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Find cheap ways to send money internationally
Save when you send money internationally with a secure online transfer.
Every person’s sending needs are a bit different, but without a doubt some sending methods are almost always cheaper than others. We used our years of money sending experience combined with data from The World Bank to determine the cheapest ways to send money internationally.
What are the cheapest ways to send money internationally?
Sending money overseas can be done in a variety of ways, some of which are typically more expensive. In descending order of cheapest to most expensive, in our experience, your options include:
1. Digital money transfer providers
These specialists offer more affordable transfers than banks, allowing you to manage your transactions from home. With competitive exchange rates and lower fees, you can send funds from your bank account. Many also allow you to pay with a credit or debit card.
2. Providers with cash pickup
Trusted providers like Western Union, WorldRemit and MoneyGram offer the key advantage of giving your recipient fast access to the cash you send — sometimes within minutes. You can often pay online or at one of the thousands of agent locations worldwide. However, services typically cost more than a digital money transfer provider.
3. PayPal transfers
PayPal offers transfers to more than 100 countries and supports multiple currencies. Its exchange rates are often better than those you’ll get from a bank, but not quite as strong as rates offered by 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.
4. Cheques and money orders
Although not a quick option, you could send an international check overseas, obtained from your bank. It costs a bit more — you’ll likely have to purchase the cheque and your recipient may be charged a fee by their own bank when cashed.
5. Bank transfers
Many banks in Sweden can safely wire your funds to countries around the world. Banks rely on existing links between banks and banking systems worldwide. Be aware that banks offer weaker exchange rates, have higher fees and fewer options to send and receive cash when compared to a money transfer service.
Compare cheap ways to send money internationally
We update our data regularly, but information can change between updates. Confirm details with the provider you're interested in before making a decision.
How do I send an international transfer with a digital money transfer provider?
Although the process differs by company, to send money internationally, you’ll generally:
- Register for an account. Registration is almost always free. You’ll provide your full name, contact info and date of birth. Some providers also require proof of ID.
- Provide your recipient’s details. Specify who’s receiving the funds by providing their name and contact information. If you’re sending money for bank deposit, you’ll include the bank name, SWIFT code and your recipient’s account number.
- Indicate the details of your transaction. Enter how much money you’re sending and in which currency it will be received.
- Review the details of your transaction. For most providers, you’ll see a summary of your transfer showing the amount you’re sending, the exchange rate, any fee you’ll pay and the total your beneficiary will receive.
- Pay for your transfer. Payment methods vary by company but could include credit or debit card, bank account, cash or mobile wallet.
- Track your transaction. You should receive confirmation that includes a tracking number to monitor the progress of your transfer online or through an agent location.
You may also receive an email or text when your beneficiary has received your funds and the transaction is completed.
How can I save money when making a money transfer?
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 offers the closest rates.
- 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.
The importance of a competitive exchange rate
Banks and other services are likely to add a little to the exchange rate, “padding the rate” to increase their profits. While a few öre may not sound like a lot on its own, when you multiply it by the 5,000 kr you plan on sending overseas, it can add up to a big difference in the amount ultimately received.
Specialised money transfer services typically offer rates that are closer to the mid-market rate.
Crunching the numbers: Sending 2,000 kr to Hungary
Let’s say you need to send 2,000 kr to family in Hungary. Here’s what you might face as far as fees and exchange rates as of 22 September 2020.
|Digital money transfer service||Cash transfer||Bank transfer|
|Fee||28.35 kr||30.00 kr||40 kr + additional correspondent bank fees|
|Exchange rate||1 SEK = 34.7897 HUF||1 SEK = 32.2868 HUF||1 SEK = 32.0132 HUF|
|Transfer speed||1-2 day||Within an hour||2-5 days|
|Amount received||HUF 68,593||HUF 63,604||HUF 62,745|
Skipping the bank will get more than 5,500 HUF to your recipient, as the bank’s exchange rate is far weaker than other options.
How transfer fees affect your total cost
Transfer fees can range from a few krona to up to 40.00 kr or more, with some providers taking even more as a percentage on your total amount.
Depending on the provider, your transaction fee could be:
- A flat fee on the transfer, no matter the amount you’re sending.
- A tiered-fee structure — for instance, 5.00 kr for transactions under 500.00 kr or 10.00 kr for transactions under 1,000 kr.
- A fee calculated as a percentage of the total transfer amount.
- No fee if you meet a fee-free threshold with some providers.
Be wary of other fees that could apply. For example, a provider could charge your recipient a fee to cash a bank cheque or pick up cash in person.
Tools to save on an international transfer
There’s a lot riding on a competitive exchange rate and low fee. But depending on how much you’re sending, how soon your recipient needs it and rates at the time of transfer, you could 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 request a transfer that’s executed only when a specific rate is reached, at which point your provider locks it in.
- Regular transfers. You may be able to shave a few ören off an exchange rate or pay lower transfer fees by setting up a plan to automate more regular payments overseas.
Although it can be tempting to go with convenience over price, avoiding banks can save you both time and money when sending money internationally. Always pay attention to fees, and more importantly always pay attention to poor exchange rates that can quickly eat into your transfer.
Frequently asked questions
How long do transfers usually take?
What if I only want to transfer a small amount of money?
Can I change or cancel an international money transfer?
Is it free to register for an account with an online money transfer provider?
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