International Money Transfers

Compare the Top 7 (in 2020) – Cheaper, Faster and Safer!

International Money Transfers

With so many great options to transfer your money overseas it can get confusing.

Let’s fix that!

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Money Transfer CompanyMinimum AmountBest For *Offices/ OnlineTrustPilot RatingCost Factor see notes below +Our Rating ++Bottom Line
BankNoneKeeping your money, not moving it. 🙂In your country only.5.30.73.7
CurrencyFair8 EurosResidents Worldwide (Not USA) / Smaller AmountsOnline Focus9.40.87.5Lowest Costs, P2P Service. Currencyfair - Full Review
TransferWise

Best Money Transfer Company Below $7000
NoneResidents Worldwide/ Smaller AmountsOnline Focus9.219.2Awesome Transparency, Low Costs and No Fuss Service Online. Transferwise - Full Review
WorldRemitNoneResidents Worldwide/ Smaller AmountsUK, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand9.20.98.3Sending Money to Family & Friends Anywhere
WorldRemit - Full Review
OFX
Best Money Transfers Above $7000
$250/£100Residents Worldwide/ Larger AmountsAustralia, USA, UK, Canada, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore.8.818.8Best Allrounder - Online or on Phone. Our number one pick for many years running OFX - Full Review
TorFX$250/£100Residents Worldwide (Not USA) / Larger AmountsUK, Australia9.40.88.5Best for Service on TrustPilot - Phone Focus/ Relationships TorFX Full Review
WorldFirst£1000 / $1000 / €1000 / AUD $2000Residents Worldwide (Not USA) / Larger AmountsUK, Australia8.50.88.5Best for Business and Individuals who need tailored services. World First - Full Review
XENoneResidents Worldwide / Larger AmountsOnline Focus9.30.98.4Generally Excellent XE - Full Review

+ To help with your decision we created a “Cost Factor” which takes into account three of the most important fees and (potentially) hidden costs. Basically we start with 1 and deduct 0.1 for each cost factor we think is important.

++ To arrive at “Our Rating” we then multiply the the Cost Factor by the TrustPilot Rating. We think this is a better indicator for you to decide on a service because TrustPilot is a strong indicator of the service and then we are able to adjust this rating by three critical aspects which are often overlooked.

We discuss Cost Factor and Our Rating in more detail on our Money Transfer Services which also contains 3 Tips to Choosing a Service.

What is an International Money Transfer?

An international money transfer is when you send money to another person or company overseas either through a bank or 3rd party like an international money transfer service. The money can be received in cash or a different currency.

Typically most money transfers are enabled through SWIFT but Peer-to-Peer networks (P2P) and new technology is helping to reduce fees and increase speed and security.

To give you an idea of the size of this market, SWIFT is responsible for $5 trillion in money transfers worldwide each day according to FINCEN.

How to Transfer Money (6 Steps)

Here are the 6 basics steps if you use a money transfer company. Below I are the important details!

Steps to transfer money overseas the best way

  1. Registering for an account will require some basic personal information, which is often taken after you have begun your first transfer.
  2. Before you complete the transaction verification of your details is required. Typically this is a simple matter of uploading scans or photos of your identification. Depending on the service and the amounts you transact the requirements will vary. This can take minutes or a day or two to complete.
  3. After approval you can set up your first transfer or simply lock-in the transfer you started whilst signing up. Important to note: Many services will then require that you send them the money within a certain timeframe in order to secure the exchange rate you have locked in. Others will only lock-in a rate after you have sent them the money. This timeframe is often called a “guarantee”. You will require the other person’s full name, address, account number, and Branch Number or Bank Identifier Code (SWIFT BIC or IBAN).
  4. There is usually several ways to send money to the money transfer service. Some may carry a fee and limit the daily amount you can send. These fees can differ from bank to bank and service to service. For larger amounts it can be helpful to have a knowledgeable customer service person to guide you.
  5. Depending on many factors like how you funded the transaction and the banks involved the time it takes for the money to arrive at its destination can be immediate to 7 days. Most bank to bank transfers take 4 or 5 working days. Most services have the ability for you to track the progress of the funds.
  6. Funds arrive which can involve a fee charged by the recipient bank. Many services are able to reduce this fee through having local bank accounts in the country where the money arrives.

The 3 Different Types of Money Transfer Companies

(+ Who is Best for What)

Thousands of different services exist to help transfer your money cheaper, faster and more conveniently then using your bank.

Generally services fall in one of three categories and knowing which type of money transfer company is best for your needs is a great start.

