Expats: United States Remittances

Our Expats guides are designed to support the cross-country financial requirements of readers living abroad or sending money to friends and family overseas. we will share the details of what expats need to know about sending and receiving money in the United States. We will help you reduce transfer time, understand taxation and decrease transfer fees. Furthermore, you will learn about the best money transfer companies for sending money to the United States and their benefits.

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Understanding the economy in the United States

The population of the United States is 332 million and the total GDP is $25.3 trillion, which is the 1st biggest in the world, while China is $19.9 trillion. Overall, the United States has one of the most diversified and wealthiest economies worldwide. Their most productive areas include advanced manufacturing and a productive services sector. Abundant resources and a well-developed infrastructure also fuel the nation’s economy.

The main currency is the United States Dollar, which is arguably the most popular form of currency in the world. The strength of USD comes from the fact that it is widely used in many regions. The circulation of USD is handled by the US Federal Reserve. It is commissioned by the US Treasury Department of Engraving and Printing. The Bretton Woods Agreement of 1944 established the US dollar as the world’s currency.

The US has the world’s biggest stock exchanges, which are Nasdaq and the New York Stock Exchange. Foreign investment in the United States exceeds $4 trillion and American investments in other countries are in the region of $5.6 trillion.

How to set up a money transfer to the United States

To help readers that have never sent a money transfer to the United States, we share the details of how to set up a payment to this country.

Ways to send and receive money to the USA

There are many ways of sending money and receiving money, so it is understandable that you might be struggling to find the best one. Also, many money transfer providers offer slight differences for each transfer method, which further complicates the selection process. However, sending money to the United States in multiple currencies is easy with transfer providers offering the mid-market rate.

Continue reading to learn more about the top ways of sending money to the United States:

  • Balance transfers: Money transfers that are low cost and offer instant speeds sound like they are too good to be true. However, balance transfers offered by specialist transfer providers allow for some of the best ways to send money. Services like Wise offer instant balance transfers that cost less than $1 in fees. The recipient in the United States will also need to have an account with the same company.

  • Cards: You can send money with your credit or debit card. The downside is a fee of around 1.5-3%, which could be huge when executing large transfers. Card companies also have added security steps that must be completed for the transaction to process. These might include receiving an SMS message or adding a code.

  • Home delivery: Some services offer home delivery, which is a convenient way for the recipient to get cash. It is advantageous if the recipient does not have a bank account. The recipient’s address is required and they will need to show identification when the delivery person arrives.

  • Cash pick-up: Another method that is handy for recipients without a bank account in the United States is cash pick-up. Most services allow cash to be picked up immediately after the transaction has been initiated. The best services provide pickup locations throughout the United States allowing the recipient to pick one locally. There is usually a fee for the service and identification must be provided.

  • Bank transfers: Companies allow for transfers to the United States using bank transfers. This method has a processing time of around 2-7 business days and can cost $20-50. Recipient banks that are part of the SWIFT network also offer SWIFT transfers. These may have faster transfer speeds compared to regular bank transactions.

How to send money to the United States

We understand that the sender may want to have options when transferring funds to the United States. This section outlines the pros and cons of different ways that people can send money to expats.

  • Mobile app: Using mobile apps is a great way to send money while on the move. Most transfer providers offer apps on the Google Play or App Store. It is worth taking a look at the customer review scores to determine the app quality. Also, read the features list to ensure that sending money to the United States is available. Note that the funds accessible on the mobile app are the same as on the desktop version of a money transfer service.

  • Account top up: Many transfer providers require you to top up an account before sending money. Payment methods like credit card and bank transfer can be used to top up the funds of a digital account. The next step is choosing a recipient and sending the funds via balance transfer.

  • Phone call: If you do not have access to the internet, then you can use the phone to make a transfer. It is not as convenient but an alternative that might be the best choice based on their preferences. Be ready with your personal information to answer security questions to execute the transaction.

What is needed to send money to the United States?

