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No matter your reason for sending money abroad, it’s important to understand your options, how it works, potential fees you might run into, and how long it takes for the money to arrive. Since this can vary quite a bit from company to company, it’s worth taking some time to do a bit of research.
The cheapest way to make international money transfers to send funds to your home country – whether the United States, the UK, India, Pakistan, or anywhere else! – will depend on how much you’ll be sending as well as any time constraints you need to meet. So to help you choose your best option, I’ve separated out the 4 best websites to transfer money overseas. I’ve also created a table comparing them below to show what each one has to offer.
What should I know before transferring money overseas?: 3 steps to take before making your transfer
There are 3 steps you should take before choosing a company to use to send money abroad:
- Check the day’s exchange rate
- Verify the max amount allowed to transfer
- Research the fees charged by each company for international money transfers
Here’s a bit more about each of those 3 items.
1. Check the day’s exchange rate
The first thing you need to do is to check the current exchange rate. This number changes daily and anyone who sends or receives a lot of money abroad needs to keep an eye on it.
If you work abroad and earn in a currency that is stronger than your home country’s currency, then your best option is to send money back home when your home country’s currency is high compared to the average over the past several months.
You also want to check the current exchange rate to the website you transfer with has a rate as close to this “official rate” as possible so you don’t lose money (banks, for example, won’t have exchange rates very close to the official….they will have much worse ones).
You can find this information easily by searching “1 [currency you’re sending] in [currency of country you’re sending it to].” For example, if you’re in the United States but need to send money to the UK then you might search…
2. Verify the max amount allowed to transfer
The companies below have a limit as to how much you can send daily, monthly, annually, or per transfer. This means that you can only transfer a certain amount and a transfer above that amount will be rejected. This may also mean that you can only make a limited number of transfers per day, week, month, or year. In which case, you’ll then have to find an alternative that might not be as good or as cheap to continue making transfers.
So if you often need to send large quantities of money or make transfers frequently, you’ll need to verify these limits for each individual company. But thankfully, these limits should be plenty for your average person, especially if you’re a student doing a study abroad or anything like that.
I’ll give the limits for each of the companies below.
3. Research the fees charged by each company for international money transfers
One of the most important things to consider are the fees charged by each company as this will normally determine which option is the cheapest.
So, before you choose a company for your international money transfer, you need to know what fees each company charges. Some companies have a fixed cost per transfer, others charge a percentage of the amount you send (in which case, the more money you send, the higher the fees).
4 Best Companies for International Money Transfers
Below, you’ll find the best companies to send and receive money abroad. I consider these 4 the best since they are generally the cheapest in fees and have the best exchange rates.
I’ll explain a bit about how each works, their fees, their timelines, and their limits. This way, you’ll be able to choose what makes sense for your transfer. Here are your 4 options:
- World Remit
I’ll be honest here – I’ve yet to find anything cheaper than Transferwise for my own transfers. However, their fees do vary from currency to currency, which is why I included the other options below in case they aren’t the cheapest option for your currency pair. So, I recommend you compare the fees for all the options below before making a final decision.
TransferWise works with more than 1,200 combinations of currency! And according to their website, doing a transfer with them can be 8 times cheaper than doing it with a traditional bank.
Which brings us to an important point – Transferwise, and companies like Transferwise, are NOT banks. That said, TransferWise is still authorized by the United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), just as any other bank in the UK is required to be.
Beyond international money transfers, Transferwise also gives you the option to open up a “borderless multicurrency” account, which you can use to make your transfers happen instantly (for no extra fees). You’ll even get a debit card attached to this account which you can use around the world.
Transferwise fees and timelines
Transferwise’s fees depend on 2 factors: the amount of money sent and the form of payment.
Since Transferwise charges a fixed percentage of your total (this exact percentage varies slightly from currency to currency), the fee will be higher the more you send.
You also have to consider your form of payment. This may vary from country to country, but usually the cheapest and most common form is bank transfer. You also have the option to use a credit card to send money overseas by Transferwise, but I don’t recommend this option since the fees are higher.
The timeline for the money transfer to arrive varies from 24 hours to 2 business days.
Transferwise international money transfer limits
Transferwise has one of the highest limits for international transfer limits out there. However, the exact numbers vary from currency to currency.
To learn more about the limits they have for individual currencies, you can go to Transferwise’s page here.
Truly, in my opinion and in my experience sending and receiving money to/from various countries around the world, Transferwise is one of the cheapest and most practical companies for international money transfers. Ah, and they also work with one of the highest numbers of different currencies….50 different currencies from all around the world!
CurrencyFair is very similar to Transferwise and it works the same way. The only major downfall here is that they don’t work with as many currencies as Transferwise does (they only work with about 20 currencies vs the 50 that Transferwise does).
CurrencyFair has been around for 9 years (and has securely exchanged over 9 billion euros to date!) and is fully licensed and regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.
