5 Cheap and Safe Ways to Pay International Invoices

Paying international invoices can be tricky and time consuming. Whether you need to pay school fees, medical expenses, household or power bills, paying these expenses to a country overseas can be tricky. Here are 5 ways you can reduce the cost of these international invoices and avoid some of the stress.

6 Cheap and safe ways to pay international invoices

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

1. International Money Transfer Online

If your biller has a bank account you can pay into, then an international money transfer can be a great option. You can transfer the money into their bank account using a bank or a money transfer company. Be mindful though, many money transfer companies have a minimum transaction size of $1000.

When this is a good option?

An international money transfer is a good option for larger bill payments above $1000 and when your biller has a bank account you can pay into. If you are using this method, make sure you include your invoice or bill number on your payment so they know it’s from you.

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

The exchange rate you will get from making an international money transfer will usually be better than PayPal or using a credit card, but there is more work involved. Banks will often charge between $18 to $22 so, for smaller amounts especially, it can be an expensive way to send money overseas for smaller amount.

2. Wise

Wise (formerly known as TransferWise) offers a new way to send and receive money in a broad range of currencies - saving you time and money compared to using banks or money changers. Wise was launched in 2011 and today, Wise is trusted by over 12 million customers, and sends payments worth around 8 billion dollars a month to 80+ countries around the world.

When this is a good option?

The biggest advantage of Wise is low and transparent fees. You get to see the transfer fees, exchange rates and the exact amount that will reach the receiver. They provide transfer to more than 80 countries. More importantly, they apply a discount for larger transfers. Thus, they could be a good option if you are planning a large international transfer.

 

Pros and cons of using Wise for international money transfer

Best pro of using Wise is low, transparent transfer fees - and no extra costs bundled into the exchange rate - Wise is often one of, if not the, cheapest provider available. They don't have a branch network - which means you can’t deposit cash payments.

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 to. For example, if you own a property in France and are constantly paying bills in Euros relating to the house, 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 online 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. Wise account is free for personal use. Revolut has various accounts with different monthly fees, while standard account being free and you can hold money in 27 currencies.

When this is a good option?

This is a great option when you are a dual citizen or when you often have lots of bills in the same country.

Pros and Cons of setting up a local account

The biggest advantage is saving on common fees and charges that come with paying via credit card or Paypal. It’s also so much easier to pay a local bill in a local currency using a local account. The big drawback is the hassle of opening the account and maintaining a balance. This might not even be possible if you are not a resident of the country.

Related: Transferring Money Back to the United States from Overseas

Learn more about Wise

Learn more about Revolut

4. Western Union

Some view Western Union as outdated, with the emergence of newer online players, such as PayPal and Wise, however they still remain a good option in certain situations.

When this is a good option?

The biggest advantage of using Western Union is their global reach. They are particularly useful if you need to pay into a country that doesn’t have a big banking sector. Payments to some parts of South America, Africa and Asia are almost impossible through a bank but with its unparalleled global reach, Western Union can be a good option.

Pros and Cons of paying a bill via Western Union

The biggest con of using Western Union is the cost. Unfortunately, there is no flat or common fee. The exchange rate, fees and charges all depend on where you are sending the money, how much and how it is being received.

Related: Western Union Review

Learn more about Western Union

5. PayPal

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

When this is a good option?

PayPal is great to pay bills if you already have a PayPal account with money in it. It’s also a relatively cost-effective way to pay for smaller bills up to $200.

Pros and Cons of paying a bill by PayPal

PayPal is very quick and easy – particularly if you already have a PayPal account.

PayPal does charge for this convenience though. They charge a flat fee and a percentage of the payment. This won’t matter too much for small bill payments under $200 however there are cheaper options for larger amounts.

Related: PayPal International Fees – How does it compare?

Learn more about PayPal

6. By Credit Card

Giving your credit card details online, or directly to someone you are paying the bill to, means you are likely be charged a fee as a percentage from your bank or card issuer. Usually, it is between 3% and 5%. Importantly, you won’t be charged a flat transaction fee on top.

When this is a good option?

This makes it a cost-effective way to pay for small international bills under $200.

Pros and Cons of paying a bill by credit card

Using a credit card is the easiest way to pay for bills in another country. The biggest downside is that the bank fee is usually a percentage of your bill payment. This means for bigger payments, the fee can really add up.

Related: Can you use a Credit Card to send money overseas?

 

 

Conclusion

Best way to pay an invoice internationally depends on your needs. If you need to pay in cash, then Western Union might be the way the go or if the recipient has a PayPal account then transferring with PayPal can be a quick option. Otherwise, online international money transfers with specialists like Wise can offer fast, convenient, and often cheap transfers.

Learn more about Wise

Learn more about PayPal

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By Arlene Mc Donnell Updated September 16th, 2022