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Residents of Canada transfer more than $5 billion a year to countries all over the world using international money transfer services.
Some of the most popular destination countries include the Philippines, India, the United States, China and Pakistan. The number of money transfer service providers is growing steadily, as younger companies like TransferWise, WorldRemit and Currencyfair – to name just a few – are joining giants like Western Union, Moneygram and Paypal to give senders many more options to choose from.
Whether conducting business globally or sending gifts to loved ones across the ocean, more and more people are relying on international money transfer services to get their money where it needs to go. And for good reason! In addition to offering competitive exchange rates and fees that usually beat big banks, dedicated online money transfer services are also secure, convenient and user-friendly.
WorldRemit International Money Transfers
WorldRemit can help you get your money where it needs to go in minutes, with upfront exchange rates and low fees.
Use promo code FINDERCA on your first transfer and pay zero fees. T&Cs apply.
- Transfers to 150+ countries
- Send to bank account, cash pickup, mobile money, airtime top up
- Pay with card, Interac or Apple/Android Pay
What's in this guide?Jump to…
How do I send money overseas?
Although the process differs by company, to send money overseas you’ll generally:
- Register for an account. You’ll need an account with the financial institution you’re sending money from, whether it’s a bank or a separate money transfer service. This is often a free part of initiating your transfer, although some bank accounts may require a minimum deposits or some other criteria before you can open a particular account. (Most banks, however, offer accounts with no fees or minimum balance requirements, so check with your bank to find out what options are available to you). You’ll have to provide your full name, contact info and date of birth. Some providers also require proof of ID such as a driver’s license or a passport.
- Provide your recipient’s details. Specify who’s receiving the funds by providing their name and contact information. If you’re sending money for deposit, you’ll include the bank name, SWIFT code and your recipient’s account number.
- Indicate the details of your transaction. Enter how much money you’re sending and in which currency it will be received.
- Review the details of your transaction. For most providers, you’ll see a summary of your transfer showing the amount you’re sending, the exchange rate, any fee you’ll pay and the total your beneficiary will receive.
- Pay for your transfer. Payment methods vary by company but could include credit or debit card, bank account, cash or mobile wallet.
- Track your transaction. You should receive confirmation that includes a tracking number or receipt for monitoring the progress of your transfer online or with a company branch.
You may also receive an email or text when your beneficiary has received your funds and the transaction is completed. Below are examples of different ways you can transfer money including bank-to-bank and cash transfers, as well as electronic funds transfers and international money orders.
Online money transfer companies rely on the wonders of the world wide web to send funds overseas, so it helps to be computer literate if you want to use this transfer option. More specifically, you’ll likely need to know how to set up an account and scan documents in for identity verification purposes. As far as online money transfer companies go, there are a number to choose from, including TorFx, TransferWise, XE Money Transfer, Travelex and RationalFX, among many others. These companies offer bank-beating exchange rates and fees, with Canadians typically saving a significant amount on every transaction.
Case study: TorFX
Say, for example, you want to transfer money overseas using TorFX. TorFX charges zero fees on all transfers (with a minimum transfer of around $170) and a smaller margin on exchange rates compared to the average bank rate of 4%. Banks, on the other hand, typically charge between $25 and $50 per transaction, in addition to the markup on exchange rates. If you’re looking for big savings, online transfer companies like TorFX are a safe bet.
Certain money transfer services offer immediate cash delivery for your transfer, which can be a real lifesaver in case of an emergency. These companies typically operate out of a storefront or third-party retail location and allow your recipient to collect funds on location in your destination country. While cash transfers are usually the fastest option, they can also be more expensive, so it pays to do your homework.
Case study: Money Gram and Western Union
Western Union and MoneyGram are two of the top players when it comes to international money transfers, collectively reaching over 200 countries in the world with more than 900,000 agent locations. It can cost anywhere in the range of $10 to $70+ dollars in fees to facilitate a cash pickup with either company, depending on the destination country and amount being sent.