Best Money Transfer Options Based on AmountsJump Links

  1. Remittance Companies (less than $300 USD)
  2. P2P and Smaller Transfers (less than $7000 USD)
  3. Non-P2P and Larger Transfers (more than $7000 USD)

We define:

Large transfers are more than $7000 USD/£4000 GBP/€4500 EU/$9500 CAD/AUD

Small transfer are less than $7000 USD/£4000 GBP/€4500 EU/$9500 CAD/AUD

1. Remittance Companies

If you are sending money to family and friends back home the amounts can be reasonably small (on average $200 USD) and often picked up in cash.

Remittance companies typically offer the most ways to accept funds (including credit and debit cards) and also to receive the funds including cash pickup.

Generally there is a fixed fee (which can be relatively large) and others fees contained in the exchange rate they offer (which is not as good as the interbank rate) as well as possible fees for the receiver.

Fortunately in the last few years a few companies (like WorldRemit) have reduced these fees substantially!

2. P2P and Smaller Transfers

If you sending amounts less than than $7000 USD/£4000 GBP/€4500 EU/$9500 CAD/AUD Peer-to-Peer (P2P) companies are very hard to beat.

There is two great reasons for this.

First, the whole idea of P2P transfers is that they essentially don’t transfer your money at all. As much as possible, they simply pool your funds along with others and then match the pools they create in different countries. This makes their operating costs relatively inexpensive which they pass on to their customers which wins them business.

Second, for smaller amounts they can make it really easy for you sign up due to there being less regulations to satisfy below $10,000 (like anti-money laundering laws) which means they can create super efficient services online and through Apps.

Our top pick for smaller amounts is TransferWise who started out as a P2P company but now works directly off the mid market exchange rate. This is who we use ourselves personally, partly because they tell you exactly what you will pay in fees up front before you even sign up and this always seems to work out very competitively.

You can create an account with them online in minutes (subject to some ID checks) and fund payments via bank transfer or even using a debit card.

Sign up or just see what you will pay now with TransferWise

3. Non-P2P and Larger Transfers

If you sending amounts more than than $7000 USD/£4000 GBP/€4500 EU/$9500 CAD/AUD Non Peer-to-Peer (P2P) companies are very hard to beat.

Costs for Transferring Money ChartThe business model of these money transfer companies means that as the amounts rise they can reduce the percentage fees you pay making them the least expensive.

Also because they expect to be dealing with larger amounts from the outset they tend to get all the paperwork out of the way from the outset which can make for a far better experience later on and reduces the possibility they need to ask you for more information after you have begun transferring.

Finally, many of these money transfer companies also have service and support which can often best be handled on the phone. This can be particularly helpful when dealing with different banks in different countries and different regulations in different countries which can affect fees, limits and timeframes.

We have a few top picks in this space, by in general you would be hard to beat OFX, WorldFirst, TorFX or XE (In depth reviews). If you want to quickly learn which might be better for your needs, we summarise and compare these below.

Know the REAL Fees

With lots of talk about “no fees”, “free” and “no hidden fees” you could be forgiven for thinking money transfer services are FREE! 😉

While there are some benefit to these claims there are actually 4 fees you need to be aware of which we exposed here but here is a summary:

  1. The four main costs for transfersSending Fee
  2. Transfer Fee
  3. Exchange Rate Offered
  4. Receiving Fee

The problem is that unless you take the time to dig a lot deeper sometimes it is hard to figure out the true costs.

1. Sending Fee

Often free, the sending bank may charge you this type of fee depending on the method you use to fund your transaction.

2. Transfer Fee

Typically this is a small fixed fee which is charged by the money transfer service. This is where you will see the word “free” appear a lot, which for smaller transactions can be a really good thing.

For larger transactions the exchange rate they offer is far more important.

The amount will also vary if you use a credit card, debit card or bank account, with the later being the least expensive and often free.

3. Exchange Rate

Typically a percentage of the interbank rate (wikipedia) this can sometimes be hard to find out until you are ready to transact. Comparison services seem to offer the answer but we think in reality – different currency pairs and different amounts mean it is far better to do your own checks relative to the interbank rate found on XE which also has some good charts.

In general you should expect to pay 0.5% – 2% in total fees for major currencies, which can be achieved by all the transfer services listed on this page especially if you follow our amounts guides (large v small). This is much better than a bank or old school remitter who typically charge around 8% in total fees and more.

4. Receiving Fee

This is a hidden fee that is sometimes unexpected. Often the bank or payment service provider for the recipient of the money charges around $15 to $50 USD.

However, some international money transfer service providers have manage to get rid of this fee. They do this by having local bank accounts in the countries they operate.

That means when you send money from one country to another, all they do is settle through a bank account in the receiving country thus avoiding costs that come with moving money across international borders.

Since it is not possible for many payment service providers to have a local bank account in every country, you might find out that receiving money in one country is free and not in another.

