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Cheapest ways to send money internationally

Identify the pitfalls to avoid when you’re planning to send money abroad.

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Wise (TransferWise)

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  • Fair service fees and mid-market rates – a major market differentiator
  • Next-day delivery for most currencies
  • Easy-to-use app
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Times have changed, and you have more options than ever for sending money overseas. And more money transfer services means having more details to shift through. Transfer fees are one important factor, but only the tip of the iceberg in getting the best deal. Benefit from our 15+ years of money transfer experience with our tips.

Best ways to send money internationally

1. Online money transfer services

These specialists offer more affordable transfers than banks, allowing you to manage your transactions from home. In our experience, digital money transfer services are typically the cheapest way to send money internationally.

Costs can vary between money transfer services. Factors like the type of transfer, destination country and the amount being sent can affect your total cost. Therefore it’s important to compare providers to make sure you are getting the best deal.

Cheapest digital transfer services:

2. Services with cash pick-up

Services like Western Union and WorldRemit give your recipient fast access to the cash sent – sometimes within minutes. You can pay online or at one of the thousands of agent locations worldwide. However, services typically cost more than a transfer specialist and vary by payment method and where you’re transferring your money.

3. Bank transfers

Major US banks can safely transfer your funds to countries around the world. Banks rely on existing links between banks and banking systems worldwide. However, two downsides are the high fees and the weaker exchange rates.

4. PayPal transfers

Not just making purchases online, PayPal offers transfers to more than 150 countries and supports multiple currencies. Its exchange rates are often better than banks but not as strong as rates from money transfer companies. PayPal calculates its transfer fee as a percentage of the amount you’re sending – meaning it’s often better for sending smaller amounts of money.

5. Cheques and money orders

Although not a quick option, you could send an international cheque overseas, obtained from your bank. It costs a little more – you’ll have to purchase the cheque and your recipient may be charged a fee by their own bank when cashed.

6. Bitcoin

Bitcoin can be transferred directly from person to person, without the need for a bank or other intermediary. Transactions are processed on a decentralized network and can be sent anywhere in the world. However, the value of cryptocurrencies are highly volatile, and there may be additional risks associated with using them for money transfers.

Compare ways to send money internationally

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)
Wise (TransferWise)
Within minutes
From 0.41%
Wise uses the mid-market rate and transparent fees to help you send money in 50+ 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.
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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Send money internationally with these tips in mind

While your ideal option depends on how much you send, how you pay for the transfer and where you send funds to, some industry-wide key tips include:

  • Use a comparison table. Review the prices of different services to help you understand what fees exist and how to best avoid them. 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.
  • Plan ahead. It’s best to plan your money transfer as far in advance as possible, but if you need to make an emergency transfer, read on to find the best deal.
  • Skip the bank altogether. Banks are great for domestic money management, but once you get into international transfers, banks tend to offer worse exchange rates and higher fees.
    • Send larger transfers. Providers usually offer stronger exchange rates for larger transfers. If you’re planning to send $490, you might find that sending $510 puts your transfer into the next rate bracket and you end up with a better rate.
    • 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.

    Online money transfer specialists profit on your transfers in two ways: transaction fees and exchange rates. When comparing providers, look for low fees and exchange rates closest to the mid-market rate at the time of your transfer.

    Let’s crunch the numbers: Sending $1,000 to Mexico

    To put this into perspective, let’s see what a transfer with each of these options looks like. This table uses real fees and exchange rates and is current as of November 24, 2020.

    Bank transferCash transferMoney transfer service
    Fee$25 + additional correspondent bank fees$3.99$0
    Exchange rate1 USD= 18.833 MXN1 USD= 19.935 MXN1 USD= 19.874 MXN
    Transfer speed2-5 daysWithin minutesSame day
    Amount receivedMXN$18,362MXN$19,855MXN$19,874
    Overall
    • Slowest and most expensive
    • Fastest
    • Best value

    The bank option is the slowest and transfers the least amount of money to your recipient. If you go with the specialist money transfer service, your recipient ends up with MXN$1,512 more than they would from the bank. However, if speed is what’s most important, the cash transfer can’t be beaten for nearly instant transfers.

    Can I send money internationally without a bank account?

    Yes. Even though most methods used to send money abroad require that you either have access to a bank account, a debit card, a credit card or cash, you have options.

    Send money without a bank account

    1. Money transfer paid in cash
    2. Credit card payment to an online transfer agency
    3. Send funds through a mobile wallet
    4. Purchase a money order and mail it

    Receive money without a bank account

    1. Transfer funds to a money transfer physical branch for cash pickup
    2. Spend a prepaid debit card received by mail
    3. Directly to a mobile wallet
    4. Cash a money order received by mail

    Need more help? Read our full guide on sending and receiving money without a bank account.

    Bottom line

    It doesn’t have to be expensive to send money overseas, and fees differ depending on what country you send to. Countries where online money transfers are more common tend to have lower fees, while other countries may be more expensive. If possible, plan in advance to secure the best rates for your transfer.

    Read more on this topic

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    8 Responses

      Default Gravatar
      ShaynaSeptember 5, 2019

      Do you do door cash delivery?

        AvatarFinder
        JhezSeptember 6, 2019Finder

        Hi Shayna,

        Thank you for your comment.

        If you’re referring to a money transfer provider that delivers your money right to your recipient’s doorstep, yes, there are money transfer services that offer this. I’d refer you to our page that will give you more details about door-to-door cash delivery.

        Please note that only some money transfer specialists offer this option and there are only a few countries where the service is available.

        Regards,
        Jhezelyn

      Default Gravatar
      GioJuly 29, 2019

      I would like to know why you didn’t put Payoneer?
      I am an freelancer overseas worker and I get payed in different foreigner currencies. What is the best way for me to transfer to my local bank in Italy in Euro currency? Thanks

        Default Gravatar
        nikkiangcoJuly 29, 2019

        Hi Gio,

        Thanks for your question.

        While we are a comparison website, we may not have all the available money transfer services available globally. Nonetheless, I can send this to our publishers and check if we can add this to one of our pages.

        If you are looking to send money to Italy, you can compare international money transfers to Italy that you consider using to send cash and that will convert your USD to EUR.

        Use our comparison calculator to assess transfer fees, exchange rates and other features to help you find the service provider that’s suitable for you.

        Please note that the exchange rates and fees are subject to change at any time. Make sure to review the terms and conditions before making a decision on whether it is right for you.

        Hope this helps!

        Best,
        Nikki

      Default Gravatar
      jasonOctober 4, 2018

      Is currencytransfer ltd a safe company to exchange with?

        Default Gravatar
        nikkiangcoOctober 5, 2018

        Hi Jason,

        Thanks for reaching out!

        All providers listed on our page is proven safe and reliable. If you wish to find more information on Currency Transfer, you may visit their website or read reviews and forums available on the web.

        Hope this was helpful. Don’t hesitate to message us back if you have more questions.

        Cheers,
        Nikki

      Default Gravatar
      ShanleySeptember 13, 2018

      Hi, I would like to transfer my money overseas from US to Indonesia, I have $ account in Indonesia. How much is transfer fee? Thank you

        AvatarFinder
        BellaSeptember 13, 2018Finder

        Hi Shanley,

        Thanks for your inquiry.

        The money transfer fee would be different depending on the amount sent, the transfer and payment method and with the money exchange service provider.

        I hope this information helped.

        Kind regards,
        Bella

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