The secret of paying overseas bills from anywhere – and in a way that won’t break the bank.
With the ongoing process of globalization, and the subsequent movement of people and goods across international borders, many people find themselves needing to cover expenses, like recurrent monthly bill payments, from across the globe. Individuals may need to send money to cover rent, utilities or even student loans, while businesses often need to set up more complex systems to pay staff and suppliers. When it comes to making overseas bill payments, Canadians and non-residents alike have a plethora of options to send money overseas. Check out our handy table below to make comparisons between some of the most prominent services being offered, and keep reading for helpful tips and tricks aimed to help you get the most out of every transaction.
What are some of the overseas bills that I might need to pay?
- Household bills. These are often small amounts that need to be paid monthly and can include student loans, mortgage payments, car payments, utility bills, phone bills and other types of payments.
- Corporate bills. These are often large amounts to be paid monthly, and can include property taxes, equipment rentals, staff salaries and inventory/supplies.
What are some of the ways I can pay my international bills?
When it comes to international bill payments, you can choose to make fixed or flexible payments, depending on whether the amount being paid each month is a set or fluctuating amount.
- Fixed regular payments. These payment models are suitable for amounts that don’t fluctuate each month (ie. mortgage or car payments) because you can lock in competitive exchange rates over time, which will protect you from fluctuations in the market.
- Non-fixed payments. Certain payments will fluctuate (ie. utility or phone bills) based on consumption or other variables, which means you will be unable to benefit from fixed exchange rates, but can track exchange rates to send payments when rates are most competitive.
How to compare providers
Before you select a company to help you pay your bills from overseas, it’s advisable to look into the following features, to make sure that you select the best service to suit your particular circumstances.
- Exchange rates. Even a marginal increase in the exchange rate can impact how much you have to pay out of pocket, particularly when it comes to hefty bill payments. Make sure that the service you choose offers exchange rates close to the mid-market rate (which you can find by conducting a simple Google search).
- Fees. Transfer fees can be tricky business as they can add double-digit costs to your transaction. It’s best to look for a service that can arrange regular payments with low to no fees.
- Speed of transfers. Some transfer companies can complete transfers in a matter of minutes while others can take 2–3 days. Make sure that your bill payments are set up with enough time to spare so that you know the transfer will complete on time.
- Minimum amount. Certain providers will ask that you transfer a minimum amount (which can be as high as $1,000) in order to use their services. Make sure to read the fine print before you invest time into the registration and set-up process.
- Customer service. Reputation means a great deal in the financial industry. Make sure that the service you choose offers top-tier customer service, with both telephone and live chat support options available.
International money transfer comparison for banks
The table outlined below compares exchange rates and transfer costs for Canada’s five largest banks: Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD), Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank), Bank of Montreal (BMO) and Royal Bank of Canada (RBC).
|Bank||Transfer Fee (CAD)||Exchange Rate Markup|
|Toronto Dominion Bank (TD)||$9 – $30||2.64%|
|Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC)||Fee-free||3.34%|
|Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank)||$9 plus 1% of principal||2.88%|
|Bank of Montreal (BMO)||$15+||2.65%|
|Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)||$13.50||2.60%|
Rates current as of 20 February 2018
International money transfer comparison for non-banks
The table below compares exchange rates and transfer costs for seven of the major international money transfer services in Canada
|Money Transfer Service||Transfer Fee (CAD)||Exchange Rate Markup|
|TransferWise||1% of principal||Less than 1%|
|Canadian Forex||$15||Less than 2.5%|
|TorFX||Fee-free||Less than 2.5%|
|Currency Solutions||Fee-free||Less than 1%|
|World First||$10||Less than 2.5%|
|XE Money Transfer||Fee-free||Less than 1%|
|WorldFirst||$10 (less than $10,000); fee-free (over $10,000)||Less than 2.5%|
Rates current as of 20 February 2018
Pros and cons
- Pay bills from anywhere. If you set payments up in advance, you can travel with a clear conscience, knowing that your bills will be paid on schedule.
- Say goodbye to late charges. When you set up regular, scheduled payments, you can rest easy knowing that your bill payments will clear before their due dates, meaning you won’t pay through the nose in late charges.
- Avoid exchange rate fluctuations. While fixed payments can only be arranged for fixed amounts, they can lock in a favourable exchange rate over the long term to protect you from the volatile marketplace.
- Fees apply. As if bills aren’t annoying enough, tacking on a transfer fee ends up costing you more than if you were to pay your bills in-country.
Frequently asked questions
You should be able to find a money transfer provider to send your funds almost anywhere. But certain countries may be excluded from transfer destinations, including North Korea and Iran.
Many online transfer companies allow you to schedule recurring transfers as far as one year in advance, which makes it easier to stay on top of your bill payments.
The exchange rate that you settle on will determine how much it will cost to make bill payments overseas. For example, if you’re looking to send $1,000 from Canada to France, and one transfer company offers an exchange rate of 1 CAD = EUR 0.59 , while the other offers 1 CAD = EUR 0.62, then you will save EUR 30 (almost $50) on every payment if you select the service with the more competitive rate.
This essentially depends on provider you choose to deal with, because certain providers have such limitations in place.