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Without a doubt, some money transfer services are cheaper than others. We used our 14+ years of money sending experience combined with data from the World Bank Group to determine the cheapest ways to send money internationally. Spoiler alert: It’s not your bank.
The costs to send money to distant locations varies. From the cheapest to most expensive, your options are:
These specialists offer more affordable transfers than banks, allowing you to manage your transactions from home. In our experience, digital money transfer providers are typically the cheapest way to send money internationally.
With competitive exchange rates and lower fees, you can send funds directly from your bank account. Many also allow you to pay with a credit or debit card.
Trusted providers like Western Union, WorldRemit and MoneyGram give 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 a digital money transfer provider, so compare cash pickup options before sending.
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.
It’s possible to send an international check overseas — either from your bank or the US Postal Service — but it’s the least efficient. It’s also more expensive because you have to purchase the check, and your recipient may be charged to cash it. But if transaction speed isn’t a factor, consider sending a check or money order overseas.
Many major US banks can safely wire your funds globally, since banks rely on existing links between banks and banking systems worldwide. Be aware that banks offer weaker exchange rates, have higher fees and provide fewer options to send and receive cash when compared to a money transfer service.
Use our interactive table to compare transfer fees, exchange rates, sending limits and more for sending funds internationally with our money transfer partners.
Although it can be tempting to use a bank for an international money transfer convenience over price, it’s usually the most expensive option. When comparing services, pay attention to fees and exchange rates that can quickly eat into your transfer.
Still not sure about your best way to cheaply send money? Use our hand-picked list of money transfer providers to help make your decision.
If you don’t need your money right now, consider investing in an HSA, blue chip stocks and more.
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