If you are serious about saving money the banks love to take you will want a service that is more than cheap!
Because frozen accounts or money lost in the system can happen.
In this post, we’ll uncover not just the cheapest but also the best international money transfers.
About 2008, I started using one of the cheapest international money transfer services.
But I soon discovered there are a lot of things that can go wrong when third party banks, human error and regulations get involved.
Fortunately a few of the cheapest money transfer services also have great support and customer service – this can help to avoid a lot of stress.
And 99% of the time you will have no idea that a whole bunch of awesome just happened.
In this post, I have curated the greatest services that can save you the most money.
I start by pointing you in the right direction and choosing the best service based on the amounts you want to send.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links (not all recommendations are) which can save you money and some pay us a commission at no extra cost to you. This helps us to help others. Thank you. For more information, see my disclosures here.
To save the most money and have the best experience, we have carefully selected the best services based on the amounts you plan on sending. Many services can transfer more or less than what we recommend, but as we explain below there are many good reasons to choose a suitable service starting with low fees.
$500 USD = Approx £400, €450, $700 AUD, $700 CAD, $700 SGD, 50,000 JPY, 25,000 INR
$7000 USD = Approx £4000, €6000, $10000 AUD, $10000 CAD, $10000 SGD 800,000 JPY, 500,000 INR
USD is used in this post but these are international money transfer comparisons with offices and bank accounts in many countries.
1. Less than $500/£400/€450
At the moment we recommend 2 services in this category:
- 1.1 Remitly
- 1.2 WorldRemit
Remitly’s goal is to disrupt the old school remittance companies like Western Union (review), Ria (review) and Moneygram (review).
And old school remitters are also a big cost for people sending money to friends and family.
According to the world bank the average cost of sending relatively small amounts is 6.01%. And that is just the average.
Remitly by comparison can dramatically reduce these fees especially if you avoid using a card to fund the transfer (just use a bank account) and are happy for the money to arrive in a few days (rather than instantly).
Check out the rate you will get here with Remitly (they may also remove the fixed fee as an incentive).
Like others, Remitly’s fees vary depending on your location, service you’re using, and the target currency.
They generally charge a flat fee (like $2.99 or $3.99) for a transfer and have a competitive margin on the exchange rate. As you may know the fee built into the exchange rate can be much greater than the fixed fee but in the case of Remitly it is indeed very competitive.
But you really need to see the fee for your situation and it is recommended to sign-up with Remitly to see exactly what you will pay. You can see what you will pay (desktop) or get the App for mobile – iOS or Android.
Note: Instant cash transfers with Remitly (which are funded with credit cards and attract cash advance fees of up to 3%) are more expensive but faster than bank transfers.
Another reason to use Remitly is their respectable Trustpilot score of 4.1/5. We think this is a very good indicator that Remitly really are top of their game in many ways beyond lowest fees.
Remitly (review) lets their users in 28 developed countries send money home to support their friends and family in 150+ countries worldwide instantly. You can send both cash (which can be sent instantly) or bank transfers with Remitly.
Remitly only lets you send from those 28 mentioned above, also WorldRemit allows you to transfer money for business.
WorldRemit’s service fees vary by location. For example, bank transfers to African countries cost $0.99 USD and cash transfers cost $1.99 USD, while transfers to Asia and other supported countries range between $1.99 USD to $3.99 USD.
Our testing indicates their margin on the exchange rate is often between 1% and 1.5%, which is very competitive, but please check this out for your own currencies as it can vary depending on a number of factors.
Another reason to try WorldRemit is that you can get 4FREE* transfers! (But it is to limited countries *click the link to see if you qualify)
You can also compare WorldRemit Vs Remitly.
2. More than $500 but less than $7000 (Bank to Bank)
We recommend 2 services in this category, which is focused on bank-to-bank transfers.
- 2.1 Wise
- 2.2 CurrencyFair
Wise (review) makes money transfer affordable with transfers at the mid-market or interbank rate with no markups. Instead they charge a variable service fee usually between 0.35% – 1.5% of the amount.
They’re available in 50+ countries (including the US, UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, etc.) and let you send money in 70+ currencies.
Most importantly, Wise shows a complete breakdown of the fews depending on your location, funding method, target currency, and amount.
Simply use this calculator before you even sign up to see the fees and how much arrives.
What many people don’t realise is Wise also makes transferring money cheap as possible by having local bank accounts in as many countries as possible. This minimises any surprises from bank accounts at either end and for amounts in this bracket – that matters.
Note: Banks will often charge a fee to send money or accept money from a service that is based overseas. These fees can be quite significant ranging from about $10 to $50, but almost always zero with Wise.
