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Compare international money transfers
Compare today’s rates, fees and transfer speeds from international money transfer services that can beat your bank.
Wondering how to send your next international money transfer? Not sure whether you should send a bank wire transfer, use an online money transfer app like Wise or WorldRemit or send cash through a service like Western Union?
We’ve scoured the market to find the best international money transfer services based on low fees, strong exchange rates, fast delivery and flexible options. Here’s what you need to know.
Compare international money transfer services
We update our data regularly, but information can change between updates. Confirm details with the provider you're interested in before making a decision.
We only list licensed services that are overseen by a government regulator. Every service we compare has been assessed and reviewed by our editorial team.
What is an international money transfer?
An international money transfer is the process of sending money between people or financial accounts in different countries. Every day, trillions of pounds are transferred between people and businesses all over the world.
Typically, you need to give a bank or money transfer service your recipient’s details and the money you want to send. The bank or transfer service then converts your funds to the currency in which it will be received and electronically sends the payment to your recipient.
Depending on the money transfer service, you may be able to send funds online, via mobile app, over the phone or in person.
How much does it cost to transfer money internationally?
The cost of sending an international money transfer varies between service providers. Factors like the type of transfer, destination country and amount being sent can affect your total cost.
Generally, banks and money transfers services make money from international transfers in two ways:
- Transfer fee. This is typically a flat fee or a percentage of the transfer amount. When transfer services give you a quote, they usually don’t deduct the fee first, and assume that you’ll find separate funds to cover the fee. That makes the coversion look better.
- Exchange rate margin. Most banks and money transfer services make a profit by using an exchange rate that’s not quite as good as the interbank rate, and pocketing the difference. This is called a “markup” or “margin”. When you see a service that boasts “zero commissions” or “no transfer fees”, it’s more than likely using its own exchange rate to ensure it can cover costs and turn a profit.
Bear in mind that transfer fees can vary depending on how much you’re transferring, how you pay for the service, how quickly you need it actioned and how your recipient receives the funds. Cash pickup can cost more than transfers to a bank account, for example, because it can require having local branches. You’ll usually incur higher fees for larger transfers, but when it’s a percentage-based fee, services may actually slash the percentage for larger transfers.
Realistically, it can be a bit of a moving target. Exchange rates change all the time and are hard to predict. On top of this, transfer services adjust their own fees or exchange rates, meaning that even if the interbank exchange rate is fairly static, a tranfer service’s rate could still change. After all, it’s in their interests not to rush when passing on improvements in exchange rates!
So how do I get the cheapest money transfers?
To get the best deal, focus on the final amount that your transfer receipient will get, after any fees have been deducted. Companies that offer fee-free transfers may make up for it with a poor exchange rate. This is why it’s important to look at the total cost of your transfer, not just the transfer fee or exchange rate.
To manage the shifting nature of exchange rates, it’s worth running a quick comparison at the point of transfer (quotes are usually “locked in” for a specific number of minutes), but you can also set rate alerts so that your transfer is only actioned if and when a rate hits a threshold of your choosing. To do this you’ll need to first create a free account with a transfer service such as TorFX.
How can I pay for my money transfer?
Not all money transfer services accept the same payment methods, but you may be able to pay by the following:
- Debit card
- Credit card
- Bank transfer (requires your account number)
If you want to pay in cash, you’ll need to visit a bank branch or money transfer agent in person. If you transfer funds online or via mobile app, you can only pay electronically by card or bank transfer.
How can my recipient receive the money?
Again, receiving options vary between transfer services, but your recipient may be able to receive funds the following ways:
- Bank account
- Mobile wallet
- Cash pick-up at a bank or money transfer location
- Airtime top-up
How can I send money overseas?
There are multiple options to consider when sending money overseas:
|Online money transfer service||Electronic funds transfer through an online money transfer service.|
|In-person money transfer service||Cash or electronic transfer by visiting a money transfer service location in person.|
|Bank||Wire transfer or international money transfer through a bank.|
(Note: All major banks support wire transfers, but not all offer additional in-house money transfer services.)
|Cheque||Write a cheque and mail it to your recipient.|
|Money order||Get a certified money order printed and mail it to your recipient.|
What are the benefits of using an online money transfer service?
While it might be easy to assume that big banks are the best way to go when sending an international money transfer, there are many reasons why an online money transfer service might be just as good if not better:
- Security. Similar to banks, online transfer services usually follow industry-standard security practices to protect your money and personal information. This often includes encrypted data transfer, SSL certificates, two-factor authentication, security questions/answers and personal identity verification.
