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How to buy a car overseas with an international money transfer

Find out how to buy a car overseas by sending a safe and affordable international money transfer.

When you’re shopping around for a new or used car, sometimes you need to look a little further afield to find the best deal or that perfect set of wheels. Buying a car overseas to be shipped back to the States is actually not as complicated as you might think.With the help of an international money transfer, you can safely and securely send funds overseas to complete your purchase. But regardless of whether you’re buying a vintage classic, a rare European marque, or even if you’ve just found a much cheaper sale price abroad, finding the most affordable way to pay for your new set of wheels is crucial.

Using a money transfer service to buy a car from overseas

If you need to send funds abroad, the first option you might consider is transferring money through your bank. But even though banks can send international wire transfers in a huge range of currencies to destinations all around the world, sending money via your bank will cost you.

Poor exchange rates and high fees are the norm when sending overseas transfers through your bank, so you can save a lot of dough if you shop around to find a specialist money transfer service. These companies offer markedly better exchange rates than the banks and in most cases also impose lower transfer fees, which can all add up to a significant saving — especially when you’re transferring a large amount.

Online money transfer providers such as OFX, and XE both offer secure and reliable online transfers, combining convenience with affordability.

In other cases, you may want to transfer the funds overseas in cash, either directly to a private seller or perhaps to a trusted friend who will buy the car on your behalf. Companies like MoneyGram, Western Union and Ria can help in these circumstances, offering fast and simple money transfers to cash pickup locations around the world.

Case study: Finding the best deal

Vintage car enthusiast Don wants to buy a historic Mini Cooper from a seller in the United Kingdom. Having agreed on a sale price of USD $10,000 with the seller for the slightly damaged car, Don begins arrangements to transfer the necessary funds. But when he sees the poor exchange rate on offer from his bank, he decides to see if he can find a better deal from a specialist transfer service — he compares two services to see which one offers the better deal.

Money transfer company 1Money transfer company 2
Exchange rate1 USD = 0.6493 GBP1 USD = 0.637 GBP
Transfer fee$0$10
Transfer methodBank account transferBank account transfer
Turnaround time3 business days4 business days
Amount received (in GBP)£6,493£6,370

As this table shows, Don can send an extra £123 by using the first transfer service and also save USD $10 in transfer fees.

What are some issues to consider when buying a car from overseas?

  • Make sure it meets US specifications. Check to ensure that the car you buy meets all the necessary requirements to be driven legally in the United States, including meeting any safety and emissions regulations.
  • Warranty. Does the car come with a manufacturer’s warranty? If so, where can you get it serviced in the States without voiding your warranty?
  • Shipping. Will you be taking care of the shipping arrangements or will this be taken care of by the dealer/seller? Remember to factor this expense into your purchase price calculations if needed.
  • How affordable is the car to run? Buying a car only represents a portion of your overall cost, so don’t forget to consider how much a car costs to run and whether or not it will fit into your budget in the future.

Who is most likely to be researching buying a car overseas?

Finder data suggests that men aged 25-34 are most likely to be researching this topic.

ResponseMale (%)Female (%)
65+3.58%1.97%
55-649.32%2.87%
45-5410.75%4.12%
35-4415.59%7.17%
25-3417.20%7.89%
18-2414.34%5.20%
Source: Finder sample of 558 visitors using demographics data from Google Analytics

How can I compare money transfer services?

Consider the following factors when weighing up the pros and cons of different money transfer services:

  • Exchange rates. How high or low are the company’s exchange rates? If their rates are often better than their competitors’, do they also charge high fees?
  • Fees. In most cases you’ll need to pay a transfer fee so it’s worth comparing amounts, but some companies scrap their fees when you send large transfers — for example $5,000 or greater.
  • Available currencies. Consider the range of currencies that the transfer provider offers for transfers — does it offer transfers in the currency you want and to the destination you need?
  • Flexible options. Depending on your circumstances, you may wish to look for a range of transfer options that can help you save time and money. For example, you might want to schedule several payments to buy a car in instalments over time, or you may wish to place a forward contract to protect yourself against fluctuating exchange rates.
  • Processing times. How long will each provider take to deliver the funds you send to your beneficiary?
  • Customer service. How will you be able to access customer assistance if you ever experience a problem with a transfer? Is there an online help centre as well as phone and email contact options?
  • Pickup options. If you want to send cash and don’t need to send a large amount, there are companies available that offer transfers with cash pickups. Other providers specialise in online transfers from your bank account to your recipient’s overseas account.

Compare money transfer providers to help you buy a car in another country

Our table lets you compare the services you can use to send money abroad. Compare services on transfer speeds and fees, then click Go to site when you're ready to send.
Name Product Filter Values Fastest Transfer Speed Fees (Pay by Bank Transfer)
Airwallex
Airwallex
Within minutes
$0
After spending $15k in your first 90 days, receive a one-time $500 bonus that will automatically be credited to your account on any FX conversion.
Airwallex can help you make business payments to 150+ countries in 60+ currencies.
Wise (TransferWise)
Within minutes
From 0.41%
Wise uses the mid-market rate and transparent fees to help you send money in 45+ currencies.
Cash App
Within minutes
From $0
With this peer-to-peer payment app make payments to your friends and family with no transfer fees within the US or from the US to the UK or EU.
Instarem
24 hours
From 0%
New Instarem customers will get a special FX rate and zero-fees on their first transfer.
Instarem offers offers rewards on every transaction.
MoneyGram
Within minutes
From $0
MoneyGram has fast cash pick-up transfers to more than 350,000 agent locations worldwide.
Western Union
Within minutes
From $0
Enjoy $0 fee on your first online transfer. Western Union makes money from currency exchange. Not valid on credit cards or sends to Cuba.
Western Union sends money online to friends and family in 200+ countries and territories around the world.
OFX International Money Transfers (Business)
24 hours
$0
Business customers: Send safe, no-limit transfers with no fees and competitive exchange rates.
CurrencyTransfer for Business
24 hours
$0
Increase business efficiency with zero transaction fees and same-day transfers.
OFX
24 hours
$0
OFX has no maximum limit transfers, with competitive exchange rates for 45+ currencies.
Xe Money Transfer for Business
24 hours
$0
Save your time and money with Xe Money Transfer for business.
Currencies Direct (business)
24 hours
$0
Minimizes costs of international transactions and offers custom solutions for business clients. Currencies Direct may call you to confirm your transfer, so be prepared for a phone call shortly after initiating a transfer.
Xe
Within minutes
$3
Xe has fast transfers with low fees and a range of foreign currency tools.
CurrencyTransfer
24 hours
$0
CurrencyTransfer lets you shop around for the best exchange rate on its online marketplace.
Currencies Direct
24 hours
$0
CurrenciesDirect makes transferring money abroad simple with bank-beating exchange rates. Currencies Direct may call you to confirm your transfer, so be prepared for a phone call shortly after initiating a transfer.
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