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International Bank Transfers

A bank transfer is a popular way of transferring money internationally, providing a secure and electronic means of moving your money from your account to your recipients. There are a number of things to consider when making an international transfer, including the international bank transfer fees, exchange rate, and transfer time.

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Whether you're sending money internationally to friends or family, to make a foreign purchase, pay freelancers or contractors, or something else entirely, understanding the process is the first step in ensuring you don't over-pay for your transfer. In the past, making an international bank transfer meant you were limited to relying on the services of your bank - which meant paying expensive fees just to be able to send your money abroad.

Nowadays, you have a wide range of options for international transfers so you can easily compare and select the best way to send money. While banks are one of those options for international wire transfers which are faster but are more expensive, you can also send money using a credit card wire transfer, as well as money transfer operators. These are another more popular methods. Transfer providers specialise specifically in sending money internationally, and so can often process a transfer for lower fees and more competitive exchange rates than international banks such as ICICI Bank in India (view ICICI exchange rates) or Bank of America in the US (view Bank of America exchange rates).

Read our guide to the cheapest ways to send money abroad and the cheapest way to make a wire transfer.

Making an international transfer with WorldRemit

As an example, WorldRemit supports 70 currencies in 130 countries worldwide, and you can initiate your transfer easily via your phone or computer.

In addition to having a transparent fee structure and competitive exchange rates, WorldRemit can also send international transfers within minutes compared to the several working days it can take for a bank to process.

Compare WorldRemit

What details do I need for an international bank transfer?

To make an international bank transfer, you’ll need your recipient’s:

  • Name (whether it’s an individual or a business name)

  • Address

  • Their account number or IBAN

  • Their sort code or BIC/SWIFT code. You can find the SWIFT code you need using our SWIFT code calculator.

  • The name and address of their bank

Make sure you double check these details, as it might be difficult to reverse your transfer if some of the details are incorrect. For example, if you're sending money to Norway, you need to provide the correct Norwegian SWIFT code for the recipients bank located in Norway.

How to open a bank account?

How much does it cost to send money abroad with a bank transfer?

What are the best banks for international transfers?

Using your bank vs a money transfer service to send money abroad

You have two main options when making an international bank transfer: using your bank or using the services of a money transfer provider. Using your bank to make an international transfer may seem like a convenient way to send your money abroad, but it often ends up being one of the most expensive methods. If you'd like to know more about the bank transfers, check our guide: how does a bank transfer work?

This is because banks tend to add-on a number of fees to international transfers, including:

  • Upfront international wire transfer fees

  • Costs incurred for using the SWIFT transfer network

  • A markup on the exchange rate (on average between 4 - 5%)

*A markup on the exchange rate is charged by almost all banks. For that reason, it is important to always check the exchange rates before making your international money transfer. These banks include for example TD Canada Trust in Canada (view TD Canada Trust exchange rates), Punjab National Bank in India (view Punjab National Bank exchange rates) or Citibank (view Citibank exchange rates) among others.

What are SWIFT transfers?

The SWIFT - Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications - network is a vast messaging network that banks use to securely send information to one another, including instructions for money transfers.

Despite the name, SWIFT bank transfers are rarely the most rapid way to send money from one destination to another. This is because not all banks have direct connections - instead, instructions are often passed through a network of banks across the world to get to their final destination. This process is often compared to travelling abroad by plane, where in many cases you'll need to catch a series of connecting flights to get to a less well-travelled destination.

The key thing to know is that international bank transfers made via the SWIFT network will take on average 1 - 5 working days to be processed.

What is a BNB number?

How do I stay up to date with latest changes to regulations and fees?

You can stay up to date by reading industry news from leading professionals at MoneyTransfers.com. Check out some of the topics you might be interested in:

Alternative money transfer services for sending money internationally

A popular alternative to traditional banks for making a bank transfer is to use a money transfer service. These services are often digital-led and therefore have lower overhead costs which enables them to charge less fees than banks, more competitive exchange rates, and process international transfers in a shorter period of time.

A few reputable services you could use to make an international bank transfer include:

WorldRemit

WorldRemit boasts a 90% approval rate on international transfers being authorised within minutes and supports 70 currencies in 130 countries worldwide. The service has a user-friendly app and website and supports sending money internationally via bank transfer, cash pickup, mobile money, and to WorldRemit e-Wallets.

As an example, if we were to send £1,000 to Australia, converting to Australia Dollars, the bank transfer would take a maximum of 2 working days with a fee of £1.99, and a total of A$1827.39 received.

Compare WorldRemit

Money transfer providers

Challenger banks

Apps

How to make an international bank transfer

1.Step 1 Compare providers to find the best deal for you
2.Step 2 Get a clear picture of fees and transfer times
3.Step 3 Input your recipient’s details and the sum you are sending
4.Step 4 Make your bank transfer

Sending money using challenger banks

Sending money using International credit cards

FAQs

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Article Factchecked by Elliot Laybourne on 20th July 2022. Elliott is a former investment banker with a 20 year career in the city of London. During this time he held senior roles at ABN Amro, Societe Generale, Marex Financial and Natixis bank, specialising in commodity derivatives and options market-making. During this time, Elliott’s client list included Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Credit Suisse, Schroders Asset Management, and the Pennsylvania State Public School Employees Retirement System, amongst others.
Yasmin Purnell
Yasmin Purnell
Yasmin Purnell is a Content Writer and Editor for Moneytransfers.com. Yasmin has a wealth of experience writing across a range of topics within the personal finance, student, and business niche. Yasmin joined the team with the one main mission to provide accessible financial, career and business information and advice for all.