- Regulation. Money transfers are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
- Cost savings. Online transfer services often translate to lower fees and stronger exchange rates
- Fast. Online money transfer companies often use the latest financial technology to get your money where it needs to go fast.
- Easy. Mobile apps and convenient online platforms make it easy to send money anytime from anywhere. Additionally, many money transfer services offer features that let you set up recurring transfers, making it easy to pay bills, send regular remittances, manage international business payments and more.
How to send money using an online money transfer service
Online money transfer services are increasingly competitive with big banks, in many cases offering more flexible options and lower fees. Sending an international money transfer through an online service is simple:
- Compare services, and select one that suits your needs.
- Create an account by entering personal details like your name, email, address and phone number.
- You may need to submit a scanned copy of your personal ID (i.e. passport photo page or driver’s license) to qualify for higher transfer limits.
- Link your bank account, debit card or credit card to your newly-created account, so you can pay for transfers. Alternatively, you may need to transfer funds from your bank account.
Most of time, you can access your account immediately after submitting all the required information. For some services (particularly transfer services for businesses), there may be a delay while your information is reviewed and a transfer specialist is assigned to your account.
How to send money through a bank
Bank transfers have long been regarded as reliable and safe. The steps for sending an international money transfer through your bank are generally as follows:
- Login to your online banking portal.
- Navigate to the international money transfers section of your account. It’s usually a good idea to check your bank’s exchange rates before sending money.
- Typically, you need the address and SWIFT code of your recipient’s bank and their account information. SWIFT codes are used internationally to identify banks.
To send a bank wire transfer or money order, you need to visit your bank in person. You may also be able to get money orders at other financial institutions like post offices, credit unions, retailers and even some convenience stores and fuel stations.
What do I need to send and receive money abroad?
Make sure you have the following on hand when sending an international money transfer.
- Your personal details. Name, phone number, and government-issued identification like a driver’s license or passport. Additional details may be required for security purposes, particularly for very large transfers.
- Your recipient’s personal details. Name, phone number and residential address.
- Your recipient’s bank information. Bank name, address, routing number, SWIFT code and your recipient’s account number.
- Payment. Check beforehand what types of payment methods are acceptable. For example, not all money transfer services accept credit cards.
What documents do I need to send money abroad?
For money transfers, you don’t need any particular documents for sending money overseas other than government-issued personal identification.
If you receive a large money transfer from abroad, then you may be required to pay tax. The UK doesn’t charge a gift tax, but it does impose inheritance taxes on large gifts. Whether you are required to pay tax depends on whether you are “domiciled” in the UK or abroad.
Tips to save money on your international transfer
Looking for low fees and strong exchange rates isn’t the only way to save on your next international money transfer besides. The following tips can also help keep your costs down:
- Use a service that offers zero markup the exchange rate. The mid-market rate is the “true” exchange rate between two currencies. While most transfer services add a margin on the mid-market rate to make money, some don’t. Instead, these services prefer to make money through transfer fees and possibly other charges. Depending on the type of transfer, it may work in your favour to use such a service.
- Send larger transfers. Some services offer discounted or waived transfer fees if you send at, or above, a minimum amount.
- Use forward contracts and limit orders. A forward contract lets you lock in a favourable exchange rate for future transfers. This means you’ll avoid unpredictable movements in exchange rates. A limit order allows you to wait until a favourable exchange rate is found before locking in your transfer.
- Watch out for scams. With an increasing number of scams each year, it’s important to keep an eye out for the most common money transfer scams. It’s usually best to avoid sending money to anyone you don’t know personally.
- Pay attention to taxes and regulations. Every country regulates money transfers differently. Make sure your recipient is aware of any tax or reporting obligations that apply to your transfer.
Save on your next international money transfer with these special deals
Popular International Money Transfers - UK discount codes
|Last checked||Code description||Code|
|24 May 2022||£0 fees on your first three transfers with WorldRemit||3FR****|
|8 Jun 2022||Get £10 off of your first transfer from UK||FIN****|
|14 Jun 2022||Get a £10 top-up plus a month of Premium free with this link||********|
|13 Jan 2022||3 Months Fee-Free Transfers||********|
|6 Oct 2020||Sign up for free with Currencies Direct||********|
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