A bonus with Wise is if you travel overseas or are an international person their Wise multi-currency account (review) lets you hold, manage, and convert between 50+ currencies. You can also get an optional prepaid debit card linked to the account that can be used worldwide.
CurrencyFair (review) is great alternative to Wise because it will suit folks who want to have more control over the exchange rate they get.
They have two ways of keeping international money transfer costs low:
First – their P2P (Peer-to-peer) marketplace where you can swap currencies with users sending money in the other direction. Often, this can give you an exchange rate that’s actually below the market rate. If there are no users to swap with, CurrencyFair steps into complete the transfer – and you still get a great rate.
Second – If you use their rates they keep the margin on the exchange rate low – usually between 0.4% to 0.6% but this can vary based on currencies and amount.
- Transfers at the mid-market rate
- No mark up on the the exchange rate
- Local bank accounts to keep cost low
- Most transparent and before signup
- No cash transfer
- Not as flexible as CurrencyFair when it comes to getting the best deal on exchange rates
- Get exchange rate below the mid-market rate with P2P swap
- Low margin on the exchange
- Local bank accounts to keep cost lowrate
- No cash transfer
- Slightly less simple to use compared to Wise
These are both services at the top of their game.
You may also like: Wise vs CurrencyFair
3. More than $7000/£4000/€6000
- 3.1 OFX
- 3.2 TorFX / Currencies Direct
You may be wondering, “Why can’t I use Wise, CurrencyFair and many others for large amounts?”
Well you certainly can transfer large amounts with Wise and CurrencyFair however in our view services like OFX, TorFX and Currencies Direct are better because they are designed for larger amounts.
This is a very important distinction because when you start transferring larger amounts things get more complex for money transfer companies due to anti money laundering and anti terrorism regulations.
Without going into too much detail – ideally it should be plain sailing for you. And fortunately it can be.
One simple common example is your funding bank for transfers. Each bank will have limits on the amount it can send in any one transaction. This amount may be smaller than what you have locked in with your money transfer company. This sort of thing can cause issues but also can easily be sorted out by companies like OFX and TorFX/Currencies Direct because they have account managers and easily accessible telephone support.
On the other hand, services designed for smaller amounts tend to do more online (the advantage is this keeps smaller transfers cheaper and more efficient).
OFX keeps costs low for large transfers in a few ways:
- Reducing the margin on the exchange rate as the amount increases – from about 2% to 0.35% of the amount
- Having local bank accounts in most areas they service minimizes or eliminates bank fees fees
- Facilities like Forward Contract, Market Orders, Spot transfers
- We also have a special arrangement where they waive their fixed $15 fee for all transfers (only applicable for some transfers below $10,000)
But most importantly you also get 24x7 phone support for peace of mind.
3.2 TorFX / Currencies Direct
Note: Currencies Direct is owned by TorFX but they operate independently in different geographies. That said, they are almost identical in the services they provide and the way they operate.
TorFX and Currencies Direct keep costs low for large transfers in the following ways:
- No fixed fees
- Low margin on the exchange rate – generally between 0.5 – 2% of the amount
- Reducing the margin on the exchange rate as the amount increases
- Facilities like Forward Contract, Market Orders, Spot transfers
In our experience TorFX and Currencies Direct have incredible customer service and this is backed up by their trustpilot score of 4.9/5 for TorFX and also 4.9/5 for Currencies Direct. This is as good as it gets.
The reason for this remarkable service is that they appoint a Personal Account Manager when you sign up, who guides you through every aspect of the transfer – from documentation to saving the most on your transfers long term.
And you can get a quote before you commit.
Currencies Direct USA, Canada, India or South Africa – Get a current quote from Currencies Direct.
TorFX AUS/NZ and Asia – Get a quote online or by phone
TorFX UK and Europe – Get a quote online or by phone
Which is Cheapest – OFX or TorFX / Currencies Direct?
It’s difficult to zero-in on which is the cheapest service because there are many variables. However in general TorFX / Currencies Direct are customer lead services whereby you can discuss fees with you account manager. Volume of transfers over time is one way they can give you a lower fee. They also have a “Rate Improver Guarantee”.
OFX on the other hand is very competitive out of the box. And this is a good thing because with OFX you set up the transfer online and lock in the rate yourself in realtime. Fortunately it is our experience that the rates you get are excellent to start with.
Like Wise, OFX also manages a massive network of local bank accounts which removes the surprise bank fees you can attract when using services that operate internationally.
TorFX also has some local bank account in major countries but not to the extent of OFX although you should really only worry about this is you plan on transferring smaller amounts.
Also see OFX Vs TorFX
4. Hidden Costs to Watch For
First, let’s be clear what we are talking about.
