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Expats transfer guide: Competitive international money transfers

Moved outside the United States? Here’s how to send more money back home.



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Moving abroad can be complicated enough, but getting cash to your new overseas home or back to the US doesn’t need to be stressful. Fortunately there are ways to find low fees and get better exchange rates. Compare your options and consider these expert tips before transferring money home or internationally.

Compare international transfer providers

Our table lets you compare the services you can use to send money abroad. Compare services on transfer speeds and fees, then click Go to site when you're ready to send.
Name Product Filter Values Fastest Transfer Speed Fees (Pay by Bank Transfer) Learn More
24 hours

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OFX has no maximum limit transfers, with competitive exchange rates for 45+ currencies.
Dunbridge Financial
Dunbridge Financial
24 hours

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Dunbridge Financial offers competitive exchange rates and zero fees on transfers to more than 120 countries.
24 hours
SPECIAL OFFER ✓ Minimum transfer of $1,000 for Finder readers (normally £5,000)

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Exclusive: Minimum transfer of $1,000 for Finder readers (normally $5,000).
CurrencyTransfer lets you shop around for the best exchange rate on its online marketplace.
Within minutes

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XE has fast transfers with low fees and a range of foreign currency tools.
Wise (TransferWise)
Within an hour
From $2.26

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Wise uses the mid-market rate and transparent fees to help you send money in 45+ currencies.
Within an hour

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Use code HAPPY22 to get USD 22 off your first transfer. Valid for transfers over USD 250 and till 31 January 2022. T&Cs apply.
Instarem offers zero transfer fees on all transfers.
Within minutes
From $0
SPECIAL OFFER ✓ Free transfers and better exchange rates available for new customers

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Special offers like free transfers and better exchange rates available for new customers.
Remitly has quick, affordable transfers around the world, with both express and economy options.
Within an hour
From $1.99

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Use code Take10USD to get $10 off when you spend $20. Valid till 31 January 2022. T&Cs apply.
WorldRemit sends money to 110+ countries for bank-to-bank deposits, cash pick-ups or mobile top-ups.
Within an hour
From $0

View details
MoneyGram has fast cash pick-up transfers to more than 350,000 agent locations worldwide.
OFX International Money Transfers (Business)
24 hours

View details
Business customers: Send safe, no-limit transfers with no fees and competitive exchange rates.
CurrencyTransfer for Business
24 hours

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Increase business efficiency with zero transaction fees and same-day transfers.
Western Union
Within an hour
From $0

View details
Western Union sends money online to friends and family in 200+ countries around the world.

Compare up to 4 providers

Should I use a bank or an international money transfer company?

If you want to make an international money transfer, then you may want to consider avoiding banks. In many cases, you can only use banks for transfers when you have an account with them, and you will end up paying whatever rates and fees they demand, wait for however long it might take, and have fewer options for sending and receiving.

Dedicated currency transfer services have more choices, so you can compare options to find the best, then transfer money overseas with no or low fees, great rates and collection options that work for the recipient, whether it’s cash, check or a direct transfer to their bank account.

  • International currency transfer providers make their profit by conducting a large volume of currency exchanges at small margins and small fees to cover costs. Their exchange rates are usually 1% to 2% less than midmarket rates, which means they make about that much on currency changed. Their income depends on offering great deals to attract a lot of users. To stay profitable they usually have minimum amounts that can be sent per transaction.
  • Banks make their profit on overseas currency transfers from attaching fees to everything and offering currency exchanges at big margins (poor exchange rates). Their exchange rates are usually 2% to 4% less than mid-market rates, meaning they make about that much on currency changed plus all their fees. Their income depends on making as much money per transaction as possible. Because they have so many fees, banks usually do not have any minimum amounts per transaction, but smaller sums may be entirely lost to fees.
BankMoney transfer service
  • Higher fees
  • Lower fees
  • Poor exchange rates
  • Better exchange rates and price matching
  • Slower transfers
  • Fast transfers
  • Usually need an account with the bank
  • Multiple options for making trasnfers

Bank fees are BIG

Bank fees mean you might spend hundreds of dollars on just one transaction. The fees might be more than the amount of money you are sending. Take a look at some of the fees you might incur depending on which bank you use:

  • Fees for sending: They will typically charge you a flat $20 to $30 fee.
  • Fees for changing currency: Not only are the conversion rates worse, but they may charge another flat fee for converting the currency, which can be around $30.
  • Fees for processing: If the money is being sent to a different banking institution they will charge additional processing fees, generally $10 to $30 depending on the situation.
  • Fees for receiving: The person you are sending money to will have to pay another fee to pick it up. This is typically more if they are in a different country and using a different currency, and can be over $30. They will also have to pay the separate fees of whichever bank they are using.
  • Extra fees if you want to pay the receiving fees: If you, the sender, want to pay for the recipient’s bank fees, you can, but this incurs a “correspondent fee” of $40 or more.
  • Fees for tracking the transfer: If you want to find out how much longer the transfer will take, or if it did not arrive and you want to find out what happened to it, then the bank will look into it if you pay another $25.
  • Fees for amending the transfer: Need to change some details of the transfer? You can for another $25 fee.
  • Cancelation fees: If you have realized the fees are too high and want to cancel the transfer, you can. But this will incur another $25 fee.

Currency transfer service fees are small

International money transfer services have small fees.

  • No fees at all: Many providers will charge you zero fees.
  • Set fees: Some providers require you to pay a flat $5-$15 in fees per transfer.

