How to send money to the USA
Secure, affordable ways to send money from overseas.
While your local bank branch might be the most obvious option for sending money across borders, you can save on fees and take advantage of more competitive exchange rates with an online money transfer company.
Compare services that send money to the USA from the UK
How do international money transfers work?
An international money transfer is a service that exchanges one currency for another. You can begin the process either online, in person or over the phone. The provider will then take money from your bank account or use the cash you’ve given, exchange it and send it to your recipient’s bank account. If your recipient decides to pick up cash, be sure they have the tracking number to ensure the transfer goes smoothly on both ends.
How to send money to the USA
- Choose a transfer provider who sends money to the USA.
- Register with the provider on their website providing your name, address, contact information and date of birth. A valid photo ID will also be required.
- Provide your recipient’s name, address and contact details. Depending on the transfer method, you may also have to supply their bank account information.
- Enter the amount you want to transfer, complete your transaction and save your tracking or receipt number to follow up on the progress of your transfer.
Banks vs. money transfer companies
We use our banks to take care of all our other financial needs. So surely we should use them when we need to send an international money transfer, right? Not necessarily. While major banks offer money transfer services, they usually present less competitive exchange rates coupled with high transfer fees.
You can often save money by using the services of a dedicated money transfer company. These providers specialise in handling overseas money transfers, offering attractive exchange rates and affordable transfer fees. This translates to big savings for you.
Case Study: Michael sends money to the USA
The tech company that Michael works for in California is transferring him to their offices in London for a year to spearhead a new department there. He doesn’t want to uproot his family, so his wife and kids will be staying behind in the USA. Because he will be sending money home on a regular basis, he compares two money transfer providers to ensure that he gets the best deal. Michael figures he will be transferring £1,000 to his wife each month.
|Money transfer service 1||Money transfer service 2|
|Exchange rate||1 GBP = 1.107 USD||1 GBP = 1.189 USD|
|Transfer time||2 days||2 days|
|Transfer options||Online, phone||Online, phone|
|Amount received in USD for £1,000||1,107 USD||1,189 USD|
What’s the difference?
Although the first service provider doesn’t charge a fee, the second provider’s superior exchange rate allows Michael’s wife to receive US$82 more.
How do I compare transfer companies when sending money to the USA?
Michael’s case highlights the importance of looking at all features of a transfer company before making a final decision. When doing your own research, check the following with each company you’re interested in:
- Competitive exchange rate. Small differences in the exchange rate can make a big difference when transferring large amounts of money. This is an area where you could potentially incur losses if you are not careful.
- Little to no fees. Fees can vary greatly depending on the institution and the currencies involved.
- A range of transfer methods. Can transfers be placed online, over the phone, by visiting a branch and/or by using a mobile app?
- Turnaround time. Will the funds be available for your beneficiary in minutes, or will they take several working days to arrive?
- Convenient pick-up methods. Can your beneficiary pick up the cash from their nearest transfer agent, or will the funds be deposited into their bank account?
- Reliable customer service. What sort of customer support is offered and during what hours can you receive assistance?
Foreign exchange rates explained
Exchange rate is how much one country’s currency is worth compared to another. The pound is generally strong against most global currencies. For example, at the time of writing, for every pound you send, your recipient would receive around one US dollar and a quarter.
Comparing exchange rates is the most important part of sending money, so be sure your money transfer company is offering you a good rate.
Methods of sending money to the USA
As one of the world’s most widely accepted currencies, you’ll find many ways to transfer your money to the USA:
- Bank transfers. Most banks offer wire transfers to the USA
- Money transfer providers. Online providers like TransferWise and WorldRemit can help you transfer money quickly and easily.
- Transfer companies with cash pickup. Providers like Western Union and MoneyGram offer this service — your recipient can sometimes pick up the cast within minutes.
- PayPal. You can send money abroad using your PayPal account.
What documentation do I need?
To send money using a money transfer provider, you should make note of the following:
- The recipient’s full name. The beneficiary of a cash transfer will need to show photo identification. Be sure that the name you put on the order is the same as what shows on the ID.
- Your full name. As an additional security measure, the agent may ask for the name of the sender, be sure that the recipient knows your complete name.
- Your recipient’s contact information. Have the address and phone number of the person receiving the funds. They should also have this information for you.
- Transaction number. There will be a transaction number given when you make the transfer. Your recipient will need to give this to the agent before the cash is released.
How safe is a money transfer?
When processed through a reputable provider, your funds are safely tracked until in the hands of your recipient. It’s industry standard for international money services to use 128-bit SSL encryption systems at a minimum. Many also are licensed with UK financial regulators.
Tips for picking up cash in the USA
Picking up cash can be dangerous if you’re in an area that is prone to crime, but even if you aren’t, it’s smart to be aware of your surroundings and keep your cash hidden. Take a friend and deposit your cash into your bank account as soon as possible, and always keep safety your top priority.Back to top
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