Finding the best ways to send money abroad may help you periodically like when you travel or influence your daily life if you are a freelancer. Understanding factors like money transfers fees, currency exchange rates, and transfer timelines can mean the difference between getting most of your money at the end of the transfer, or forfeiting a considerable chunk. In this article, we cover the options you have for sending money overseas and tell you what the pros and cons of each option are.
Factors to Consider First Before Transferring Money Overseas
Choosing the best ways for sending money overseas relies on what you need most from the transfer. For example, if you need speed, you may have to pay more for your transfer. Similarly, if you want the best currency exchange rate, you may have to wait a bit longer to get the money. Picking the best way to send money abroad involves a tradeoff of several factors, including:
- Whether you are sending one currency and receiving a different currency or sending and receiving the same currency
- Currency exchange rates
- The amounts of money you are sending (smaller amounts or larger amounts)
- How fast you want the money sent and received
- The sending country and receiving money country
- The frequency of sending
- Origination of funds (cash, bank account, business proceeds, Bitcoin, or credit card)
- Transfer fees and how this will affect the total amount received or sent
It is important to note that no one money transferring service can tick all the boxes at once. Some will allow you to send money faster, but at a higher cost, while others will give you better rates for larger amounts and high transfer fees for smaller amounts.
Online Payment Providers
PayPal allows you to send money to one hundred and ninety countries in up to twenty different currencies. To complete the transfer, all you need is the recipient’s phone number or email, although they will need to create a PayPal account to access the funds. PayPal is a great money transfers option if you are sending smaller amounts (less than $500) and if the other person also has a PayPal account and can withdraw to their bank account or mobile wallets.
PayPal is very transparent when it comes to fees and exchange rates. Also, all you need is a phone number or email address to send money, making sending money as easy as sending an email or text message.
PayPal has opaque terms of service, and they can freeze funds or close your account with no notice. PayPal is also quite expensive when transferring large sums above $2,000, costing up to 4% of the total amount sent.
Google Pay works like PayPal. All you need is an email or phone number to send someone money. Google Pay charges no fees to send money, although you will incur a 2.9% processing fee. Google Pay is a good option if you are sending mid-range amounts (the transfer limit is $10,000), and if the recipient has access to Google Pay withdrawal methods (debit card or bank account).
Google Pay charges no transfer fees, which makes it a cheaper option than PayPal. The service also charges no fees to withdraw money either to a debit card or to your bank account.
Google Pay money transfer services are only available in the United States, UK, and India. This limited coverage makes it a poor option if you want to send money to other countries besides these.
Other Online Payment Providers
- Amazon Pay
Money Transfer Service Providers
Western Union has over four thousand locations worldwide and offers options to send money internationally via their website, a physical location, your bank, or a mobile app. Recipients can get cash in their mobile wallets, bank account, or pick up at a physical location. Western Union money transfers are best for sending money fast and allowing the recipient to access the funds conveniently.
You can choose to send money and have it immediately available to the recipient. Also, recipients do not have to open an account or even have a bank account, which makes it easy, especially when sending to individuals moving from country to country.
For faster transfers, Western Union fees and currency exchange rates can be high. Sending money is also more complicated since you must input multiple identity details of the recipient.
TransferWise is a hybrid between a traditional money transfers service and an online payment provider. They differentiate themselves by offering actual currency exchange rates and allowing you to open a virtual bank account from which to send and receive money from other international bank accounts. TransferWise is an excellent option for freelancers and individuals who work with foreign contractors due to the ability to wire money directly from bank account to bank account.
You get the actual currency exchange rate when sending money, and all you pay is a standard transfer fee. The service offers virtual multi-currency bank accounts, allowing you to send or receive money using same-currency accounts.
Money transfers are not instantaneous, and you may be subject to lower transaction limits if you do not have a business account.
Other Money Transfer Service Providers
Sending a wire transfer from one bank to another is another way you can send money abroad. In this method, both parties must have a bank account, even if in different banks. Wire transfers typically take between one and five business days to complete. Wire transfer is a good option if you are making business payments or transferring large amounts that you need available in the other bank account.
Bank wire transfers are preferable when sending large sums because of the increased security. The money is also deposited in a bank account, which makes it easy to spend using other payment methods like PayPal, Google Pay, and others.
Bank wire transfers have notoriously high currency exchange rates. While fees are typically fixed, you can expect a currency exchange rate that is up to 10% of the total amount you are sending.
Intrabank Money Transfers
If your bank has a branch in the recipient’s country, you can easily perform an intrabank transfer from your local bank account to a bank account held in the foreign bank. Intrabank transfers are a great option if you have bank accounts in banks that have an extensive international footprint like HSBC, Barclays, and Citibank.
Some banks offer free intrabank transfers, even if the transfer is from one country to another. Additionally, you can open same-currency accounts in both countries and make significant savings on currency exchange rates.
Not all banks have a strong international presence. Moreover, if you are only sending money periodically or when traveling, it makes little sense to open and operate a bank account in a foreign country.
Other Bank Options
- Money orders
- Traveler’s checks
- Banker’s checks
- Debit cards
- Credit cards
Currency Exchange Brokers
Currency exchange brokers specialize in exchanging your currency and sending the funds to a recipient bank account. One standout feature of this service is that you get a live exchange rate quote. That is, they give you a quote that if you do not like, you can reject and wait for a better rate. Currency exchange brokers are a great option if you want enhanced control over the currency exchange rate you get.
The service offers live exchange rate quotes, allowing you to get the best current rate for your transfer. Recipients get money in any country in which they have a bank account.
Currency exchange brokers offer a limited range of services, with transfers limited only to bank-to-bank transfers. You also need a working knowledge of currency exchange rates to pick the best rate.
Currency Exchange Broker Examples
- Currencies Direct
Cryptocurrency is a new entrant in the international money transfer arena. Sending money abroad via cryptocurrency involves both parties having a cryptocurrency wallet. To send money, you will need to open an account with a crypto exchange like Coinbase or Kraken, fund your account, purchase cryptocurrency, then send the funds to the recipient’s wallet. Fees associated with such transfers are typically low, and transfers conclude within minutes.
Sending money is extremely cheap and relatively fast. You can also benefit from changes in cryptocurrency prices since they tend to have high volatility.
You need to be tech-savvy to send money through cryptocurrencies. Some banks have blacklisted cryptos, so you may not be able to fund your crypto account from your bank account or withdraw money from a crypto wallet.
Cryptocurrency Mobile Wallets Service Providers
As you can see, there are many options for sending money abroad. Choosing the best ways to send money abroad depends on your priorities and the factors listed at the start of this article. Our advice is that you weigh your options and pick the one that meets your most urgent needs, whether that is the speed of transfer, low transfer fees, excellent exchange rates, or ease of collection.