Top 3 Free Ways (2020) to Transfer Money Overseas

Yes banks were taking you to the cleaners, but the good news is money transfer companies can be just a fraction of the cost.

But it gets better.

From time to time money transfer companies offer juicy promo codes or offers – like “Zero Frees” or “Fee Free” transfers.

Right now, I am going to show you the best deals and also tell you about a few other things that can save you more money – long after the promo expires!

That is not the best bit. 🙂

Apart from finding what is cheap and great, I will show you some tips to make international money a whole lot more awesome.

Let’s dive in!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links (which saves you money). For more information, see my disclosures here.

Jump Links

  1. Fee Free Ways
  2. Cheapest Ways (for Ever)
    1. Hidden Fees
    2. Fixed Fees
    3. Currency Conversion Fees
  3. What You ALSO Need to Know (Beyond Cheap and Free)
    1. Avoiding Losing or Having Money Frozen?
    2. What are the Fastest Ways?
    3. Is Free Safe?
    4. Trust the Review Sites?
  4. 3 Pro Hacks + Bitcoin
    1. Bitcoin and Crypto
    2. Multi Currency Account + Prepaid Card
    3. Using a Challenger Bank

1. Cheapest (and Fee Free) Ways – Updated 1 September 2020

ServiceBest ForLimited Time OffersReviews 
CurrencyFairSmaller Transfers from 60+ countries (Not USA)10 Free Transfers (Current for August 2020)>> Full Review
WorldRemitSmaller Transfers (including USA)3 Free Transfers (Use Coupon Code "3FREE" Offer Ends 31st August 2020)>> Full Review
OFXLarger Transfers anywhere in the world$15 Fee Removed (All Transfers, for Ever, if Applicable)>> Full Review

“Updates on Future Offers? One page PDF containing latest cheap and free money transfers (includes promo codes and special links that are on this page, PLUS any new offers that come through in the future). Updated September 2020

Get the PDF + Updates

Above $7000 USD / 4000 GBP /  9500 AUD/CAD / 5000 EUR is considered a large amount.

Below these amounts is a small amount for money transfer companies.

There are loads more services that have “fee free” periods but these services have been hand picked for excellence as well. Read the reviews for more if you aren’t sure.

As you may notice many of these coupon codes or fee free ways expire usually after you have used them for a trial period.

However you are just about to find out how to ensure your fees are cheap as possible for ever!

2. Cheapest Ways (for Ever)

No doubt about it, “fee free” transfers are awesome and can help significantly in the total fees.

But what about those other fees including the hidden ones?

Also what happens when those juicy fee free periods end – are they still relatively cheap?

Jump Links

  1. Hidden Fees
  2. Fixed Fees
  3. Currency Conversion Fees
ServiceFixed Fee (without link)Currency ConversionLocal Bank Accounts*Estimated Fees on $1000*Estimated Fees on $50,000
CurrencyFair 10 Free Transfers (Current for Aug 2020)€3 ($4)0.25% to 0.3%Most Majors - Most notably not Canada or New Zealand$3 (with Fixed Fee Removed)$470 (Fixed fee negligible and not included)
WorldRemit
3 Free Transfers (Use Coupon Code "3FREE" Offer Ends 31st August 2020)
$3.99 to $24.99 depending on various factors such as the currency, country, amount, and delivery option.1% to 1.5%"extensive range of competitively priced payout options in more than 120 countries, including cash pick-up, bank account transfers and mobile money."$1.5 (with Fixed Fee Removed)$500 - $750 (Fixed fee negligible and not included)
OFX $15 Fee Removed (All Transfers, for Ever, if Applicable)$15 (Applicable to transfers below $10k)2% to 0.4% (smaller as amounts grow)"OFX uses a network of 115 bank accounts worldwide" - "unable to send funds to the following countries: Afghanistan, Belarus, Burma, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Zimbabwe."$2 (with Fixed Fee Removed)$450 (Fixed fee negligible and not included)
BankNone usually$79 (Very rough guide, varies enormously)$2340 (Very rough guide, varies enormously)
Important Notes:
Fixed Fee - This fee is a small charged (but can vary depending on the amount)
Currency Conversion - This fee is built into the currency conversion compared to the interbank rate. This figures come from common currencies but please note this will vary depending on currencies, amounts and other factors.
Local Bank Accounts - One of the largest "hidden fees" can be significant reduced through local bank accounts.
*Estimated Fees - Please use as a guide only and do your own checks before transacting. Information on this page will help you to know exactly what to look for.

2.1 Hidden Fees

These fees can be charged by the service themselves for many weird and wonderful things you might not expect.

For example, a very common and perfectly understandable fee is often charged by services that allow you to use a credit or debit card to fund the transaction.

Most services are pretty good, but occasionally there are surprises.

The biggest hidden fee that most services fail to highlight are the fees charged by banks at either ends.

For smaller amounts these fees can be a substantial part of what you end up paying. 

For example, if you were transferring $1000 USD to the UK, your bank in the US could charge up to $50 for the transaction (usually $20 to $40) and the receiving bank likewise will charge up to £20 to receive the funds (usually £10 to £20). £20 is about $25.

As you can see in the table above, if you pay $30 – $75 to the banks for their fees and only $3 or $4 to the money transfer company, these “hidden fees” can really add up.

For larger amounts, this is not such an issue.

Now you might be wondering why I call these fees “hidden fees” when the money transfer company has nothing to do with them – it is the banks at either end.

Here is the thing.

They can and often do a whole lot to reduce and even eliminate these fees!

Money transfer companies that crush these fees manage a network of local banks worldwide which means that these fees aren’t charged by banks in the same way you can accept money from someone in your country or pay someone in your country usually with no fees.

See table above for any “hidden fees” you need to be aware of.

Fees uncovered

2.2 Fixed Fees

As you can see, the fixed fees (which you can get removed using the links) are quite significant for smaller amounts, but less so with a company like CurrencyFair which can keep its currency conversion fees incredibly low due to it’s peer to peer structure.

On an ongoing basis, CurrencyFair will almost always be a great option for smaller transfers, although if Canada or New Zealand are one of the countries, the do not yet have local bank accounts in those countries.

OFX is also super interesting, because while they may charge a little more for smaller transfers in currency conversions, there is no fixed fee for ever which makes them competitive for even smaller amounts.

WorldRemit is also a standout performer in any circumstance and the offer cash pick up as an option in some countries.

2.3 Currency Conversion

This is often the largest fee! (assuming the hidden fees are small)

We have also found something awesome you can do to minimize these!

First, a quick note of how these work: When you look at a service online, most services only show you the interbank rate or mid-market rate. This is the exchange rate that banks use to exchange money with each other. The good ones are pretty up front about this, but often won’t show you the exact exchange rate until you have signed up, logged-in and you are all set to transact.

After many years of writing reviews and using these services ourselves we started to really understand an easy way you can make these service work best for you.

Some money transfer services are really cheap for smaller transfers, and others are really cheap for larger transfers.

This is really important, because it can not just save you a bundle you also end up with a better service for those amounts and it can save you a lot of heartache.

Let me make this brief: The reason you can save a bundle has to do with a money transfer companies business models.

Companies that transfer smaller amounts cheaper tend to make you do everything online and have very efficient automated customer service departments – think chat bots, ticket support and helpful online resources. They also make sign up simpler and often automated. The problem is these companies strengths become weaknesses when larger amounts are involved.

Companies that are cheaper for larger amounts have a strong telephone support which can a huge benefit to you in ensuring everything runs smoothly from sign up through to transacting. Usually they also try to do many things online, but often a real person is needed as the amounts grow.

At the same time money transfer companies tend to reduce the percentage fees as the amounts grow.

There is more to this as I will uncover now.

3. What You ALSO Need to Know (Beyond Cheap and Free)

3.1 Avoiding losing or having money frozen?

The potentially ugly side of money transfers no matter who you do it through (banks included) means that many of the services you use are subject to regulations and anti-money laundering laws.

For the most part, the regulations surrounding these laws are a good thing and minimize the potential for scams and fraud. Many of the regulatory hurdles money transfer services have to jump through also protect your money in important ways.

For example, companies have to use segregated accounts from their own operating accounts which means that your money should be safe even if a money transfer company goes bust.

But the reality of these regulations can also mean your account is frozen at any time (while more information is gathered) and this can mean your money is held up for periods of time and this in turn can be a source of high anxiety.

Fortunately there is still a lot you can do to ensure this possibility is minimized.

The most important is simply choosing money transfer companies that are designed for the amount you will be sending.

Top Tip: Money transfer companies that are designed for larger amounts of money tend to get all the necessary documentation out of the way before you can transfer money in the first place. The downside of this is that these companies tend to not be as easy to sign up initially but if you plan to transfer larger amounts of money at any time now or in the future – we recommend you choose one of these.

Alternatively if you plan to always move smaller amounts, then using an even cheaper, easier to sign up money transfer company that also has great customer service is the way to go.

In Practice: Over time, you might want two money transfer companies. One for larger amounts and one for smaller cheaper amounts. This tends to keep costs as low as possible and provides the necessary services needed to make things run smoothly.

3.2 What are the fastest ways to transfer money?

Time it takes to transfer comparisonIf speed is critical some services enable you to transact faster often through the use of a credit or a debit card which funds the transaction quicker than your bank itself can send the money.

