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Transfer‌ ‌Money‌ ‌to‌ ‌Europe‌ ‌

In this increasingly global world, people are constantly moving countries and continents for education, jobs, leisure and business. As one of the world’s most desirable destinations to live, work, and set up businesses, there are a variety of reasons why people need to transfer money to Europe each year. Whatever the reason for you need to send funds to Europe, you can save money by choosing the right money transfer company. This guide will take you through everything you need to know.

Updated: 03/06/2021
Read time: 9 minutes
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Why you might want to send money to Europe

Europe is among the world’s top destinations for travel, business, education, work and living – thriving financial, cultural, and business hubs across the continent. As such, there are several reasons why someone may need to send money to Europe, including:

  • Paying for large purchases: You may need to send money to pay for a large purchase in Europe such as a holiday home.  
  • Sending money to family/friends: If you have family or friends living in Europe you may need to send money to pay their student fees, living expenses, or simply as a gift. 
  • Remittance payments: Many people leave their home countries for better work opportunities abroad. A lot of people working overseas therefore have to send remittances back home to Europe in order to support friends and family back home. 
  • Business transactions: Businesses may need to send money to Europe to their suppliers or service providers, and consumers will need money transfer services to help for paying for goods and services abroad. 
  • Travel and wedding ceremonies: Many people travel around Europe, and many choose European countries as a wedding destination to create the perfect day. The costs involved with travelling around and holding events in Europe can be reduced by finding the right money transfer service.

What to consider when transferring money to Europe

Any time you send money overseas, you must take into account certain factors before going ahead with the transfer. A little research at the beginning can save you a lot of time and effort, as well as bringing down the cost of your transfer significantly. Here are some factors to consider when sending money to Europe: 

Currencies involved

When it comes to transferring money to Europe, a lot depends on the currencies involved in the transaction, including the total cost, transfer time, and which money transfer company makes the most sense to use. For example, if you want to transfer money to France from the US, many providers will be able to provide instant transfer. However, if you plan to make the same payment but to Serbia, the transfer might take longer as the route isn’t as commonly used.

While most countries in Europe use the Euro as their currency, there are notable exceptions such as the UK, Sweden, and Romania which have their own currencies. This can be important in terms of the exchange rate margins offered by different providers for different currencies.

Exchange rates and fees

In terms of the cost of your European transfer, the most important factors to consider are the fees and exchange rate margins charged by different providers. Contrary to what some people believe, not all transfer providers offer the same exchange rate, and the rate that you see on Google is not always the rate you get (more on this in the next section). On top of applying a small margin on the exchange rate, providers may also apply flat fees to transactions, and it is important to consider these to make sure they don’t eat up too much of the money you’re sending to friends or family in Europe.

Where you are sending money from

When deciding on a money transfer provider, the first thing to check is that it is possible to transfer money to Europe from the country you’re in. Even if a money transfer provider allows transfers to Europe, this might not include all European countries. On top of this, they may specialise in on transfer route (e.g. US – UK) and offer comparatively worse fees than other providers for different transfer destinations

SEPA Vs SWIFT payments

Both SEPA and SWIFT are networks that facilitate money transfers across countries, and depending on where you’re sending money from it is likely your payment will be processed on a different network and be subject to different charges. SWIFT enables money transfers across the world, whereas SEPA payments can only be made within the SEPA area of 36 European countries. SWIFT transfers can be executed in many currencies while the SEPA enables only Euro transfers. 

SEPA transfers involve no or minimal fees, but SWIFT transfers may cost anywhere between $15 and $45 depending on the number of banks involved in the transaction. So if you’re transferring money from one European country to another, then a SEPA transfer is a good idea (as long as both countries you’re sending from and to are in the SEPA area). To learn more, check out our helpful guide on SEPA transfers

If you’d like to know the difference between other payment networks, check our guide on BACS payments.

Should I use an online money transfer company rather than my bank?

For people new to sending money abroad, it can seem logical just to use their bank as they;re familiar with the services that are offered. However, it may not always be the cheapest and fastest way to send money to Europe or anywhere else – in fact, using a bank to make a transfer to Europe is usually the slowest and most expensive option. 

