Looking for the best exchange rates? Use our money transfer currency conversion calculator
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Transferring money can be confusing: Not only do you need to figure out which service can move your funds quickly, but you need to figure out how much you’ll receive on the other end.
Don’t guess which provider gives you the biggest bang for your buck. To find the best exchange rates, use our money transfer currency calculator.
How is currency converted?
Every day, traders buy and sell currency on the forex market. As they do, they increase and decrease the value of currency.
When the market says one currency is worth a specific amount of another currency, we call that the mid-market rate. For example, the mid-market rate between the US dollar (USD) and Japanese yen (JPY) could be 1 USD = 100 yen. This is the rate that banks use to trade money with one another.
How currency is converted for consumers
When you convert money through a money transfer provider, you likely won’t get the mid-market rate. Instead, your provider adds a margin on top of the exchange rate.
Let’s say you want to transfer US dollars to Japan and the mid-market rate is 1 USD = 100 JPY. Your money transfer provider could instead offer a rate of 1 USD = 96 JPY.
If you transfer $1,000, you won’t receive 100,000 JPY. Instead, at the rate the provider’s offering, you’ll receive 96,000 JPY.
Your provider pockets the 4,000 JPY, which means you’ve lost around $30 to the exchange rate.
Use our calculator to compare exchange rates of popular transfer providers
The best way to find the best exchange rates is to compare many money transfer providers at once.
We’ve done the hard work for you: Just enter how much money you want to convert, and compare the rates you’ll get with top money transfer specialists.
How can I get the best currency conversion?
In the old days, you had only a few ways to transfer money. Today there are better methods.
Keep these tips in mind to get the best currency conversion rate.
1. Use an online service like TransferWise.
Back in the day, banks had an iron grip on the money transfer market. They freely charged high markups on exchange rate. Even today, you’ll generally pay a margin of 2% to 5% on the mid-market rate when exchanging money at a bank.
Today you’ll find cheaper online transfer services like TransferWise and CurrencyFair. These platforms charge much lower margins — typically between 0.5% and 2%.
When converting and transferring money, first look online. You’ll likely pay much less than you will at your local bank branch.
2. Look for the ideal time to convert money.
Exchange rates fluctuate all the time. Take advantage of fluctuations by converting money when rates move in your favor.
You don’t have to sit at your computer looking at currency graphs. Instead, set up an exchange rate alert at a platform like TransferWise or XE. You’ll get notified for your perfect rate, and you can then convert money with confidence.
Exchange rate histories
Understanding historical exchange rate patterns can help you understand if what you’re looking at is a good rate, or if it could be better. Choose a currency pair from the drop-down list to see historical currency conversions:
Historical Rate chart of USD and CNY
Updated: 25 May 2019 11:34:51 UTC
3. Use forex tools to get the best exchange rates.
If you’re okay with a more complex process, exchange your money on a forex platform. These platforms often offer advanced tools to get the best rates, including:
Limit orders. Your currency trade is executed only when a currency reaches a price you’ve set beforehand.
Many money transfer providers offer limit orders and forward contracts. Contact your provider to learn more.
Mistakes to avoid
Transferring through banks or brick-and-mortar providers. These providers tend to charge high fees and offer poor exchange rates.
Forgetting to look at both fees and exchange rates. Providers usually make big money in these two categories. If a service charges no fees, be wary: It probably includes a huge margin on the exchange rate.
Not comparing providers. Many of the cheapest providers are online. Before settling on one, compare several to get the best rate.
Case study: Sending money to France
You want to transfer $5,000 to France. Right now, the mid-market rate is 1 USD = 0.85 EUR, which means your $5,000 should be worth 4,250 EUR.
Transferring through your bank
Your bank charges a $30 fee for a wire transfer and converts at a rate of 1 USD = 0.82 EUR.
You pay the $30 fee first, then your $5,000 is transferred to France. Your recipient receives $5,000 x 0.82 or 4,100 EUR.
Your $5,000 is worth 4,250 EUR, but your recipient received 4,100 EUR. This means you’ve lost 150 EUR to the exchange rate, which is about $176.
When you tally in the $30 wire transfer fee, you’ve lost $206 on the exchange.
Transferring through an online money transfer provider
You can find online money transfer providers that charge no fees. Yours converts at a rate of 1 USD = 0.84 EUR.
This means your recipient receives $5,000 x 0.84 or 4,200 EUR.
Your $5,000 is worth 4,250 EUR, and your recipient receives 4,200 EUR. This means you’ve lost only 50 EUR to the exchange rate — or about$58.
What’s the verdict?
Ultimately, you’ll pay much less when you use an online money transfer provider rather than a US bank. Among online providers, you can find even better deals than you’d expect.
Here’s the takeaway: The more online providers you compare, the better deal you’ll get.
Adrienne Fuller is the publisher for money transfers and also the head of publishing at Finder. With a decade of experience creating guides in finance and education, she aims to deliver the accurate and transparent information she wishes she had when she made some of life's important financial decisions. She has a BA from Colorado College and when she's not helping folks save money, she's hiking with her two Catahoulas around her home in San Diego.
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