To send money to an expat in the United States you should start by collecting recipient details. The details you collect depend on the money transfer method you will be using. When making a bank transfer you need details such as account number, bank address, bank name, and recipient name. Also, the SWIFT code is required when making a SWIFT transfer.

Cask pickup requires fewer details. You will need to provide the recipient's name and the amount you wish to send. You may also need to select the pickup location, but it depends on the service you are using. When using home delivery transfers you will need to gather the recipient's address.

Arguably the easiest way of sending money to the United States is by choosing balance transfers. In some cases, all you need is an email address to execute balance transfers, which is convenient and practical.

More guides about sending money to the US

How to receive money in the United States

This section shares the information that will help expats receive money in the United States. You can use the method that matches the details you wish to provide.

  • Home delivery: Expats that have not had enough time to open a bank account in the United States may want to use home delivery as the method of receiving money. It is convenient and all you need to provide the sender is your address. You will also need to have identity verification documents ready for when the cash delivery person arrives.

  • Pick up location: This is another cash delivery option that is also ideal for expats without a bank account. Speed of transfer is one of the advantages of this method since the recipient can pick up funds immediately after the sender starts the transaction. The transaction details and personal identification is required to collect the funds.

  • Money transfer service: To enjoy fast and cheap ways of sending money to the United States consider companies like WorldRemit, Wise, XE, Currencyfair, Currencies Direct, Key Currency, Instarem and TorFX. Their key strengths include multiple money transfer options, competitive FX rates and ease of use.

  • Bank account: Expats that open a bank account in the United States can receive funds from around the world. The recipient needs to provide their bank details and the account number. Also, the waiting time for funds to arrive is typically 2-7 business days. Long transfer time is one of the drawbacks of using bank transfers.

What is needed to receive money in the United States?

To receive money in the United States the details you must provide differ based on the transfer method. Bank transfers require the most details for the sender to enter. They must know the recipient’s name, account number, bank address, and bank name. Also, a SWIFT code is required if you wish to receive funds via a SWIFT transfer.

Expats in the United States can also choose home delivery and cash pick-up. These methods require fewer details, which include the delivery address and name. You may also need to offer the desired pickup location to receive the funds.

The Inland Revenue Service (IRS) states that each recipient can only receive $16,000 annually. Gift transfers that exceed this amount are taxable. Also, transfers over $10,000 must be documented and shared with the IRS.

Money sent to expats in the United States might be taxable based on the reason for the transfer. Income and business-related transfers are taxed no matter what amount is sent. It is a good idea to get a tax accountant that can handle the transactions so the IRS is satisfied.

Things to consider when sending money to the US

There are many reasons why you might be sending money to the United States. The legalities, taxation, and cost are different based on the reason for sending money. Continue reading this section to get an idea of what you need to know for each transfer type.


There is a range of reasons why you may send money to an expat in the United States. To avoid complications when sending money and get the best deal, read on.

  • Cost: To reduce cost you need to choose one of the top money transfer companies for sending money to expats. Select a fee structure that aligns with the amount you wish to send. For instance, for large transfers you may want to choose a fixed fee structure and a percentage based one when sending smaller sums. Transfer providers that match the mid market rate are the best to get competitive FX rates.

  • Taxes: When the recipient receives more than $16,000 in a calendar year, then taxes need to be paid. However, it is the sender that pays the taxes and not the recipient. Hiring the services of a tax accountant is a smart choice to reduce the complexity of sending money to the United States.

  • Amount: Transfers over $10,000 must be shared with the Inland Revenue Service. Most banks and money transfer services will automatically report these transactions. However, keeping a record of them is handy in case they are needed in the future.

Overseas wedding

Weddings can be expensive depending on the number of guests and location. Every little bit helps, so if a loved one in the United States is getting married, then you can contribute by sending money. Here is what you need to know:

  • Taxes: There is no need to pay taxes if the transaction amount is below $16,000. Also, when sending below $10,000, then the transaction does not need to be declared with the IRS.

  • Speed: You may want to choose a fast money transfer service to ensure the funds arrive in time. Planning a wedding requires things to be booked in advance. Specialist money transfer providers like Wise offer balance transfers that allow for a fast way to send money to the United States.

