How to transfer money internationally: 4 best ways

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Every year, more than $500 billion is transferred between countries around the world through secure international wire transfers.

Before transferring money overseas, it is good to understand how international money transfers work. Here’s a closer look at the process as well as four of the best ways to electronically transfer money to foreign countries.

What is an international money transfer?

An international money transfer is a way to electronically transfer money from one country to another. This is usually done through a shared network of banks and other financial organizations.

Best ways to transfer money internationally

Those looking to transfer money overseas have several options to consider, each with their pros and cons. Here are four of the best ways to send money to another country.

Bank transfers

Most major banks offer international money transfers to their members, allowing anyone with a checking or savings account to make these transactions.

Because they have well-established networks with other foreign banks, such as through Fedwire or SWIFT systems, wire transfers can be considered reliable, secure, and easily accessible. Here are some of the best banks that offer international money transfers.

Bank Cost Delay of treatment Cover
Capital one $25 to $30 (depending on account type) Same day 100+ countries
Wells Fargo $30 for transfers; $8 or less for ExpressSend® Same day for ExpressSend® transfers for multiple countries; one to five business days for wire transfers (depending on location) 13 countries and over 49,000 locations
Bank of America $0 (for transfers sent in foreign currencies) or $45 (for wire transfers sent in US dollars) One to two business days 200 countries and more than 140 currencies
TD Bank $50 One to five business days More than 150 countries and territories

Money transfer services

In addition to banks, senders can also transfer money overseas through various money transfer services. These companies have platforms that make it possible to send money around the world faster and more cheaply. Here are some of the best money transfer services.

Company Cost Delay of treatment Cover
Western Union Varies by country and region One to five business days, depending on the country 200+ countries
Wise Varies by currency One to two working days maximum depending on the country 50+ countries
Xoom Varies by transaction, currency and country Varies from a few minutes to several days depending on the country, the type of transaction and the method of payment More than 150 countries and territories
WorldRemit Varies by country Instantly or one to two business days, depending on the country 130+ countries

ACH Transfers

Also known as “Automated Clearing House” transfers, ACH is an electronic network of banks and credit unions that send money to each other, enabling electronic payments as well as sending money abroad. Although slower than wire transfers, an ACH transfer tends to be less expensive and can be refunded quickly in the event of fraud or error.

Peer-to-peer transfers

The best mobile payment apps usually offer P2P money transfers where someone with another person’s email address or phone number can easily send money to their account. It’s a quick and easy way to transfer money between people with little to no fees, but may not be as secure as wire transfers.

Tips

Wire transfers made through banks and money transfer services can cost a little more, but are generally more reliable than other methods. Turning to a trusted bank or transfer service guarantees that the full amount will be delivered, usually backed by a guarantee.

How long does an international money transfer take?

The time it takes to transfer money overseas depends on where it is being sent. While a domestic money transfer usually takes a few minutes, an international money transfer – also known as a “money transfer” – can take a few days or sometimes longer.

Remittances take longer to process as the transaction moves from one country’s banking system to another. More time could be added due to several factors, such as:

  • Bank holidays in different countries
  • Money goes through intermediary banks with poor infrastructure
  • Transfers sent to countries where transactions are slower but highly secure

Are there any costs involved in an international money transfer?

There are processing fees involved in transferring money overseas. To ensure that the amount sent is not depleted by these fees, senders should ask the bank what these fees are before sending a transfer. Most banks typically charge:

  • Processing fees. This may be charged as a flat fee, but is usually a percentage of the total amount sent.
  • A foreign exchange commission. These fees are often added as a markup on exchange rates.

What is the cheapest way to transfer money internationally?

For most people, the best way to transfer money overseas is usually the most affordable. While transferring money through banks can be beneficial in some cases, the cheapest way is through a digital money transfer provider like Xe, Remitly, or Wise. These platforms primarily operate online, which means they have lower overhead to manage, which translates into lower prices for their customers. They are also cheaper because they compete with each other by offering lower fees and better exchange rates.

Of course, each transfer has a different cost because banks and transfer services charge varying fees depending on where the money is sent, how the transfer is paid for, and how the money will be deposited or collected.

How does a sender transfer money overseas?

Transferring money to an overseas account is quite easy and can be done online or in person at a bank or money transfer service office. This is how money transfer abroad is usually done.

Not

  1. Whether the transfer is made online, at a bank branch, or at a money transfer service bureau, the sender will need to provide basic information about the transaction. This typically includes the recipient’s bank account number, the recipient’s bank SWIFT or BIC number, the total amount of money transferred, and, for some countries, an international payment system routing code.
  2. When using a money transfer service like Western Union, the sender must also provide their name, phone number, address, and other financial information.
  3. Once the paperwork is complete and the funds transferred from the sender’s account have been processed and confirmed, the transfer takes place.

Carry

There are different ways to transfer money overseas and each has its pros and cons. Anyone looking to transfer money to another country should research the fee structures of each option they are considering to ensure that all costs are covered before transferring the intended amount.

Rates and fees are subject to change.

Editorial Note: This content is neither supplied nor commissioned by the banking advertiser. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author alone, not those of the Bank Advertiser, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or otherwise endorsed by the Bank Advertiser. This site can be remunerated via the affiliate program of bank advertisers.

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About the Author

Moubin Ghafoory is a freelance content writer who previously worked for a major digital marketing company. Writing is his profession and his passion, and in his spare time he studies and practices fiction writing. He lives in Northern Virginia and drinks coffee by the gallon.

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