Online specialists offer easier, faster and cheaper ways than a bank to move your money.
Gone are the days when your only option for sending money overseas was your big-name bank down the block.
Today, a slew of established and startup online money transfer providers promise to slash fees with stronger rates than you’ll find at your local bank branch.
Here’s why you should look beyond traditional financial monoliths to independent money transfer specialists competing on expertise, costs, turnaround and options when it comes to getting your money to friends, family and businesses worldwide.
Banks aren’t the only experts in town.
Among all the services in a bank’s roster, sending your money for international deposit at banks worldwide accounts for a small chunk of its business. Even factoring in exorbitant commissions, banks stand to make far more money on their bread and butter: lending money.
This is where overseas money transfers specialists shine. Focusing their business on moving and exchanging money exclusively, they’ve become bigger experts than even the biggest banks, offering you stronger exchange rates at lower fees with faster turnaround and better customer support.
Banks are known for overcharging.
Who hasn’t looked over their bank’s wire transfer fees and sighed — or fumed? And banks seem to be getting only more expensive, charging fees that can range from $20 to $60 or more, depending on where your recipient lives or conducts business. Not to mention hidden fees in the form of high markups on the mid-market exchange rate.
Online money transfer companies can offer a safe, affordable alternative with transparent fees — if they charge anything at all — and strong exchange rates to more than 200 countries worldwide, depending on which provider you choose. Some even let you lock in an exchange rate on future transfers.
Banks don’t offer the fastest turnaround.
Initiated online or in a branch, the typical wire transfer at your bank can get hung up five days or more in processing. This is because banks work through networks that require at least a day or two of sorting and batching on each end. A frustrating wait time in a high-tech world.
Digital money movers like TransferWise and OFX have perfected the easy, quick money transfer, offering bank deposit delivery within a day or two. And if you’re willing to pay a premium for even faster service, Western Union, WorldRemit and others can speed up the process with cash pickups at worldwide agents and storefronts almost instantly.
Banks often only transfer your money to other banks.
There’s no question that wire transfers are easy: You simply visit your branch or sign on to your online banking platform to initiate the process. Payment is usually withdrawn from your bank account, with delivery limited to bank account deposits. But what if your recipient doesn’t have a bank account?
Many online money transfer specialists offer secure, convenient cash transfers for quick access to the finds you send. And it’s not just better-known providers like Western Union or MoneyGram. WorldRemit sends money to more than 120 countries for cash pickup at local bank branches — and often at fees that beat the most familiar storefront providers.
Some digital providers even let you top up mobile wallets and reload minutes, with a few delivering your funds directly to your recipient’s front door in select countries.
See how other services compare to Banks
Banks require a lot of information.
Whether you choose a bank or an online money transfer company, you’ll need to open an account or register as a customer first. But that’s where the similarities end.
Even if you already hold a bank account, your branch may not offer online wire transfers. If they do, they may require an additional account or even ID with each wire transfer you initiate.
Online money transfer providers streamline the process with intuitive forms and minimal steps to indicate how much you want to send, where it’s going, how you’re paying and how quickly you want it there. And with the best provider, you can get it all done in a few minutes flat.
Banks don’t always support the widest range of transfer amounts.
Banks exist to make a buck, evident in the ranges of transfer amounts they allow. Adding to the confusion is that ranges can be one thing for domestic accounts and another for international banks.
Given the variety of money transfer providers available online, you’re bound to find those that specialize in both money transfers of $100 or less — like TransferWise, which accepts transfers starting at just $1 — and remittances of $50,000 or more.