What is the Best Way to Transfer Money Internationally?

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It's easy to send money overseas with your bank, but it's also more expensive. US banks, like Bank of America or Wells Fargo, can charge between US$25-65 for a single international wire transfer. And for smaller transfers between major currencies, banks can charge over 5% per transfer.

Luckily there are many money transfer services that offer the ease of international money transfers, without the high price tag. But how do you figure out which company has the lowest fees? In this guide we list 5 of the best and most trustworthy services to transfer funds internationally without paying too much.

1. TransferWise - best for online service and exchange rates

It doesn't matter which bank or company you use - it's almost always cheaper to send money overseas online when compared to doing it over the phone or in person. We suggest TransferWise. Especially for online users who want to transfer smaller amounts overseas.

With a simple website and seamless process, you can have the convenience of a bank transfer, without going to a branch. They also offer better exchange rates and are often the cheapest way to transfer money internationally.

What are the fees?

Transfer fee: Small, percentage-based service fee

Exchange rate: Base, interbank rate (Google rate). No margin

Additional fees: Bank debit (ACH) is cheapest; then wire transfer; lastly debit and credit card or Apple/Google Pay

How to transfer money with TransferWise?

  1. Create an online account and login
  2. Tap in how much and where to. Enter your recipients details
  3. Make a US local bank payment to TransferWise. Or you can use SWIFT, your debit or credit card or Apple/Google Pay

Is TransferWise safe?

Yes they are. Click here to see our full review of TransferWise

How long will it usually take?

0-1 business days

2. OFX - excellent for sending larger amounts of money

OFX are a good option for online users who still want strong customer service over the phone. I don't know about you, but I'd feel much safer transferring larger sums of money overseas if I can talk to someone.

They also recently stopped charging a flat fee for US customers doing international transfers. This means OFX is a strong contender for the cheapest online service.

What are the fees?

Transfer fee: No flat fee or percentage-based money transfer fees

Exchange rate: OFX adds margin to market rate. The more you send, the better the rate

Minimum Transfer Amount: US$150 for single transfer; US$250 for recurring transfers

How to transfer money with OFX?

  1. Set up a free online account and login to get a live quote for your transfer
  2. Enter recipient details including bank account, financial institution number, account number and branch transit number
  3. 'Finalize transaction' and pay using your bank account or wire transfer. Business customers can use direct debit

Is OFX safe?

Yes they are. Refer to our full review of OFX for more information

How long will it usually take?

1-5 business days

3. WorldRemit - low fee service for cash transfers

According to the World Bank, international remittances totalled 689 billion dollars in 2018. Now, thanks to increased competition from money remitters who specialise in smaller payments, the cost of cash transfers is being brought down.

The more popular remitters are still Western Union, MoneyGram and Xoom. However, traditional remitters tend to be more expensive. That's why we suggest WorldRemit. They offer lower fees and better exchange rates for cash transfers under US$2,000.

What are the fees?

Transfer fee: Differs depending on amount or where you send the funds. They tell you how much it costs before your transfer

Exchange rate: WorldRemit add a margin to the exchange rate. Get an indicative exchange rate to send money from the USA

Maximum transfer amount: US$10,000

How to transfer money with WorldRemit?

  1. Create an online account and login
  2. Tap in how much, how you want to transfer (cash pickup, bank deposit, Mobile Money or Airtime top-up) and where to. Enter your recipients details
  3. Make local US payment to WorldRemit, using a bank transfer or your debit or credit card

Is WorldRemit safe?

Yes they are. Learn more about how trustworthy WorldRemit are

How long will it usually take?

Instant for cash with valid photo ID and transaction reference number, but depends on country

4. TransferWise - easiest for debit/credit card payments

So, can you pay for your money transfer using your debit or credit card? What about your mobile wallet (Apple/Google Pay)? The answer is 'yes'.

However, companies will usually charge you extra, which can make it more expensive especially for larger amounts.

What we like about TransferWise, is the extra fees are less than what banks, Xoom/PayPal or even Western Union will charge you. It's also easy to make payments on the TransferWise website or mobile app.

What are the fees?

Transfer fee: Percentage-based additional fees for debit and credit card payments. On average, it can cost you up to 3x more to send money to someone overseas if you use your credit card to pay for the transaction. OFX says the percentage of fees can range from 0.5% to 3.9% of the total amount you transfer.

How to pay with my debit or credit card?

Usually a money transfer company will get you to enter your credit card details either online, over the phone, or in a branch. This includes:

  • your name
  • card number
  • expiry date
  • card verification numbers

Can I trust TransferWise?

Yes you can. TransferWise has the correct licenses to operate in the countries they do.

How long will it usually take?