Any other fees?

If you need to make an emergency transfer that will arrive within minutes, this will incur a higher transfer fee.


How do I set up regular overseas payments?

Many transfer providers allow you to set up recurring money transfers, such as once a month. This is sometimes one of the first things people do when they move abroad and have found a new job. Many currency transfer providers let you do this online, over the phone or in person.

How to compare international money transfer services

Send more money overseas with currency transfer services and find the provider that’s right for your needs by comparing a few simple things.

Find a provider that works for you by making sure they accommodate your minimum transfer amount, required transfer speed and transfer method. After that, compare their rates and fees against the amount you are sending to find out which is the most cost-effective.

Finding the right money transfer company can be as simple as that.

What to look forWhat it isWith banksWith money transfer providers
RatesForeign currency
exchange rates. This makes a big difference
in larger transactions.
Poor rates, typically 2% to 4% less than mid-market value.Good rates, typically only
1% to 2% less than mid-market value.
FeesFlat costs you must pay when sending money.Big fees for sending, receiving and
exchanging money.
Typically a small fee for
sending money, or no fee at all.
Minimum transfer amountThe smallest amount you can send in one go.Usually no minimum,
but sometimes fees can cost more than small transfers.
Varies widely. Can be
nonexistent, a few dollars, a few hundred
dollars or thousands.
Transfer speedHow long it takes to send and receive money.From 2 to 5 business daysTypically 1 or 2 days,
including weekends,
sometimes within minutes.
Services availableHow you can make transfers.Online, over the phone or in person and more.Usually online or over the phone, but in person with
some providers.

Jennifer’s money transfer plans

Jen had just moved to Australia with a new job lined up for her. Her new income was more than enough to pay her modest bills and living expenses, so she wanted to set up a regular transfer of money back home to America to pay for her father’s growing medical needs. Her plan was to transfer $1,000 every month, to be converted into US dollars.

Jen’s first thought was to go to her bank. She looked at their options, then looked at their fees and realized it would take a big bite out of the money she sent.

Searching for other options, she soon discovered an international money transfer service. To compare both side by side, she drew up this table.

Sending $1,000 AUD per month

The bankMoney transfer provider
Exchange Rates$0.72 USD per $1 AUD$0.76 USD per $1 AUD
Fees$40 AUD per transaction$10 AUD per transaction
How much money arrives back
home each month
$680 USD$750 USD

When Jennifer saw that she would be able to send an extra $70 a month, her mind was made up. She decided to go with the money transfer provider.

How to make an international currency transfer

For seamless international money transfers, follow these steps.

  • Know the details of the bank account you want to send money to. To transfer money to an account you must know the recipient’s SWIFT/BIC code, which indicates the country and location of the receiving bank, as well as the BSB and account number, which specify the individual bank account. You can find SWIFT/BIC codes online or by contacting the bank, and should get the BSB and account number from whomever you’re sending money to.
  • Compare the international currency transfer options. They may have different exchange rates, different minimum transfer amounts and possibly some fees. To compare effectively, you should know the currencies to be converted, the amount you are sending and how quickly it needs to arrive. Rule out the options that are too slow, don’t exchange the currencies you need or have other problems, and then compare the remaining by price.
  • Contact your chosen international money transfer service. You will generally need to open an account with them. Once you have set up your account, all you need to do is give them the SWIFT/BIC codes, BSB and account number of the recipient and they can transfer money efficiently and without and hassles. Their fees are usually minimal, and they will tell you if there are any additional costs.
  • Send money overseas without losing huge chunks of it to bad exchange rates or sizable fees. Do it online or over the phone, set up automatic transfers and make use of any discounts available. You’re now good to go!


Frequently asked questions about expat money transfers

How safe are international money transfer services?

Many large money transfer services use the same electronic security systems as the banks. There’s no undue risk when using a reputable and well-known money transfer provider.

How long does it take to transfer money?

Banks will typically give a timeframe of anywhere from two to five business days. Money transfer services can be within minutes or one to two days depending on the provider and method you choose.

What is the best money transfer service?

It depends on where you want to send money, how much you are sending and the situation. Larger sums mean it’s worth paying a fee for a better rate, while smaller sums mean it’s not. If you need it transferred quickly, a fast provider is preferable, while certain currencies or locations might be better with certain companies than others. Compare your options to find the best money transfer service for your needs.

Moving to Australia from the US? Refer to our guide for a stress-free move

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2 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    TonyOctober 7, 2018

    What are, if any, Tax implications if you transfer money from the UK to the USA – say 100,000 GB sterling?

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JoshuaOctober 13, 2018Staff

      Hi Tony,

      Thanks for getting in touch with finder. I hope all is well with you. :)

      Generally, simply transferring money from the UK to the US doesn’t incur tax. However, tax liability may quickly happen depending on the nature of your money transfer, how the money was earned, filing status, and others. If you are transferring money which is considered to be income, then it is most likely you would need to pay tax.

      Please note that you are going to send a considerable amount of money. For this reason, you would need to file Form 3520. Please note that Form 3520 is considered an “information return” because foreign gifts generally are not subject to income tax. However, you are subject to stiff penalties for failing to submit Form 3520 when it is required.

      Please learn more about the tax implications when receiving money in the US.

      It would also be a good idea to directly ask a tax expert in the UK to confirm how tax laws would affect your money transfer.

      I hope this helps. Should you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach us out again.

      Have a wonderful day!


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