Cheap ways to send money overseas

Save when you send money internationally with a secure online transfer.

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Western Union and MoneyGram are known for their ability to send cash across the world in minutes, but you can save on fees and get a better exchange rate with an online transfer company — though you may have to wait a day for your funds to arrive.

Compare your options for sending money internationally

Use our interactive table to compare transfer fees, exchange rates, sending limits and more for sending funds overseas with our money transfer partners.

Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
CAD 1 Same day CAD 0.00 0.737 USD
3,684
Send money in more than 60 currencies. Fee-free international money transfers with a global brand. Go to site Show details
USD 150 1 day CAD 15.00 0.733 USD
3,654
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.
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GBP 3,000 1 day CAD 0.00 0.733 USD
3,665
Global Reach will match any competitor's exchange rates. Conditions apply.
Get no fees for both business and personal transfers when you send your money overseas with Global Reach.
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CAD 1 1 - 2 days CAD 1.99 0.732 USD
3,660
Special offers like free transfers and better exchange rates available for new customers.
Quick, affordable transfers around the world with both express and economy options.
Go to site Show details
CAD 0 Within an hour CAD 3.99 0.737 USD
3,684
Use promo code 3FREE to send your first 3 transfers with no fee. Conditions apply.
An online money transfer service with cash pick-up, bank account to bank account and airtime transfers available.
Go to site Show details
CAD 1 1 - 2 days CAD 45.00 0.74 USD
3,669
Make online transfers with transparent exchange rates, low fees and low minimum amounts. Go to site Show details

Compare up to 4 providers

Disclaimer: Exchange rates change often. Confirm the total cost with the provider before transferring money.

What are all the ways that I can send money overseas?

Sending money overseas can be done in a variety of ways. In general, your options include:

  • Bank transfers. Many major Canadian banks can safely wire your funds to countries around the world. Banks rely on existing links between banks and banking systems worldwide. Be aware that banks offer weaker exchange rates, have higher fees and fewer options to send and receive cash when compared to a money transfer service.
  • Digital money transfer services. These specialists offer more affordable transfers than banks do, allowing you to quickly and easily manage your transactions from home. With competitive exchange rates and lower fees, you can send funds from your bank account. Many also allow you to pay with a credit or debit card.
  • Providers with cash pickup. Trusted providers like Western Union, WorldRemit and MoneyGram offer the key advantage of giving your recipient fast access to the cash you send — sometimes within minutes. You can often pay online or at one of the thousands of agent locations worldwide. However, services typically cost more than an online transfer specialist.
  • PayPal transfers. PayPal offers transfers to more than 100 countries and supports multiple currencies. Its exchange rates are often better than those you’ll get from a bank, but not quite as strong as rates offered by money transfer companies. PayPal calculates its transfer fee as a percentage of the amount you’re sending — meaning it’s often better for sending smaller amounts of money.
  • Cheques and money orders. Although not a quick option, you could send an international cheque overseas, obtained from your bank or Canada Post. It costs a little more — you’ll have to purchase the cheque, and your recipient may be charged a fee by their own bank when cashed.

How do I send an overseas transfer with an online specialist?

Although the process differs by company, to send money overseas you’ll generally:

  1. Register for an account. Registration is almost always free. You’ll provide your full name, contact info and date of birth. Some providers also require proof of ID.
  2. Provide your recipient’s details. Specify who’s receiving the funds by providing their name and contact information. If you’re sending money for bank deposit, you’ll include the bank name, SWIFT code and your recipient’s account number.
  3. Indicate the details of your transaction. Enter how much money you’re sending and in which currency it will be received.
  4. 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.
  5. Pay for your transfer. Payment methods vary by company but could include credit or debit card, bank account, cash or mobile wallet.
  6. Track your transaction. You should receive confirmation that includes a tracking number to monitor the progress of your transfer online or through an agent location.

You may also receive an email or text when your beneficiary has received your funds and the transaction is completed.

How can I save money when making a money transfer?

Fees vary widely depending on the provider you’re transferring with. Overall, providers make money on your transfer in 2 ways: by marking up the exchange rate and by charging you a transfer fee.

