Home Expats How to Transfer Money Online as an Expat

How to Transfer Money Online as an Expat

Transferring money online can be a totally new concept for many expatriates. Lots of individuals ordinarily carry out financial transactions in person at their local bank branch or over the phone, but these options are not always available when living away from your home country. Online services prove much more convenient for expats and in this guide we will explain why and how.

Updated: 06/05/2021
Read time: 6 minutes
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What you need to know

Different types of financial services are set up to solve different customer problems. Some are designed for individuals, while others focus on the requirements of business owners. Some are the best fit for those making domestic money transfers, while others offer better rates for international transfers in exotic currencies. Some offer same day service, or zero-fees for first time customers, the list goes on. For this reason, a money transfer provider you have used in the past, perhaps in your home country, might not be best suited for your needs as an expatriate.

Where are you sending your online money transfer? 

Sending money home

Expatriates make the decision to emigrate, moving away from familiar territory to make a new life for themselves, for all kinds of reasons. Regardless of the situation, most expats will remain in contact with their homeland in some way and this can mean sending money home every so often. Whether it is for monthly mortgage repayments, sending money to family or funding student fees, learning how to transfer money online is an invaluable tool.

Sending to another foreign country

Transferring money to a familiar place (like your home country) is not the only kind of online transfer expats need to make. Life in a new country brings comes with all sorts of new experiences, including international money exchanges to new foreign countries; you might now be dealing with several different types of foreign exchange.

For example, if you move from England to Switzerland to start a new job, one day you might be required to transfer money from Switzerland to France. This means you are no longer dealing with English GBP or Swiss CHF, but a third currency, French EUR. The money you have in your bank at home in England, or in your new bank account in Switzerland, would need to be converted into Euros. This is where specialist foreign currency transfer providers come in handy. If you would like to find out more details about living abroad as an expat, check out our guide to Top 20 Blogs from UK Expats and our best international bank for expats guide.

Things to consider when transferring money online: 

What type of transfer service are you using to send this money?
What currency are you using?
How are you paying for the transfer?
How many transfers are you making?
When does it need to arrive?
How will the transfer be received?

What you will need to transfer money online

Typically, you will need to provide the following information when setting up an online money transfer:

  • The name of the person (or organisation) you are paying
  • The bank account number of the account you are paying into
  • The sort code of the account 
  • The date you want the payment made
  • The sum you are sending
  • If sending internationally, what currency you need it converted into
  • A payment reference so the payee knows where the money came from
  • Occasionally, the name and address of the bank you are sending to
  • In some cases, the IBAN/BIC codes of the account you are paying into

In addition, you’ll need to provide some details about yourself. This typically includes:

  • A valid form of ID such as a passport or driving license to verify your identity (may not always be required)
  • If paying by bank transfer, your full name as it appears on the account, bank account number, and sort code/BIC/SWIFT code
  • If paying by card, the long 16 digit number on the front of your card, the expiry date, and CVV security code

What types of online money transfer services are available to expats?

Once you have identified what information you will need to provide, where your money is being sent and to whom, you must choose a service provider to make the transfer for you. There are a number of options to choose from:

Money Transfer Providers

These financial service providers specialise in the money transfer process which means they work hard to offer competitive rates, matching the mid-market rate in some cases. It also means there may be additional perks such as hidden fees, bank-beating rates as well as new customer incentives such as free money transfers.

Fees vary but the large majority of money transfer services cost a lot less than traditional banks. MoneyTransfers recommends XE, Wise and WorldRemit for expats, as these companies cover the most territories and currencies.

Banks

One of the most convenient options for those with online banking, many choose to arrange money transfers through their bank. Although convenient, sending money this way often ends up being one of the most expensive methods.

This is because banks tend to charge 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%)

However, big banking institutions are trustworthy and secure, as they will always be insured and regulated by the relevant financial authorities.

We have collated a list of the Best International Banks for Expats, for anyone who is living abroad and looking to set up a new account.

Apps

Due to the growing popularity of peer-to-peer mobile transfer apps, no matter where in the world you are, there is likely to be an app which caters to your needs.

PayPal is one of the leading apps for sending money online to friends and family, as well as paying for purchases and subscriptions. For international money transfers, be sure to cross-reference the exchange rate and investigate any potential hidden fees, before sending or receiving any money.

Best suited to small, domestic payments between friends and family, smartphone apps is an efficient method of transferring money online quickly and cheaply.

Bottom line

After reading this guide, we hope you feel ready to make your first online money transfer. If you are unsure about the best options for your remittance, take advantage of our useful comparison tool which will help you lock in the most advantageous price and delivery speed.

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April Summers

April is a journalist and full-time content writer for MoneyTransfers.com. Over the last decade she has written for a number of different online and print publications. Having lived overseas in Canada and Vietnam, April hopes to see more of the world as soon as possible, with Japan at the top of her travel list. As a former expat, April has first-hand experience of managing finances from overseas. She enjoys writing about forex trends and the future of banking.

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