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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.

Updated: 11/07/2022
Read time: 8 minutes
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Whether you’re sending money internationally to friends or family, making a foreign purchase, paying 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 – resulting in paying expensive fees just to send your money abroad.

Nowadays, you have a wide range of options for international transfers. 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 other more popular methods. Transfer providers specialize in sending money internationally and can often process a transfer for lower fees and more competitive exchange rates than banks. Please 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 international transfers to 150 countries in over 90 currencies, 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.

What details do I need for an international bank transfer?

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

  • 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 recipient bank located in Norway.

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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 bank transfers, check our guide: how does a bank transfer work?

This is because banks tend to add on several 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%)
Making an International Transfer with Azimo

Money transfer providers such as Azimo are popular choices for sending money abroad because of their low fees, competitive exchange rates, and quick transfer times compared with traditional banks. Azimo, for example, have a transparent fee structure that is displayed clearly before you lock-in your transfer, and for new users, you’ll get your fist two transfers fee-free.

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 worldwide 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 critical thing to know is that international bank transfers made via the SWIFT network will take approximately 1 – 5 working days to be processed. 

What is a BNB number?

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 enable them to charge fewer fees than banks, more competitive exchange rates, and process international transfers in a shorter period.

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 authorized within minutes and supports over 150 countries and 90 currencies worldwide. The service has a user-friendly app and website and supports sending money internationally via bank transfer, cash pickup, mobile money, and WorldRemit e-Wallets.

For example, if we were to send $1,000 to Australia and convert it to Australian 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.

Azimo

Azimo is another top-rated money transfer service, with competitive fees and a promise that you’ll save 90% compared to banks when sending money abroad. Azimo covers over 80 countries with a 24/7 delivery option to selected countries – ideal if you’re trying to send money abroad at the weekend.

Using the same example above, sending $1,000 to Australia with Azimo would take between 1 – 2 days with a fee of $0.99, although new customers receive their first two transfers fee-free. So your recipient would receive a total of A$1,826. 

Challenger banks

How to make an international bank transfer

Step 1: Compare providers to find the best deal for you

Whether you decide to make your international transfer with your bank or with an alternative provider, we always recommend comparing all your options to find the best deal for you.

This includes comparing factors such as fees, the exchange rate you’re offered, transfer times, plus the overall reliability of the provider you’re looking at.

Step 2: Get a clear picture of the fees you will be charged and how long your transfer will take

Once you’ve chosen how you want to send your money abroad, ensure you’ve got a clear picture of the fees you will be charged for your transfer. For most banks and transfer providers, this will include:

  • Transfer fees
  • The markup added to the exchange rate

An excellent way to judge whether you are getting a good deal is to compare the total your recipient will receive once your transfer has been made.

Step 3: Input your recipient’s details and the sum you are sending

To make an international bank transfer, you’ll need to input your recipient’s name, their bank account number and sort code, and the sum you are sending. In some cases, you may also need to provide further verification of your identity, such as uploading a photo of your driving licence.

Step 4: Make your transfer

Once all your details are correct and you’ve entered the sum you are sending, you can initiate your transfer. If you’ve opted to make your transfer with your bank, you may need to wait up to 5 working days for confirmation that your recipient has received the funds, while using a provider may take a matter of minutes, up to a couple of working days.

Sending money using International credit cards

FAQs

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Bank transfer guides

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Whether you’re sending money internationally to friends or family, making a foreign purchase, paying 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 […]

Yasmin Purnell

Yasmin Purnell is a Content Writer and Editor for MoneyTransfers.com. Having over 5 years’ experience writing across a range of industries including finance, insurance, and travel, Yasmin joined the team with a mission to make international money transfers and everything they encompass accessible to all.