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How to send a large money transfer abroad

Your bank might be more convenient, but international money transfer specialists probably offer a better deal.

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It’s actually much easier than it seems to send a large money transfer abroad. Banks can be helpful, but they also tend to charge high fees and offer poor rates. Specialist money transfer providers will give you better rates and lower fees.

But there are other alternatives, and the best way to send money will depend on your specific situation. Taking things like speed, tax regulations, fees and more into consideration is also important when making your decision.

What are my options for sending a large money transfer overseas?

  1. International money transfer specialist
  2. Cash-to-cash transfers
  3. Bank-to-bank transfers
  4. International bank draft
  5. Cryptocurrency

1. International money transfer specialist

International money transfer providers exist to make the process of sending money overseas faster and more straightforward. They often offer some of the most competitive exchange rates for your large money transfer, and many charge far lower fees than what you’ll find at your bank.

Pros

  • Typically cheaper and faster 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.

Cons

  • 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.

Compare money transfer specialists

Table: sorted by a combination of service offering and the amount your recipient will receive
Data indicated here is updated regularly
Name Product Minimum Transfer Transfer Time Transfer Fee
TransferWise - Ireland
EUR 1
1-2 days
Varies
TransferWise uses the mid-market rate and transparent fees to help you send money in 45+ currencies.
Azimo - Ireland
GBP 10
Instant
Varies
Azimo sends money directly to a bank account or over 280,000 cash pick-up points. It also has fast transfers to 50+ countries.
Remitly - Ireland
EUR 0
1-5 days
EUR 2.99
Remitly has quick, affordable transfers around the world, with both express and economy options.
Skrill - Ireland
EUR 50
1 day
None
Skrill offers easy transfers to many popular destinations, but keep an eye out for added fees.
XE Money Transfers - Ireland
EUR 1
Same day
EUR 0
XE has fast transfers with no fees and a range of foreign currency tools.
WorldRemit - Ireland
EUR 1
Same day
Varies
WorldRemit sends money to 110+ countries for bank-to-bank deposits, cash pick-ups or mobile top-ups.
CurrencyFair - Ireland
EUR 5
1-2 days
Varies
CurrencyFair has bank-beating exchange rates and fast transfer times on 15+ popular currencies.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Disclaimer: Exchange rates change often. Confirm the total cost with the provider before transferring money.

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 doesn’t have a bank account to receive a large money transfer. Companies that offer cash-to-cash transfers include Ria Money Transfer, MoneyGram, Western Union and more.

Pros

  • Recipient doesn’t need a bank account.
  • Sender doesn’t need a bank account.
  • Cash transfers often get there faster than bank-to-bank transfers.

Cons

  • Most cash-to-cash specialists have a maximum sending limit.
  • Large amounts of cash will need 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.
Finding the right company to send your cash-to-cash transfer is important, so compare your options to figure out which company sends to your preferred destination and offers the lowest fees and strongest exchange rates.

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 unfavourable exchange rate, but for a large money transfer, you’ll see a noticeable chunk taken from your transfer.

Pros

  • You already trust your bank with your money.
  • You can initiate the transfer online, in person or by phone.
  • You don’t have to trust any companies with your money.

Cons

  • More expensive than other options.
  • Usually much slower than other options.
  • Have to pay with funds that are already in your bank account.
When sending a bank-to-bank transfer, double check how much your bank charges for outgoing international wire transfers before transferring money to avoid any shocks. Sometimes bank wire transfer limits might be set in place by your bank, so you’ll need to ask it ahead of time if you plan on making a large money transfer abroad that’s over €10,000. You’ll also need to know the International Bank Account Number (IBAN) and Bank Identifier Code (BIC) for both your own account and the account you’re paying into.

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 draft is created.

Pros

  • 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.

Cons

  • Slow, as they have to be physically sent or hand delivered between countries.
  • Your bank might not support the currency and country you want to send the draft to.
  • Difficult and time consuming to replace if lost or stolen.
International bank drafts aren’t ideal for many situations, so be sure to double check if they’re right for you before sending one.

5. Cryptocurrency

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 pound sterling or euros. That means it’s possible to exchange pound sterling 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.

Pros

  • You can send money directly to your recipient’s cryptocurrency wallet address, removing the need for companies as intermediaries.
  • Your transaction can’t be cancelled.

Cons

      • Requires a lot of technical know-how to avoid errors.
      • Prices can be volatile, so you could lose a lot of it in a large money transfer 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:

    1. Transfer funds to an online cryptocurrency exchange.
    2. Use your local currency to buy cryptocurrency, which goes into a digital wallet.
    3. Sell your cryptocurrency for a foreign currency.
    4. Withdraw your funds from the exchange platform.

    You’ll probably encounter percentage-based fees at each step, making cryptocurrency an expensive way to send a large money transfer.

    Which option is best?

    The best option, of course, depends on your specific circumstances. But, while using your bank is convenient, overall using a money transfer specialist may end up being your least expensive option and offer stronger exchange rates. To get a baseline of what your large money transfer could cost, compare a few different money transfer providers.

    Frequently asked questions

    Can I send cash internationally?

    Technically yes, but you shouldn’t. Sending cash in the mail is extremely unsafe and risky, as there is absolutely no guarantee that it will reach your recipient.

    Can I bring large sums of cash to another country?

    Yes, if you want to skip the transfer specialists you can bring cash to another country. But you’ll need to check that country’s laws for any limits on how much cash you can bring into the country, and you’ll probablly need to declare it at customs. Be aware that neglecting to declare large sums of cash at customs can result in legal trouble, and both you and your recipient will probably need to file taxes declaring the transfer of cash funds.

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