Cheapest Way to Send Money Internationally

Whether for personal reasons, business reasons, or for the good of the economy as a whole, money must move not just from one local account to another but internationally. The challenge, however, is that international money transfers are notorious for the expensive charges they incur - or at least they used to be.

Luckily, thanks to significant advancements in financial technology, sending money internationally doesn't have to be as expensive as it used to be. Today, you can send money abroad at incredibly affordable costs, but you must know where and how to find these great options before you do.

Below is a comprehensive breakdown of the best options to consider when sending money across international borders. Not only are these the best choices in this regard, but for added convenience, we've also grouped the entries in terms of volume, safety, speed, exchange rate, and other key metrics that will undoubtedly be of interest.

Best Providers For Large Amounts

OFX

OFX remains one of the best alternatives when sending large amounts of money across international borders. Below are the pros and cons of sending money internationally through OFX.

Pros

  • Competitive Exchange Rate

OFX offers some of the best exchange rates on the market, especially for the most popular currency pairs all over the world. As mentioned earlier, this is a great option to consider when you're sending large amounts of money and need affordable fees and reasonable exchange rates.

  • Physical Offices

OFX also boasts of having physical Offices across the world, including the United States. While physical offices don't necessarily guarantee better service, it is usually easier to get through support this way than strictly online. 

  • Comprehensive Receiving Options

When considering international platforms to send money through, it is better to use one with a wide base of receiving countries. For example, OFX supports international transfers to more than 190 countries using more than 50 countries.

Cons

  • Not Conducive for Smaller Amounts

While OFX is excellent for sending large amounts of money internationally, it is not a great option for sending smaller amounts. That said, it is still a better alternative in this regard than most banks.

Currencies Direct

Just like OFX, Currencies Direct is another excellent service to send large amounts of money internationally at incredibly efficient charges. Below are some additional advantages of using Currencies Direct.

Pros

  • Available in Multiple Countries

Currencies Direct doesn't just offer great rates on international transfers to a handful of countries but also has an impressive range of supported locales and currencies. The company operates in more than 120 countries in more than 60 currencies. 

  • Dedicated Account Manager

Currencies Direct also provides a dedicated account manager to make your international transfers much smoother and safer. 

Cons

  • No Local Cash Pickup

Sadly, Currencies Direct doesn't offer this option for those who wish to have a cash pickup alternative once the transfer is successful. However, this shouldn't be a deal breaker for those who only want a simple electronic transfer.

Safest Provider

XE

XE is a Canadian-based international foreign exchange business platform with a reach of over 130 currencies and 220 countries. The platform is licensed in the US (FinCEN), the UK (FCA), Canada (FINTRAC), and Australia (ASIC). Among other admirable attributes, XE is renowned for being one of the safest money transfer services platforms for carrying out efficient international transfers of funds.

Pros

  • Acceptable Rates for High Transfer Volumes 

While not as perfect as the above for high transfer volumes, XE offers relatively reasonable exchange rates for significant transfers. Generally, the more considerable the amount being sent, the lower the rates you get with XE. So transfers above $7000, for example, will get a very reasonable exchange rate on the platform.

  • Speed & Transfer Limit

XE does not have a limit on the number of transfers you can make in a day. This will mainly come in handy for those with a penchant for making a lot of high-volume transactions every day and who don't necessarily enjoy jumping through a ton of technical hoops.

Furthermore, transfers carried out on this platform are known for being quite fast, taking, in most cases, no less no more than 24 hours to be completed.

  •  Easy Navigation & High Customer Satisfaction Review

Lastly, customers who have used the XE platforms for their international money transfers have reported a general feeling of satisfaction with the services, with many crediting the platform's ease of navigation and its convenient on-site currency converter for their pleasant experience.

Cons

  • Miscellaneous Limitations

Some of the limitations you may encounter using the XE platform include that bank transfers are the only method of funding and receiving transfers. In addition, card payments are limited to the US, UK, and some European countries. And lastly, cash pickups are unavailable due to the platform's focus on strictly online transactions. 

Fastest Provider

Remitly

Remitly comes highly recommended as one of the absolute fastest money transfer services. It is also highly regarded for its comprehensive service options.

