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How to send a large sum of money overseas
Your bank may be more convenient, but international money transfer specialists probably offer a better deal.
Updated . What changed?
It’s fairly common for people in the US to send large amounts of money abroad, and the best way to do that will depend on your specific situation. Taking into consideration things like speed, IRS tax regulations, fees and more is important when making your decision.
What are my options for sending a large sum of money overseas?
- International money transfer specialist
- Cash-to-cash transfers
- Bank-to-bank transfers
- International bank draft
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1. International money transfer specialist
International money transfer specialists exist to make the process of sending money overseas faster and more straightforward. Transfer specialists often offer some of the most competitive exchange rates for your transfer, and many transfer specialists charge far lower fees than what you’ll find at your bank.
- Typically cheaper than bank transfers.
- Diverse payment options, including payment by credit card, debit card, bank account and more.
- Many transfer specialists offer step-by-step guidance for the entire process.
- Can be sent entirely online.
- Many options exist, so finding the best one may seem tricky.
- Some money transfer specialists don’t have transparent fees and exchange rates.
- You have to trust a company with your money, so vetting them is important.
Or if you’d rather compare money transfer specialists yourself, use our comparison table by entering the amount you want to send, selecting your destination and clicking Calculate.
Compare money transfer specialists
2. Cash-to-cash transfers
Being able to send money for cash pickup is a convenient way to complete your international money transfer, particularly if you or your recipient is under or unbanked. Companies that offer cash-to-cash transfers include Ria Money Transfer, MoneyGram, Western Union and more.
- Recipient doesn’t need a bank account.
- Sender doesn’t need a bank account.
- Cash transfers often transfer faster than bank-to-bank transfers.
- Most cash-to-cash specialists have a maximum sending limit.
- Large amounts of cash will have to be picked up by the recipient, which could be dangerous.
- Higher fees are typically applied to cash-to-cash transfers, compared to using an international money specialist that transfers to a bank account.
3. Bank-to-bank transfers
Most banks are able to initiate an overseas transfer, but they tend to be the most expensive option. For small transfers, the familiarity and ease of using your local bank can be worth the fees and unfavorable exchange rate, but for large transfers, you’ll see a noticeable cut taken from your transfer.
- You already trust your bank with your money.
- You can typically initiate the transfer online, in-person or by phone.
- You don’t have to trust any companies with your money.
- More expensive than other options.
- Typically far slower than other options.
- Have to pay with funds that are already in your bank account.
4. International bank draft
An international bank draft is issued by a bank on behalf of the payer and allows another bank, typically in another country, to draw funds directly from the issuing bank. International bank drafts can be drawn in a foreign currency, removing the need to speculate on future exchange rates, as funds are immediately converted when the international bank draft is created.
- Accepted in many parts of the world.
- Relatively cost effective when compared to wire transfers between international banks.
- Can only be cashed at a bank by the person listed on the international bank draft.
- Slow, as they have to be physically mailed or hand delivered between countries.
- Difficult and time consuming to replace if lost or stolen.
If you hold cryptocurrency, you can send it to a wallet anywhere in the world. Many cryptocurrency exchanges will also let you trade cryptocurrency for fiat currency, such as euros or US dollars. That means that it’s possible to exchange US dollars for a cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin, and then trade your cryptocurrency for a different fiat currency, like euros. But that doesn’t mean it’s a simple process.
- You can send money directly to your recipient’s cryptocurrency wallet address, removing the need for companies as intermediaries.
- Your transaction can’t be canceled.
- Requires a lot of technical know-how to avoid errors.
- Prices can be volatile, so although you may save money by avoiding fees, you could lose it if the price of the cryptocurrency you’re using as an intermediary drops.
- Depending on the route you use, there may be many fees to pay.
Cryptocurrency for international money transfers: How it works
The basic process for transferring money overseas using cryptocurrency is:
- Transfer funds to an online cryptocurrency exchange.
- Use your local currency to buy cryptocurrency, which goes into a digital wallet.
- Sell your cryptocurrency for a foreign currency.
- Withdraw your funds from the exchange platform.
You’ll likely encounter percentage-based fees at each step, making cryptocurrency an expensive way to send money.
Which option is best?
The best option depends on your specific circumstances. But overall, using a money transfer specialist may end up being your least expensive option. To get a baseline of what your transfer could cost, compare a few different money transfer specialists. Using your bank is convenient, but you’ll almost always save money by exploring other options that have lower fees and offer stronger exchange rates.
Frequently asked questions
Can I use Venmo, Cash App, Zelle or a similar app to send money internationally?
Can I send cash internationally?
Do wire transfers get reported to the IRS?
Is there a limit to how much money I can send overseas?
Can I bring large sums of cash to another country?
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