  • Cost: When making large wedding contributions you need to avoid paying high fees when transferring funds. Avoid choosing a percentage based fee structure because it will result in a big charge. Also, choose money transfer services that offer the mid market rate to get the best FX rates.

Buying real estate

Anyone can buy property in the United States, even if they are not a native citizen. However, you need to be aware of the tax laws and how to send money for the purchase without high fees.

  • Moving to the United States: Residents registered as taxpayers in the United States will be subject to taxation. This includes income and held investments. Also, when selling real estate in a foreign land a tax bill will be calculated.

  • Taxes for buying real estate: Non-US residents that make money from real estate will be taxed at around 30%. However, to understand the taxation laws for your specific case you should hire the services of a tax accountant.

  • Cost: You may be sending large amounts of money when buying real estate in the United States. Consider money transfer services that offer a low fixed fees structure and match the mid market rate. This is a good setup for sending large amounts of money. Also, you may need to sacrifice the transfer speed to achieve low cost transfers.


Expats living in the United States can receive a salary sent from overseas. It is important to choose the best money transfer service to get a good deal in such scenarios. Here are a few pointers to receive money in the United States:

  • Transfer speed: Getting your paycheck quickly is possible with the choice of excellent money transfer companies. Look for services that allow for balance transfers, since they offer low fees and quick processing times.

  • Cost: The fees associated with transferring money can pile up if you do not choose the best method. Services that match the mid market rate are great when converting funds to USD.

  • Ease of use: Choosing a service that offers a good user interface is ideal since you will be sending your wages regularly. Companies with a mobile app are best because you can transfer funds on the move.


Business owners in the United States that receive funds from abroad need to choose an appropriate money transfer method. Here is what you should consider when sending money from abroad:

  • Business tax: The taxes you need to pay for business income differs from personal tax. To understand the differences, it is a good idea to hire a tax accountant that can handle your books.

  • Fees: To avoid paying a lot of fees for business money transfers you need to select the right service. Companies like Key Currency are a good choice since they are focused on business customers. Large transfers do not incur fees and each user receives a dedicated support agent.

  • Transfer speed: Receiving business funds quickly is important to avoid running into cash flow issues. Avoid lengthy bank transfer processing time with services like Xe. They are industry leading money transfer companies that offer fast ways of sending money.


The United States is a popular destination for retirement. However, receiving pension money can be difficult if you do not choose a good money transfer service. Here are a few pointers to consider:

  • Taxes: Foreign pensions are treated as income in the US by the Inland Revenue Service. Therefore, retirees need to pay taxes on pension money. You may want to hire a tax accountant to help you pay your pension taxes correctly.

  • Fees: To avoid big fees when receiving the pension choose a competitive money transfer company. Some offer free transfer but charge a small markup percentage when converting currencies.

Benefits of using money transfer services

Sending money with a money transfer service offers multiple advantages for expats. Take note of the following pros to help you choose a money transfer company that matches your needs.

  • Currency exchange: It is possible to lose a lot of money when converting funds from GBP, EUR and other currencies to USD. Some money transfer companies avoid profiting from currency conversion and give you the mid market rate.

  • Faster transfer time: Speed of transfers is what most money bank customers are used to experiencing. However, specialist transfer providers allow you to enjoy instant processing times when using methods like balance transfer. Note that the recipient must also have an account with the same company.

  • Reduced fees: Money transfer customers who send money frequently can face big annual charges. To save significant sums of money choose competitive transfer companies like Xe and WorldRemit.

  • Payment options: The flexibility of more payment options means customers can enjoy backup choices.

  • Mobile app: The convenience of using a mobile app is offered by the top money transfer companies. Check the app’s profile page on Google Play and App Store to figure out if sending money to the United States is available.

Best money transfer companies


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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.
April Summers
April Summers
April is a trained journalist and the Content Editor for She has 10 years experience writing about a diverse range of subjects, from financial services to arts and entertainment. When she's not writing about global remittances she can be found daydreaming about her next holiday abroad.