International money transfer

International Money Transfer: The Ultimate Comparison [2020 Guide]

The great thing about hiring someone who lives abroad or using a supplier in another country is that you can save money. However, you still need to figure out how to pay the person. International money transfers can be expensive — effectively eliminating any cost savings from working with someone overseas.

At least it was this way in the past. As the world has become more globalized, more services have popped up. You now have a variety of options, many of which are low cost.


How We’ve Evaluated the Options

In this international money transfers comparison, we’ve used the following criteria:

  • How long do transfers take?
  • Which international money transfer gives you the best rates?
  • Are services secure?
  • Which countries can you send money to?
  • What currencies can you transfer?

With these criteria in mind, we’ve ranked some of the most common choices for international money transfers from best to worst.


1. TransferWise

As well as offering an excellent currency exchange rate, TransferWise has low upfront fees with no additional hidden fees. Plus, it’s possible to have the recipient incur the transfer fee. These characteristics have helped TransferWise become one of the most popular services for international money transfers.

How Long Does It Take?

Depending on where you’re sending the money and what method you use (there are several to choose from), the transfer may take only a few seconds. At the most, it should be complete in a day or two.

International Money Transfer Rate

Rates depend on how much you’re sending and the currency, but they’re some of the lowest around. For instance, sending $100 to Euros costs around $2.50, but £100 to Euros is less than £1.

Rating on Trustpilot

4.6

Countries and Currencies

TransferWise currently operates in more than 80 countries, but the list is always growing. You can send money in 25 currencies and recipients can receive funds in more than 50.


2. OFX

For large amounts of money, OFX may be your best option. It has a minimum transfer of $1,000 and no maximum. Rates are better than TransferWise for sending around $10,000 or more.

How Long Does It Take?

OFX needs to receive funds from your bank, which takes one or two business days. It will then take another one or two business days for the recipient to receive the money.

International Money Transfer Rate

OFX allows you to make an international money transfer without fees. Instead, you pay an exchange rate markup, which is less than 1 percent.

Rating on Trustpilot

4.4

Countries and Currencies

You can send money to recipients in more than 80 countries and choose from almost 60 currencies.


3. TorFX

With TorFX, you’ll receive a dedicated account manager, no matter if you’re making a personal or business transfer. You have flexible options for the transfer — for instance, the provider offers forward contracts, spot contracts, and market orders. You can transfer bank to bank or card to card.

How Long Does It Take?

Usually, the recipient will receive funds in one to three days, although it can be as much as four days with a less common currency.

International Money Transfer Rate

There are no fixed fees or hidden costs. You pay an exchange rate markup of 0.5 percent to 2 percent, depending on the currency.

Rating on Trustpilot

4.8

Countries and Currencies

Choose from more than 25 currencies to send money. The recipient can receive funds in almost 40 currencies.


4. XE

You most likely know XE as one of the official sources for currency conversion rates, but it is also an international money transfer provider. In fact, it offers an excellent service, especially if you are in the U.S., UK, Canada, or Australia. However, it is only available for large transfers of $1,000 or more.

How Long Does It Take?

Transfers go through on the same day.

International Money Transfer Rate

XE has no transfer fees, but you do pay an interbank rate. This differs according to the transfer amount. For $1,000, you’ll pay around 2 percent, but rates drop to less than 1 percent for transfers of $50,000 or more.

Rating on Trustpilot

4.7

Countries and Currencies

You can transfer funds in 60 currencies to more than 170 countries.


5. WorldRemit

You can send money to almost anywhere with WorldRemit. It’s possible to pay using a bank transfer, debit card, or credit card, among other methods. Plus, there are multiple delivery options, including bank transfers, cash pickups, and mobile wallet. Bear in mind that there is quite a low maximum limit — the exact amount depends on your location.

How Long Does It Take?

Transfers are usually instant.

International Money Transfer Rate

You’ll pay between $3.99 and $24.99 depending on the currency and mode of delivery. Although the exchange rates are decent, they are still higher than the interbank rate. Be aware that you may also incur additional fees if you use a bank transfer.

Rating on Trustpilot

4.4

Countries and Currencies

You can send to 150 countries in 90 currencies.


6. MoneyGram

You’ve most likely heard of MoneyGram, as it’s the second-largest transfer provider in the world. Although the service is fast and reliable, it’s expensive compared to newer options. Plus, you are limited to just $10,000 a month in online transfers.

How Long Does It Take?

The transfer can go through the same day (within hours or even minutes), although this does depend on factors like banking hours.

International Money Transfer Rate

There are low fees when you fund a transfer from your bank, but other payment methods are high. This is on top of exchange rate markups, which can be more than 3 percent.

Rating on Trustpilot

4.1

Countries and Currencies

MoneyGram is available in more than 200 countries.


7. Western Union

The largest money transfer provider in the world is Western Union. This doesn’t mean it’s a particularly good option, though. Rates are quite similar to MoneyGram — they can be lower or higher, depending on the destination. You should also be aware that transfer limits are quite low — again, this differs according to destination. Despite these downsides, Western Union may be the right choice for you if you need to send cash to someone.

How Long Does It Take?

A cash transfer can arrive in minutes (although you will pay more for this service). A standard service takes more than a week.

International Money Transfer Rate

For under $1,000, you’ll pay less than $5 in transfer fees. However, exchange rate markups are anywhere from 1 percent to 6 percent.

Rating on Trustpilot

3.3

Countries and Currencies

Western Union is available in more than 200 countries.


8. PayPal

One of the pioneers of digital payment systems, PayPal used to be the go-to option for online money transfers. However, the company used its position as market leader to hike up prices for international transfers. In addition, its trust rating has plunged. Still, PayPal does give you a variety of options for transfers: you can send to a PayPal Wallet, make a bank deposit, or enable a cash pickup.

How Long Does It Take?

It takes seconds for funds to go from one PayPal account to another. However, it takes another two to four days for the recipient to withdraw the money to a bank account.

International Money Transfer Rate

Fees depend on the currency and payment method. You can expect to pay less than $5 if you use your bank account, but fees are higher if you use a credit or debit card. What makes the service expensive is the exchange rate markup, which can be more than 3 percent.

Rating on Trustpilot

1.2

Countries and Currencies

PayPal operates in more than 80 countries, although some are only able to send payments, not receive them.


9. Your Bank

Without question, the worst option to use to transfer money internationally is your own bank. Although it may feel like the safest option, it is usually by far the most expensive and slowest. This is especially the case if your bank and the bank you are sending money to do not have a working relationship. However, even if you are sending to the same banking institution in another country, the transfer will be expensive.

How Long Does It Take?

It often takes banks up to five business days to complete transfers, although it can be longer than this.

International Money Transfer Rate

The average bank will charge you $45 for a transfer. The recipient also have to pay a large amount.

Rating on Trustpilot

Depends on the institution.

Countries and Currencies

You can usually send to any country and the recipient will receive the money in the local currency.


International Money Transfer Regulations

Before you go ahead and start making international money transfers, it’s important to learn about any relevant regulations. The main thing to be aware of is that the IRS expects you to report transfers of $10,000 or more. Although the service provider will often report this for you, it’s worthwhile consulting with an accountant.

When choosing the best international money transfer service for you, consider your situation. You may find that you are more limited if you need to send particularly high (or low) amounts or the recipient wants to receive funds in a less common currency.

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