These methods however often come with an additional cost which is mostly passed on to the card and network companies. You can also use services like PayPal (how to) which while relatively expensive enable you to transfer money from PayPal to PayPal account which can be practically instantaneous.

3.3 Safe to send money using a money transfer company?

Well known money transfer companies are highly regulated and also make it their entire business for your money to arrive safely. This means they have a strong interest in making sure your money is safe and also means that should something go wrong there are also safeguards in place that regulators require which further protects your money.

I could go on and on about all the regulatory bodies and technical security measures that are in place (we do that in the reviews) but I think it is more important knowing that their whole purpose for being is aligned with your money arriving not just safely but happily.

This is why they are growing like crazy.

3.4 Trust the Reviews Online, Trust the Companies?

Many companies actively solicit reviews. We have no worries with that. The question here is do they only focus more on people who have had a positive experience? Of course this could have the effect of making a company look better that it might actually be?

To help counteract this, in all the reviews we do for each company we focus on the negative reviews and do an analysis of them to uncover any common issues people face.

We also use the services ourselves and a handful mentioned here – very regularly.

4. 3 Pro Hacks including Bitcoin

  1. Bitcoin and Crypto
  2. Multi Currency account + Prepaid Card
  3. Using a Challenger Bank

4.1 Bitcoin and Crypto

Money Transfer with Bitcoin or other CryptoThe beautiful thing about decentralized crypto currencies like Bitcoin is that no one person, country or company is in control of your store of wealth. This means that country borders don’t exist and your Bitcoin can be sent extremely inexpensively to anyone, anywhere.

The problem however is that when you are thinking about transferring money you are probably not being paid in Bitcoin the money is not being spent in Bitcoin, this means that exchanges need to be involved.

Fees range from 0.1% to 1% at each end of the transaction.

Binance (the largest exchange) charges a fixed fee of 0.0001 or $4 USD (at $10k Bitcoin Price) to withdraw and 0.2% for the transactions (0.1% each for the sender and receiver assuming they exchange the Bitcoin to local currency). The fee for using the Bitcoin network is about $5 / transaction at present but this can fluctuate wildly and is usually lower.

Total Fees = 0.2% (0.1% x 2) + $4 (withdrawal from senders exchange) + $5 (gas)

If you were transferring $1000 total fees would be about $2 (0.1% x 2) + $9 = $11 or 1.1%

The Binance exchange fees (0.1%) are very low (compared to the industry), but the gas price in this instance is historically high.

If you or your receiver are happy to hold Bitcoin, it could be a relatively cheap option but remember Bitcoin is highly volatile.

4.2 Multi Currency account + Prepaid Card

Many people fail to appreciate the money they are losing when they accept payments in different currencies and then pay for things again (often) in a different currency.

Here is an example to highlight:

Let’s say you live in the US and got paid by someone in the UK for some work you did then you used that money to travel overseas.

The $1000 was sent to your bank or PayPal – without you having to do anything (just waiting for money) PayPal or your Bank took their fees 4.4% + 30c on Paypal and and about 3%-8% through your bank.

Now you would have $955.70 deposited.

Hopefully you just spend the money in the US, but if you purchased something from Canada or Mexico using a credit card, once again you would pay 2-4% mostly just for the currency conversion fee.

Total Fees = 6% to 12%

Now using the same $1000, let’s say you use a Multi Currency Account

Instead of getting paid in USD you accept whatever currency is being paid into your multi currency account.

Now you would have $1000 deposited.

Then when you purchase anything you use the often free prepaid visa debit card that comes with the account. The fees vary but the exchange rate charged is typically free to 2.2%.

In this example, you would save 4% – 8% simply using a multi currency account in combination with a prepaid visa card.

For expats, backpackers or entrepreneurs multi currency accounts are the next step in making international money easier.

Our favourite game changing multi currency account and pre-paid visa card is the Borderless Account (review) through TransferWise (review) who also a top pick for smaller amounts. 

We also uncovered how well TransferWise does head to head with its competitors which while not offering a free fees, charges no margin on the exchange rate. 

4.3 Challenger Bank

OK now we are getting really ninja.

Using a challenger bank often has all the functionality of a regular bank without the fees to keep accounts plus you can have access to multi currency accounts and prepaid debit cards. In some you can even buy and sell Bitcoin.

Even better than this is the way things work.

Challenger banks often sync easily with your accounting software (like Xero) and have apps and online platforms that are light years ahead of old school banks.

Thanks for reading.

Happy Money!

Payoneer Problems

+ What to Do if You Run into Trouble

In the interests of saving others a lot of stress, I feel it is important to highlight some issues we ran into with Payoneer.

Problems with Payoneer?Let me be clear up front, Payoneer can be a terrific solution for many people.

But if this one thing I am about to talk about happens to you I have a recommendation for you – run.

Please don’t hang in there and hope once you resolve things – all will be well.

Let’s focus on the bigger picture first for a moment.

In our review of Payoneer we found it had a score of 4.6 from over 12000+ reviews on Trustpilot with most of the reviews being excellent or great.

However, 6% were poor and bad reviews (one and two stars) which is actually very good compared to others in this business (and most issues are around customer service, which while frustrating and poor form does not mean you loose business).

However, you could experience a big issue – and if it is the the same as the one we experienced – I recommend finding an alternative fast.

The problem is in their verification department, and our experience was similar to these two which have happened recently.

Example Review One

Problem with Payoneer - Review 1

Example Review Two

Payoneer Review 2

This last one says Payoneer is a scam, but I am quite sure this is not the case.

That said, I have singled these two out because your money can be delayed or sent back to the original sender.

Perhaps even this would be OK if the process afterwards was reasonable.

But we do not think it is.

Here is what happened to us.

Timeline:

The first payment: After getting approved to use their service my first payment from a partner was sent back.
(As you might have experienced yourself, it can be a nightmare trying to get paid for something you are already paid for)
At first I gave them the benefit of the doubt that this must be some silly little mistake and after working with them I was able to get them to re-enable my account to receive payments.
The second payment: Frustratingly more information was asked for (same payer as the first) but it did go through.
Sweet I thought, perhaps everything will be fine now.
The third payment: Payoneer asked for four pieces of information which I did my best to provide after an hour or so of messing around with invoices and my website (which was required to prove I owned the website).
The next day I woke to three almost identical emails regarding the pieces of information I sent.
Thank you for providing the information we requested. Paying company name.
Unfortunately, the information you entered does not match our request.

In the end I was able to get paid, but not without a lot of stress and follow-up.

I also asked them how someone would avoid such issues, and I got a response:

Our customers care teams are available 24/7 for chat and calls globally. Our Account Managers are also available to handle any specific issues for existing customers.

Unfortunately, given the customer service issues we found in our full review of Payoneer, rather than recommending Payoneer we recommend you avoid them if you have any issues whatsoever with getting approval or having your funds delayed.

You might like our Payoneer alternatives post.

If on the other hand, things run smoothly from the outset then you should not have any worries.

Our experience (and that of others) suggests that even after you think things are resolved, issues may resurface.

Happy Money!

Is your money transfer company going to be around in 2021?

When it comes to safety of your money most people focus regulation and technical safeguards.

Safety of money for transfersAnd this is a good thing.

But there is an elephant in the room.

Financial markets are in turmoil and many money transfer companies will likely need funding again soon but they may not get it.

What about bank guarantees?

Money transfer companies are typically not covered by the same laws that banks are covered by and so they do not have the guarantees of your funds in place.

“Many people want to know if they are covered by the FDIC (USA), DGS (Eur), FSCS (UK), CIDC (Can), FCS (Aus) for their money transfers. These guarantees usually cover money held in bank accounts as well as some building societies and credit unions for amounts up to $250,000 USD/£85,000 GBP /€100,000 EURO/$100,000 CAD/$250,000 AUD.

Money Transfer Services are not covered under these schemes.

That said money transfer companies do have many regulations surrounding them which should offer a layer of protection.

The most significant of these is the fact that many of them have to operate using different bank accounts (as part of these regulations) for their day-to-day operations which are separate from accounts that handle your money in theory this means that your money is safe in the event that a money transfer company goes bust.

That is not the most important bit.

Apart from these regulations which in theory help ensure your funds are safe it is also important to know about other aspects of the money transfer industry which I believe are going to be helpful in safeguarding your money.

Part 1 – Financial strength

Each money transfer company has its own story to tell when it comes to financial strength. As a relatively new industry some money transfer companies rely on funding sources which may have dried up while others are well established and need no further funding or debt.

There are many factors at play here but the most important ones to ensure a company’s future viability are profitability, future funding needs and debt load.

In the chart below we show to the best of our ability he’s three factors for some of the largest and best money transfer companies.

