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Best Way to Send Money Abroad

When sending money to business associates, shops, family, or friends abroad, there are lots of options you can choose from to facilitate your transfer. Traditionally, banks have been the go-to choice for transferring money between people thanks to their well-known brands and international networks, but banks now have competition from a host of online money transfer providers that are often able to offer cheaper ways of sending money abroad and offer better exchange rates.

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What are the important things to consider when sending money abroad?

Money transfer companies are particularly useful when sending money in emergencies or to remote areas where people have no access to formal banking services, but they can be used in any scenario and are most often the best option when transferring money overseas.

There are several things that you need to consider when looking for the best way to send money abroad, such as:

The transfer fee

For this, let’s assume you want to send money to Australia from the the United States. Depending on the bank or online money transfer provider you choose, you’ll find a range of fees being charged to transfer money overseas. Online providers tend to come in cheaper than banks. For example, WorldRemit will charge you a flat fee of $3.99 to send any amount to Australia from the United States, whereas XE charges zero fees, and TransferWise charges a variable percentage fee depending on the size of your transfer. For instance, sending $1000 to Australia using TransferWise will cost you $9.03 in fees while $1500 will cost you $13.

When looking at the fees charged by banks, it’s common to find the rates varying depending on the currency in which the transfer is processed. For instance, a transfer of $1000 from Chase Bank to the Commonwealth Bank of Australia will cost $5 if it is processed in Australian dollars, but $40 if sent in USD. On top of this, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia will charge the recipient 11 Australian dollars to collect the funds. These fees are in addition to correspondent and intermediary fees where applicable.

The exchange rate

This is referred to as the hidden cost. It doesn’t show upfront, unlike the transfer fee, but can add up to be more expensive than upfront fees, particularly when transferring large amounts. To put this into perspective, consider a scenario where you are sending  £2000 from the UK to the US

Online providers such as TransferWise will process your transfer at the mid-market rate. This is the same rate as that is displayed on Google and Reuters. However, other companies like WorldRemit, InstaReM, and XE will offer you an exchange rate that is a small percentage higher than this rate. The difference between the two rates is called the exchange rate margin, and the amount charged may differ from one currency pair to another. For instance, WorldRemit charges a GBP/USD margin of 1.29% and InstaReM charges 0.16%. This means that for your £2000 transfer to the US, WorldRemit will charge £25.8 while InstaReM will cost £3.2 more than any stated fees.

However, both these rates compare favourably when transferring money using banks. Lloyds bank states that its exchange rate margin is 3.55% for transfers of between 0 and £25,000, whereas HSBC’s margin is about 3.6%. Again returning to the £2,000 transfer, on top of the fees charged by each banks you’ll be losing £70 and £72 in exchange rate markups with Lloyds and HSBC respectively.

Sending and disbursing network

The first thing you need to ensure is that your chosen provider can support the transfer you want to make – both facilitating transactions between the countries you’re sending from and to, and supporting the relevant currencies.

Money transfer providers allow their customers to send funds only from specified countries and currencies to their recipients in designated markets. Normally, a provider would make public its sending and disbursing network coverage, but this is not always the case. However, you can find out from the provider’s customer support team, FAQs section or by trying out a transfer if your sending and receiving countries are supported on the platform.

Customer support

Whether you are making a small or a large transfer, nothing beats good customer support. It is not unheard of to experience technical issues such as transfer delays, unexpected fees and transfer payment challenges, and so choosing a service where you can quickly get any questions answered is essential.

Some providers have online support teams available through live chat services, others can be reached through email and telephone 24/7 or during specific times. Ensure that you always have your transaction reference details for prompt assistance.

Accessibility across different platforms 

A majority of money transfer service providers have free, downloadable mobile applications that allow their customers to transact on the go. However, some only work through online platforms or have their apps restricted to certain markets.

Having access to money transfer services on mobile means convenience and speed when transferring funds. You will also find that some companies such as Ria, Western Union, and MoneyGram support both online and brick and mortar transfers. Depending on where you are sending your funds to, you may be able to begin your process online and complete it at a physical shop.  

Ease of setting up an account

For you to send money through any online money transfer provider, you first have to open an account. The procedures for setting up an account, including the information required, vary from one provider to another. Some will ask you to provide proof of your identity and address before completing the process. Others will allow you to send a limited amount of funds and only lift the limits when proper verification has been done.

Payment and payout options

How you pay for your transfer is also an important factor to look at when choosing the best way to send money abroad. Most providers allow for bank transfers, ACH, and credit/debit card payments. There are also country specific payment methods including Google Pay, Apple Pay, and POLi that you can use depending on where you are making your transfer from.