Fees of OFX, Currencyfair and Transferwise

Get the Best Exchange Rate

As we discussed the exchange rate offered is a huge part of the fee structure, but a great rate may not matter if you don’t have a guarantee.

Rate Guarantee

If your money is in a bank account (and not sitting in your money transfer account) some money transfer companies are happy to wait a day or two while the money arrives while others require that you already have the funds in your account with them.

When exchange rates can easily fluctuate 1% or more in a single day, this can make a big difference.

Top 7 Compared

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WorldRemit

WorldRemit is a great option when your need is to send smaller amounts to family and friends overseas, especially in cash and using a mobile app. The service provider asks for reasonable low charges as compared to other payment processors.

Use the code ‘3FREE’ and pay no fees on your first three money transfers – ends 31st August 2020.

Aside from the cost, WorldRemit seems to give user experience a lot of focus. They have handy customer support that is always eager to explain to you how things work.

They also give you a lot of option as to how you use their service. That includes a user-friendly mobile app that is useful when you need to send or receive money while you are on the go.

Also, you can fund your transactions from various payment methods including credit cards, debit cards, bank transfers and others. For the recipient, they even have the cash pickup option.

They are also very transparent when it comes to what they charge you and the rates they offer to convert from one currency to another.

P2Ps

CurrencyFair

CurrencyFair has offered us a special link to give you the first 3 transfers fee free (simply use this link) but there are great for other reasons too.

As a Peer-2-Peer (P2P) payment service provider, they can offer rates that are extremely competitive if not unbeatable anywhere.

Advanced P2P

When you need to convert you have the options of choosing the “Best rate available now”, meaning you pick the best offers, or you can “Choose your own rate” by making an offer you deem fair and competitive in the marketplace.

However to be so inexpensive and flexible CurrencyFair requires that you deposit funds beforehand to secure an exchange rate (they do not have a guarantee).

Therefore, if you are fine with depositing your funds in advance before locking an exchange rate, CurrencyFair is probably the best payment service for smaller amounts.

TransferWise

TransferWise is another regulated and licensed money transfer service provider ideal for sending and receiving payments. 

One of their strengths is extreme transparency. Through the calculator on their website, you can see exactly the fees you will pay and you can compare the fees and how much money the recipient would receive against other providers. 

Your money is converted at the mid-market exchange rate so you are not subject to the normal mark ups other providers charge. They also show the fee before you transact. This fee is very competitive. 

Another huge plus in our view is the local banking network that they’ve built across the world which enables them to cut costs and speed up their transfers. 

They claim 24% of their transfers actually arrive instantly.

Send money with TransferWise

Non-P2Ps

OFX

OFX is a money transfer service provider with a wide global outreach. The company has physical offices in USA, UK, Hong Kong, Singapore, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

We have awarded them the best money transfer service for four years running (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019) for very good reason.

The platform is known for transparency as users can see the exact exchange rate they stand to get if they proceed with a transaction. There are no hidden charges and the exchange rate is very competitive.

While the service is primarily offered online they offer great customer support by phone, which comes handy especially if you are transacting large amounts.

To use the OFX service, you may incur a fee of $15 per a transaction – however they have offered us this link so you can this removed for ever.

In summary, OFX is ahead of the pack as an all rounder due to its competitive transaction costs, online service, knowledgeable customer support and deep international reach.

WorldFirst

If your need is to transfer larger amounts for business or you have advanced personal needs then WorldFirst (UK) or WorldFirst (Aus) is the money transfer service of choice.

Services include “forward contracts” (which means you can lock in a rate today for transfers in the future) and “regular payments” (an automated way to make payments) as well as other advanced and potentially extremely helpful services.

In addition to this they also have a great multi-currency account option, which enables businesses to effectively have quasi bank accounts world wide.

Zero fees, competitive rates and great customer support which is flexible to you needs will ensure WorldFirst is a leader for a long time to come.

TorFX

TorFX (UK) and TorFX (Aus) ranked about as high on TrustPilot as is realistically possible with its major strength being customer service. Right from the registration stage, you will be encouraged to talk to someone to guide you through the process.

Long term there are some great advantages in that you can form a relationship with someone who is takes your questions and concerns very seriously. If you want someone in your corner on all this money transfer stuff there is no better.

This can be particularly advantageous when you start dealing with banks and larger amounts (as discussed above).

XE

XE is now a leading service provider in the global money transfer market especially after the purchase of HiFX.

Their strengths include giving exchange rates that are always better than what banks offer. They also have responsive and truly user-focused customer support.

Their online user interface is among the best you can find.

While available in several countries, XE should be at the top of your list if you are in North American primarily because their support networks concentrated there.