even bulk payouts. With Wise, you can pay invoices starting under a dollar up to 1 million dollars, so it is convenient for those with invoices of varying amounts.

Pros and Cons of using Wise for international money transfer

  • Transparent fees mean you always know what you are paying
  • More than 50% of transfers are instant
  • Always uses the mid-market exchange rate
  • You can pay large or small invoices
  • Wise is not a bank so it doesn’t have branches and accounts are not interest-bearing
  • Fees can vary between countries and currency routes
  • No cash deposits

Learn more about Wise

3. Set up a local bank account

These days, most banking can be done online so it can make sense to set up a bank account in the country you are paying the bills. For example, if you own a property in France and are constantly paying bills in Euros relating to the property, it might pay to set up a French bank account next time you are in the country.

Once the account is open, you can make an international money transfer to add money to the account and then use it to pay bills as they arise. If you don’t have the requirements to open a bank account in that country, you can create a foreign currency accounts with international money transfer specialists like Wise and Revolut.

Wise multi-currency account offers local bank account details in 10 currencies including Euro, USD, CAD, and GBP. Also, it allows you to hold and exchange 50+ currencies. The Wise multi-currency account is free for personal use. Revolut has various accounts with different monthly fees, ranging from free to 16.99 USD per month. You can hold more than 25 currencies in a free Standard account.

Go to Wise Account

When is this a good option?

Setting up a local bank account is a good option if you are a dual citizen or if you regularly pay several bills in the same country. You can also use multi-currency accounts to pay foreign contractors or freelancers.

Pros and Cons of setting up a local account

  • Paying bills from a local bank account is often cheaper than international transfers
  • No currency exchange fees since bills are paid in local currency
  • Recurring bill payments are easy to set up
  • Domestic payments can be faster than international transfers
  • You can setup an account online with providers like Wise and Revolut
  • Opening a local bank account may require citizenship
  • Some banks require you to visit a branch to open an account
  • Topping up a local bank account can be costly

4. Western Union

Western Union has more than 500,000 agents worldwide, providing various services like international money transfers to almost every country in the world.  It is a popular choice for cash pickup transfers.

When is this a good option?

Since Western Union offers cash pickup options, it can be a good option when the recipient doesn’t have a bank account or if they prefer to be paid in cash.

Alternative providers like WorldRemit and Remitly also offer cash pickup options. Learn more about Western Union alternatives.

Pros and Cons of paying a bill via Western Union

  • Western Union has a wide global reach
  • The recipient doesn’t need to have a bank account
  • Send cash via one of their 500,000 agents
  • Western Union is a well-known and trusted service
  • Western Union has no clear fee structure
  • Bill payment option may not be available in all countries
  • Transfers can take up to 4 business days to arrive

5. PayPal

PayPal is one of the world’s largest internet payment companies. It is easy to set up an account and most overseas billers will accept payment from PayPal, making this very convenient.

When is this a good option?

PayPal is great to pay bills if you already have a PayPal account. It is also a convenient option if you want to spread out bill payments over a couple of months  with PayPal’s financing feature.

Pros and Cons of paying a bill by PayPal

  • Paying bills with PayPal is quick and easy, especially if you already have a PayPal account
  • Recurring bill payments are easy to set up
  • Special 6-month financing is available on bills over 99 USD
  • Not all billers can be paid via PayPal
  • PayPal’s fee structure can be complicated
  • PayPal is not a bank so it doesn’t have branches and accounts are not interest-bearing

Alternatives to PayPal

6. Paying By Credit Card

Many people pay overseas bills with their credit cards. This can be costly as banks and card issuers may charge a percentage fee on the transaction amount. However, there is usually no added flat fee for credit card bill payments.

Related: How to send money with a Credit Card

When is this a good option?

Using a credit card to pay bills can be a good option for small international bill payments, and also for those who don’t want to hassle with setting up international money transfers.

Pros and Cons of paying a bill by credit card

  • Credit cards are widely accepted as payment methods
  • Banks and credit card companies usually provide some form of fraud protection
  • Convenient for paying smaller bills
  • Providing your credit card details to an unknown vendor may be risky.
  • A fee may be charged as a percentage of the transaction amount
  • Exchange rates may not always be favorable

How to pay international invoices

The steps to pay international invoices may differ depending on which method or provider you choose.

Keep in mind that some international invoice payment methods can have lower costs, but longer delivery times, while others may have short delivery times, but at higher costs. Consider this when choosing a provider, then follow the steps to set up an international bill payment or pay a foreign contractor.

While the steps to pay international invoices may vary between providers, they usually involve some of the following steps:

  • Create and verify an account
  • Fund the account by depositing money or linking a bank account or credit or debit card
  • Provide details of the provider or choose from a list
  • Choose the currency route
  • Review and compare fees to choose the best option
  • Submit or send the payment

Learn more about how to pay a foreign contractor.

How to Pay a Foreign Contractor

How to pay invoices in foreign currency

Paying an invoice in a foreign currency can be expensive due to the use of different exchange rates on the same currency, as well as exchange markups and fees. Banks and credit card issuers often charge premium exchange rate markups.

You can save money by using online international money transfer specialists like Wise and OFX. These providers usually offer faster transfers, at lower costs and at more favorable exchange rates than traditional banks.

Providers like Revolut, Wise, and OFX also offer multi-currency accounts that use local bank details in the UK, Europe, and North America. Multi-currency accounts help you to save on exchange fees since you are already paying in the local currency.  These providers offer business accounts with various features to make international bill payments cheaper and easier:

Wise Business Account: Wise business account lets you pay invoices in more than 70 countries and get local bank details for 10 different currencies. Wise always uses the mid-market exchange rate and more than 50% of payments are instant or arrive within a day. Save money on overseas business expenses with the Wise Business debit card.

Go to Wise Business
Revolut Business Account: Revolut offers several tiers of business accounts, from free to custom Enterprise accounts. Hold and exchange 28 currencies and spend in 150 currencies. Connects with apps like Slack, Xero, and QuickBooks.

OFX Business Account: Make transfers to more than 170 countries and more than 50 currencies. Their global network ensures suppliers are paid quickly and safely. OFX offers multiple payment options, as well as forex risk management tools.

Conclusion: What is the best way to pay international invoices?

There are several methods to pay international invoices. Each of these methods has its pros and cons, which one is best for you depends on your needs and requirements.

International money transfers with traditional banks or paying with credit cards can be convenient to do, but they can often end up being costly. Western Union and WorldRemit can be good options if the recipient doesn’t have a bank account, whereas PayPal can be fast if you already have a PayPal account.

You can choose to open a local bank account, if you are regularly paying invoices in that country. Specialist international money transfer providers like Wise and OFX can offer conveniently fast and low-cost bill payments online.

When you need to pay overseas invoices, compare the different methods to discover which is best suited to your particular needs.

Go to WiseGo to OFXGo to WorldRemit

International Invoice Payments FAQ

What is the best way to pay invoices internationally?

Each payment method has different pros and cons and which option is best for you depends on your needs. You can choose to make an international transfer with a provider like Wise and OFX, setup a local bank account in that country, or pay by credit card. Compare the 6 different payment methods in this article to see which one suits your needs the best.

Can I pay an international invoice with a credit card?

Many overseas companies and providers allow you to pay invoices using a foreign credit card. Read our guide to learn about pros and cons of paying international invoices by credit cards, and when it can be a good option.

What is the safest payment method for international payments?

Most international money transfer providers employ security features to keep transactions and personal information safe. However, you should always be wary of suspicious websites or activity when paying overseas bills online.


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
November 25th, 2023