ServicePrivate/PublicProfitableFunding NeedsDebt LoadVerdict
OFXPublicMost recent quarter “net cash flows flows $7.2M”None so farNo DebtAs best well can tell, this is solid choice for transfers above $7000 USD
TransferWisePrivate“... the company has been profitable for the last two and a half years.” Kristo Käärmann, TransferWise’s CEORaised $292M in 2019. “The company doesn’t need any new capital,” Kristo Käärmann, TransferWise’s CEOUnknownAs best well can tell, this is solid choice for transfers below $7000 USD
WorldRemitPrivateUnknownRaised $175M in 2019UnknownLimited visibility on financials, but they are especially good if you need cash for pickup at the destination.
XEPublic (Owned by Euronet)Recent quarter quarterly earnings of $1.63 per share. This compares to earnings of $1.37 per shareUnknownAt the end of June 2019, Euronet had US$1.12b of debt. But on the other hand it also has US$1.56b in cash, leading to a US$437.7m net cash position.As best well can tell, this is solid choice for transfers below $7000 USD

In many instances, these companies are privately owned, which makes it hard to know exactly what is going on.

Clearly companies that are profitable, do not require future funding and/or have little or no debt load are going to be far more viable into the future.

On this score OFX (review) our number one money transfer company for amounts over $7,000 USD does very well.

For amounts between $1,000 and $7,000 TransferWise (review) is a great choice. Even though they are private, their recent funding needs seem more about growth rather than funding an unprofitable business. These factors combined with their size and just the way they do business makes us more confident than most.

XE (review) is also a preferred method and they also have a particularly strong Worldwide and North American presence.

WorldRemit (review) has limited information provided on their financials but they are a great low cost choice too and especially good at cash pickup.

Remitly raised $220M in 2019 (equity and debt) but otherwise limited information.

TorFX – As a private company there is limited information but they have been around for a long time.

Part 2 – Current and future business activity in a downturn

For some money transfer companies, volatility related to uncertainty in financial markets actually increases the amount of money transfers that are made.

Other money transfer companies rely on individuals sending money back home to relatives or friends or business and these companies can be positively or negatively impacted.

As an affiliate for many of the major money transfer companies we get a first-hand view of exactly what is happening real time with new business sign ups.

Right now across the board we have not seen money transfer companies busier. However as market downturn grinds (and potentially causes systemic financial failure) on we think there is potential for this to change.

Watch this space.

Part 3 – Other risk factors

Possibly the biggest risk for your money when it comes to dealing with money transfers is third party risk.

The reality of a money transfer is that the money transfer company only has your funds for a short amount of time.

Banks and other financial institutions at both ends of the transaction tend to have your funds in limbo for far longer.

But that’s not all.

The banks themselves also deal with third parties to make these transactions happen.

Bottom Line

We think choosing a money transfer company that is well regulated (ideally in your country) is a great first line defence against any issues arising with insuring your funds arrive.

Apart from this choosing a financially strong money transfer company is probably a good idea (even though you’ll probably get your funds back) dealing with a company that goes insolvent whilst your funds are in limbo is less than ideal.

We think the financial markets, the major banks and other services (like money transfer services) that operate with in them are going undergo quite significant change in coming years.

Happy Transfers!

International Prepaid Debit Cards

7 Things You Need to Know + Choosing the Best Card

Prepaid Credit Cards - OverseasToday you are going to find out the 7 most important things to getting an international prepaid debit card.

(I’ll also show you how you can save loads of $$$’s or £££’s)

But wait there’s more 🙂

Getting a debit card may not always be the best option and we want you to know what is better.

Know you want one? – Skip down and compare the best using our handy table.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.

Jump Links

  1. What Are They?
  2. How it Works
  3. When it Doesn’t Work
  4. How to Get One
  5. Best Cards for International Transactions Includes: UK, Europe, USA, Australia, Canada, New Zealand
  6. Travel Card Comparison
  7. FAQs

1. What Are They?

International prepaid debit cards (wiki), also known as currency cards allow you to load them before you travel overseas and use them as you would use a debit card to spend or withdraw cash.

These cards are often preloaded, which enables you to keep a tight control on your spending and reduce risk of lost funds.

Apps also give you control though your mobile phone or online and some have multi-currency accounts can also make them very powerful additions to managing your money.

The cards are issued by a bank or financial institution and connected by major credit card companies such as MasterCard and Visa.

UK Focused Video: (but still covers cards in many countries)

2. How it Works

These specially designed prepaid debit cards (best) can be used to pay for almost anything without expensive fees and you can also get cash out from ATMs overseas usually for free. You can preload them with almost any currency you like and then make currency transfers and manage expenses from an app or online. Because they are not credit cards they are usually very easy to get and often come with a whole bunch of perks that make old school credit cards seem well – old school.

Once you sign up with a company of your choice, they will send you the travel card, which you can load through bank transfer or any other payment method that the issuer supports. Some cards are single currency cards, which means, you can load on a single currency in them, and some are multi currency cards and you can load multiple currencies in these cards and swap between currencies usually very inexpensively.

The cards can be managed through apps or online. The transaction costs associated with using these cards abroad are quite low compared to using debit or credit cards.

3. When they Don’t Work

Based on hundreds of reviews we have analysed, we found that prepaid cards while often being the best thing you can have for travel can have shortcomings.

Typical high-street bank issued cards for example usually suffer from high fees as we found out.

Meanwhile the newer raft of cards like the ones we feature below (are usually not fully fledged banks) while saving you a bundle are also not immune to issues.

The biggest issues we found was that due to banking regulations and there are a bunch of safeguards put in place.

These safeguards mean that in isolated situations some people funds can get frozen, causing all kinds of problems for some overseas travellers.

This in no way should stop you from enjoying the benefits of getting one in our opinion.

Our suggestion is simple – have a backup plan for paying for things and limit the amount you hold on these services.

Aside from this, many cards offer money transfer services. While the occasional small money transfer is fine, many of these services use third party services to make the transfer happen.

This can increase the potential for problems with your account and is generally slower. For large transfers of even just small regular ones we think it better if you use the services of a money transfer company.

Also see our FAQs below.

4. How to Get One

You can get international prepaid debit cards from old school banks in your country.

However a growing number of people are opting for cards that offer far more at much lower cost.

In most cases, application is free, easy and all you need is to provide your personal details and proof of identity. Once they verify your identity, they will send you the card, which you can load with the currency of your choice and start using alongside an app you can download.

5. Best Cards for International Transactions

Country (of Residence)

International prepaid debit cards available

Click links to get the latest prices and inclusions for your country (opens new tab to keep reading)

UKRevolut, TransferWise, N26, Monzo
EuropeRevolut, TransferWise, N26
USAN26
AustraliaRevolut, TransferWise
CanadaRevolut
New ZealandTransferWise

 

6. Travel Card Comparison

As far as availability in most countries is concerned, Revolut (review) has the widest reach as it covers UK, Europe, Australia, Canada, Singapore, Switzerland, and will soon expand to the US as well.

Revolut Versus N26

Click Image for a Comparison

Considering all the important features and their wide coverage two heavyweights Revolut and TransferWise (comparison) are very solid choices. With TransferWise (review), the account opening is free, although they do charge a 0.35% to 2.85% conversion fee.

With Revolut the basic account is free, but they do charge a 0.5% – 1.5% fee on weekends. Revolut also has premium accounts called “premium” or “metal” and we found these come with some pretty cool perks that may well interest you – like travel insurance, flight lounge access and a concierge (booking service).

If we compare the cost and fees, Revolut proves cheaper for European and UK payments. However, if you live or need to transfer money outside of the Europe or UK, TransferWise will be a better option in most cases.

Again in this case, you will have to choose between lower costs of using TransferWise and the cool features of Revolut.

That said, TransferWise offers the borderless account as well, which is fantastic for those who need local bank details in various countries like freelancers or those who split their lives between multiple countries.

TransferWise VS Revolut

Click image for a Comparison

If speed is your priority, then Revolut makes a better choice as it enables transfers in literally seconds (actual time will depend on the bank’s involved).

For those who seek the peace of mind of the real bank – N26 and Monzo may be the right choice. N26 (review) is based out of Europe (Germany) which is particularly useful for all Eurozone users. However, there are no hidden fees and unreasonable exchange markups like the regular banks.

Monzo (review) is also a bank (UK only), so they are able to offer interest on its accounts, personal loans, and bill-pay services which in addition to occasional short term travel benefits makes it a great choice if you want some banking and travel more limited travel features rolled into one.

Review of Monzo Versus Revolut

Click image for a Comparison

Ultimately, the best travel card is the one that best meets your needs and offers the best rates and lowest fee for your transactions. So, compare the options based on your requirements and then make a choice.

