Sending large transfers overseas: What to watch out for | finder.com
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How to send a large sum of money overseas

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Transfer specialists may offer the best exchange rates — but peer-to-peer providers win for certain currencies.

While a bank may be the most obvious option for sending funds overseas, a peer-to-peer transfer with a reputable company can help you save on fees and get the best rate.

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    What to pay attention to when making a large money transfer

    To make the best decision, you’ll want to look at a few key factors:

    Fees

    Financial institutions often charge fees for their time and effort, especially if they’re not making much on the exchange rate. You’ll want to factor both in to get the most accurate picture of how much you’re paying for a transfer.

    The exchange rate

    The exchange rate is what one country’s currency is worth in another currency. For example, 1 US dollar might be worth 0.880 euros at one provider and 0.885 euros at another. Even a small difference in the exchange rate can really add up when you’re sending a large transfer.

    Speed of transfer

    While some providers can send money overseas almost instantly, others will take several business days.

    Security

    Look for a provider that uses bank-level encryption to keep your data safe and verifies your recipient’s identity if you’re sending cash. Transparent companies will tell you exactly what steps they take to keep your money safe.

    Customer service

    Check what options you have for getting help if something goes wrong, including in person or via phone, email or online chat. Keep in mind that if a provider is located overseas and help is only available during business hours, time differences could make it difficult to get help.

    Compare money transfer services

    Each transfer service sets minimum and maximum limits that dictate how much you can send. Check with your chosen provider to make sure they can handle your transaction before getting started.

    I want to send

    to

    Max. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
    No limit 1 - 2 days USD 0.00 0.896 EUR 895,502 Exclusive: Minimum transfer of $1,000 for Finder readers (normally $5,000).
    For larger transfers, get no transaction fees and no maximum send limits.
    Go to site Show details
    No limit 1 day USD 0.00 0.892 EUR 892,183 Venstar will support you through the entire process of your international transactions, from start to finish. Go to site Show details
    No limit 1 day USD 0.00 0.893 EUR 892,811 No-maximum limit transfers with competitive exchange rates for 100+ currencies. Go to site Show details
    USD 199,999 1 - 2 days USD 0.00 0.891 EUR
    891,017
    Enjoy high maximum transfers into more than 20 currencies while saving up to 90% over local banks. Go to site Show details

    Compare up to 4 providers

    What are my options?

    When sending a large transfer overseas, you have four main options. You can use your bank, a money transfer specialist, a peer-to-peer provider or cryptocurrency. However you send your money, you’ll likely need to file tax forms with the IRS declaring the transfer. Depending on the purpose and size of the transfer, both you and your recipient may be required to file.

    Option 1: Money transfer provider

    Specialized money transfer providers tend to offer the most competitive rates and streamlined transfer process.

    Example: Ryan sends $50,000 to France

    Ryan’s next step is to research money transfer companies. He compares five providers to find one with the best rate — and it doesn’t charge any fees. He’s able to send the money online and it will arrive in one business day.

    The mid-market rate
    The mid-market rate is 1 USD = 0.8826 EUR, which means Ryan’s money is worth €44,130.
    Transfer provider’s rate
    The transfer provider’s rate is 1 USD = 0.8772 EUR, which means Ryan will be able to send €43,860.
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    Option 2: Peer-to-peer money transfers

    Peer-to-peer (P2P) transfer services match individuals who want to trade currencies.

    For example: You want to convert $1,000 into Chinese yuan and someone in China wants to convert Chinese yuan into US dollars in the same amount. A P2P money service matches you and the other individual. The service adjusts the exchange rate by 0.5% on both sides to cover the cost of facilitating the exchange, and you trade currencies with the other individual. The converted currency is transferred to a bank account of your choice.

    P2P services are often close to specialized money transfer services in terms of cost — traditional transfer providers often win just slightly, but it’s worth comparing P2P providers when making a large transfer. If someone is looking for a currency you have, you might be able to get a better rate.

    Example: Ryan sends $50,000 to France

    Ryan looks into making a P2P transfer. He wants to convert his $50,000 to euros, and it just so happens that someone else is offering US dollars for the same amount.

