Find the lowest fees and best exchange rates for when you send money overseas.
As modern technology leads to countries around the world becoming increasingly connected, it is easier than ever to send money overseas. If you need to send an international money transfer to friends or family abroad or simply buy something from overseas, there are plenty of available options.
However, you need to shop around and compare these options if you want to find a money transfer provider that offers affordable and efficient transfers.
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Watch our video to learn how money transfers work
What are international money transfers?
An international money transfer is when you send money abroad to a recipient and is also referred to as an international remittance. This type of transfer involves transferring funds to a company that acts as an intermediary between you and the recipient. The company exchanges your New Zealand dollars for the currency at your transfer destination, for example US dollars or euros, and sends the funds to your recipient.
As well as the money you transfer, you will need to take two other cost implications into account when sending money overseas: transfer fees and exchange rates. Most companies charge you a fee to send your funds overseas and that fee can vary depending on the transfer method you choose, how much money you send and where you send it.
In addition, the exchange rate you receive has a big impact on the cost of your transaction. It directly affects how many US dollars, Indian rupees or other currency your recipient receives.
Every major bank is able to send international money transfers, but using your bank to handle the transaction is not usually a financially wise move. Banks offer a diverse range of products and services, so the exchange rates they offer for international transfers are quite poor and this, combined with the high fees they charge, means you can often find a more affordable transfer option using a specialist money transfer company.
While the thought of sending money overseas may sound complex, it is actually quite a simple process. The first step is to send money, either as cash or a bank account transfer, to a money transfer provider. You can send the funds via your bank, via a transfer company that offers cash pickup locations, or through an online transfer company.
Once you provide details of your transaction (where you are sending the money, how much you’re sending and in what currency) and pay for it, the transfer provider converts your funds into the local currency of your destination country and send the funds to the recipient. Some companies allow your beneficiary to pick up the cash you send by visiting their nearest branch. Others offer direct transfers into your recipient’s bank account. Depending on the option you choose and where you are sending your money, processing time ranges from a few minutes to several business days.
What is next?
Bevan’s daughter, Monique has just started her O.E and will be in Berlin for her 21st Birthday. He would like to send her some cash, so she can celebrate and buy herself a present.
Bevan decides to send an electronic transfer online using OFX .
|Exchange rate:||NZD$1 = EUR€0.5813|
|Total cost of transaction:||NZD$1,012|
|Amount Monique receives:||EUR€581.30|
As Monique is in Germany, OFX will transfer the money to her bank account in one day.
Consider the following transfer options when you need to send money overseas:
- Bank wire transfer
The first option people think of when sending money overseas is to lodge an international wire transfer request with their bank. Any major bank in New Zealand can send an international money transfer on your behalf. You just need to supply the recipient’s name, country of residence and bank account details. The benefits of this approach is that you are dealing with an established financial institution you trust and already have an account set up, from which to transfer funds. There are some significant downsides, in the form of unfavourable exchange rates and high fees banks offer on these transactions.
- International bank draft
This old-school approach involves obtaining an international guaranteed cheque from your bank. You will usually need to visit a branch and supply the name and address of your recipient and you will also have to pay a fee. You can then post the cheque to your recipient overseas, which means they will have to wait several days for it to arrive and they can then cash the cheque at their bank. A negative to this form of transaction is that in many cases your recipient also incurs a fee when they cash the cheque.
- Money transfer service
Money transfer services offer either wire transfers or online transfers between bank accounts. There are two transfer methods available when you use this type of company:
- Cash-to-cash transfers
Western Union and MoneyGram are the two largest providers of this service and operate an extensive worldwide transfer network. You can visit your nearest transfer branch and send funds around the world. Your beneficiary can usually pick up the cash you send within minutes, from their nearest agent location in their country of residence.
- Bank account transfers
Companies such as MoneyTransfer.co.nz and OrbitRemit.com allow you to send funds from your bank account directly to your recipient’s bank account overseas, and you can do it all online. This transfer option is fast, convenient and typically more affordable then sending the funds through your bank.
There are several companies available that offer quick transfers, including Western Union, MoneyGram and Xpress Money. These services allow you to send money overseas that your recipient can pick up from their nearest branch within minutes. Urgent transfers usually cost more to send than a normal transfer, as you incur higher fees and have to settle for a lower exchange rate when sending funds.
The availability of currencies can vary substantially depending on the money transfer service you use. Some companies specialise in transfers to certain countries, such as India, so don’t offer much choice in terms of currency. Larger providers may offer support for 50 or more currencies, including all major currencies and rarer, more exotic options.
Commonly traded currencies include:
- US dollar
- British pound
- Australian dollar
- Hong Kong dollar
- Singapore dollar
- Japanese yen
- United Arab Emirates dirham
- Indian rupee
- Swiss franc
- Chinese yuan
Transfer a larger amount
Many companies offer better exchange rates for larger transfers, while some will waive their transfer fee if you send more than a certain amount, for example $5,000.
Take advantage of flexible transfer options
Check to see whether your provider offers forward contracts. These allow you to lock in a great exchange rate today for a transfer that will be sent in the future. Another option worth considering is a limit order. This is a transfer that will only be executed when certain market conditions occur, such as the exchange rate reaching a level you specify.
Be a savvy shopper
Instead of settling for the first transfer company you find, do some research and compare the cost of sending the same transfer with different companies. Shopping around really can save you heaps.
You need to take the following factors into account when choosing a money transfer provider:
- Exchange rates. The rate of exchange is a crucial factor when sending money overseas, so shop around for a company that consistently offers competitive rates.
- Fees. Bear in mind that companies with high exchange rates may also charge high fees. Make sure you are aware of all the transfer fees that apply to any transaction before you commit your funds.
- Transfer methods. How can you send a transfer: Online; By visiting a branch; Over the phone and/or through a convenient mobile app.
- Transfer options. Are you able to take advantage of cost-effective and convenient options, such as forward contracts and scheduling regular transfers?
- Pickup options. Will the cash you send be available for collection from a transfer agent and if so, how many locations does each provider have in your transfer destination? Alternatively, does the company only offer bank account transfers?
- Turnaround time. How long will the money take to arrive in your recipient’s wallet?
- Customer support. If you ever need help with a transfer, will customer support be on hand to provide the help you need? Look for online help centres and customer support phone and email details. Some companies also offer a live online chat option.
Watch out for the following issues when you send money overseas:
- Hidden fees. Read the fine print to make sure you’re aware of any fees that apply to your transfer. Once you know the total cost of a transaction you can make an informed decision on whether to go ahead.
- Mid-market rates. If you see a great exchange rate advertised on a provider’s website, make sure the rate you see is the rate you will actually receive. Some companies advertise the mid-market exchange rate, which is the rate at which banks purchase foreign exchange, rather than the rate they actually offer their customers.
- Failing to do your research. If you want to save some money, compare several transfer providers before choosing one to handle your transaction. Shop around for a company that offers reliable and affordable transfers, instead of just diving in head first.