CardRevolutTransferWiseN26MonzoMonese
AvailabilityUK, Europe, Australia, Singapore and SwitzerlandUK, Europe, USA, Australia, NZ, SingaporeUK, Eurozone, USAUKUK and Eurozone
OffersRevolut offers in your country OR For business TransferWise offers in your country N26 offers in your country Monzo latest prices and services in your country Monese latest prices and services in your country for mobile and desktop
Account opening feeFree, Premium €7.99/m or Metal €13.99/m. Also business options and prices in GBP, USD, AUD, NZ (click for Business or your country)FreeFree, You €9.90/mo, Metal €16.90. (click for UK and USA prices)Free, Plus Supporter £4.95/m (min 6 months), Monzo Plus £9/m (min 6 months)Free for the Simple Plan; £4.95/month for Monese Classic; and £14.95/month for Monese Premium
ATM withdrawal feeFree up to £/€200 per month with Free card, £/€400 per month with Premium and up to £/€600 per month with Metal. Flat fee of 2% for amounts above.Free up to £200 / 30 days
2% over £200 / 30 days
Free card attracts 1.7% fee. "You" and "Metal" options have free ATM withdrawls up to five/month then €2 fee applies.Free card up to £200 / 30 days period is free and 3% fee thereafter. Plus Traveller has an upper limit of £400.£200/30 days on the Simple plan; £800/30 days on the Monese Classic plan, a flat 2% fee is applicable thereafter beyond these limits; no ATM withdrawal fees on the Premium plan.
Exchange rateInterbank Rate (+0.5% to all major currencies)Interbank Rate (same as mid-market rate)Interbank RateMastercard exchange rate
Interbank Rate
Currency conversion feesFree up to £5,000/€6,000 per month with standard card. No monthly limit on Premium and Metal cards. 0.5% fair usage fee0.35%-2.2%N26 doesn’t charge exchange mark-ups or conversion fees.Monzo doesn’t charge exchange mark-ups or conversion fees.2% on the Simple Plan (€2/£2 minimum); 0.5% on the Classic plan; and no fee for the Monese Premium plan
Spend in currencies in
your account
FreeFreeFreeFreeFree
Deal maker?Option to avail travel insurance at a low costWide availability and true multi-currency card with over 50+ options. Top Choice.Full service current accounts that can be managed via their mobile appFully authorized and regulated digital bankEasy to set up direct debits for monthly expenses

7. FAQs

Can you get a Visa prepaid card?

Yes, Revolut offers a Visa card. Most other cards are MasterCard only.

What are the costs associated with using an international prepaid debit card?

The main costs that you incur when using an international prepaid debit card are account opening fees, currency conversion fee, exchange rate markups, ATM withdrawal fees and monthly charges if any. In most cases, the account opening is free. However, for premium accounts you need to pay a monthly fee. Depending on the service you choose, you may have to pay a currency conversion fee or a markup on the exchange rate. Thankfully, these fees are much lower than what regular banks charge. For withdrawing or spending on currency loaded in the card, you don’t pay anything but for withdrawal in other currencies you pay a small fee. Most cards offer free withdrawal up to a certain limit and charge a small fee thereafter.

What are the upsides of using an international prepaid debit card?

  • Ability to lock in exchange rate before you travel, it covers a lot of risk associated with exchange rate fluctuations
  • Ability to load multiple currencies in a single card
  • Lets you make ATM withdrawals, pay for shopping and online purchases just like a local debit card or credit card
  • Helps control spending
  • Great gifting option
  • Some cards come with great perks such as travel insurance, concierge (travel booking), travel lounge and more

What are the downsides of using an international prepaid debit card?

  • Risk for accounts or funds to be frozen
  • In some cases, it may take up to a couple of days to load the card, which can leave you stranded for cash in a foreign country
  • While the ability to lock in exchange rates can prove to be a huge benefit, however, sometimes currencies can fluctuate unfavourably.
  • No overdraft facility
  • May not be accepted in all places like in hotels where only credit cards will work

Monzo Review

6 Things You Need To Know Before you Sign Up

Are you ready to bring your banking into the modern day and stop giving money to the big banks?

Monzo might be the answer, through its awesome app – or not…

Review of Monzo BankIn a few minutes you will know if Monzo is right for you.

And if not – Who might be better for your needs?

Disclosure: This post does not contain affiliate links but the website does. For more information, see my disclosures here

Pros

  • Registered bank – not just a prepaid card
  • No proof of address needed
  • Instant updates on purchases
  • Split payments with friends who don’t even have Monzo

Cons

  • £200 limit on free cash withdrawals outside of the UK
  • Negative reviews report closed or frozen accounts without warning
  • No in-app currency conversions

Jump Links

  1. Is Monzo Right For You?
  2. Fees, Exchange Rates and Hidden Costs
  3. Best Way to Sign Up for Monzo
  4. Customer Reviews (inc. Negative Ones)
  5. Safe?
  6. Bottom Line

Monzo is a London-based digital bank that serves the UK.

Originally Monzo started life as a prepaid Mastercard like Revolut (review) and TransferWise (review) but has become a fully fledged bank like N26 (review).

This has some advantages but also some potential disadvantages – It really depends on what you want, but we will expose all including analysis of their negative reviews (below).

In general, Monzo shares more in common with Revolut than any other service although Monzo is less focused now on travel and more-so on disrupting the old guard bank system.

However one thing that sets Monzo above their competitors is their core value: transparency

About the only service to compete with them on transparency is TransferWise which we compared with Monzo.

Apart from providing a card, app and services that are great to use, Monzo doesn’t shy away from a potentially-embarrassing mistakes. Instead, they come clean about internal security issues, bugs in their app, and glitches in their system. They don’t just claim to be transparent, they actually are.

Monzo’s transparency dashboard gives real-time information on system status, internal policies, press releases and annual reports.

Here you will find they admit to flaws and failures, and present all of their terms in an easy-to-read format.

In the world of financial institutions, Monzo is a rare and awesome bred.

However, this doesn’t mean they’re right for everybody.

1. Is Monzo Right for You?

For many, Monzo might fill the need for a modern bank account or for a travel Mastercard in the UK which you can manage through your phone.

Bank Account Stuff

  • Direct Debits (Get paid a day early with direct deposit)
  • Salary can get paid in (No top ups)
  • Joint and Business Accounts
  • Savings pots to manage your money better and pay you 1.7% interest
  • Apply for loans up to £15,000
  • Pay bills through direct debit

For other, Monzo might be a good Revolut alternative so can have a prepaid Mastercard to travel.

Prepaid Martercard Stuff (especially for overseas trips or shopping online)

  • No fees on purchases
  • Free ATM withdrawals (Over £200 outside the UK every 30 days will incur a 3% charge.)
  • Instant notifications for purchases and personalised spending limits
  • Live customer service chat

But wait there is limitations

1.1 Monzo as a bank?

As an app based bank Monzo has streamlined services but it does have limits.

If you want an online app that is highly-customizable to manage expenses and get paid, Monzo is potentially a great option.

However, if you like the ability to walk into a bank and speak with a teller in person, order checks, deposit cash, and have diverse banking and investment options (like loans over £15,000),  Monzo is not the best option.

If Europe is your base (as opposed to the UK) N26 (review) is similar but European based and UK focused.

1.2 Can you use Monzo abroad?

Wherever Mastercard is accepted – which is pretty much everywhere except places like Cuba, North Korea and Bulgaria (which every card has trouble with). You may need to activate your magstripe to use some foreign ATMs.

However that does not mean they are the best option for you. If travel is the main reason for looking at Monzo you might also like to consider Revolut (review) and the TransferWise Card (review) which are more focused just on being travel cards.

1.3 Does Monzo work in the USA and Canada?

Yes, Mastercard is accepted pretty much everywhere in the USA and Canada. If you are a resident of the US, Monzo is starting an American service soon.

1.4 Does Monzo have joint accounts?

Yes. You’ll both need a regular Monzo account already. After that, opening your joint account takes just a few minutes.

1.5 Does Monzo have business accounts?

Yes, the Monzo business account has the same account features as a personal account and enables you to give access to directors, accountants, employees. You can also link to accounting software like Xero and FreeAgent and speak to a real person if required.

Also worth considering is Revolut or TransferWise for business as they often have more flexibility when it comes to holding and managing different currencies – links are above to our reviews for these two.

2. Fees, Exchange Rates, & Hidden Costs

Monzo claims to offer free international purchasing ability, but how free is free?

2.1 Fees

The only fee they charge (on their end) is a 3% service fee for withdrawals over £200 per 30 days in a foreign country.

This can be a fairly significant cost and £200 per 30 days is not a lot. For comparison, Revolut charges 2% up to £200 per 30 days on their free account.

2.2 Exchange Rate

Monzo uses the Mastercard exchange rate for currency exchanges. This is not the same as the interbank rate. There are no additional fees but the Mastercard rate is not as good as the interbank rate which Revolut (our review) and TransferWise (our review) use but charge differing fees on top of this (all three are much better than using a card from a bank).

3. Best Way to Sign Up for Monzo

First, you must download the Monzo app to your smartphone for Android or iPhone. You cannot sign up on a desktop.

Because there are no branches with tellers to verify your identity, you will be asked to submit a short selfie video when you apply.

The signup process is quick, and address verification is unnecessary, so you can open an account before you move to the UK and get your finances sorted out (however you will however need a UK address to send your card).

Once you have opened your account, you can start using the account.

After installing the app simply connect either Apple Pay or Google Pay, and you can start using your Monzo account the same day.

You can also get paid by your employer into your account.


4. Customer Reviews

Monzo has an impressive TrustPilot score of 4.5/5 stars.

While their positive reviews are glowing, it’s actually the negative reviews that show where the rubber meets the road.

Negative reviews for Monzo mostly revolve around frozen accounts, which is one of the ways Monzo prevents fraudulent activity. According to reviewers, Monzo can freeze accounts without warning for weeks on end while refusing to release funds.

This is concerning, because some reviewers were stranded in foreign countries with no access to funds.

However, it has to be said that this is not an issue isolated to Monzo – all prepaid Mastercards seem to have the same issue to different degrees.