If you’re keen to send money with your bank, this is still a viable option, albeit somewhat more expensive than sending money with an online transfer service. Also known as an international money transfer, a telegraphic transfer (TT), a wire transfer or a SWIFT transfer, sending money with your bank is a secure and convenient way to send money, particularly if you’re not well-versed in online banking.
Case study: Royal Bank of Canada
The Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) transfers money to almost every country in the world in addition to dealing in hundreds of different currencies. The only catch is you will need to pay around $13.50 fee for every transfer, regardless of the amount sent, in addition to being charged a hefty margin on exchange rates. While you may not need to pay to receive funds into your RBC account, your recipient can incur fees on their end, so it’s a good idea to check with your bank regarding potential hidden charges. Many other prominent banks in Canada offer similar deals, including BMO,TD, Scotiabank and CIBC.
For those who are really old school, an international money order could be the way to go. Just head down to your bank or local post office to order this certified, cashable document guaranteed by your institution. Once you post the money order to your recipient, they simply cash it at their local bank and deposit the money into their own account. While this transfer method is secure, it’s important to note that sending anything through the mail is a time-intensive process, which could cost you more money in the long run.
Case study: Toronto Canada Trust (TD)
TD bank will issue an international draft/money order for around $7.50, which is on-par with other banks in Canada. One of the benefits of a money order is that you’ll know the exchange rate immediately at the time the draft is purchased, although the bank’s exchange rates will likely be less competitive than those of a money transfer service. While you can technically send a personal cheque internationally, it is not advised as there will likely be a $20 administration fee to your TD account and significant delays in processing.
Compare your options for sending money internationally
Feel free to use our table below to compare some of the front runners in the money transfer business to find the best deal. When you decide on a company, simply click Go to Site to register and start sending money today.
How much do money transfers cost?
Fees can vary widely depending on the provider you’re transferring with. Overall, providers make money on your transfer in two ways: by marking up the exchange rate and by charging you a transfer fee. Transfer fees can range from a few dollars to up to $80 or more, with some providers taking even more as a percentage on your total amount.
Depending on the provider, your transaction fee could be:
- A flat fee on the transfer, no matter the amount you’re sending.
- A tiered-fee structure — for instance, $5 for transactions under $500 or $10 for transactions under $1,000.
- A fee calculated as a percentage of the total transfer amount.
- $0 if you meet a fee-free threshold — $5,000 or more with some providers.
Be wary of other fees that could apply. For example, a provider could charge your recipient a fee to cash a bank check or pick up cash in person.
The important of getting a competitive exchange rate
Banks and other services are likely to add a little to the mid-market exchange rate, “padding the rate” to increase their profits. While a few cents may not sound like a lot on its own, when you multiply it by the $2,000 you plan on sending overseas, it can add up to a big difference in the amount ultimately received.
What is the mid-market rate?
The mid-market rate is what your money’s actually worth on the global market compared to another currency. It’s the midpoint between worldwide supply and demand – or the “buy” and “sell” prices – for that currency. Banks and transfer services use this rate when they trade among themselves. You can find the mid-market rate between 2 currencies by averaging what 1 unit of a currency sells for and what 1 unit of that same currency costs to buy.
Use this rate as a baseline to compare against the rates provided by your bank or transfer service. With it, you’ll discover which companies offer the best rates and which companies skim a little too much off the top.
Ways to save when making a money transfer
- Compare exchange rates. Use your currency’s mid-market rate as a baseline to compare against the rates you’re offered. You want a provider whose rate is closest.
- Send more money per transfer. Many providers discount transfer fees or waive them altogether when you send larger amounts.
- Same-currency transfers. It can sometimes be cheaper to transfer CAD dollars to your recipient, allowing them to transfer these dollars into their own currency when received. That way, your recipient will bear the brunt of exchange rate related costs. This method could potentially result in lower fees as well, depending on where you’re sending.
- Look for hidden fees. Avoid surprises by reading the fine print for fees that could apply to your transfer, including charges your recipient will need to pay.
