Domestic and International
including UK, Canada, Australia, Philippines, India and Worldwide
International money transfers to or from the United States can be a tricky prospect.
Click here for International (below)
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links which often saves you money! For more information, see my disclosures here.
There are a lot of options to transfer money locally in the US.
The first two of these involve banks, with the third not requiring a bank account.
There is also some excellent alternatives these days that use third party services and work with your bank account. These include Zelle, Venmo and PayPal and often utilise Apps on your smartphone to make things easy.
- ACH Transfers
- Wire Transfers
- Money Order
There are also some excellent alternatives that use Apps on your smart phone.
1. ACH Transfers (Automatic Clearing House)
You can send money to a friend or family member with ACH credit transfers (ACH debit transfers are for recurring bill payments or used by employers to deposit salary). These are bank-to-bank transfers and take a few days (2-4 days) to be completed.
If you and your recipient have an account with the same bank, you’ll be able to transfer money for free.
But if you and your recipient are customers of different banks, you’ll be charged a small fee ($2-$5 USD)
Typically, ACH credit transfers are ideal for smaller amounts (based on your transfer limits), are slower but also more affordable.
2. Wire transfers
If you want to send money urgently to a bank account in the US or if you’re sending a larger amount ($7000 USD and above), wire transfers are ideal for you.
Typically, wire transfers are completed in a few hours (if not instantly) but they’re also more expensive (both sending and receiving banks charge fees between $15-$30 USD for wire transfers).
You might also like ACH Vs. Wire Transfers.
3. Money Order
If your recipient doesn’t have a savings or checking account, you can transfer money with a Money Order, which is a safer alternative to sending cash in the mail.
Money Orders cost between $1-$2 USD and can be bought at grocery stores, gas stations, post offices, or at Walmart.
Money Orders are ideal for sending smaller amounts (you can send a maximum of $1000 USD on a single order).
Zelle is an instant payment settlement service that many US banks (over 100) have integrated with their mobile apps.
With Zelle, you can instantly transfer money between your accounts or send money to friends and family for free. While Zelle doesn’t charge any fees, the participating banks may charge a small convenience fee.
Venmo is one of the most popular mobile payment options in the US. With Venmo, you can send money to other Venmo users for free instantly. Venmo is also ideal for smaller transfers (weekly transfer limit on Venmo is $2500 USD).
PayPal to PayPal transfers in the US are free if you’re funding the transfer from your PayPal balance or your bank account. If you’re funding it with a credit card, you’ll be charged a convenience fee by your card issuer (2.9% of the total amount). PayPal is great for both smaller and larger transfers (the maximum amount you can send with PayPal is $10,000 USD).
Generally you can send money into the US without any worries, but (if you are a resident of the US) sending money out needs to be done through a service that is registered in the state where you reside.
But that is not all.
For larger amounts especially (above $7000 USD), we found the best services are ones where the percentage fees decrease as amounts increase. We found they also need to offer excellent telephone support to ensure the smooth sailing of your funds.
Cost, speed and especially service for larger amounts!
Last but not least, we cover safety and security.
Country Notes (to and from these countries)
If you are sending money to friends or family back home you most people need the money to arrive in cash.
But watch out for the fees!
Costs on average have been around 8% and and can be higher partly because of the lack of competition and partly because the money needs to be picked up in cash.
But things are changing and fast.
In many countries the post office or a Western Union window was the only place where money could be picked up, now innovative services like WorldRemit (review) are great alternatives while lowering fees and enabling the sender and receiver to use their mobile phone to send money and be notified when it has arrived.
Right now they also have “3Free” campaign which gives you the first three transfers free. Check out the review for details.
If all your amounts are below about $7000 USD and you can transfer from bank to bank we found that services like TransferWise are going to be hard to beat.
Another great contender is XE who is North American based which does have advantages if you want to speak to someone. While they are not a P2P service they are still very competitive in terms of fees and service.
You might also like TransferWise VS XE.
Above $7000 and the more main stream (non-P2P) companies tend to shine for a number of reasons including:
- Become cheaper as amounts increase
- Signup upfront cover you for larger amounts
Because these services need to be registered in every state in the US where they want to operate, there are only a handful that are worthy of mention.