In some ways is reassuring to knowing that anti-fraud measures are alive and well.

Perhaps the answer is to have a Monzo account with a backup traditional bank account (and low cost Credit Card) that you hopefully never have to use.

For comparison – from our analysis approximately 4% of Revolut‘s one star reviews on Trustpilot relate to frozen accounts. With Monzo the majority of one star reviews (13% of total reviews on Trustpilot) are related to frozen accounts. This higher number possibly relates to more stringent regulation due Monzo being a fully fledged bank.

Also worthy of note;

  • There were very few complaints about hidden fees
  • There were very few complaints about speed of service

A lack of both suggests Monzo delivers on their promises for free transactions and speedy service.


5. Is Monzo Safe?

Given that Monzo is registered in the UK as a bank there are a lot of safeguards protecting you. For example, the money you put in your Monzo account is protected up to £85,000 by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) if Monzo was ever to fail. You can find out more about how FSCS protection works and see if your money is protected by the scheme.

In addition to this Monzo has a lot of security initiatives. For example Monzo asks you to verify your online purchases in-app or by text which helps ensure that you are holder of your phone, the card and the app.


6. Bottom Line

Monzo have an impressive amount of features for managing your finances, but they are so amazingly transparent about which makes them very reassuring.

The only issue that may keep your from opening a Monzo account is if you value a traditional bank over a digital bank. It truly comes down to a pure decision over which services fit your lifestyle better.

However, you can also get the best of both worlds by opening both a traditional (low cost) bank account and a Monzo account.

Who says you can’t have it all?

Multicurrency Accounts

6 Must Knows – Before You Sign Up

(for UK, USA, Australia, Canada, and Europe)

While banks make it easy to manage our finances, including sending and receiving local payments, things are quite different if you have to pay or get paid in foreign currencies.

Guide to Multicurrency AccountsExorbitant fees linked to these accounts, minimum balances, and long transfer times make this solution inconvenient for small businesses and globetrotting individuals.

Luckily, some independent financial institutions have emerged in the past years with the intent to bring more effective international payment and currency management solutions.

This new breed of multi-currency accounts is making big waves for their low to no fees, services, and online convenience.

In this article, we will show you which are the benefits and drawbacks of both bank multicurrency accounts and their online alternatives.

Don’t miss the alternatives (below)!

Jump Links

  1. What is a Multicurrency Account?
  2. How Does a Foreign Currency Account Work (or Not)
  3. Alternatives
  4. How to Decide What You Need?
  5. Countries and Services
  6. Final Word

Multicurrency Accounts by Country

🇬🇧 United Kingdom 🇪🇺 Europe 🇺🇸 The United States of America 🇨🇦 Canada 🇦🇺 Australia 

Pros

  • Hold, send and receive foreign currency without paying conversion fees

Banks

  • Interest and overdraft protection may be possible
  • Some deposits are guaranteed (in the event they fail)

Alternatives

  • Significantly cheaper fee structure to banks

Cons 

Banks

  • Bank conversion fees apply when converting foreign to local currency
  • Most banks require high minimums

Alternatives

  • Do not pay interest or have overdraft protection
  • Deposits are not guaranteed

1. What is a Multicurrency Account?

A multicurrency or foreign currency account is a type of account that allows you to hold, send and receive funds in multiple foreign currencies.

Businesses and individuals can benefit from a foreign currency account, because of the flexibility to hold different currencies until you need them and exchange it into the local currency as required.

Besides the business benefits, you can also open a personal foreign currency account if you have to send or receive money from international accounts.

Many banks and alternative offer various foreign currency accounts to both businesses and individuals.

2. How Does a Multicurrency Account Work (or Not)

How Multicurrency Accounts WorkThe exact way in which a foreign currency account works varies from service to service.

In broad terms, though, you can expect the following advantages and drawbacks.

Advantages (using a traditional bank)

While today’s financial market comprises a few new players that offer advantageous foreign currency accounts, getting one from your bank may come with side benefits.

The most important include:

  • Interest: Most banks will pay you interest for currencies you hold in your foreign account. While the interest can be quite low, it’s still money you get for free; undoubtedly, a great advantage that is not offered by any of the online financial products.
  • Overdrafts: Another huge advantage, especially if you need a business foreign currency account, is the possibility to arrange overdrafts with your bank. Again, the conditions might not be the most advantageous. However, you’ll still have the possibility to access a quick loan if you really need it.
  • Exchange Rates: Banks don’t have the most advantageous exchange rates out there, but a foreign currency account gives you the possibility to keep your money in the currency of the transaction until it is convenient for you to convert them.

Drawbacks (using a traditional bank) 

The main drawback of a foreign currency account is represented by the costs and fees associated with your account. While most banks will open one for free, almost all of them charge transaction fees, as well as fees for ATM withdrawals.

Some banks may also charge annual account management fees and require you to deposit a minimum amount to open the account.

3. Multicurrency Account Alternatives

Some of the most popular and reliable ones include TransferWise, Payoneer, Revolut, N26 and Monzo which are designed to be pre-paid travel cards (compared) for personal or business use but can also be very useful as lower cost, more user friendly alternatives.

TransferWise Borderless Account

TransferWise has the Borderless account (review) which can hold over 50 currencies and is a cost effective multi currency account alternative.

The account requires no minimum balance, it has zero monthly fees, and it charges very competitive currency exchange rates whilst always converting your money at the mid-market rate.

It is also available pretty much world wide and the account comes with a supporting debit card so users can spend the money they hold in their accounts at the mid-market rate and low fees.

A big differentiator of TransferWise  is that they provide unique local bank account details for the US, UK, Eurozone, Australia, New Zealand and Poland so that customers can receive payments in those currencies for free and there is no minimum holding deposit required. 

You also can open an account online and don’t need to visit a bank.

Get TransferWise Borderless Account Here

Payoneer

Payoneer (review) and their alternatives are focused on international business for freelancers, online business and importers and exporters. In addition to having multiple bank account numbers for different countries they are designed to work with e-wallets (like PayPal and Google Pay) and integrate with merchant solutions and accounting software.

The also often have a prepaid debit card and very competitive fees for currency exchange, sending and receiving money from every currency imaginable.

Revolut

Revolut (review) is a prepaid debit card and app with foreign currency accounts attached. Focused on individuals and business who want to work in multiple currencies and across borders more easily and cheaply the service enables free ATM withdrawals overseas and limited but inexpensive money transfers.

Revolut has also recently extended its offering to inexpensive share trading and the ability to buy major cryptocurrencies.

N26

N26 (review) is actually a bank, but it shares many similarities with other alternative services.  Available in Europe (not the UK) and the US it is designed to keep you banking costs low with some serious cost advantages for those who travel or do business in multiple currencies.  You can make free payments in any currency and free withdrawals worldwide.

Revolut and N26  on the surface seem quite similar with their offerings of Mastercards and inexpensive currency swapping but we founds some big differences in the pricing and extra goodies. As a multicurrency account, N26 allows transfers in 19 currencies while Revolut enables exchange in 29 currencies. With Revolut you also get a free UK account and Free Euro IBAN account in the UK. N26 has one account based on the country you sign up in.

Monzo

Monzo (review) is a bank based out of the UK which started a pre-paid Mastercard and expanded to become a fully fledged bank. Monzo like the Revolut and N26 focus very much on using online solutions like an app and low, transparent fees to win new customers. Despite being very good at making payments in foreign currencies you can only have British pounds (GBP) in your Monzo account, so you can’t convert your balance into another currency.

Monese

Monese (review) is a pre-paid Mastercard and app with banks accounts for UK and Europe. Apart from lower costs while travelling they also make it easy to sign up with no address required making it particularly great for Expats, long term travellers and digital nomads.

Money Transfer Services

Besides TransferWise (review), there are dozens of other money service providers that offer services for simple international money transfers at very low fees.

Some are better than others, but you will find it hard to beat low-cost money transfer services like CurrencyFair (review) (for smaller amounts) or OFX (review) (for larger amounts).

WorldFirst (review) is designed for larger online businesses like importers and exporters or online sellers (like Amazon FBA) who want the ability to send and receive money in different currencies cost effectively but also want to exchange currencies at a minimal cost.

These money transfer services could be a better alternative to a multicurrency account if you only make or receive sporadic international payments from family and friends.

Foreign Bank Account

Also worth considering is opening a foreign bank account in the other country.

This could be a great alternative to a multicurrency account in your country.

However opening one can come with challenges as most banks require their clients to be residents and this might be an issue sometimes.

The online alternative and prepaid cards may save the day, though.

Online alternative services like the Borderless Account (review), for instance, give local bank details in multiple countries, including the UK, USA, and Germany (EU account).

PayPal

One of the biggest players on the online financial industry, PayPal, could be a great alternative to any of the above if you mostly use your money for online payments.

PayPal however does charge pretty hefty fees for payments in currencies other than the primary one, and you will also have to accept their exchange rates which make up part of the fee structure.

Payoneer (review) and particularly Skrill (review) are services you could consider as alternatives to PayPal.

4. How to Decide What You Need?

The volume of your transactions should be a clear indicator of what type of service you need.