- Take advantage of special offers such as “get your first transfer free.” With plenty of competition in the market, money transfer companies go to great lengths to gain your trust and your business, so don’t hesitate to take them up on their special offers! Keep an eye out for promotions like getting the fees waived for your first transfer. WorldRemit is one such provider that offers this kind of deal.
- Regular transfers. You may be able to shave a few pennies off an exchange rate or pay lower transfer fees by setting up a plan to automatically make payments overseas at certain recurring times.
- Shop around to find a service that suits your needs. The transfer method that works best for you will depend on your unique set of needs. If you have a wad of cash to transfer ($10,000+), it can really pay to use a transfer company. For smaller amounts ($200 or less) it may make more sense to use a bank transfer or a similar service, like Paypal.
Money-saving strategies for financially experienced senders
There are other ways to save money on your next transfer, but these strategies are better for more advanced senders who are financially experienced and understand how exchange rates work.
- Lock in a forward exchange contract. If you have your heart set on a specific exchange rate, but don’t want to submit your transfer quite yet, you can book a forward exchange contract, which will guarantee you get that same rate at a later date. Most of the time, you’ll be asked to secure the transaction with a deposit, which will be held as collateral until you finalize the transaction.
- Pin down a limit order. It can pay off to sit tight and set an order to initiate the transfer only when a specific currency exchange rate shows itself on the market. Limit orders should be used when you’re not happy with the current exchange rates, and have a bit of time to wait out fluctuating prices.
The best advice that we can give overall to you is do your homework – compare your options (which you can do using our handy transfer table at the top of this page) and find the service that best suits your needs and your budget.Back to top
How do I compare international money transfer services?
Start by using our comparison calculator above to weigh transfer minimums, speeds, fees and exchange rates to find the best service for your circumstances.
By comparing the elements of your transfer below, you can ensure that you get the cheapest deal for your needs.
- Exchange rates. Nearly all providers skew exchange rates for a profit. Compare the rate you’re offered to the mid-market rate — the rate banks and transfer services use when they trade among themselves — and look for the smallest margin between them.
- Transfer fees. Find out whether the provider charges a flat fee or a percentage of your transfer. If you’re sending a large amount, ask whether you qualify for a fee-free transfer.
- Payment and delivery options. Some transfer companies allow you to pay with a credit card online, by phone or through an app. Others offer agent locations for cash payments and pickups. Also ask how your recipient can receive your funds: bank account, cash pickup, mobile wallet and more.
- Transfer speeds. If it needs to be there fast, companies like Western Union and MoneyGram allow for quick cash pickups, often in minutes. If you have more time, you’ll get better rates and fees with an independent provider.
- Flexible transfer options. Ask whether you can schedule payments ahead of time or protect your transfer against market fluctuations with a limit order or forward contract.
- Transfer limits. Your best option might depend on how much you want to send. For large transfers, weigh the best exchange rate — especially since providers encourage large transfers by offering low fees. For smaller amounts, consider the fees you’ll pay on top of the exchange rate.
- Customer support. Most companies offer customer service by Internet chat, phone, in person or by email. Make sure help will be available if you need it.
- Security. Does the provider guarantee safe and secure transfers? How is your data handled? Are SSL certificates used to protect sensitive information used during a transaction? Is the company regulated by a governmental body, a licensing institution and/or a consumer protection agency?
Compare minimum and maximum transfer limits
Minimum and maximum transfer limits often apply and vary among companies and currencies. Besides helping you to narrow down your search to services that allow transfers of the amount you want to send, these limits can also help you see which services are suitable for very large and very small transfers.
Note that, while transfer service providers may allow you to send large amounts, the amount of money you are allowed to send in 1 transaction or within a time period such as 24 hours or 30 days may be limited. So, you might have to split up a very large transfer into separate transactions or send it over a series of transactions spread out over time. Check with your provider to find out exactly what restrictions apply given the amount you want to send and your transfer preferences.
|Provider||Minimum transfer amount||Maximum transfer amount|
|OFX||$150 USD||No limit|
|Travelex International Payments||$250||$5,000 over 24 hours
$20,000 over 21 days
|TorFX||$150 USD||No limit|
|Western Union||$0||No limit|
|Xoom||Depends on the country.||Depends on the amount of documentation you provide that verifies your identity, address and financial information. Extra documentation is required for transfers of $1,000 or more. With maximum documentation, you can send up to $30,000 in 24 hours, up to $65,000 in 30 days and up to $130,000 in 180 days.|
|MoneyGram||$1||$990 online (more can be sent in-person at a MoneyGram branch)|
What if I have a complaint or problem regarding a money transfer?
