Below is a simple guide to the best ways to send money from the USA to India – without paying high bank fees.
I’ll explain how it works, how long it takes, and compare the best services for USD to INR.
Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links which can save you even more money! For more information, see my disclosures here and make sure to check out the best and cheapest ways below.
Best Rates For Sending 500.00 USD to INR
Best Rates For Sending 500.00 USD to INR
1. Best Ways to Send Money – USA to India
If you want a quick answer, the best service for sending money from the USA to India depends on the amount you’re moving and method of transfer. More about that in a moment.
Here is the deal:
To help you save time and money, these are the best choices for each category.
|Best for small amounts (Below $7000 USD)||Wise (Wise – International Money Transfers Review)|
|Best for large amounts (Above $7000 USD)||OFX (OFX – International Money Transfers Review)|
|Best for small cash transfers (Below $7000 USD)||Remitly (Remitly – Remittance Review)|
Why are there different services for different amounts?
Almost every other website on the internet is focused just on fees and the amount that is arriving.
While this is very important, there is something more important – the money actually arriving.
This is where time tested money transfer companies come in. Compared to banks, the fees they charge are much less – up to 8x less.
BUT as we said, the more important bit is that your money arrives and without any issues. No hold ups, no concerns about lost money – just easy and inexpensive transfers.
A few more factors you might like to consider:
- Speed of transfer
- The type of transfer they specialize in (cash, small, or large transfers)
- Customer service
- Ease of signup and setting up the transfer
- Added features (like multi-currency accounts and more!)
Each service below has different strengths and weaknesses. We personally have been using the next two services regularly for years.
1.1 Small Bank Transfers Below $7000 USD
For your smaller bank transfers, our number one recommendation is Wise (review).
The best thing about Wise? We like its transparent and affordable transfer rates within the under $7000 USD category — no hidden fees!
See for yourself through the Wise calculator here. You’ll get the exact amount your receiver will get based on your amount and the currency pair.
And they are also top shelf when it comes to the services and customer service they provide.
Transfer speed is decent (between 3-5 days), which is the industry standard. And setting up your transfer is very easy and can be done completely online.
A unique thing about them is that they also offer a multi-currency account. This lets you hold, manage, and convert between 50+ currencies. Plus, you can get international bank details in 10 major currencies (including the USD, CAD, GBP, AUD, etc.).
A MasterCard debit card can also be issued with the multi-currency account. This is great for traveling abroad (ATM withdrawals worldwide up to $200 USD or equivalent) as well as shopping online from local and international websites.
1.2 Large Bank Transfers Above $7000 USD
For your large bank transfers from the USA to India, you’ll want a service that has:
- The infrastructure (processes and teams) to process your large amount.
- Regulatory backing so that your transfer happens without unexpected hold ups.
For these reasons, we recommend OFX as we uncovered in this review.
- Regulated in the USA by FinCen and have offices in New York.
- They offer 24×7 phone support.
- Their fees decrease (in percentage terms) as the amount goes up.
- They offer a multi-currency account for businesses
Because they are designed for large amounts, sign up can be a little more involved compared to services designed for smaller amounts. This can be a very good thing when it comes time to transact because they can meet their regulatory needs more easily than others. In practical terms, this means there is less chance they will hold up your transfer while they gather more ID or other information from you.
But the advantages don’t stop there, OFX has 24/7 phone support. We have found this can super important. For example, banks are involved at each end and they have daily limits and regulatory requirements to meet as well. We have found OFX can help navigate through all of this to ensure your money arrives easily and with confidence.
Finally OFX may charge a fixed fee of $15, however if you click here (opens a new tab) you can avoid these fees all together.
You might also like our comparison for Wise Vs OFX.
1.3 Small Cash Transfers Below $7000 USD
Cash transfers come into play when your recipient doesn’t have a bank account.
While most people think of established services like Western Union, Ria, and MoneyGram for sending cash, they may not be the best for you.
For these transfers, you might like Remitly (review) which is newer, but has many advantages — particularly because it’s usually cheaper.
Remitly keeps transfer fees low by moving a part of their process online (that is you can set up your transfer online and avoid multiple agent fees).
Moreover, they waive their fixed fees (more about this below) if you send more than $1000 USD with them (applicable for both Economy and Express).
Here’s what else we like about it:
- Send cash (and even bank transfers) to 130+ banks in India including HDFC, Axis Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, SBI etc.
- Your recipient can also pick up cash from 100,000+ agent locations including some banks, EbixCash, Weizmann Forex, Muthoot Fincorp, etc.
- 2 transfer speed options — Express (fastest, within 4 hours) and Economy (slow but affordable).
2. Cheapest Ways to Send Money from the USA to India
2.1 Cheapest Way to Send Small Bank Transfers Below $7000 USD
Transferring money with Wise (review) is the most affordable way to process small USD-INR transfers.In out article on the 7 cheapest ways to transfer money we found Wise and CurrencyFair to be the best but CurrencyFair cannot be used in the US.
Of course, Wise have fees but you can see them using their calculator (opens new tab) before you even sign up.
The great thing with the calculator is that you can then compare these results with any other service.
