International Money Transfers: The Best, Lowest Cost Services in 2019
It's easy doing an international money transfer with your bank, but it can also be more expensive. Plus the cost doesn’t get any cheaper whether you're looking for a quick one-off transfer or want to transfer funds regularly.
US banks, like Bank of America or Wells Fargo, can charge anywhere between US$25-65 for a single international wire transfer. And for small transfers between major currencies, banks can charge over 5% per transfer. The international money transfer fees are even higher for sending cash overseas.
So doing an international money transfer with your bank can cost you a lot more than its worth. Now let's find out how to transfer funds internationally without paying too much.
Low cost wire transfers between banks
When you transfer money between banks, you usually have to pay extra fees because there are higher costs associated with the transfer. These costs of moving money from on country to another are cheaper for specialist money transfer services, like TransferWise.
Typically, TransferWise charges customers just 1% for transfers, compared with average cross-border costs of 7% if you transfer money directly between banks. Why, do you ask? One reason is that US banks tend to use the high-cost SWIFT network for all of their wire transfers. Sending money through the SWIFT network can be quite expensive, especially for smaller amounts of money.
On the other hand, TransferWise mostly use local payment networks. They only use SWIFT if they have no other option and are constantly working to reduce fees.
How to get the best exchange rates for your transfer
Getting a good rate for your international money transfer is really important, especially if you're sending larger amounts of money and need to exchange currencies. Even the smallest difference in an offered rate can be a huge change in cost when you're transferring US$100,000 or more.
The best way to get a decent exchange rate is to compare the rate that you're offered from the money transfer service or bank you're using and the baseline exchange rate you get from Google. The difference between the two rates is the 'margin'. This margin is important because it will determine how much money you get at the end of your transfer. Unfortunately, banks almost always apply a larger margin.
So what if finding out the margin is too time-consuming? Well, there are simple tools out there to help you compare exchange rates and additional fees from different banks and money exchange services.
What about getting a free international money transfer?
First of all, can you do international transfers for free?
Kind of...There are several providers that don’t charge a fee for sending your money overseas. Instead, they make money by giving you a slightly worse exchange rate, known as a “spread” or “margin.” So while you won’t pay a fixed fee or commission, you’re still paying for the money transfer in one way or another. Sadly, nothing comes for free!
Saying that, you can still keep fees to a minimum by using a money transfer specialist like XE. They provide one of the safest and securest overseas currency transfers that have no transfer fees and lower exchange rates than your bank.
Best online international money transfer companies
When you send money overseas using an online service, you probably want the process to be quick and efficient. Saving money is also important, but if the website isn't easy-to-use, is it worth the effort? Luckily for us, online services like TransferWise, WorldRemit and OFX not only beat bank rates, but using their websites is a breeze.
The process is incredibly similar to using internet banking. There are 3 simple steps.
1. Set up your account - Thankfully, you only have to do this once. You'll have to register your details like name, address email and provide some identification.
2. Make your transfer - You'll need to enter the bank account details of the person you are transferring the money to. This is also when you lock in the exchange rate.
3. Pay for your transfer - Before the money is transferred overseas, you'll need to pay for it. All companies offer their bank account details for a direct bank transfer.
What is an international money transfer?
This is the way you transfer money from your American bank account 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 for international transfers?
Yes. These limits will vary with
, 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 of per transaction of just US$5,000 for international wire transfers. 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) it is definitely worth finding this out.
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.
Can I send money overseas instantly?
Yes, you can. A few of the specialist international money transfer providers do offer a close to instant service. What this means is that they can typically get money there the same day. Now, the speed of your transfer does depend on a few different areas, like where you’re sending from and to, and how you pay for the exchange.
We recommend the following providers for the fastest transfers.
What if I have no bank account? Cash pick-up options
If you want to send cash directly to the recipient, rather than pay money into their bank account, you have three options — Western Union, MoneyGram or WorldRemit. Western Union has the largest network and is competitive for certain destination countries like India. WorldRemit is cheap and their online service is easy to use.
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. All them adhere to 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 and World First are transparent, safe and fully regulated
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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.