If you have a mid-size to large business, a multi-currency bank account could be your best option. Despite the fees, these accounts come with the most benefits for high-volume transactions. For instance, you’ll be able to arrange overdraft limits with your bank, so you’ll never delay a payment.

Even if low, the interest rate your bank offers can add a nice addition to your account.

Furthermore, you’ll also benefit from additional services, such as home, mobile, and phone banking, in-branch support whenever needed, and reliable customer service.

If you are a small business or individual, paying the hefty fees that can come with a foreign currency account could be a burden. The Borderless account from TransferWise could be a great choice, though.

This account still gives you many of the benefits of a traditional bank account, but you’ll be able to manage everything online. Furthermore, you’ll even be able to get local bank account details in a variety of countries.

TransferWise and other currency prepaid cards, including Revolut, N26, and STACK, are ideal for nomads and globetrotter individuals.

If you mostly conduct your business online, PayPal or Payoneer could still be your best alternatives; both services offer individual and business accounts you can use to manage online payments in multiple currencies.

5. Countries and Services

If you are now convinced that a multicurrency account is what you need, here are a few of the most popular options in various parts of the world.

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom counts various banks that offer foreign currency accounts to their clients, including the local Barclays, Lloyds, and NatWest, but also international banks such as HSBC and Santander.

Don’t miss our alternatives (above) which are cheaper and can be faster too!

If you already have a sterling bank account with Barclays, you can open a foreign currency account in one of the 23 currencies currently offered by the bank. Besides sterling and foreign currency accounts, Barclays also proposes deposit accounts in EUR and USD.

Lloyds proposes a foreign currency account to business clients only, whereas NatWest also offers a multicurrency account only to businesses.

Alongside Barclays, HSBC and Santander are two other banks that offer foreign currency accounts to privates. Both banks require you to hold a sterling account with them and be 18 years or over, but they deal with fewer currencies than Barclays.

BarclaysLloydsNatWestHSBCSantander
Available currenciesAUD, CAD, CNY, CZK, DKK, EUR, HKD, HUF, ILS, JPY, MXN, TRY, NZD, NOK, PLN, RUB, SAR, SGD, ZAR, SEK, CHF, AED, USDAUD, BHD, CAD, CNH, CZK, DKK, EUR, HKD, HUF, INR, ILS, JPY, JOD, KWD, MAD, MXN, NZD, NOK, OMR, PLN, QAR, RON, SAR, SGD, ZAR, SEK, CHF, THB, TND, TRY, AED, USDAUD, CAD, USD, JPY, CHF, HKD, NOK, NZD, AED, EUR, HUF, PLN, MXN, TRY, ZAR, SEKAED, AUD, CAD, CHF, CNY, EUR, HKD, JPY, NOK, NZD, SEK, SGD, USD, ZAREUR, USD
Minimum balanceNoNoNoNoNo
Maintenance feesNo fees£60/year£72/yearNo feesNo fees
Transfer feesStandard – £25

Priority – £40

SEPA – £15

£9.50 for all transfersOutward SWIFT – £25 manual/£20 electronic

Outward CHAPS – £23 manual/£15 electronic

Outward SEPA – £5

Inward payments – free up to £100 (currency equivalent); £7.5 from £100.01 onwards

 

£0 for all transfers from an HSBC account to another HSBC account anywhere in the world.

£6-£52 depending on currency for currency transfers to any other bank.

Outward SWIFT – £30 online/£45 electronic

Inward payments – no fees

 

The United States of America

If you live in the United States, your multicurrency options are quite limited. One of the most popular banks in the country, Chase, offers no foreign currency account options and it converts your funds automatically to USD if you receive international payments in other currencies.

These are banks products only and the best best foreign currency account in USA for your needs may be one of the alternatives.

CitiBank US also proposes USD accounts only, but you can open a foreign currency account with CitiBank International and transfer funds to your US account directly in US dollars.

TIAA – formerly known as EverBank – doesn’t provide foreign currency accounts to its customers, but it does have a deposits account you can use to hold various currencies and access them whenever needed.

If you need a multicurrency account for your multi-million dollar business, Wells Fargo could be a great choice. The bank deals with 33 different currencies, but account details are discussed with each business individually.

CitiBankEverBankWells Fargo
Available currenciesAUD, CAD, CHF, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZDAUD, GBP, CAD, DKK, EUR, HKD, JPY, NZD, NOK, SGD, SEK, CHFAED, AUD, BHD, CAD, CHF, CNY, CZK, DKK, EUR, FJD, GBP, HKD, HUF, JOD, ILS, INR, JPY, KWD, MAD, MXN, NOK, NZD, OMR, PHP, PLN, QAR, SAR, SEK, SGD, TRY, USD, XPF, ZAR
Minimum balance$200,000$2,500 opening deposit or $100/monthContact branch
Maintenance fees$150/month if minimum balance isn’t metDepend on currencyContact branch
Transfer feesCiti Global transfers – $0

SWIFT – $60

Currency conversion costs of 1% of the wholesale rate for the selected currency.Contact branch

 

Canada

Banks in Canada, including Scotiabank, HSBC, and CIBC, offer various types of multicurrency accounts to their customers. The first two provide foreign currency accounts to business customers only.

These are banks products only and the best best foreign currency account in Canada for your needs may be one of the alternatives.

CIBC is ideal if you don’t need too many currencies, but only a USD account. The service is available for both individuals and businesses.

ScotiabankHSBCCIBC
Available currenciesEUR, JPY, GBPUSD, CNH, EUR, GBP, HKD, CHF, JPYUS
Minimum balanceNoNoNo
Maintenance fees$16/monthNo feesNo fees for personal account

$6/month for a business account

Transfer fees2 free outward transactions per month.

$1-$5/transaction for all other transactions

Depend on currencyPersonal account – $0.75/transaction

Business account – $1-$1.25/transaction

 

Australia

In Australia, the major players offering multicurrency accounts are NAB, Commonwealth, ANZ, and Westpac.

These are banks products only and the best best foreign currency account in Australia for your needs may be one of the alternatives.

NAB opens foreign currency accounts to both privates and businesses; you won’t have to maintain a minimum balance, but maintenance fees can be charged for holding some currencies in your account.

Commonwealth offers multiple currencies to business customers, although they are all subject to eligibility criteria.

Following the trend of many banks, ANZ has a foreign currency account for corporate clients only. If you want to find out what fees they apply and what is the minimum balance required, you will have to contact an account manager.

Whether you’re a private or business client, Westpac welcomes you. You can open the account online in less than 10 minutes for 11 currencies, or in branch if you need an account for other currencies.

NABCommonwealthANZWestpac
Available currenciesCAD, CNY, DKK, EUR, FJD, HKD, JPY, NZD, NOK, PHP, WST, SGD, ZAR, SEK, CHF, THB, AED, GBP, USDCAD, CNY, CZK, DKK, EUR, GBP, HKD, HUF, ILS, JPY, NZD, NOK, SGD, ZAR, SEK, CHF, THB, AED, USDUSD, GBP, EUR, CAD, CHF, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGDUSD, GBP, JPY, ZAR, EUR, NOK, CAD, DKK, SGD, NZD, CNY
Minimum balanceNoNoContact branchNo
Maintenance feesDepend on currencyNo feesContact branchNo fee
Transfer feesOutward payments: $10

Inward payments: up to $15

$17-$37, depending on transactionContact branch$10-$28, depending on transaction

 

Europe

Opening a foreign currency account in Europe is a bit trickier because banks in each country follow different regulations. The conditions for opening a multicurrency account and the fees, therefore, vary widely even between branches of the same bank opened in different European countries.

Picking a bank with branches in multiple countries could be a wise choice, though, as most banks practice free foreign currency transfers between their European branches.

Some of the biggest players with branches in most European countries are UniCredit, ING Bank, Raiffeisen, San Paolo Bank, and Santander.

6. Final Word

A multicurrency account could be a great solution for big businesses and corporations. Some banks have advantageous deals for privates and small businesses too.

If you are a globetrotter individual though, a multicurrency card offered by one of the many online services, such as TransferWise, could serve you better.

No matter your situation, we hope this article has helped you find the right financial product for you.

What is the future of money transfers? P2P V Crypto V Banks

and What Works Now!

Remember when Bitcoin was going to answer all our prayers even for money transfers overseas?

It just hasn’t worked – just yet..The future of international money transfers

The reality was that dealing currently with Bitcoin for money transfer is relatively messy, costly and slow because of the need to use an exchange and wallet. You also still needed your fiat currency (like USD, GBP, EUR, CAD, AUD) at the start and end of each transaction.

Costs, speed and frustration aside – the biggest problem I found personally is the fluctuations in the Bitcoin price. In just days of holding Bitcoin you could loose or make 2, 5, 10% or more. That is not risk I or many others want to take.

But a solution is brewing!

Meanwhile Fintech companies like OFX, TorFX and WorldFirst and Remit Companies have been getting a growing piece of the market and more recently P2P providers like TransferWise and CurrencyFair have lowered costs.

P2P

For a while I thought P2P would offer the solution because they hold the potential to swap money with others on the other side of globe instantaneously and very inexpensively. In practice though when I did some research and some real world transactions with my own hard earned dollars, I found that they were focused on doing everything online and were geared towards smaller transactions where most their market was. For smaller amounts (less then $7000 USD) I think P2P services offer the best solution – cheap, relatively fast and with great online platforms.

