Cheap ways to send money overseas

What's the most affordable way to send money overseas from Canada? Find out with this guide.

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While banks do offer secure wire transfers around the world, they also tend to have weaker exchange rates, higher fees and fewer options to send and receive cash when compared with a money transfer service. Unlike banks, they specialize in one thing: transferring money to countries worldwide.

With this expertise comes cheaper and faster transfers, meaning more savings for you and more money in the pocket of your recipient. The table below lists some of the best services you can use to transfer money overseas.

WorldRemit International Money Transfers Offer

Send money internationally with WorldRemit


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

    Compare money transfer services to help you send money overseas

    Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
    USD 150 1 day CAD 15.00 0.696 USD
    3,471
    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.
    Go to site Show details
    GBP 3,000 1 day CAD 0.00 0.696 USD
    3,482
    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.
    Go to site Show details
    CAD 2,000 2 days CAD 0.00 0.696 USD
    3,482
    $0 online transfer fee with access to a 24/7 online platform. Go to site Show details
    CAD 2,000 1 day CAD 0.00 0.696 USD
    3,482
    TorFX guarantee to beat any competitor's exchange rate for a transaction. Conditions apply.
    Send money overseas in 45 currencies.
    Go to site Show details
    CAD 1 1 - 2 days CAD 1.99 0.696 USD
    3,477
    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 0.701 USD
    3,500
    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 0.703 USD
    3,485
    Make online transfers with transparent exchange rates, low fees and low minimum amounts. Go to site Show details
    CAD 1 1 day CAD 0.00 0.7 USD
    3,499
    Send money in more than 60 currencies. Fee-free international money transfers with a global brand. 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.

    Learn more about

    How can I transfer money overseas with an online specialist?

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

    1. Register for a free account. You’ll provide your full name, contact info and date of birth. Most providers also require ID and proof of address.
    2. Provide your recipient’s information. Specify who’s receiving the funds by providing their name and contact information. If you’re sending money to a bank account, you’ll need to include the bank name, SWIFT code and your recipient’s account number.
    3. Add the details of your transaction. Enter how much money you’re sending and in which currency it’ll be received.
    4. Review and confirm. 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 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 recipient has received your funds and the transaction is completed.

    What are the ways I can send money overseas?

    With so many specialized money transfer companies to choose from, it’s no surprise that you have options when it comes to how your recipient receives your funds.

    How you send your money and how it’s received will ultimately affect delivery speed and how much you’re paying in fees. In general, your options include the following:

    • Bank transfers. Many major Canadian banks can safely transfer your funds to countries around the world. Banks rely on existing links between banks and banking systems worldwide and it’ll often be called a telegraphic transfer. However, 2 downsides are the high fees and the weaker exchange rates you’ll often receive in comparison to other options.
    • Online 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.
    • Services with cash pick-up. Services like Western Union and MoneyGram offer the key advantage of giving your recipient fast access to the cash you send – sometimes within minutes. You can pay online or at one of the thousands of agent locations worldwide. However, services typically cost more than an online transfer specialist and vary by where you’re transferring your money and how you’re paying for it.
    • PayPal transfers. Not just for online purchases, 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 from 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. 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.

    Let’s crunch the numbers: Banks vs money transfer services

    To put this into perspective, let’s see what a $1,000 transfer to India looks like with a bank compared to a money transfer service.

    Major Canadian bankMoney transfer specialist
    Transfer fee$50$5.99
    Exchange rate1 CAD = 53.167 INR1 CAD = 54.289 INR
    Transfer speed2-4 daysSame day
    Receiving optionsBank accountBank account, mobile credit recharge
    Total rupee receivedINR50,508.65INR53,963.81
    Receiver getsINR3,455.16 lessINR3,455.16 more

    The transfer through the bank ends up giving your receiver roughly $60 less than the money transfer service. Not only is the exchange rate worse, but the fees are a lot higher. It’ll also take a few days longer, so it pays to see what your other options can be.

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    How can I minimize costs 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 to the mid-market rate.
    • 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.

    Tools to help you save more on international transfers

    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 favourable 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, automated 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 automate more regular payments overseas.

    What to be aware of

    Exchange rates

    You’ve probably noticed that the exchange rate you see online or reported in the media (known as the wholesale or mid-market rate) isn’t the same rate you get when you make a transaction. Banks and most money transfer services make their profit on the margin added to this wholesale exchange rate, but it can vary from 0.1% to 10%.

    With this in mind, it pays to compare the products available to make sure you find the best overseas money transfer solution for you.

    Fee-free transfers

    Unfortunately, fee-free transfers are never really free. Even though international money transfer companies are cheaper than the banks, they still have margins and fees. While there might not be a fee included, the company is still making money by adding a margin to the mid-market rate.

    How to get the best exchange rate

    How do I send money from my bank?

    Please note that the process is different for every provider. The example below shows just one of the ways you can initiate a transfer.

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    Frequently asked questions

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    Ask an Expert

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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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