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How to send money abroad from Ireland
Here are some cheap ways to transfer money overseas
Looking to send money internationally? Here’s what you need to know about ways to send money abroad, the importance of exchange rates and how to manage your costs.
Best ways to send money overseas
Sending money overseas can be done in a variety of ways. In general, your options include:
Many major banks in Ireland can safely transfer your funds to countries around the world. Banks rely on existing links between banks and banking systems worldwide. Be aware that banks can offer weaker exchange rates, have higher fees and fewer options to send and receive cash when compared to a money transfer service. However, we may see this change over time as traditional banks respond to competition from newer fintech companies by developing more competitive digital money management solutions.
Digital money transfer services
Online money transfer services let you conveniently manage transfers from anywhere in the world through online platforms and mobile apps. Some services also offer same-day money transfers. Acceptable payments usually include bank transfer, debit and credit. One downside is that you can’t pay for your transfer with cash, as digital money transfer services don’t operate physical branches.
Providers with cash pickup
Industry giants such as Western Union and MoneyGram offer the advantage of giving your recipient fast access to the cash you send – sometimes within minutes. These companies offer the choice of paying online or in person at an agent location. However, depending on the type of transfer, you may pay higher fees than if you used an online-only money transfer service that has less overhead costs to maintain. Some online-only transfer services such as WorldRemit offer cash pickup as a receiving option.
Cheques and money orders
It may not be the quickest option for sending money internationally but you can post physical cheques or money orders around the world. Compared to an electronic transfer, there are added costs involved like a fee for each cheque or money order you request as well as the cost of postage. Your recipient may also be charged a fee by their bank when cashing it in.
Compare your options for sending money
Use our interactive table to compare transfer fees, exchange rates, sending limits and more for sending funds overseas with our money transfer partners.
The “Rate” and “Amount Received” displayed are indicative rates that have been supplied by each brand or gathered by Finder Ireland.
Exchange rates are volatile and change often. As a result, the exchange rate listed on Finder Ireland may vary to the actual exchange rate quoted for the brand. Please confirm the actual exchange rate and mention “Finder Ireland” before you commit to a brand.
How to send an overseas money transfer with an online specialist
Although the exact process may differ between service providers, these are the steps you’ll generally have to follow to send money internationally:
- Create an account. Creating an account is almost always free. You’ll provide details such as your full name, contact information and date of birth. Some providers may ask you to upload a scanned copy of your photo ID (passport or driver’s licence) for verification purposes or to increase the sending limits on your account.
- Enter your recipient’s details. Provide the name of the person receiving the transfer as it appears on their personal ID, as they may need to present ID in order to receive the funds. You’ll also need their contact information. For deposits directly to a bank account, you’ll need the name of your recipient’s bank, the bank’s SWIFT code and your recipient’s account number.
- Enter the details of your transfer. Enter how much money you wish to send, the destination country and currency, the way you want funds to be received (cash, bank account etc.) and how you intend to pay (bank transfer, credit or debit card etc.). Note that sending and receiving options will vary between providers.
- Review the details of your transaction. Most providers will provide a summary of your transfer for you to review. Make sure you fully understand the fees, exchange rate and exact amount your recipient will get. If anything is incorrect, go back and make changes where necessary.
- Submit payment. Payment methods vary by provider but options can include credit or debit card, bank account, cash or mobile wallet.
- Track your transaction. After payment is received, you should receive confirmation number and/or tracking number to monitor the progress of your transfer online or through an agent location. Your recipient may also need this number to receive funds.
Once the transaction is complete, you may receive an email or text notification that the funds have been received. Details of the transaction may be saved to your account to make future transfers quicker and easier.
How to keep costs down when sending money internationally from Ireland
When you send money abroad, fees and exchange rates play a huge role in determining your costs.
Fees vary widely depending on the provider you’re transferring with. Overall, providers make money on your transfer in two ways: by marking up the exchange rate and by charging you a transfer fee.
- Compare exchange rates. Use your currency’s mid-market rate as a baseline to compare against the rates you’re offered. Focus on providers that offer the closest rates to this mid-market rate.
- Send more money per transfer. Many providers discount transfer fees or waive them altogether when you send larger amounts.
- Look for hidden fees. Avoid surprises by reading the fine print for fees that could apply to your transfer, including charges your recipient will need to pay.
- Sniff out special offers. Keep an eye on promotions that offer, for example, no fees on your first transfer. While ideal for limited transfer needs, you could also end up with a new preferred service.
- Shop around. The best way to save is by comparing rates, fees and transfer speeds of each provider, closely looking at their benefits and drawbacks.