A bit longer, 3-5 business days

5. Citibank - cheapest wire transfers

Banks are almost always more expensive than companies that specialise in overseas transfers. They charge high fixed fees and worse exchange rates than you can get from our earlier suggestions.

We think it’s vital for you to make a fair comparison though, so we recommend Citibank for a wire transfer. This is because they charge the lowest transaction fees and offer the best foreign exchange rates. As long as you’re transferring a decent amount, your money will go further than other high street banks.

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What are Citibank's fees?

Transfer fee: Fixed fee of US$25

Exchange rate: Citibank offer much better exchange rates than other banks, but still take a margin

How to transfer money with a bank?

  1. Register your details. To transfer money internationally, you'll need to register first. Make sure you have valid ID like your passport or driver's license
  2. Provide money transfer details. Your money transfer service will need to know the currency, amount, and the account or person you’re sending money to
  3. Pay for your transfer. Choose how you want to pay for the transfer. Your bank or money transfer service will then convert the money and send it overseas

How safe is a bank wire transfer?

Very secure. Learn more about international wire transfers

How long will it usually take?

1-5 business days to clear funds

You might also be interested in our other international money transfer reviews

We’ve listed some of the very best money transfer providers above, but we also compare other money transfer providers that offer the same service. You can find links to all of these reviews below:

FAQs

What is an international money transfer?

This is the way you transfer money from your bank account in the United States to an account held by someone you know in another country. International money transfers are popular for both large one-off payments and small frequent remittance amounts.

Learn more about how to make an international money transfer or how to track your transfer.

Are there minimum and maximum limits?

Yes. These limits will vary depending on how much you wish to transfer, the countries you send money to, and what method of transfer you are using (be it a bank deposit, mobile payment, or cash pick-up).

For instance, OFX have a US$250 minimum transfer amount. In comparison, TransferWise have no minimum transfer amount, but a maximum transfer amount of US$10,000. Meanwhile, WorldRemit have a send amount per transaction of just US$5,000 for international wire transfers.

How do I safely transfer currency internationally?

If you want to keep your funds secure when you transfer large sums of money overseas, you have a few options. All the specialist providers we compare adhere to the strongest security standards and are fully regulated. They also strictly follow local and international laws to best service their customers.

  • Bank transfer — you can send directly between your bank and a bank in another country, but you will pay high fees
  • Online money transfer services — specialist providers like TransferWise are transparent, safe and fully regulated
  • Peer-to-peer transfer services — companies like TransferWise and PayPal match you with people buying or selling the currency you want to exchange with

Why do international transfer fees vary?

Different companies charge you different fees. When you send money abroad using your bank or international money transfer company, you could be charged fees in several ways:

  1. They may offer a slightly worse currency exchange rate, also known as the exchange rate markup.
  2. They may charge a fixed fee.
  3. They may charge a commission or service charge, also known as a percentage-based fee.

Something else to bear in mind — if you’re sending money to someone else’s bank account, their bank may charge processing fees. A money transfer company has no influence on these fees, and you should speak to the receiving bank to understand how much they might charge.

Find out how much it really costs to send money internationally, and get the best rates.

What are the best international money transfer apps to use?

Most services have smartphone apps so you can access and make money transfers on the go. You can install these apps on Apple and Android devices, then use them to create, pay for and track your international money transfer.

Here are some of the best apps from our specialist providers.

  • TransferWise money transfer app
  • WorldRemit money transfer app
  • WorldFirst money transfer app (if you're transferring money outside of the US)
  • OFX money transfer app

Learn more about the best international money transfer apps.

What other common countries or currencies can I send money to from the US

The most common countries or currencies money is sent to from the US includes: Mexico (MXN), China (CNY), India (INR), Germany (EUR), France (EUR), South Korea (KRW), United Kingdom (GBP), Japan, (JPY) and Italy (EUR) and Australia (AUD).

What recipient information will I need to make a bank wire transfer?

To wire money from the US, you will need the following information about the recipient's account:

  • Recipient account holder name and full address
  • Account number you will be transferring money to
  • Swift / BIC code or Routing Number

How do I send money from my bank account in the US to another bank account overseas?

Send money from your bank account to another bank account overseas using these steps:

  1. Find the wire transfer section from the website of your financial institution
  2. Check any transfer limits there might be
  3. Enter the recipient’s bank details
  4. Enter the amount and choose the currency you want to send your money
  5. Pay the transfer processing fee - your bank can charge anywhere between US$30-80. Your recipient bank can charge as much as US$30 to receive the money.
  6. Find out how long it will take for your transfer to arrive

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General advice: The information on this site is of a general nature only. It does not take your specific needs or circumstances into consideration. You should look at your own personal situation and requirements before making any financial decisions.