The expat’s guide to competitive international money transfers

Save big when you send money back home using a handful of useful tips and tricks.

If you’ve recently moved to Canada and want to send money back home you can use our handy guide to learn the tricks of the money transfer trade. Many money transfer services like WorldRemit, Western Union and MoneyGram are clamoring for your business, and often offer more competitive exchange rates and lower fees than the bank. It’s important to compare your options to determine which provider offers the best deal for you.

Send money home using a reputable money transfer service

Rates last updated September 18th, 2019
Name Product Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Services Description Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received
WorldRemit International Money Transfers
CAD 0
Within an hour
Online, Bank Account to Bank Account, Cash Transfer
Use code FINDERCA and pay zero fees on your first transfer. Conditions apply.
An online money transfer service with cash pick-up, bank account to bank account and airtime transfers available.
TransferWise International Money Transfers
CAD 1
1 - 2 days
Online
Make online transfers with transparent exchange rates, low fees and low minimum amounts.
Exclusive: OFX (Ozforex) International Money Transfers
USD 150
1 day
Online, Phone, Agent
Exclusive offer: Discounted exchange rates for your first and ongoing transactions. $0 transfer fee.
A higher exchange rate applies to non-finder customers. Send money in 45 currencies.
XE International Money Transfers
CAD 0
1 day
Online, Phone, Bank Account to Bank Account
Send money in more than 60 currencies. Fee-free international money transfers with a global brand.
CurrencyFair International Money Transfers
CAD 5
1 - 2 days
Online
Special offer: Pay zero fees on your first 5 transfers.
Get bank-beating exchange rates and fast transfer times on 15+ popular currencies.
TorFX International Money Transfers
AUD 2,000
1 day
Online, Phone, Agent
TorFX guarantee to beat any competitor's exchange rate for a transaction. Conditions apply.

Send money overseas in 45 currencies.
Venstar Exchange International Money Transfers
CAD 7,000
1 day
Phone, Bank Account to Bank Account
Venstar Exchange offers competitive exchange rates and zero fees on large transfers over US$10,000.
CurrencyTransfer International Money Transfers
GBP 5,000
1 - 2 days
Online, Phone, Bank Account to Bank Account, International Money Order
Aimed at larger transfers, CurrencyTransfer is an online marketplace that lets you shop around for the best exchange rate.
The ‘Rate’ and ‘Amount Received’ displayed are indicative rates that have been supplied by each brand or gathered by Finder.

Exchange rates are volatile and change often. As a result, the exchange rate listed on Finder may vary to the actual exchange rate quoted for the brand. Please confirm the actual exchange rate and mention “Finder” before you commit to a brand.

Compare up to 4 providers

Should I use a bank or an international money transfer company?

If you want to send money overseas, you have a couple of options at your disposal. Two notable ways for expats to send money internationally include your bank or an online money transfer company.

  • Bank. Banks typically offer mediocre exchange rates and charge high fees (often between $20 and $100) on international transfers, so even a small transfer can end up costing more than you anticipated.
  • Money transfer company. Money transfer companies offer quick and affordable transactions to thousands of destinations across the globe, with low fees (typically between $0 and $20) and competitive exchange rates.

Money transfer companies

  • Lower fees
  • Better exchange rates
  • Faster transfers
  • Majority offer mobile service
  • Quick and easy registration process

Banks

  • Higher fees
  • Less competitive exchange rates
  • Slower transfers
  • Most offer in-branch service
  • Tedious and complicated registration process

Case study: Kendra sends money overseas

Kendra is originally from England but has been accepted to do her master’s degree at the University of Toronto. She’s determined to continue her studies, but wants to make sure that she can find a secure and affordable way to send money home to her mother. Lucky for Kendra, she’s offered a position as a teaching assistant while she pursues her degree, and begins by comparing the costs to send a portion of her income back home with her bank versus a reputable money transfer service.

BankMoney Transfer Service
Exchange ratesCAD$1 = GBP 0.575
CAD$1 = GBP 0.580
Transfer fees$25$14
Amount received (for $1,000)GBP 5,750GBP 5,800
Transfer speed2 – 5 days1 – 2 days
Options availableBank-to-bank transferBank-to-bank tranfer
or cash pick-up

Kendra realizes that she can save GBP 50 (around $85) in the exchange rate with the money transfer option, with an additional $11 in fees. If Kendra sends money home every month, this amounts to almost $1,152 over the course of one year.

How to compare international money transfer services

  • Exchange rates. Compare the exchange rates offered by a number of transfer companies before you settle on a service. Some companies will offer less competitive exchange rates but charge lower fees while others may offer more competitive exchange rates alongside higher fees.
  • Transaction fees. Many transfer companies will charge a fee to send your money overseas, which will often vary depending on the method you use to transfer funds as well as the amount you send. The best way to make sure that you’re getting the best deal possible is to compare 3-4 services.
  • Bonus features. Some companies specialize in providing one-off transfers only, but others can offer flexible features such as forward contracts and limit orders which allow you to book a lower exchange rate in advance of your transfer.
  • Fast transfer times. Banks have a reputation for taking a considerable amount of time to process transfers (some up to five business days), while money transfer services can take around 1 – 3 days for a bank transfer, with cash pick-ups going through in a matter of minutes.

Documentation you will need to process your transfer

So you’ve made it to the last stage of the game, and have decided that a bank or money transfer service is your best option to send money overseas. Your next step is to set up an account which you can do by clicking ‘Go to Site’ on the interactive transfer comparison table at the top of the page.

  • Bank transfers. If you want to send the money to a bank account overseas from Canada, you’ll need your recipient’s bank account details which can include transit, branch and account number.
  • Cash collection. To send cash directly to your recipient, you’ll need to provide their full name and personal details like phone number and address. You’ll also need to provide them with a money transfer confirmation number so that they can pick up their cash at an agent location.
  • Mobile phone top-up. Money transfer companies like Western Union may also allow you to send money to your recipient’s mobile phone. In order for this to work, your recipient must have an activated Mobile Wallet, and you will need their mobile number and full name to complete your transfer.

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