You might also want to consider PayPal for amount of just a few hundred dollars or less.

But this can be a limitation for larger amounts. ($7000 USD/£4000 GBP/€4500 EU/$9500 CAD/AUD)

I found costs rose as amounts increased as they had to step in and complete transactions if they can not find someone on the other side to swap with. It can also be surprisingly helpful to speak with a knowledgeable human when you are setting up your account and need to understand how certain banks work on the other side of the globe. Even just getting your money out of your sending bank often needs guidance as there are usually a multitude of ways to do so as regulations and costs for each bank differ.

Also see my reviews for CurrencyFair and TransferWise.

For a small percentage of customers, they also have a slightly alarming practice of asking for more ID and potentially locking your account after you sent them your money to their account – if you exceeded certain thresholds in order to for them to meet regulations.

At the end of the day for larger amounts, it turns out that companies like OFX, TorFX and WorldFirst – the companies that originally carved 70-80% off the costs of using a bank and provide a customer focused service – are the still the best way to go if you want to move larger amounts. I also think there can be huge advantage to choosing a service with offices in your country for service and security reasons.

A mixed future

Incredibly there is already a blockchain solution that seems to have few of the drawbacks Bitcoin has. Without going into detail on the technicalities, it has some major differences to Bitcoin and most other cryptocurrencies. Its name is XRP (wikipedia). It is a custom solution to the challenges of money transfers. A stepping stone between fiat currency and the benefits of a distributed ledger – it supports (rather than threatens) banks, money transfer companies including P2P services and makes it easier, faster and cheaper for all of them to do business.

What this means for you

XRP and the Ripple infrastructure is designed to work with the existing dominant players and make them work better. Assuming they become dominant (or something else) this means all services are likely just going to get better across the board. Transfer companies, Remittance, FOREX brokers and even Banks will all continue to evolve. There may be new money transfer companies but I think existing companies and banks will just become even better as they focus on the cost, speed and the services we want.

Good news for everyone!

Stay tuned to Transumo for what is best for you as things change.

Note: This post was written to try to help others understand the future of money transfers. At the time of writing the author does not have a financial interest in XRP but by the time you read this that has likely to have changed. Caveat Emptor.

 

Transferwise vs PayPal

If you need to transfer money abroad, or run a business with your customers overseas PayPal or Transferwise are your best bet.

Transferwise V PayPalBut what’s the real story?

While banks have been expensive since forever, these two heavyweights have emerged in recent years to truly shake up the money transfer business  – especially if you need the ability to “Request Money” as well as send it.

But that is not all.

Not only is it much cheaper to move money internationally but the speed and ease to get money or sent it makes the world a better place when you choose the right one.

However, one must still rise to the top!

In this battle of PayPal vs Transferwise, we compared both companies based on the following categories:

  • Cost
  • Speed
  • Convenience
  • Security

We recommend you to read the whole article to see exactly what is right for you in each category, for those of you who need can’t wait (after all, time is money) Transferwise is the overall winner especially if you want the most money to arrive.

For more information on Transferwise check out our review.

Here is short 1 min a video from Transferwise that we thought was pretty funny…

For most people getting the most funds from A to B is the most important and on this score Transferwise is cheaper and faster than PayPal.

PayPal did have a clear advantage in that many people already have a PayPal account but this came at a steep price. However, if you and the person you are sending money to are already signed up and don’t mind paying more, PayPal could be the service for you.

At this point you have to ask yourself if getting up to 6% less is an acceptable for the convenience. Now that might not sound a lot but if you are getting paid a good proportion of your income this way or you are paying others – this can be a significant loss and worth making the switch.

A final thing to consider is that there are many variables depending on where you are transferring money. For example, the currency you are using, how you pay into the service, etc. To ensure you get the best price you could always get a quote from each company before sending your money. Generally though you will be hard pressed to beat Transferwise so we recommend taking a look look as this could easily result in hundreds if not thousands saved each year.

Now, before we move on to how we arrived at these results, let’s firsts take a quick look at the history behind each company.

PayPal

PayPal for Money TransfersOf the two companies, PayPal is the one you probably know the most about. It was founded in 1998 and rapidly expanded after becoming the payment method of choice on the auction site eBay.

It has continued to grow to the point where I would be willing to bet that a significant number of the people reading this already have a PayPal account set up and have probably used it.

However, before PayPal came along, everyone had a bank account. Yet we all know that this didn’t stop PayPal from tearing up the financial rulebook.

Perhaps now is the turn of…

Transferwise

Transferwise was formed in 2011, as Money Transfer Company with a few distinct points of difference – ridiculous transparency on its fees + it does enable you to request money from others overseas + the fees charged throughout the process are much less.

Like PayPal before it, Transferwise has grown rapidly over the years and now claims to send over 800 GDP every month!

It uses an innovative Peer to Peer transfer model that allows users to transfer money without technically sending their money to another country. This allows Transferwise to really reduce the amount they charge in transfer fees and it is a big reason behind its success and your savings.

So, now that you know a little about each of these companies let’s move on to finding out which one is actually the best at sending your money abroad. First, let’s take a look at the cost of sending money with each company.

Cost

For many people out there the best money transfer service will always be the cheapest. After all, the extortionate transfer fees are exactly the reason why you want to avoid using your bank and perhaps why you are looking beyond PayPal because of their high fees which we simplify and explain in detail here.

The overall cost of a money transfer service will generally come down to two different measures. These are the exchange rate that you are given and also any fees that are added on.

In addition are the fees added by your bank or your credit card company. These would most likely be the same on either service anyway.

Exchange rate

Exchange rates are one of those things. We all see on Google, or our finance apps, or on the news what the exchange rate is but we all also know we are never actually going to get that rate.

It is a commonly accepted fact that financial companies will always try to skim a little of the top making the actual amount we receive less than the exchange rate we see.

Well, hold on a moment.

When it comes to your exchange rate, what you see is what you get with Transferwise! Transferwise uses the mid-market rate and doesn’t actually make any money from the transfer rate. This basically means that when it comes to exchange rate, it would be very hard for anyone to beat Transferwise.

PayPal, on the other hand, say that they take the wholesale rate provided by banks and then add on an extra 2.5% – 4% to calculate the exchange rate you receive.

3.5 – 4% is what they charge for currency exchange. (2.5% is what they charge to exchange currency in your own account.)

Here is the chart they publish:

Exchange Rate Costs for PayPal

In our tests, even a bank will outdo PayPal for anything above about $300 but this is dependant to countries and amount.

Fees

You can see on the screenshot below that the fees for PayPal range at between 0.5% to 7.4% of the total amount transferred or slightly more if you are using money from a credit or debit card

Fees for PayPal

 

 

 

So the total cost to use PayPal

= Exchange Rate + Fees

= (2.5 + 0.5) to (4 + 7.4)

= 3% (min) to 11.4% (max) 

For most people, in the USA, UK, Europe, Canada or Australia for example and get paid or pay someone in those same countries;

Total Cost = 5 – 6% (Lesser known currencies will be higher)

By contrast the fee for using Transferwise is 0.5% for most major currencies.

However this can increase if you use different currencies. For example, sending GBP (UK) to CNY (China) will be charged at a rate of 1.5%.

Basically, when it comes to fees, with both of these services you will pay a slightly different rate depending on the currency pairing that you choose. However, what is clear is that due to the 2.5% extra that PayPal add to the exchange rate, sending money with Transferwise is almost always going to be your best option.

Winner: Transferwise is the clear winner due to its use of the middle market exchange rate and its relatively small transfer fees.

You might also like TransferWise VS XE for another more direct comparison.

Speed

Like with cost, speed, is important and also highly dependent on the currencies you choose.

Transferwise claim that most transfers will be completed within 1-4 working days once they receive your payment. When I set up a transfer of USD to EUR it claimed that the money would arrive within 1-2 working days.

The average amount of time a PayPal payment takes is 3-5 business days. So again, while this is certainly slower than some transfers with Transferwise, it is at least competitive with other types of transfer.

Winner: Once again Transferwise is the winner here. While both companies say transfers can take up to 5 days, for many currency pairings a transfer with Transferwise will only take one or two business days.

Convenience

Both companies make signing up for their service very easy. I signed up to Transferwise by simply typing in my email address and choosing a password. Incredible! You can also use Facebook or Google to sign in if you please.

This is part of Transferwise’s overall strategy of making sending money abroad as simple as possible.

Of course, PayPal is no slouch either. Signing up for PayPal requires you to type in a few more details before your account is open but it really isn’t any hassle at all.

Also, while it may seem like you need to give more details to PayPal before signing up than you do with Transferwise, in reality, before making your transfer you give some extra information to Transferwise anyway.

After signing up to either service, you will have to transfer money to your account from a bank account in your home country. Alternatively, you can use a card to make a payment although this may be slightly more expensive.

One place where PayPal may have the edge is the simple fact that it is such a popular service. This means that there is a fairly high chance that you and the person you are sending money to already have a PayPal account!

If this is the case, not only will you save time when it comes to signing up to the service but sending money to another user of PayPal is ridiculously easy. All you need to do is type in the email address associated with their PayPal account, choose an amount of money that you want to send, and then confirm the transfer.