Pros

  • Delivery Charge

For a platform with most of its debit card transactions completed within minutes, Remitly is regarded as very reasonable in its charges. Their economy option charges as low as $3.99 when making transfers outside the US. New customers also enjoy even lower promotional rates. 

  • Wide-Ranging Customer Service 

Remitly offers customers 24/7 telephone and live chat service in English, Spanish, and French. For those who appreciate the availability of consistent support that helps and is available, Remitly might be the most innovative option to consider.

  • Cash Pickup

Do you want your international money transfers to be available in cash pickups in convenient locations? Well, Remitly has that too. What's more, even the payment/ pay-in options are pretty comprehensive.

Cons

  • Hidden Fees

Along with its low daily sending limit ($2,999 - $30,000 per day), international money transfers carried out on Remitly may also carry a large percentage of hidden fees. Credit card transfers, for example, cost an extra 3% of the original transaction amount.

Providers With Best Exchange Rates

Wise

Wise is fast becoming one of the world's most popular money transfer platforms thanks to its competitive pricing, smooth service, efficient transactions, and impeccable exchange rates on international transfers.

Pros

  • Speed

Wise has some of the most reasonable exchange rates you'll find on any financial platform for international money transfer, but the platform's advantages don't end there. For instance, while not exactly the epitome of speedy international money transfers, Wise does hold its own among the best even in this regard. 

Funds delivery is completed, in some instances, within minutes, mainly when using a debit and credit card.

  • Service Fees and Payment Options

Wise also offers low service fees depending on the size of funds being transferred and the recipient country. In addition, debit cards, credit cards, and bank accounts are all available as payment methods. And of course, the platform continues to earn its users' trust by not using exchange rate markups on its transfers. 

Cons

  • Not the Best for Bank Account Transfers

International transfers funded with Wise bank accounts take longer to deliver, especially compared to debit and credit card transactions. 

Revolut

Revolut is another platform for international money transfer known for its straightforward and reasonable exchange rate. Like its counterpart on our list, Revolut continues to grow thanks to its plethora of advantages, the most important of which we highlight below.

Pros

  • Service Fees and Payment Options

Revolut, like the above Wise, does not use exchange rate markup schemes on its platform. 

  • Navigation 

Moreover, the platform is also straightforward to use and navigate, making the overall experience highly smooth for many of its customers (which is a rarity for most international money transfers).

  • Safety & Customer Support

Revolut goes one up on Wise by offering 24/7 customer support, unlike the latter, which provides customer support only during specific periods on weekdays. The platform is also for its security, and all data is encrypted, so your sensitive information is accessible by authorized personnel only.

Cons

  • Accounts can be Disabled

Your account can be frozen on Revolut if left idle for an extended period. This is done for security purposes, but it can be an inconvenience, especially if you don't make international transfers often.

It is also worth mentioning that Revolut does deduct charges for transactions carried out on the weekend when transfer markets are closed.

Best Banks to Send Money Internationally

Citibank

Wiring money overseas through banks is noted for being ridiculously expensive. With Citibank Global Transfers service, however, it gets significantly more bearable.

Pros

  • Ease and Efficiency

Citibank Global Transfers service allows you to send money overseas with remarkable ease while paying virtually no fees on the actual transfer. This is quite a bargain compared to other banks that charge as high as $50 on international transfers.

Of course, you will still be paying a margin on the exchange rate, but even with this, it is still a much better choice than most banks.

  • Available in over 20 Countries

Citibank Global Transfers service is available in over 20 Countries worldwide and supports a handful of some of the most popular currencies.

Cons

  • Recipient Must Have an Account for Optimal Fee

The caveat with sending money internationally with Citibank is that the Global Transfers service is only available for recipients who also operate accounts with Citibank in their country.

In cases where the person you're sending money to doesn't own a Citibank account, it is better to consider other options on our list.

Chase

You can send money internationally through Chase in US dollars and foreign currency. This can be done through the bank app or in person.

Pros

  • Low Fees

For your actual transfer, Chase charges as low as $5 and, in transfers over $5000, charges no fee at all. Of course, there's still a price to pay in the exchange rate margin, but the bank is still one of the most affordable among its peers.