Wise is the only money transfer company that offers transfers at the interbank rate and doesn’t add a margin to the exchange rate.
Their fees are transparent and they offer multiple ways to fund your transfer (bank transfer, credit or debit card, etc.), which helps their users prioritize speed and affordability as needed.
Moreover, they have bank accounts in the USA and India, which rules out surprise fees charged by sending and receiving banks.
2.2 Cheapest Way to Send Large Transfers Over $7000 USD
Because of market fluctuations, it’s difficult to determine the cheapest options for large transfers.
Who’s the winner for us? Usually OFX.
Cheaper may not always be better when it comes to large transfers. And here are a few reasons why we prefer OFX, even if they turn out to be a bit more expensive.
OFX is not only regulated and has offices in the US, they also offer 24×7 phone support for your large transfers (which can be very reassuring when a large amount of money is literally on the line).
Also their fee structure is set up to help you save on those large transfers. Essentially the larger the amount the smaller the percentage fees they charge.
OFX typically charges a flat $15 fee for all transfers below $10,000 but you can have this $15 fee waived by simply using this link to OFX here.
They also have local bank accounts in the USA and India, which minimises (usually to zero) sending and receiving fees.
3. Fees You Should Know About
A high street bank like Citi, Chase, or Bank of America may seem like the easiest option to send money to India from the USA.
But these transfers usually come with exorbitant fees (and a distinct lack of transparency when compared to services like Wise).
For example, Bank of America charges upwards of $45 USD for international wire transfers (and this fee doesn’t include the margin on the exchange rate). Typically this fee is $35 – $50. For smaller transfers, this is a big haircut.
Specialist money transfer companies help you send all types of transfers (large, small, and cash) affordably.
But there are some fees you still need to be aware of:
- Fixed fees
- Margin on the exchange rate (usually the largest cost in a transfer)
- Sending and receiving fees (charged by your bank and the recipient’s bank)
3.1 Fixed Fees
This is a small service fee money transfer companies charge to process your transfer. It can be a fixed fee or a percentage fee based on the amount or currency.
If you’ve ever seen money transfer companies promoting “fee-free” transfers, this is the fee they’re talking about.
But here’s the thing: even if this fee is waived, there are some other costs to consider. Keep reading to know how you can keep them low.
3.2 Margin on the Exchange Rate
Money transfer companies make money from international transfers by adding a percentage margin to the exchange rate they offer.
This is usually the largest fee in the equation.
Banks tend to charge a range – often 2% – 3% margin on the exchange rate, while services like Wise and OFX typically keep it between 0.5%-1.5%, which makes a big difference.
Moreover, companies like OFX that are designed for large transfers, automatically decrease the margin on the exchange rate as the amount goes up.
How to get the lowest exchange rate?
Compare exchange rates offered by different services before committing.
However, note that the cheapest service may not always be the most transparent or have excellent customer service.
3.3 Sending and Receiving Fees
Most US banks like Chase, Citi, and Bank of America charge $40-45 USD for international wire transfers.
And, Indian banks like SBI, HDFC, Axis bank, etc. charge $10-$20 USD for receiving inward remittances.
We call these “hidden fees” because you’ll never know how much you’ve been charged till you receive your bank statement.
However, some money transfer companies can help you save on these fees by having local bank accounts in the areas they serve (like Wise and OFX).
4. Safest Ways to Send Money from the USA to India
All the services we’ve recommended (Wise, OFX, and Remitly) are secure ways to send money from the USA to India.
They’re licensed money transfer services, which means they need to adhere to regulatory laws governedin the USA (byFinancial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).
If you are a resident of the US, you are also protected by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) which regulates the financial products Americans use including international money transfers of $15 or more.
Moreover, they keep a close eye on user activities through regular audits to prevent financial crimes like money laundering, theft, etc.
They also use industry-leading technology like SSL encryption and two-factor factor authentication to keep your money and personal data safe.
5. How to Send Money from the USA to India
Get started with your USD to INR transfers in just a few steps:
- Create an account with one of the recommended services based on your specific needs (like transfer amount, speed, payout method, etc.)
- Verify your account with a national ID or other address proof. This is a mandatory process followed by all money transfer companies. And note: services that offer large transfers may ask for additional documentation.
- Fund your transfer with your preferred method after making sure you’re good to go with the available rates (don’t forget to double-check your recipient’s details)
- Enter and double check your recipient’s details.
- Track your transfer with text notifications or on the transfer company’s mobile app (or web dashboard).
- Funds arrive.
6.1 Does India Tax Remittances?
India doesn’t tax inward remittances — that is money sent by expats to support their family living in India.
However, outward remittances from India attract a 5% tax deduction at the source.
6.2 Can I Use NEFT or IMPS to Send Money to an Indian Bank Account?
This means you can’t use NEFT or IMPS to process USD-INR international transfers.
6.3 Can I Use Google Pay to Send Money to an Indian Bank Account?
Yes, you can. Google Pay has partnered up with Wise and Western Union to support USD-INR transfers from the USA (and Singapore).
For once off transfers, perhaps this is the best option but there is also more risk when additional parties get onvolved.
We think it may be easier and more affordable to make transfers directly via Wise.