Much like with payment options, providers also have various payout options including direct-to-bank deposits, mobile transfers, and cash pickups. When sending money to recipients without access to formal banking services or when transferring small amounts cash pickups and mobile deposits are most preferred, but be sure to ensure your chosen provider offers both the payment and collection methods you require.

Who is the best provider for sending to & from specific countries?

The answer to this question will change depending on the countries involved, and the easiest way to find out the service that works best for you is to use our comparison tool. The ideal approach to find the best way to transfer money is always to choose the provider with the lowest overall transfer cost. However, this may not be straight forward to see at first glance, hence why we help you compare the different providers. We’ve also compiled a list of top 10 money transfer companies to help you make the best decision.

The United States

When sending money to the United States, one of the most frequent transfer pairings is from the United Kingdom to the United States, so let’s have a look who gives the best value for transfers between these two countries.

To start with a bank, let’s take an example of a transfer of £1000 from the UK to the United States through Santander UK. You’ll pay a flat transfer fee of £25, and also a margin above mid-market exchange rate of about 3.9-4.10%. This means your £1000 transfer will cost you between £39 and £41. The receiving bank in the US may also charge your recipient about $15 – meaning the overall cost of the transfer will end up as over £50.

Whereas, using an online money transfer provider for the same transfer as above, TransferWise will charge a £4.44 transfer fee and no exchange rate margin, WorldRemit would apply a fee of £2.99 and a further 1.05% exchange rate margin, and InstaReM will charge you £3.5 and a transfer margin of 0.16%. This adds up to overall charges of £4.44, £13.04, and £5.10 respectively.

It’s clear that using online money transfer platforms is the best way to save money when transferring from the UK to the US. However, this can differ depending on the amount sent, so use our comparison tool which compares the best providers for sending money abroad.

Australia

For Australia, let’s assume you are making a transfer of 1000 Australian dollars to the United States. Again starting with the rates a bank will charge, if you decide to use Westpac  you’ll pay a transfer fee of A$10 If you use Westpac Live Online Banking, and A$32 for branch transfers. The margin Westpac adds on top of the mid-market rate is about 4.76%. For your A$1000, this margin translates to A$47.6, meaning the overall fees add up to between 57 and 80 Australian dollars – nearly 10% of the amount you’re transferring.

If you decide to use providers such as InstaReM, TransferWise, or WorldRemit for the same transfer, you’ll notice almost immediately the difference in exchange rates and transfers fees. Sending through TransferWise will cost you A$6.56 with no exchange rate margin charged. WorldRemit charges A$3.99 and a margin of just 0.52%. InstaReM charges A$3.50 in transfer fees. All this means that when using an online money transfer service to send money to the USA from Australia, the overall fees for a A$1000 transfer won’t go over A$10 which is clearly a better way to transfer money.

The United Kingdom

Finally, let’s look at the fees and exchange rate margins you can expect when transferring money to the United Kingdom from abroad. Take an example of a transfer of $1000 to the United Kingdom from the USA. If you were to choose a bank such as Bank of America, they will charge you a flat $35 if you are sending money in foreign currency and $45 if your transfer is in USD. On top of this, Bank of America applies an exchange rate margin of 3.4%, meaning the total fees and charges you pay on your $1000 transfer is around $70-80..

For the same transfer, WorldRemit will charge you a $2.99 fee and a margin of 2.78% on top of the mid-market rate. TransferWise is similarly cheaper, charging you a $9.04 fee and zero exchange rate margin – meaning they’re generally a better option if transferring a large amount of money. If you use InstaReM, you’ll pay a fee of $5 and a margin of 0.48%. So the fees you’ll pay on your $1000 transfer with WorldRemit, TransferWise, and InstaRem are $30.79, $9.04, and $9.80.

To find the best way to send money online and to know exactly how much your recipient will get when using the different providers and banks, you can use our comparison tool. Nothing beats the knowledge that the provider you are choosing for your next transfer is the fastest and the most affordable.

Specific transfer requirements

For the best experience when sending money to any country or even locally, you have to play by the rules set by each provider. Failure to abide fully by their requirements right may cause unnecessary delays or even transfer cancellations. Below are some of the best practices to follow when making your transfers.

Larger Transfers
Credit Card
Cash Pick-Up
Bank Account
Sending Locally

Summary

Through our research we have found that when transferring money overseas, the best way to send money online will almost always be an online money transfer service rather than an established bank. The variety of these services on offer helps keep their fees and exchange rate margins low, saving you money and ensuring the maximum amount of your transfer possible reaches your intended recipient.

However, depending on where you’re transferring money from/to, the currency pairing your transfer needs, and the amount you are sending, the total fees and charges will be different for each provider. It’s only by comparing your options that you can truly find the best way to transfer money overseas. That’s where we come in. Our easy-to-use money transfer comparison tool can lay out your options clearly for you in seconds, so you can quickly find your best money transfer option.