Why you need a competitive exchange rate
The exchange rate is the value of one currency when converted to another currency. Technically, exchange rates change every second, but banks and money transfer services may update their rates daily, hourly or even sooner.
The mid-market rate is the value of one currency in another currency. For example, if the mid-market rate for converting EUR to USD is 1.13, then 1 euro is worth US$1.13.
Most banks and money transfer services make a profit by taking a fee worth a small percentage of the mid-market rate. If the mid-market rate for converting EUR to USD is 1.13, you might actually be offered a rate of 1.09. This means your recipient will get US$1.09 and the bank of money transfer service will pocket the remaining 4 cents.
While a few cents may not sound like a lot on its own, when you multiply it by the €2,000 or more that you might potentially send abroad, it can add up to a big difference in the amount ultimately received.
A lower exchange rate means you lose more of your money to fees, and your recipient gets less. A higher exchange rate means more of your money goes to your recipient instead of fees.
Compared to banks, specialised money transfer services typically offer rates that are closer to the mid-market rate.
Crunching the numbers: Sending €2,000 to Kenya
Let’s say you need to send €2,000 to family in Kenya. Here’s what you might face as far as fees and exchange rates as of 2 December 2021 with fees being deducted from the original €2,000.
|Cash transfer (in-person)||Online money transfer service||Bank transfer|
|Fee||€2.90||€18.79||€25 + additional correspondent bank fees|
|Exchange rate||1 EUR = 120.326 KES||1 EUR = 127.756 KES||1 EUR = 119.743 KES|
|Transfer speed||Within an hour||1-2 day||2-5 days|
|Amount received||KES 240,303||KES 253,111||KES 236,492|
Skipping the bank will get 16,000+ Kenyan shillings more to your recipient, as the bank’s exchange rate is far weaker than other options. In our example, the online money transfer service offered the best value for money because of the stronger exchange rate.
How to get the best exchange rate
How transfer fees affect your total cost
Transfer fees can range from a few euros to up to €50 or more, with some providers taking even more as a percentage of your total amount.
Depending on the provider, your transaction fee could follow one of the following schemes:
- A flat fee that stays the same regardless of how much you send.
- A tiered-fee structure In which the flat fee varies depending on how much you’re sending. For example, €5 for sending up to €500 and under, €10 for sending between €501 and €1,000.
- A percentage fee in which you’re charged a percentage of the transfer amount.
- €0 fee for transfers above a certain amount. This can be €5,000 or more with some providers.
Be wary of other fees that could apply. For example, a money transfer service could charge your recipient a fee to cash a bank cheque or pick up cash in person instead of by direct deposit.
Tools to save on an international transfer
While finding competitive fees and exchange rates can help keep your costs down, you may be able to save even more with the following tools:
- Forward contracts. With this tool, you lock in a favourable exchange rate for a future transfer, avoiding unpredictable movements in the rate.
- Limit orders. A limit order allows you to convert your funds only if a specific exchange rate is reached, at which point your provider locks it in.
- Regular transfers. You may be able to shave a few pennies off an exchange rate or pay lower transfer fees by setting up a plan to automate more regular payments overseas.
- Same-currency transfers. It can sometimes be cheaper to transfer euros to your recipient, allowing them to transfer these euros into their own currency when received. Your recipient may be able to pay lower fees overall this way.
There are many ways to send international money transfers from banks and online transfer services to in-person cash transfers and popular apps like PayPal. Always compare fees, exchange rates and transfer options before choosing a service provider to make sure you’re getting the best deal for your needs.
Frequently asked questions
How long do money transfers usually take?
Transfer speeds vary greatly depending on the provider, where you’re sending your money to, how you’re paying, and how your recipient will access your funds. It could be anywhere from 15 minutes to several business days. Be sure to confirm the timing of your transfer before handing over your money.
What if I only want to transfer a small amount of money?
Companies like PayPal and Wise can be useful for sending smaller amounts. Other providers impose minimum transfer limits of €250, €500 or more, so you should confirm any transfer restrictions before registering for an account.
Can I change or cancel an international money transfer?
Assuming the money hasn’t already been picked up or deposited to your recipient, you may be able to cancel it but this very much depends on the transfer service you use. Contact your provider to learn more about its specific policies about cancellations.
What if I have a problem or can’t track my transfer?
If you experience any problems with the transfer or delivery, contact your money transfer provider.
Reputable providers offer customer support by phone or email, and often by live chat as well. You may also be able to access an online FAQ or help page for assistance.
For complaints, contact the company directly. You will typically need to follow a specific handling procedure to initiate a complaint and get the help you need through resolution.
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