You can send money with a card, but a bank account is cheaper.
Many money transfer companies are more than happy to take plastic, but you may have to pay higher fees — from both the transfer company and your credit card.
You’re often able to pay for a transfer money overseas with your credit or debit card. But compare costs among providers to make sure you’re getting the biggest bang for your buck.
How do I transfer money overseas with a credit card?
You have several ways to use your credit card when paying for an international money transfer, including:
- Your bank. Use your credit card to transfer money overseas from your bank account either online, over the phone or by visiting a branch. But with one caveat: Your credit card provider will likely consider your transfer a cash advance, resulting in both a higher rate of interest and a cash advance fee.
- Western Union and MoneyGram. Specialist transfer companies like Western Union and MoneyGram allow you to pay for transfers to hundreds of thousands of locations around the world using your credit card. Both companies allow you to pay for online transfers using your credit card, and MoneyGram also allows for in-person transfers with your card.
- PayPal. Link your credit card to your PayPal account to make an overseas transfer. Fees are 2.9% of your transaction amount and $0.30 per transaction.
How do I transfer money overseas with a debit card?
Even if you don’t have a credit card, you may be in luck: Many money transfer providers accept debit cards. If you decide to use a debit card, be sure to understand any processing fees you’ll pay.
Here are a few excellent options for international transfers using debit:
- OFX. Exclusively through finder.com, you can get $0 transfer fees on OFX. As a bonus, the platform offers excellent exchange rates.
- TransferWise. Through TransferWise, you can pay no debit card fees for transfers to select countries. Watch out for percentage-based transfer fees, but rest easy knowing you’ll get the mid-market rate on all currency trades.
Want to make domestic money transfers with a debit card?
A debit card is a great option for domestic money transfers. If you pick the right transfer provider, a debit card will let you send money quickly and for free. Consider these top-notch apps:
- Google Wallet. Arguably the best way to send money domestically, Google Wallet offers free transfers with a debit card. When your recipient receives the transfer, the money is automatically forwarded to the bank account linked to their debit card.
- Square Cash. With Square Cash, it’s free to load money with a debit card. It’s also free to send and receive money. On the downside, your recipient will have to wait a few days for the money to be transferred from Square Cash to their bank account. However, they can pay a 1% fee to withdraw the money immediately.
- Venmo. Venmo doesn’t offer instant withdrawals, but you can use it to send free transfers via debit card.
When should I transfer money overseas with my credit or debit card?
You could find yourself in a situation where sending a money transfer from your credit or debit card is a good idea. Here are just a few.
You want credit card rewards.
If you have a rewards credit card, you may earn travel miles or cash back after you fund your transfer. However, this works best when you use a service like MoneyGram or Western Union — not your bank. Transferring through your bank could saddle you with higher interest rates and fees, erasing any rewards you might earn.
You need your card in a pinch.
Credit and debit card transfers could be useful in an emergency. For example, you may need to send an urgent transfer to a loved one who’s mugged overseas and has no cash. In this case, it may be most effective to send a card-based transfer via Western Union or MoneyGram.
The fees work in your favor.
Before you initiate your transfer, check on fees for both credit and debit cards. If there’s any difference, you’re likely to find a lower fee for debit card transfers.
You don’t have a bank account.
Using a bank account is the standard funding source for money transfers. However, you may not have your bank account details handy. In that case, it may be more convenient to use your credit or debit card.
If you don’t have a credit card, bank account or debit card, consider picking up a prepaid debit card. You can purchase one at a local store — such as a supermarket or Target — and use it to fund your transfer.
Why should I avoid transferring money overseas with my credit or debit card?
Compared with using your bank account, it could be more convenient to transfer money with your credit or debit card. However, keep these potential pitfalls in mind.
Your credit card transaction could be treated as a cash advance.
When you pay for a transfer with your credit card, the transaction is often treated as a cash advance by your card provider. This typically attracts a cash advance fee and higher rate of interest than an ordinary card payment. The interest may also apply from the day you make the transfer — without an interest grace period.
Look out for credit and debit card fees.
Using your bank account is typically the cheapest option. When you use your credit or debit card, your provider is likely to charge you a higher transfer fee.
What other international money transfer options are available?
All of the transfer options we’ve listed above allow you to pay for your transaction with your bank account. Using your bank account is usually cheaper than paying with your credit or debit card, so it’s worth considering if you want to save money.
Some providers also allow cash transfers in person through a network of storefronts or licensed agents.
You’ll typically find the most affordable transfers through online money transfer companies like OFX and TransferWise. These providers specialize in foreign exchange and moving money across international borders for the cheapest price. They have lower fees and much better exchange rates than banks and other brick-and-mortar providers. And they also offer fast and secure transfers.Back to top
How do I compare money transfer providers?
Look for these features when considering international money transfer providers:
- Competitive exchange rates. The closer your exchange rate is to the mid-market rate, the more money your recipient will get. Compare exchange rates between money transfer specialists to find one that consistently outperforms the rest.
- Low transfer fees. The exchange rate is only part of the international money transfer cost. The other part is transaction fees. Most online transfer providers charge minimal fees, and some will even waive fees on large transfers.
- Supported currencies. Check the list of supported currencies for each provider to make sure you can send funds to the country you want and in your currency of choice.
- Payment and access options. Can you fund the transfer using your bank account or a debit card? Does the company offer online-only transfers, or can send money through an app, over the phone or in person? Also, confirm whether delivery options are convenient for your recipient.
- Speed of transfers. If getting it there quickly is high on your list, confirm how long it takes each provider to move your funds.
- Customer service. Last but not least, how you can access customer support if you have a question or if something goes wrong with your transaction? In addition to an online help center, look for phone, email and live chat support.
You can transfer money overseas with a credit or debit card, but it’s typically your more expensive option. It’s almost always cheaper to fund your transfer with your bank account. No matter how you’ll ultimately pay, compare multiple transfer providers before parting with any of your money.