Best Ways to Send Money Abroad

Best Ways to Send Money Abroad

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When it comes to sending money abroad, in most cases there’s just one thing that matters – how much you’re going to get on the receiving end.

Of course it’s good to know how much the transfer fees and exchange rates are, but those things are out of your control.

What’s in your control, however, is the method you use to send money. And in this guide, we’re going to show you which options will get you the most money into your receiving bank.

If you want to skip the in-depth breakdown, you can head over to Monito, a comparison website that lists all the best ways to send money abroad on any given day.

That said, let’s jump into the guide.

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What to Consider

No matter where in the world you are, and no matter where on the globe you’re sending money to, you have to consider a few things.

Let’s look at each one of these considerations closely.

Transfer Fees

Transfer fees are the charges you pay to transfer money from one bank to another. Usually, there are three types of transfer fees:

  • fixed fees
  • percentage fees
  • combination fees

Fixed fees don’t change with the amount of money you send. So, whether you transfer US$1,000 or US$100,000 you pay the same amount. This fee structure is optimal when transferring large amounts of money.

Percentage fees, on the other hand, change with the amount of money you transfer because they are based on a portion of the total amount. If a money transfer service provider charges a 0.5 percent fee, then you pay US$5 on a US$1,000 transfer. If you send US$100,000, you pay US$500 in fees.

As you can see, it makes sense to pay fixed fees for larger transfers, especially when fixed fees are in the range of US$15 to US$100.

Combination fees include both fixed fees and percentage fees. Many online money transfer service providers use this fee structure.

Exchange Rates

Exchange rates are what banks are willing to give you for a specific currency. The goal is always to get as close to the mid-market rate as possible.

However, not all money transfer service providers offer mid-market exchange rates.

In fact, some providers take a percentage of the mid-market exchange rate as an additional fee. XendPay and most banks do this, but Wise doesn’t.

Just because one service provider takes a percentage of the exchange rate doesn’t always mean they’ll offer less money on the receiving end.

There are plenty of other factors to consider as well, as you’ll find out in the rest of this guide.

Transfer Speeds

Transfer speed is how long it takes for your money to leave one account and get to another.

Ideally, you want your money as fast as possible, but this isn’t always doable. It takes time for banks to clear, send, and receive transfers.

If you need your money quickly, this is something you have to consider, as faster transfer times usually equate to higher fees.

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Frequency of Transfers

How often you send money will be just as important as how much you send.

Some money transfer service providers are better for one-off transfers, while others offer better deals for recurring transfers.

XendPay, for instance, lets you transfer up to GBP2,500 per year with no fixed fees or percentage fees. This makes them a great choice for one-off transfers. (Keep in mind they do take a percentage of the exchange rate, as we mentioned earlier.)

Sending Method

In addition to the considerations above, you also have to give some thought to which sending method you’re going to use.

You can use a traditional bank, an online provider, or one of the established (yet expensive) wire services. Moreover, you can use cryptocurrencies or cash.

The sending method you pick will most likely depend on your unique situation, but just know that you have more than one options nowadays.

We’ll cover these options in great detail in the next section.

Methods to Send Money Abroad

From traditional brick and mortal banks to online services, you have many options when sending money abroad.

We’ll look at all the most popular options below and weight the pros and cons of each.

Wise

Wise is a financial service provider that lets people transfer money locally or internationally from one bank to another.

To make transfers through Wise, you have to set up a free account, verify your identity, then link your Wise account to a sending and receiving bank.

People favor Wise over other services because the company offers mid-market exchange rates, which contrast the practices of other providers, who often take 3 percent to 5 percent of exchange rates as an additional – and sometimes hidden – fee.

Also, Wise offers low percentage transfer fees of about 1 percent of the total transaction.

This makes Wise one of the cheapest money transfer service providers on the market today.

As for speed, Wise handles all transfers anywhere from a few hours to a few days – longer if you send on a Thursday or Friday.

One of the other pros of Wise is its transparent fees, which show just how much you’re paying and why. Some other providers don’t even list a breakdown of their fees.

Wise also offers a Multi-Currency account, which lets you send and receive money in 10 different currencies, then gives you the option to exchange it into your local currency at a fair exchange rate.