In all honesty, it is almost scary-awesome how easy it is to transfer money internationally using this method.

Winner: This winner of this category really depends on the person you are transferring money to. If you need to transfer money to a bank account then Transferwise is the winner. On the other hand, for sheer ease of use, if the recipient has a PayPal account already then PayPal is the winner.

Security

When it comes to transferring money, security is one of the most important factors. Luckily, for anyone considering using either PayPal or Transferwise, both these companies are about as secure as it gets.

As both companies do business throughout the world, they are regulated by various services depending on the country you use them in. This makes them incredibly safe. Here is a list of who regulates PayPal in each state while here is Transferwise’s security and regulation for each country it operates in.

If you need any more evidence about just how safe these companies are, then you can take a look at the numbers. As mentioned above, Transferwise transfers over 800 million GDP a month while, according to this article from way back in 2011, it is estimated that in 2011 PayPal was processing $315.3 million in payments every single day.

Basically, both of these companies are highly successful and this kind of success only comes if they are able to provide a certain amount of security to their users.

Of course, one place where they don’t have much of an influence is on human error. When transferring money, make sure you know and/or trust the person you are sending the money too as once it’s gone it can be hard to get it back.

As well as this, it is worth remembering that both these services put ease of use at the forefront of their customer experience. As we saw with how easy it is to transfer money using PayPal, all you need is the email address of the person you are sending money too.

Because of this, it would be worth making sure that you change your passwords regularly and choose a long, difficult to break password when using these services.

Winner: Hard to tell these two companies apart when it comes to security. As long as you are careful with who you are sending money too and keep your account details secure, you should have no problems using either service.

Conclusion

Overall, if you are looking to send money as cheaply as possible then Transferwise is usually going to be cheaper than PayPal. It does not make money off the exchange rate and only charges a small percentage of the overall transfer as its fee.

It is simple to sign up to, easy to send money with and should even be quicker in many situations than PayPal.

However, that doesn’t mean that PayPal doesn’t have its place.

PayPal is well known and as such, it can be a convenient option and is likely to be especially useful for small amounts where the fact that they take a percentage won’t result in you losing that much money.

For amounts more than about $300 we highly recommend comparing Transferwise as your solution – it could save you a bundle.

If you want to look into Transferwise and services like them further you might like our Transferwise V OFX comparison.

Basically, check out either option, see how much it will cost for you to send money using each service, and then you can come to a good decision about which is the best money transfer option for you!

6 Untapped Ways to Save $$$

How’d you like to see how I consistently save thousands of dollars on a regular basis when I transfer a fairly modest amounts around the world?

Quinn Askeland Small ImageHi my Name is Quinn.

After 10 years of living around the world and thinking each time that we were going to settle down 🙂 – I have learned a thing or SIX!

Unfortunately most people waste between at least 3% of their money and usually more like 5 – 7 % of their money when moving their hard earned dollars, pounds or euros worldwide.

Here is a round up of some awesome ways I have discovered how you can end up with more in your bank account.

1. Use a Money Transfer Service

As discussed everywhere there easiest way to save money is to not use a bank and choose a service that specializes in transfers overseas – ideally one that has an office on you country because of the extra layer of safety you will get and the fact that you are more likely to get better rates and service.

The next 3 are in my eBook, and they remain powerful – I recommend you grab a copy now!

2. Dip a Toe In

I found out the number 1 reason people continue to use their bank is that they are worried about losing their money. My suggestion here is to transfer a small amount initially – you will soon see how silly you were to wait so long.

3. Register

Until you register you have got nothing. The rates indicated on websites don’t mean a damn thing until you are actually in the back end and ready to trade. There is one awesome service, that I use myself personally that does actually offer the rates right on their website – live – the actual rate you will get BUT even then by the time you login or signup the rate you thought you could get is no longer.

4. Shop Around

The transfer market has become pretty competitive. This means you can do well to shop around.

In the eBook I provide tips on exactly how to go about each of these.

After you have read it you will be miles ahead of most people without doing anything else.

But if you want to go a bit deeper and actually make some money here are some slight less passive ways to do it!

5. Ladder Technique

Through a little experimentation I found a way to basically lock in rates as they go higher.

Just like a ladder and using your two legs you are able to move higher up the rungs.

This saves me easily on average about $100 each time – risk free.

I thought it was a cool little technique, so I made a little video.

You can find the transcript here or watch it now.

The only thing about the ladder is that you have no idea how high it goes.

You have to have a little discipline to take the extra money off the table. Just be happy with what you get.

6. Smart Alerts

Beyond just using a specialist money transferrer with an office ideally in you country this is by far the most powerful way to make (save) a bundle of money.

I showed, “How I made $2500 or 10%” with a case study where I show you step-by-step how I do it.

Essentially I have taken a tactic that the Pros have used and simplified it and dumbed it down so that I can do it without too much thought – just results.

Yes it takes a little discipline, but I have consistently outperformed over a long period of time.

I can always get an extra 1% (but often more) which covers all the costs of the transaction and a bit more usually.

It is as simple as setting up some rules and alerts for yourself on when to send the money based on drawing a couple of lines.

You can also read, “How to Lock in Great Rates” to help you master this technique.

Hope that helps – Happy Transfers!

Quinn

 

How to Lock-in Great Rates – Case Study on International Transfers

I am super excited to share this with you.

Why?

Well pocketing a couple thousand extra dollars could not be simpler in my view.

Unhealthy obsession?

I think not.

To the contrary it is very healthy in every way because it is but far the easiest thing to do to make money.

In a world where 1% – 2% interest per year from your bank account is about as good as it gets – Getting another 2% safely, easily and in about 5 days is very sweet indeed.

As discussed at length, you can easily save money by not using a bank and simply use a money transfer companyusually saving around 3%.

But in addition to this, here is how you can lock-in great rates.

How Alerts Work to Make Money

The beauty of this method lies in its simplicity.

For example, lets say you want to transfer $100k Canadian (CAD) to the Australia (AUD) in the next 3 months.

I use these currencies just as an example, mainly because this is a real life example I am executing right now but I have transferred – USD and GBP exactly the same way.

  1. Timeframe: Decide when you need the money moved – 1 week, 1 month, 3 months, 1 year (in this example 1 week)
  2. Set Limits: Look at the three month chart and one year chart using yahoo exchange or something similar and decide on your limits – upper and lower
  3. Set Alerts
  4. Wait
  5. Execute

Step 1. Timeframe

In my example, here is what the charts look like.

3 month exchange rate Cad to Aud

3 Month Chart

and

1 year Cad to Aud chart

12 Month Chart

I find charts like the second one very exciting if you have a long time horizon.

For my example, like most people, I needed my money ASAP.

So the three month chart plays a bigger role in step two.

Step 2. Set Limits

For step two usually I print off these charts – yep I actually print them off and get out a ruler and pencil.

Here is what I did to the 3 month chart:

3 month CAD AUD chart

What I drew is two sets of parallel line or “trends”

The rising set of lines are more important if my time horizon was 1 month to 3 month, but since we need the money now – the key is avoid dips like what happened on 2 July.

Finding the Sweet Spots

Just in the past 15 days the “currency pair” has moved between 1.06 and 1.04 – for $100k that is a $2k difference.

Therefore it is easy to see that anything over 1.06 is a great result in the short term.

Longer term is a different story – everything tells us if we wait we will be better off.

However, our timeframe in this example is short.

Step 3. Set Alerts

I used OFX which are the same company for this example, but almost all money transfer companies provide alerts.

Here is what the alert panel looks like.

Alerts for Ozforex, Canadian Forex and USForex

 

In this example 1.06 is what we want but I want to be ready when it hit that.

So I set alerts for 1.059, 1.06 and 1.061

Importantly: I also set alerts for 1.039, 1.04, 1.041 to protect on the downside.

Lets not forget we were at below parity ($1) this calendar year so being ready and able to pull the trigger at 1.039 (maybe 1.0375) is just as important as 1.06.

 

 

Step 4. Wait

Waiting seems easy, but it is not for most people.

The magic of having the alerts set up though is that you can get on with everything else in your life without worrying.

Then this happens.

Alerts Trigger an Email

Step 5. Execute

This is where the rubber hits the road.

An email is sent or you get a text (I always do both) and now its time to ring the register.

In Real Life

The reason I am so excited to share this with you is because it works and here is proof.

Actual Trades

On the 3 July I sent money from Canada to Australia with the CAD/AUD above 1.06.

I also did the same thing earlier on the 26 June.

During this time the exchange rate did go to 1.04 but not any lower so I did not transact.

Of course the money transfer company does take a cut – In this case it was about 0.9%.

I ended up in front by 2% – Which for $100k is a $2000 gain. Not bad for about 10 or 20 min work. Not too bad ehh?

Important Notes

Deciding when you need your money is very important. In my example, I wanted to bring the money over ASAP so the 3 month chart and particularly the past month is far more important.

If however you time horizon is much greater, like 3 months or more, then the 1 year chart becomes more important.

I hope you do to!

Thanks for reading.

By the way, I am not a financial expert of any kind and this is not meant to be financial advice – just a way for you to make your own decisions and have more control over your money with confidence.