At the top of our list is OFX who has offices in North America, UK, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong and more.
|Service Name||Minimum Amount ($USD)||Phone/ Online Service||Locations||Fees + Conditions||Special Offers||Transferring $5000 to Canada (see *Note)||Transferring $50,000 to Canada (see *Note)|
|My Bank In USA||None||Online/ Phone/ Branch||Canada, US||$40||None||5,239.56*||52,395.60*|
|OFX||$250||Online/ Phone||Canada, UK, Australia, US, NZ, Hong Kong ,||Under $10,000 it is $15. See Offers >>||No Fees when you Register here||5,424.75*||54,247.55*|
OFX Full Review
|Currencies Direct - Full Review||$100||Phone + Online||US, UK, Europe, South Africa||No fees||Click to get exchange rate||TBA||TBA|
|WorldRemit (A leader in the USA for smaller transfers back home. Allow cash pickup and many ways to fund the transfer)||None||Online||UK, US, Australia||First 3 transfers can be fee fee. See Offers >>||Click to Get first 3 Transfers Fee Free ||Excellent for smaller amounts.||WorldRemit - Full Review|
|Wise||None||Online/ Phone||Based online. 50+ Supported Countries Including AUS, CAN, UK and US||Price depends on route (eg. AUD>USD is 0.7%)||Click for very competitive rates||5,451.87*||54,518.74*|
TransferWise Full Review
|XE - Full Review||0||Online||US, UK, CAN||A small fee for low value transfers||Fee free transactions||TBA||TBA|
* Important Note About Rates:
These rates are the average of two major comparison services in the USA.
However despite seeming to have real time rates – each service usually offers a different rate depending on the amount transferred as currencies fluctuate along with the world currency markets each tick of the clock.
By the time you have registered with a company or even just logged onto their website, the rate they offer will have changed.
We have included the rates here simply as a way to clearly show that the services are very similar in what they offer and also a much better deal than banks.
In this group you will find providers that are top shelf. They also happen to be some of the largest in the industry – which is no accident.
Compared to a bank any of these will be a much cheaper and better way to transfer funds internationally.
However, some are better than other depending on the country where you plan to send you money.
All services are recommended in the table above because they are regulated in the UK and US.
They actively work to keep fees low including local bank accounts in the US and the UK which generally means low or no fees from the banks at either end.
Customer service wise all are great choices with OFX and XE standouts because they have telephone support based out of North America with a strong online offering. For larger amounts this can be an important advantage because banks all have different fees and rules which may require some expertise to ensure things run as smoothly as possible.
For smaller amounts potentially lower costs and online focus may make TransferWise a winner.
In the table above, OFX and XE operate from physical offices in Canada with great North American support and bank networks which enables them to keep costs low and service high.
While TransferWise does have an office in New York the service is aimed at smaller amounts.
For larger amounts, OFX is a stand out for US to Australia and vice versa because of its strong presence in both countries. Listed on the ASX and started in Sydney OFX has been on a mission for many years to liberate the US from costly bank fees.
For smaller amounts, TransferWise is a great choice because of its simple no fuss online service and transparency on fees.
However as the amounts climb, OFX becomes more competitive and due to their service strengths in both countries they are recommended.
For cash amounts to family and friends, WorldRemit could be your best choice. In the Philippines they manage a network of places where cash can be picked up including BDO, Metrobank, PS Bank, Bank of Commerce, PawnShops and other Remittance Services like Kwarta Padala and BDO counters.
If bank to bank is possible, for smaller amounts TransferWise will be hard to beat.
OFX is hard to beat if you need to send larger amounts.
For smaller amounts bank to bank TransferWise is an excellent choice as they deal with the USD to Indian Rupee (INR).
For larger amounts bank to bank OFX to India is a excellent choice.
For most people, cost is a great motivation and if you consider that money transfer services can be 8 times cheaper it is easy to see why they are winning a lot of business from banks.
From the US, TransferWise tends to be the cheapest on amounts below $7000. It is also wonderfully transparent on fees.
Amounts above $7000, and it is hard to beat OFX and their services.
Costs aside, a great reason for transacting using a money transfer provider is that their level of service is awesome.
This can be really important when the receiving bank delays payment or something else seems to have gone pear shaped.
Generally all three are standouts in this regard, although there are some important differences that may make all the difference.
Online or Phone?
All three services are strong when it comes to support, but they are fundamentally different.
At first you will think that their services are all limited to doing business online.
However even TransferWise which is designed for smaller amounts has strong phone support if someone needs assistance.
At the other end of the spectrum while OFX is focused on doing most things online, their phone support is able to handle more complex issues that are more likely to come up as the amounts grow. The reason for this is banks at either end can be very different in the way they work. For example, depending on the way you choose to fund the transaction different banks have different limits on the amounts you can send. Dealing with a knowledgable customer support person can be super helpful and stress free.
Money transfer companies can be super fast taking a couple days instead of a week or more. This is partly because some allow the transfer to be funded by credit or debit card (like TransferWise does for an extra fee) and also because they have banks in multiple countries meaning they can release funds in local currencies pretty much immediately.
Banks by comparison need to deal with SWIFT for international payments making them relatively slow.
Money transfer services are regulated in the countries in which they physically operate. This means they have to follow lots of rules which makes dealing with them safe and secure as reasonably possible.
OFX, TransferWise and XE are all registered with FinCen in the US as well as many other countries.