CurrencyFair fees and timelines
As with Transferwise, you’ll get a better exchange rate with CurrencyFair than you’d get with any bank and the fees will also be lower.
Their fees vary based on the currency pair being exchanged, but the average is 0.45% according to their website. Beyond this, there is a €3 transfer fee. You can read more about their pricing here.
The timelines for the transfers to arrive with CurrencyFair are anywhere from 1-5 business days depending on the currency. Express transfers are also possible for an extra cost.
Promotion! You can get a coupon code with CurrencyFair for 3 international transfers Fee Free here!
CurrencyFair international money transfer limits
While some currencies have a minimum transfer limit, unlike other options here, CurrencyFair has no maximum daily transfer limit.
Today, XE is known for being the world’s most trusted currency authority. They work with many different currencies and don’t have extra transfer fees (they just charge a percentage of the total transfer, varying from 0.5-2%).
That said, money transfers with XE can be a bit more complicated to set up than with the other websites recommended here. And they don’t always have the best exchange rates so it’s not my favorite option.
XE fees and timelines
As I said above, XE doesn’t charge any additional fees on top of their transfers – they just charge a percentage of the amount you send. However, the receiving bank may charge a fee even if XE doesn’t.
In other words, you won’t be able to see the total fees you have to pay when you’re doing your transfer. Instead, you have to get in touch with the bank that’s receiving the international transfer to find out how much they charge.
Beyond this, even if XE doesn’t have fees themselves, their exchange rates aren’t always the best on the market (even if they are still better than bank rates).
The amount of time it takes for a transfer done through XE to arrive is 1-4 business days.
XE international money transfer limits
XE has a maximum limit of $500,000 USD per transfer. However, if you need to send more than this (in which case, I’m jealous!), you can simply do multiple transfers. Although, I’d assume sending half a million dollars to another country is plenty!!
WorldRemit is available in more than 150 countries and works with more than 90 currencies. They have had more than 4 million clients and, with their headquarters in Brussels (European Union capital ), Belgium, are authorized and regulated by the National Bank of Belgium.
The options to pay for your WorldRemit transfer vary from country to country. However, bank transfer is most common with options to pay via credit, debit, or pre-paid card.
WorldRemit fees and timelines
While the exact fees will be shown to you when you put in the currencies and amounts for your transfers, their average cost per transfer is $3.99 USD.
The company also says that 90% of their transfers are received on the same day. In other words, WorldRemit could be your best option if you need your transfer to go through more quickly than some of the other options!
WorldRemit international money transfer limits
The transfer limit for WorldRemit varies between currencies. But to give an idea, you can send up to 5,000 British pounds, 5,000 US dollars, or 8,000 euros in a single transfer.
Other options to send money abroad online
As you can see, there are a lot of options for international money transfers online. So, beyond the 4 I’ve listed above, there are some other very popular options which aren’t necessarily the best choices
Unlike the companies above, Western Union also has physical offices that people can go to send money overseas. It currently has offices in over 200 countries and territories around the world.
Western Union is a safe way to send and receive money, including cash. You can send both online and in-person at an agency. The person who will receive the money also has this option.
However, the Western Union fees and the exchange rates are some of the worst ones out there. In other words, I’d try to avoid Western Union if you can!
That said, if it’s your only option, then the fees will vary based on your form of payment and the transfer arrival time is 1-4 business days.
Traditional banks are also an option for anyone who needs to make an international money transfer. However, they are faaaar from being the cheapest option.
Primarily, because they have the worst fees of any other option, sometimes hitting as high as 11% of your total transfer amount. Beyond the fees, the exchange rate they use is terrible! So, you’ll lose money twice thanks to the high fees and the poor conversion rate.
However, it is important to know that, if you really need to, you can send money from an international bank back home. But before you do your transfer, double-check the fees that will be charged and how long it will take for your transfer to arrive.
Personally, I only use traditional banks to send money overseas as an absolutely last resort!
Table comparing the 4 best companies to send money overseas online
|How many currencies they work with||50||60||Number of currencies not listed, but can send/receive money in 150 countries||20|
|Fee structure||Percentage of transfer amount||Percentage of transfer amount||Average cost per transfer is $3.99||Average fee of 0.45% of transfer + €3 transfer fee|
|Transfer times||24 hours to 2 business days||1-4 business days||90% of transfers received on the same day||1-5 business days depending on currency|
|Fees charged by arrival bank||No||Maybe||No||No|
As you can see, there are a lot of options to make international money transfers, whether to your home country or from your home country to wherever you are now.
Since each company has a different fee structure and changes from currency to currency, I recommend getting a quote from each of the companies above to compare the exchange rates and fees and see which one will be the cheapest option for you.
I know that this comparison may take a bit of time…but it’s really not a lot since you can do everything online. Not to mention, and you’ll be paid for the time you spend comparing by saving money on your transfer overall!
And that’s it! Which service do you use for your international transfers? What do you think of the companies above? Any other questions? Leave your comment below and I’ll get back to you!
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