What’s the best way to send money to the United States?
Online money transfer providers typically offer the strongest exchange rates and lowest fees on money transfers to the US. Some offer transfers straight to US bank accounts, while others allow the money to be picked up in US dollars in person. Banks, PayPal and other options are available but come with high fees, weak rates and longer turnaround times.
Digital money transfer services
Companies like Wise and CurrencyFair specialise in foreign currencies, making them some of the most cost-effective transfers. Most offer transfers directly to your recipient’s US-based bank account, often in as little as a day or two.
Services like MoneyGram allow you to transfer cash for pickup at a local branch in the US — often in 15 minutes. While it’s a fast way to send money, you’ll pay for the convenience in weak exchange rates and high fees. Compare MoneyGram to Western Union when possible to save money on your transfer.
US dollars are almost certainly carried by your bank, especially if you live in Asia, Europe, Canada or anywhere that often trades with the United States. Although your local bank can convert your currency into US dollars, beware of high fees and wide margins on the exchange rate compared to digital and other options.
How to send money to the US online
Sign up and send money with a digital money transfer specialist in four steps:
Sign up for a free account. Pick a provider and sign up for a free online account using your contact information, proof of ID and your preferred payment method.
Provide transfer details. Submit your recipient’s contact information and pick a delivery method. If you’re transferring to a bank, you’ll need your recipient’s US-based bank account details.
Confirm transfer details. Double-check your payment method, expected fees and destination.
Save your receipt. Record your receipt confirmation number to track the progress of your transfer to the US. Some money transfer providers send a text or email when your transfer is complete.
Let’s crunch the numbers: Sending 10,000 HKD to the US
Suppose you need to send 10,000 HKD from Hong Kong to the US. Here’s what you might face as far as fees and exchange rates as of 8 Jan, 2021.
Digital money transfer service
4.00 USD (~31.00 HKD)
65.00 + additional correspondent bank fees
1.00 HKD = 0.12882 USD
1.00 HKD = 0.1277 USD
1.00 HKD = 0.12845 USD
The difference in amount received between cash transfer and bank transfer isn’t that much. However, if we take that additional correspondent bank fees into account then the bank would have the worst deal and the slowest process time. If you use a digital money transfer service, you will save at least 8.04 USD compared to the bank.
How to get the most out of your money transfer to the USA
Weigh costs and fees against convenience, and learn how to compare money transfer providers that send to the US to meet your needs:
Exchange rates. The HKD-USD relationship fluctuates daily, so using a service that allows you to lock in exchange prices may help you save money down the line if exchange rates take a nosedive in the future.
Transfer fees. Transferring money overseas nearly always requires fees, but they might be hidden in the exchange rate. When sending large amounts, it may be cheaper to pay a flat fee to secure a stronger exchange rate.
Transfer limits. How much you can send varies by company, and different amounts can attract higher or lower fees. Shop around for the best deal on the number of US dollars you’re sending.
Turnaround. Transferring money through a local bank can take a business week or longer. If you need the funds delivered quickly, seek out a digital specialist that offers instant transfers to the United States.
Maximum limits. When exchange rates are favorable, sending more money can save you money in the future. If you plan to send large amounts of money to the US, be sure to pick a provider that won’t limit you.
Transfer methods. Whether you want money sent to a US-based bank account or picked up as cash at a local agent, narrow down a company that matches your preferred delivery method.
Emergency cash transfer to the US
When it’s more important to get your money to the US quickly, look for money transfer companies that support cash pickup in minutes. You can pay with a credit or debit card for fast pickup, but fees are higher than other methods.
How to send money to the US without a bank account
Cash transfer services can help you if you’re unbanked or marginally banked. If you don’t have a bank account, look for a local company that supports storefronts for cash payments. These services include agent locations in other countries that allow your recipient to pick up cash without a bank account.
US’s exchange rates explained
The exchange rate determines how much one country’s currency is worth in another country’s currency. When a country’s currency is strong, it yields more money when exchanging it in a country with a weaker currency. US’s exchange rate is flexible compared to the HK dollar, and the HKD-USD relationship typically changes daily. Factors that influence the exchange rate include interest rates, economic stability and inflation.
Updated: 14 May 2021 16:33:08 UTC
Documents needed for sending to and receiving money in the US
To send money to the US from Hong Kong, you’ll need government-issued ID and other documents, while documents needed to pick up money in the US may differ by company.
Documents to send money to the US
To send money from Hong Kong to the US, you’ll need documentation and details that include:
Identification. Most services require a driver’s license, passport or other government-issued ID.
Payment method. Your service may accept credit or debit cards, cash, bank accounts or personal checks.
Recipient information. Submit your recipient’s name as it appears on their ID, along with their phone number, US bank account and routing number if sending to their bank.
Documents to receive money in the US
To pick up money in person, documentation can include:
Transfer number. The person sending you money can forward the transfer’s confirmation details — called a PIN, a MTCN, a reference number or a tracking number, depending on the company.
Government-issued ID. A US government-issued ID is almost always required to pick up cash, but you may be able to set a passphrase if your recipient doesn’t have any valid ID.
Amount sent. You may need to know how much was sent, usually within 10% of the total.
Sender’s information. Take along your sender’s full name, the sending country and their address, if known.
What to watch out for
Most money transfers to the United States may be subject to taxes, depending on their amount and place of origin. Unfortunately there are a lot of variables in play, but typically it is always better to report large money transfers to the IRS on your tax forms.
There are a variety of reasons you may be sending money to the US, including repatriating funds you earned abroad. Being extra vigilant about the reasons you’re sending money to the US can save you large fees and possible jail time in the future by paying the appropriate taxes now.
Sending your hard-earned money to the US shouldn’t cost a fortune. Compare transfer companies that specialize in foreign currencies for the strongest rates, lowest fees and flexible delivery. For transfers to other countries, rely on our country-specific guides the next time you need to make a transfer.
Zak Killermann is a writer at Finder. He’s ghostwritten hundreds of articles on fintech, finding his love for publication at St. Cloud State University. Traveling internationally for nearly half his life — and getting burned once by an OTC money exchange — Zak's vowed not to settle for anything short of the mid-market rate again.
Our review of CurrencyTransfer as an option for your oversease money transfers.
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