  • Compare exchange rates. Use your currency’s mid-market rate as a baseline to compare against the rates you’re offered. Focus on providers that offer the closest rates.
  • Send more money per transfer. Many providers discount transfer fees or waive them altogether when you send larger amounts.
  • 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.
  • Sniff out special offers. Keep an eye on promotions that offer, for example, no fees on your first transfer. While ideal for limited transfer needs, you could also end up with a new preferred service.
  • Shop around. The best way to save is by comparing rates, fees and transfer speeds of each provider, closely looking at their benefits and drawbacks.

Cheapest ways to send money domestically

The importance of a competitive exchange rate

Banks and other services are likely to add a little to the 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.

Specialized money transfer services typically offer rates that are closer to the mid-market rate.

Crunching the numbers: Sending $2,000 to Mexico

Let’s say you need to send $2,000 to family in Mexico. Here’s what you might face as far as fees and exchange rates as of May 3, 2020.

Digital money transfer serviceCash transferBank transfer
Fee$10$5$50 + additional correspondent bank fees
Exchange rate1 CAD = 16.9556 MXN1 CAD = 16.7433 MXN1 CAD = 16.5017 MXN
Transfer speed1-2 dayWithin an hour2-5 days
Amount receivedMXN 33,741.64MXN 33,402.88MXN 32,178.32
Verdict
  • Better than a bank transfer
  • Fastest and cheapest
  • Slowest and most expensive

Skipping the bank will get more than 1,550 pesos to your recipient, as the bank’s exchange rate is far weaker than other options.

How to get the best exchange rate

How transfer fees affect your total cost

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.

Tools to save on an international transfer

There’s a lot riding on a competitive exchange rate and low fee. But depending on how much you’re sending, how soon your recipient needs it and rates at the time of transfer, you could save even more with the following tools.

  • Forward contracts. With this tool, you lock in a favorable exchange rate for a future transfer, avoiding unpredictable movements in the rate.
  • Limit orders. A limit order allows you to request a transfer that’s executed only when a specific rate is reached, at which point your provider locks it in.
  • Regular transfers. You may be able to shave a few cents off an exchange rate or pay lower transfer fees by setting up a plan to automate more regular payments overseas.
  • Same-currency transfers. It can sometimes be cheaper to transfer Canadian dollars to your recipient, allowing them to transfer these dollars into their own currency when received. Your recipient may be able to pay lower fees overall this way.

Frequently asked questions

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6 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    AnnetteApril 7, 2016

    I need to send US$1,162 and later two instalments of US$581each, at different times. The recipient prefers not to use electronic transfer. How do I avoid high fees on sending these instalments and the hidden costs at the other end that will affect the transferred amount, and the recipient won’t receive the amount promised from me because of those hidden fees? Would you be able to help me please? Apparently my bank is not accepted in USA.

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      ShirleyApril 7, 2016Staff

      Hi Annette,

      Thanks for your question.

      Since your recipient prefers to use electronic transfer it narrows down your options a lot. You may want to compare international money transfer services that allow cash pick up.

      These services typically won’t charge you recipient fees and have relatively competitive exchange rates.

      Usually international bank-to-bank transfers charge heft fees and exchange rates.

  2. Default Gravatar
    CurrencySeptember 16, 2015

    I understand that finder.com is a comparison site and assume that quoted conversions are based on actual customer prices. Is this correct as I have setup an account from the list and the quoted exchange does not reflect that on your site?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      ShirleySeptember 16, 2015Staff

      Hi Currency,

      Thanks for your question.

      The quoted conversions are generated from figures that are provided to us by the international company services. In some cases there are discrepancies due to the volatile nature of exchange rates and your transfer amount.

      Cheers,
      Shirley

  3. Default Gravatar
    BrendonJanuary 15, 2015

    Any idea how much most Canadian banks such as CIBC or Western union would charge if I were to go in and send all of my 44,000 Canadian dollars to a Chinese bank account? I read someone had to pay 174$ plus 27$ transfer fee to get 150$ to the US!!!

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      ShirleyJanuary 15, 2015Staff

      Hi Brendon,

      Thanks for your question.

      Outgoing wire payments for amounts in between $10,000 – $50,000 is $50 per payment.

      On their website it states “outgoing wire fees will be charged in Canadian currency. For wires from foreign currency accounts (including U.S. accounts), the equivalent fee will be charged in the same currency as the account using an exchange rate set by CIBC on a date determined by CIBC.”

      For more information, please get in touch with CIBC directly.

      Cheers,
      Shirley

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