Cons

  • Third-Party Fees

As mentioned above, Chase still charges a margin on the exchange rate, and additionally, specific third-party fees may apply on transfers.

Bank of America

Lastly, Bank of America is another bank worth considering for your international money transfer. While not nearly the most reasonable in terms of fees, they barely make the cut and are worthy of consideration thanks to the other conveniences they offer along with the charges.

Pros

  • Availability

Not surprisingly, Bank of America is one of the most popular worldwide. As such, it is quite convenient to carry out international money transfers with them, particularly regarding availability. They are present across over 200 countries globally.

  • Speed & Reputation

It is not unusual for Bank of America to complete money transfers outside the US in two days. While this isn't record-breaking, it is at the very least noteworthy. They are also internationally recognized with an impressive reputation.

Cons

  • Incoming Fees

Recipients of transferred funds from Bank of America may pay an incoming charge of $15 - $16. 

As expected, they also do not carry out transactions for non-customers of their bank. 

How to Find the Cheapest Way to Send Money Internationally

Finding the cheapest way to send money internationally can be quite challenging, so much so that many just resort to going with the first option they come across due to the stress.

To guard against exorbitant fees, it is advisable to take time to carry out your research. Mainly, be on the lookout for hidden charges as banks are notorious for this.

No platform is the best or cheapest for every single scenario. Ensure that you choose the right service for your particular needs, whether it be speed, volume, or security. 

Furthermore, endeavor to:

  • time your exchange rates,
  • avoid credit cards when possible, 
  • take advantage of bank accounts if both parties have one, 
  • go with singular bulk transfers instead of breaking them into separate chunks, 
  • take advantage of alerts, 
  • and negotiate if you can

Factors that Influence the Cost of an International Money Transfer

Below are the main factors that influence the cost of international money transfers:

Volume

The amount you're sending goes a long way to determine how much you'll pay in fees. For example, some banks charge more for high-volume transactions, while conversely, some charge less and then profit from the exchange rate markup.

Currency Pairs

For example, popular currency pairs such as the Dollar-Pounds, or Dollar-Euros tend to be more reasonably charged than less popular currency pairs.

Location

Sending money from counties where similar transactions occur more frequently usually implies fewer fees, while sending money to a less popular country may incur higher charges and more markup on the exchange rate.

Costs Involved When Sending Money Internationally

Below are some of the costs to look out for when sending money internationally:

Transfer Fee

The transfer fee is the exact face value deducted on transfers. While it is possible to charge a percentage of your transfer amount, most platforms charge a fixed amount based on the range your transfer volume falls within.

Exchange Rate Margins

Some platforms charge very little or even nothing on transfer fees but gain a lot on the exchange rate margins. They do this by making up the exchange rate enough to ensure that they get a profit on every dollar you send.

It is crucial to keep an eye on the exchange rate margin to avoid malicious hidden fees.

Receiving Bank Fee (Not Always Applicable)

Though not as popular as transfer fees and exchange rate margins, certain international transfers incur fees not just from the originating bank but also from the recipient's bank.

International Money Transfer Requirements

Below are the most important requirements to follow when performing international money transfers:

Transfer Limits

While no established international laws prohibit anyone from sending particular amounts of money, it is not unusual for banks or exchange platforms to formulate these policies on their own.

This is done for security purposes, among others. Therefore, you must get familiar with the specific guidelines of the platform you choose to understand their transfer limits, and if and where they exist.

Documentation

Some banks and online international money transfer platforms require certain documents before you can carry out transfers. This becomes even more popular when large amounts of money are being transferred across international borders.

Again, this is due to security purposes and compliance with government regulations, so it is essential to find out where and when specific documentations apply before you proceed.

Bottom Line

Sending money internationally doesn't have to set you back hundreds of dollars. However, finding the cheapest way to send money internationally on the right platforms to maximize your cost efficiency requires proper planning and research, seeing as no one platform offers the best deals for every need.

Above, we have provided the best alternatives for speed, safety, volume, efficiency, and even bank options for those looking to go with more traditional banking institutions.

Identifying the best alternative for you helps you save on transfer fees, exchange rate markups, and hidden third-party fees.

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