    The mid-market rate
    The mid-market rate is 1 USD = 0.8826 EUR, which means Ryan’s money is worth €44,130.
    P2P provider’s rate
    The P2P provider’s rate, with the commission factored in, is 1 USD = 0.8729 EUR, which means Ryan will be able to send €43,645. He’ll also need to pay a flat fee of $3 for the transfer, bringing his total to €43,642.38.
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    Option 3: Cryptocurrency

    If you hold cryptocurrency, you can send it to a wallet anywhere in the world. 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 good idea.

    Cryptocurrency exchanges charge a fee each time you make a transaction, and you’ll need to make several transactions to send money overseas. You could also lose money if the value of your cryptocurrency goes down before you sell it — which is likely, as it’s notoriously volatile.

    Cryptocurrency for international money transfers: How it works

    The basic process for transferring money overseas using cryptocurrency is:

    1. You transfer funds to an online cryptocurrency exchange.
    2. You use your local currency to buy cryptocurrency, which goes into a digital wallet.
    3. You sell your cryptocurrency for a foreign currency.
    4. You 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.

    Example: Ryan sends $50,000 to France

    Ryan considers using Bitcoin to send money to his overseas account. He finds an exchange he likes and adds up how much the transfer would cost.

    1. Transferring funds
    Ryan signs up for an account on a cryptocurrency exchange and transfers $50,000 USD. He pays a 0.5% fee to send a wire transfer to the cryptocurrency exchange, leaving him with $49,750.
    2. Buying Bitcoin
    Ryan buys Bitcoin at a rate of 1 USD = 0.00027 BTC. He’ll need to pay a 1% fee, leaving him with $49,252.50 to buy 13.2982 BTC.
    3. Selling Bitcoin
    Ryan sells Bitcoin at a rate of 1 BTC = 3,276.70 EUR. He sells his bitcoin for €43,574.21. He has to pay a 1% fee to sell Bitcoin, leaving him with €43,138.47.
    4. Transferring funds
    Ryan pays a 0.5% fee to send a wire transfer from the cryptocurrency exchange to his French bank account, leaving him with €42,922.78.
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    Option 4: Bank

    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.

    Example: Ryan sends $50,000 to France

    Ryan wants to send $50,000 to his bank account in France for a down payment on a new condo. His first thought for transferring money is to do it through his bank, so he goes online and checks both his bank’s exchange rate and the current mid-market rate, plus any fees.

    The mid-market rate
    The mid-market rate is 1 USD = 0.8826 EUR, which means Ryan’s money is worth €44,130.
    His bank’s rate
    His banks rate is 1 USD = 0.8357 EUR, which means Ryan will be able to send €41,785. He’ll also need to pay a $35 transfer fee, bringing his total to €41,755.75.
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    Which option is best?

    Money transfer specialists and peer-to-peer providers are generally the most affordable options for sending an overseas transfer. Traditional transfer providers often just barely win out in terms of cost, but not always — it’s worth comparing both options if you’re making a large transfer.

    Example: Ryan sends $50,000 to France

    After looking at the various options, these are the calculations Ryan made for how much his $50,000 would be worth in France:

    TypeAmount receivedTransfer speed
    Money transfer specialist$43,860.000–3 days
    Peer-to-peer provider$43,632.480–3 days
    Cryptocurrency$42,922.781–10 days
    Bank$41,755.751–5 days

    Ryan ultimately decides to use a money transfer specialist, but he bookmarks the P2P provider in his browser for future comparisons. He sends his money to his French bank account the day before his flight to Paris. When he gets off the plane, he checks his account and sees that his transfer arrived safe and sound.

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    Bottom line

    Banks and cryptocurrencies tend to be the most expensive way to transfer money overseas. But there’s no single best option or company, and fluctuating exchange rates and demands for certain currencies mean you’ll save the most by comparing international money transfer providers before each exchange.

    Frequently asked questions

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    US International Money Transfers Offers

    Important Information*
    XE Money Transfer

    Transfer up to $500,000 with no minimums and no fees.

    WorldRemit International Money Transfers

    Use promo code 3FREE to send your first 3 transfers with no fee. Send to 110+ countries for bank-to-bank deposit, cash pickup or mobile top-up.

    TransferWise

    Enjoy high maximum transfers into more than 20 currencies while saving up to 90% over local banks.

    CurrencyTransfer

    Exclusive: Minimum transfer of $1,000 for Finder readers (normally $5,000).
    For larger transfers, get no transaction fees and no maximum send limits.

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