4.1 There are Four Fees
- Sending Fee
- Transfer Fee
- Exchange Rate Margin
- Receiving Fee
As mentioned, beyond purely getting the best deal on exchange rates and transfer fees, a lot of people forget to consider the fees that banks at either end of the transaction can charge (1) and (4).
These can be significant (sometimes the greatest part for smaller transfers) and you might think the services have no control over these fees but they do! They do it by opening local bank accounts all around the world.
The cheapest transfer companies also keep the (2) Transfer Fees low and the (3) Exchange Rate Margin low as well.
Some companies even remove the (2) Transfer Fees and have fee free international money transfers especially if it is a bank to bank international transfer.
Also worth mentioning, if you are funding the transfer through a credit card or debit card then these fees usually get passed on to you and these fees can be high – often about 3%.
4.2 How Money Transfer Companies Reduce 3rd Party Bank Fees
Reducing 3rd party bank fees depends a lot on the network the transfer companies have developed.
For example, if the money transfer company has a bank account in that country (in the local currency) this means that sending money (to fund the transaction) is usually inexpensive or free.
4.3 Some Ways to Fund the Transfer
- ACH, SWIFT, Domestic Wire Transfers (USA)
- SEPA Bank Transfer, SOFORT (EUR)
- Direct Debit, Local Bank Transfer, Bill Payment, Wire Transfer (Canada)
- POLi, BPay, Domestic Bank Transfers (Australia)
- Domestic Bank Transfers (UK)
- Credit and Debit Cards (Worldwide)
- Digital Wallet
Likewise, the recipient (which may be yourself) will not get charged a fee if the service once again has a bank account in the same country (and currency).
As you can imagine, having business bank accounts all around the globe and managing all those pools of funds can get expensive and complex – not your problem, but potentially very much to your benefit.
The payment method to find the transfer can also change the cost.
If you want to keep costs as low as possible avoid the use of a credit card or debit card, although they can be practically instantaneous for funding the transfer it often adds about 3%.
5. Costs of using Bitcoin and Other Crypto
If you hold Bitcoin (or another crypto) already and can stomach the volatility transferring your money internationally could be a good way to go.
5.1 Not Cheap, Yet…
Assuming you wish to use more common currencies (fiat) at each end, the transaction fees which exchanges who deal in crypto charge to convert your money to fiat currency often makes it costly. Coinbase – the largest crypto currency exchange in the world typically charges 1.49% to buy and sell = 3% total.
While there are cheaper exchanges, 3% is only just cheaper than the banks and a good 1.5% to 2.5% more expensive than most services which can go as low as 0.5%.
In the future these costs are expected to become more competitive, but anything above 2% transaction costs make it expensive although better than a bank.
5.2 Volatility Problem
If you are still considering Bitcoin or another crypto to transfer you money, it is worth considering the time you are holding it. While you are holding it (even just for a day) you could be subject to pretty wild swings not just in the crypto currency itself but the actual currency pairs you want to convert.
For now, there are much better options for most people.
6. How to make MORE money arrive
- Consider all the fees: Many services remove the fixed fees temporarily to entice users and this can be a good thing (there are even some great deals on this page) but you really need to consider the four fees we highlighted above.
- Choose a specialized service: There’s no one-size-fits-all money transfer service. We’ve recommended tried and tested services based on amounts because they have a fee structure that complements those amounts.
- Use services with rate guarantees: Many companies let you lock in a favorable rate for 48 or even 72 hours. This protects you from changes in the exchange rate based on market movements and gives you a little time to transfer funds. For example, Wise and OFX guarantee rates.
- Use Forward Contracts, Spot Contracts, and Market/Limit Orders for large transfers: Most companies specializing in large transfers offer these services (including OFX, TorFX, and Currencies Direct).
With a Spot Contract, you can transfer right away if the rate is favorable.
With a Forward Contract, you can lock in a rate for up to a year so you’re protected against movements in the market (even a shift in 1% on the exchange rate can make a huge difference in fees for large transfers)
With a Limit Order, you can set a favorable exchange rate and you’ll be alerted to process the transfer when the exchange rate reaches that target.
There are many moving parts when you’re sending money abroad but being inexpensive does not need to come at the cost of being a great service.
We’ve shared some of the cheapest and best ways to transfer money internationally from a combination of personal experience and in depth reviews we have been doing for many years.
Who is the cheapest international money transfer service?
Money transfer services have slashed the costs to move money internationally. Lots of competition has meant that no one company is the cheapest for every situation. There are however some excellent options you can choose that offer rock bottom fees including small cash transfers online to extremely large bank-to-bank transfers.
How do you get the cheapest transfers?
Some services are excellent at being transparent and working hard to reduce fees. Beyond these having a good understanding on the different types of fees that make up the total fees is really helpful.