If you’ve checked your spam folder recently, you may have received a request from a Nigerian prince promising you millions of dollars.
To collect your share of $15 million, you need only to send him a modest sum through an international money transfer.
Once he gets those millions out of the country, you can tell your boss, “I quit!”
If that sounds too good too be true, it is. (In fact, in July 2016, one of the top Nigerian scam artists was finally caught.) While the Nigerian prince may not be real, these scams and malware threats raise an important rule of international money transfers: Put your security first.
Whether you’re sending or receiving money from family and friends abroad or planning to purchase real estate in a destination for expats, you’ll need to confirm account and contact information to ensure that your money reaches its final destination.
Once you’ve secured this information, you can decide which platform works best for you.
You could take $9,999, hop on a plane, and hand your money directly to family or friends. (U.S. Customs do not require you to declare less than $10,000.) However, the cost of the plane ride, jet lag, and the lost time (opportunity cost) makes the trip too expensive.
Over the last decade, new international players have emerged to increase competition on banks, drive down fees and make money transfers easier than ever. Compare transfer fees and options, delivery speed, exchange rates and other features to determine the most secure and affordable way to transfer money overseas.
Here are several of the most reliable ways to transfer money internationally.
Bank wire transfers
A common way that people have sent money over the years is through a bank account by using a wire transfer. This is a convenient service that allows you to schedule a transfer over the phone, online or at your local banking branch. Scheduling a transfer requires the recipient’s banking information, including their account and personal or business name.
But prepare to pay a hefty fee to send your money. Fees can range anywhere from $45 to $60, depending on the bank. You may also pay a higher exchange rate on the local currencies (although there are exceptions, like Citibank and ING Direct).
That said, bank wire transfers are a safe and secure way to send larger amounts of money.
Money transfer services
PayPal is more than just a way to buy used coats on eBay.
PayPal has become one of the fastest and most secure ways to send and receive money from abroad. To do so, both you and your recipient will need a PayPal account.
Setting up an account takes about five minutes and requires your email address, legal name, address, and phone number. Enter your credit card or debit card to begin sending and receiving money, or use your bank account routing number.
PayPal has a variety of pros and cons. It’s easy, fast and secure, and the company has a strong reputation for customer service. However, its fee structures may make it an expensive option.
When you transfer money out of the country, you’ll pay a fee of roughly 0.5% to 2.0% of the total transaction. When using a credit or debit card, fees can jump to a range of 3.4% to 3.9%.
The world’s largest retailer has a strong reputation in the money transfer business, with access to 190 countries and the fastest transfer times possible.
With Walmart, you can send money from one corner of the globe to the other, and your recipient can get the money in as little as 10 minutes. And when we say any corner of the globe, we’re talking access to roughly 336,000 MoneyGram agents around the world.
The primary drawback of Walmart money transfers is the company’s policy on bank accounts. It does not permit the sender to deposit money directly into a recipient’s bank account, which can be a hassle for larger amounts.
TransferWise is an innovative international transfer process that has discovered new ways to reduce fees for larger sums of money. The company uses peer-to-peer technology that identifies people who are sending money in the opposite direction.
So if you’re sending $50,000 to London, TransferWise will match you with someone transferring pounds into dollars — with big benefits.
First, it helps cut fees for customers. The company charges a flat fee of $3 for a transfer of up to $300 and offers mid-market exchange rates to send money abroad. On amounts above $5,000, the company charges a flat rate of 0.7%. Additional rules and restrictions apply.
Comparison of international money transfer options
Slower, cheaper alternatives
If you don’t need your money instantly, you might consider sending money abroad via snail mail. This process involves physically visiting your bank. You’ll want to provide the cashier with all the details of your transfer, including the name and address of your recipient.
At the bank you will pay your transfer fee and send the check to the recipient. Depending on the size of the cashier’s check, your bank may or may not be able to fill the order. Service fees also vary depending on the size of the check, among other variables.
International money orders
Another slow, but inexpensive way to send money abroad is to use an international money order. You can purchase these at your local USPS Post Office. Should they become lost in the mail, they can easily be replaced by the postal service.
The drawback is that the post office has rules on how much money you can send. The most you can send is up to $700 with a service fee of $4.50. In addition, money orders are not accepted in every nation. You will need to research the place you plan to send money.
Want access to cheaper, faster alternatives?
Keep in mind, you’ll likely receive a better deal when you send money abroad when you compare non-bank overseas payment companies.
Finder.com is an online comparison service. Our job is to compare financial products against each other and give you all the information to make an informed decision on the financial product right for you. In addition, we provide a variety of promotional discount codes that give you access to some of the world’s most popular services for less money.
Check our page on the least expensive ways to transfer money overseas and compare services so you can save money on international money transfers.