Generally, any complaints you have regarding a money transfer service or transaction should be directed to the regulatory body for the institution that performed the wire transfer (i.e. banks, credit union etc.). Money tranfer companies usually have specific policies in place to handle customer complaints and grievances. Usually, you won’t be allowed to escalate a complaint until you can prove that you’ve gone through all the ordinary means of trying to resolve it.
Your province may also have laws and regulations pertaining to the financial sector, so you can also contact your provincial government office if you have an issue or question regarding a money transfer. Your provincial government can also direct you to the right organization if the matter is not governed by provincial law.
Below are some of the organizations you may want to contact:
- (For issues with banks) Financial Consumer Agency of Canada
- (For issues with banks) The Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments
- Federal, Provincial and Territorial Consumer Affairs Offices
- Office of Consumer Affairs (OCA)
If you think you may have been the victim of fraud or have come across suspicious money transfer activity, you should immediately report it to FINTRAC (Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada) by submitting a report online or by calling FINTRAC at 1-800-282-1376.FINTRAC is tasked with monitoring and reporting on suspicious, illegal and/or criminal financial activity, and if required for an investigation, they will pass information on to the proper law enforcement agency (municipal police, RCMP or CSIS).
Before you agree to a transfer, find out the following information so that you’re fully aware of what you are spending and how your money is being handled:
- The exact exchange rate you’ll receive.
- Any fees and taxes collected from you in connection with the transfer.
- Any fees charged by overseas agents or other entities involved in the process.
- The total amount your recipient will receive.
You may also be able to cancel your transfer shortly after sending it, unless it’s already been picked up or deposited. If there’s any error with your transfer, contact your bank or transfer service immediately to resolve the matter before the transfer has been fully processed and received. Make sure you have your receipt, transaction reference number or tracking number (see below), personal i.d. and any documentation you were given from the transfer so that the issue can be resolved smoothly.
Pros and cons of using international money transfer services
- It’s convenient. Transfer money to any number of international destinations often without leaving your home.
- It’s quick. Your friends or family can receive your money remarkably quickly, sometimes in as little as a few minutes.
- Many choices. Don’t like the exchange rate your bank is offering? Plenty of other companies can send your money at lower costs.
- Get your money where it needs to go. Whether sending help for friends and family overseas or simply making a purchase, your overseas money transfers allow you to take charge of your international finances.
- Fluctuating exchange rates. Changing rates can take a big chunk out of what your recipient ultimately receives.
- Fees. You’ll typically pay a transfer fee when you send money overseas.
- Varying levels of security. You’ll want to look for a trusted provider that can guarantee the security of your personal and financial details.
How do I avoid the common traps and pitfalls of sending money overseas?
Once you’ve devoted yourself to the idea of transferring money overseas, it’s important to know how to find the best deal. The best way to avoid paying too much is to keep an eye out for hidden fees, wide margins on exchange rates and unspecified delivery times.
- Hidden fees. Make sure that the transfer service you select is upfront and transparent about the fees they charge, and be sure to ask customer service about additional fees that may be charged by your bank.
- Wide margin on exchange rates. Take a look at the markup on exchange rates beyond the mid-market rate (which is the rate you’ll find on Google). The margin of difference on exchange rates will vary by transfer company and can have a huge impact on your bottom line.
- Unspecified delivery times. Double check expected delivery times with the transfer company you settle on to make sure they have a clear timeline for when your money will arrive in the destination country. Selecting a company that prioritizes getting your money to where it needs to be on schedule can be a lifesaver when it comes down to crunch time.
Frequently asked questions
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