XendPay

XendPay is a financial service provider based in London and offers the same local and international money transfers services as Wise.

xendpay

To use XendPay, sign up for a free account, verify your identity, then link your XendPay account to your sending and receiving banks.

XendPay is great for first-time transfers because the offer “no fees” on the first GBP2,000 (or equivalent in your currency) you send in any given year.

It does, however, take 3 percent to 5 percent of exchange rates as an additional fee, and it doesn’t reveal this openly.

However, XendPay often turns out to be the cheapest method when sending money internationally.

When it comes to speed, XendPay processes all transfers paid with a card on the same day if made by 11 AM. If made by 5 PM, transfers will be processed by the next day.

For transfers paid by your bank account, delivery time depends on the individual banks, and could take up to a few business days.

Remitly

Headquartered in Seattle, Washington, Remitly offers low-costing international money transfers to most countries in the world.

remitly

Using Remitly is easy. You just have to sign up for a free account, verify your identity, and link your Remitly account to your sending and receiving banks.

Remitly prides itself on free transfers for first-time users. And even after your first transfer, you can still enjoy its USD0.99 transfers to select countries on select transfer amounts.

When it comes to exchange rate fee, Remitly takes the usual 3 percent to 5 percent as an added fee. And like XendPay, Remitly doesn’t state this openly.

Remitly may not be the cheapest option for international money transfers, but the company does work with charitable organizations, so you know whatever fees you do pay, a percentage goes to a worthy cause.

As far as transfer speed, Remitly promises to deliver all transfers by the time stated on the details of your transfer. If they don’t meet the deadline, they’ll refund your transfer fees.

WorldRemit

You can make international money transfers through U.K.-based WorldRemit to over 130 countries around the globe.

WorldRemit

WorldRemit makes setting up a free account easy. Just sign up with an email address, verify your identity, and then link your bank accounts.

Moreover, WorldRemit offers new clients three “free” transfers to get started. This means you won’t pay any transfer fees, but you will most likely not get mid-market exchange rates, as WorldRemit takes well over the 3 percent to 5 percent range that other providers take.

This makes them the most costly choice out of all the methods we’ve discussed so far.

One pro about using WorldRemit is its transfer speeds. They promise that 90 percent of all transfers paid through bank will be delivered on the same business day, and that 90 percent of all transfers made through Air Time will arrive in 10 minutes.

Banks

Before online money transfer services starting popping up, banks were the go-to method for transferring money abroad. But today, they are just one option in a market of many.

Although they’re no longer the only players in the game, banks may be a good choice when sending over US$10,000. However, it all depends on which bank you use. To get the best rates, you’d have to find a bank that charges a fixed fee.

Nowadays, many banks charge combination fees and almost never offer mid-market exchange rates. This makes them more expensive for smaller transfers. Then there are the fees that both sending and receiving banks charge.

Because of this, in the end, even with large transfers, banks won’t offer you that much more money on the receiving end than other money transfer service providers.

Western Union

Over the decades, Western Union became a household name in the world of money transfers, and it’s easy to see why. They offer instant money transfers and you can send money internationally with just a cell phone number — no bank account needed.

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western union

However, Western Union is oftentimes one of the most expensive choices.

Right off the top, Western Union takes roughly 4 percent to 5 percent of the mid-market exchange rate as a hidden fee.

Because of this, you’re going to get about 5 percent less money on the receiving end when compared to other money transfer service providers.

Moreover, they usually cap off how much you can transfer at any given time, although the amount depends on which currency you’re sending and to what location.

PayPal’s Xoom

Xoom is another viable choice for international money transfers, but like Western Union, it isn’t always the cheapest option – although it usually nets you more money in the receiving bank.

As for exchange rate fees, Xoom usually takes 2 percent to 4 percent of the mid0market exchange rates.

It’s transfer fees are quite high as well, ranging at about US$30.50 for a US$1,000 transfer when using a credit or debit card.

Also, you can’t use your bank account to transfer money through Xoom, which means you won’t be able to escape that credit card fee.

Cryptocurrencies

Some people may prefer to convert their cryptocurrencies to a fiat currency or exchange one currency to another using a cryptocurrency wallet.

You can use a service like Uphold to do this. You’ll need to sign up for an account and link your banking details, but once you do, you’ll be able to exchange currencies, albeit at a loss.

If you wanted to send US$1,000 to Japan, for example, you’d only get JPY124,748 on the receiving end. When compared to the JPY131,693 you’d get using Wise, you’d be losing quite a lot of money.

This is because Uphold charges buy and sell spreads on all fiat currencies (rates depend on currency being traded). It also charges a service fee of 0.2 percent.

As for cryptocurrencies, Uphold charges buy and sell spreads (again, depending on the cryptocurrency being traded). It also charges a 0.8 percent to 1.2 percent service fee on all cryptocurrencies being converted to a fiat currency.

For instance, the current buy and sell spread for ETH on Uphold is 0.95 percent to 1.10 percent, respectively. The listed service fee is 0.8 percent to 1.2 percent.

Cash and ATMs

Two other ways to get money while abroad is to either bring cash with you when you travel, or to withdraw money from an ATM machine in whatever locale you happen to be in.

The first option is quite risky, however, and limits you to only US$10,000 in most cases. The second option is quite expensive, and limits you to the daily allowed withdrawal amount set by your bank.

On top of that, you could pay anywhere from US$5 or more just to withdraw money from an ATM.

There are some banks that offer refunds on ATM charges acquired while abroad, such as TD Bank and Charles Schwab, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be getting fair rates.

Both sending and receiving banks will charge a fee for exchanging the currency.

Best Way to Send Money Abroad

With all the options available to send money abroad, how do you know you’re going to get the most amount on the receiving end?

After all, transfer fees may be cheaper or more expensive between service providers, but that doesn’t always dictate how much you’re going to get.

You have to consider the exchange rates and exchange rate fees, the method of payment, and much more. This can be time consuming if you don’t know where to look.

To simplify your search, you can use Monito. This website lists all the most cost-effective international money transfer service providers.

Just enter your sending and receiving currencies and how much you want to send, and Monito will list all the best options on any given day, saving you both time and money.

As for the providers on our list, here are the reasons you should use them

Recurring Monthly Transfers

If you’re going to send money internationally every month, one of your best choices is Wise. It offers mid-market exchange rates and low fees.

Moreover, if it don’t transfer your money on time, Wise occasionally offers discounts on future transfers.

One-Time Transfers

For one-off international money transfers, XendPay is a good choice because of its “free” transfers up to GBP2,000.

Financial Emergencies

If you must send money overseas instantly, your best bet is to use Western Union. You’re going to pay a little more in transfer fees and get lesser-than-average exchange rates, but in a financial bind it’s the quickest option.

Best Apps to Send Money Overseas

If you need to send money while on the go, there are plenty of apps that let you do that. One of them is the Wise App.

With the app, you can keep track of coming and going money transfers, add all your recipients, and even connect your account to Apple Pay.

You can download the Wise App on Google Play and the App Store.

Some alternatives to the Wise App are:

Of course, you can always use your phone’s web browser to use any of these money transfer services, but having the app makes sending money much more convenient.

Cheapest Way to Receive Money from Abroad

If you want to receive money instead of send money from abroad, one of the cheapest ways to do so is with a Wise Multi-Currency Account.

There are many benefits that come with having this account, and you can read about them in our in-depth guide to the Wise Multi-Currency Account, but here are some of the advantages:

  • send and receive money in various currencies
  • lower transfer fees than banks
  • Wise debit card that works just like a bank debit card

There are plenty of other reasons to open a Wise Multi-Currency Account, so be sure to check out the link to our guide.

Country-Specific Advice

If you want to transfer money from a specific country, we have guides on many locations throughout the world below. For your convenience, they’re listed in alphabetical order.

Australia

Brazil

Cambodia

Canada

China

Costa Rica

France

Germany

Global

India

Indonesia

Italy

Japan

Malaysia

Mexico

New Zealand

Philippines

Singapore

Spain

Thailand

UAE

UK

Vietnam

Now, on to You

Now that you know what to look for when sending money abroad, you can be sure that you’ll get the best rates on your next transfer.

But don’t forget, rates and fees are always changing, so be sure to check out Monito to find out the most cost-effective way to send money abroad.

John Wolcott is the global editor for ExpatDen. He's a New Jersey native who now lives in Bangkok with his wife and two daughters.