In order to provide more efficient and cheaper money transfer services, many online transfer providers have sprung up in recent years, and using one of these companies can often save you time and money when sending money to Europe. Here are some reasons why you’d want to consider using a money transfer provider over a bank:

  • Transfer cost: Banks tend to charge more for international money transfers. Mostly, the money is moved between various intermediary banks over the SWIFT networks before it reaches the final destination. Each intermediary bank may charge a fee. So, depending on the number of banks involved and the other fees your bank charges, you may end up paying a considerable amount as fees. 

Moreover, banks are not known for offering the best exchange rates either – with exchange rate margins often going as high as 5% above the mid-market rate. On the other hand, money transfer companies employ cutting edge solutions and many of them have local bank accounts in countries they operate. This helps bring down costs and enables these services to offer exchange rate margins of 1% or less, along with low transfer fees.

  • Payment and delivery options: When you choose to send money to Europe via your bank, you usually won’t have any choice in payment or delivery methods. The money is sent via your bank account and reaches the beneficiary’s bank account. Money transfer companies have an edge here, as they allow you to make payments using different methods such as bank transfer, credit/debit cards and cash. Additionally, many companies also allow different delivery methods such as bank transfer, cash pickup, and even home delivery.
  • Transfer speed: As we said earlier, many money transfer companies have local bank accounts in the countries they operate in. This can help them to transfer your money to your beneficiary in Europe faster than a large bank, and these companies also use a variety of technological tools to speed up transfer times. Sending money to Europe using a bank can take between 3 and 5 days, whereas money transfer companies can usually guarantee next day delivery, and some even facilitate instant transfers

How much does it cost to send money to Europe?

The cost of sending money to Europe would depend on a variety of factors, such as the country from which you are sending the funds, the currencies involved, the transfer amount, and the service provider you choose. Basically, there are two types of costs involved in an international money transfer, and the amounts charged for each of these will vary from provider to provider:

Transfer fee

Both banks and money transfer providers will usually charge a fixed fee for transferring your money to an international destination, including to Europe. This fee can range anywhere from $1.99 – $49.99 or even more depending on the currencies involved and the service provider you choose. Generally speaking, banks charge much higher transfer fees compared to money transfer providers, with many money transfer services offering services with no fee at all. 

Exchange rate margins

If you are new to international money transfers, you may not know what exchange rate margins are. Basically, exchange rate margins are the mark-ups on the inter-bank rate (the rate at which banks exchange currency among each other). In order to generate profits, services that offer international transfers will charge a small percentage markup above this rate. 

Especially if transferring a large amount to Europe, you’ll want to ensure the provider you’re using charges a low exchange rate margin. Usually what will be relevant is the exchange rate margin from your home currency to Euros, but make sure that the country you’re transferring to uses Euros before sending. If not, check the exchange rate margin for the currency you’ll be converting to.

Exchange rate margins vary when sending money to Europe. With banks you’ll generally see margins as high as 4%-5%, but with money transfer companies this figure is often much lower. For specific transfer routes, some providers will even be able to charge exchange rate margins below 1%, so it’s always important to compare.

As a general rule: if a provider offers ‘zero transfer fees,’ check they’re not concealing the costs by applying a large exchange rate margin.

Other costs

There may be other costs involved in transferring money to Europe depending on the payment and delivery method you choose. There could be additional fees if you choose to fund your transaction using a credit/debit card and if you choose cask pickup as your delivery method, and in some countries the beneficiary may also have to pay a receivers fee when the funds arrive.

One thing in particular to look out for are cash advance fees that can be levied when using a credit card to transfer money to Europe. These can often take out a large chunk of your transfer amount, so it is usually advisable to use other payment methods.

How fast can I transfer money to Europe?

It is possible to make instant or near-instant money transfers to Europe from almost anywhere in the world. The actual transfer time would depend on where the money is coming from and going, currencies involved, amount of transfer, payment method used, and the service provider chosen. 

Instant money transfers are available on the common currency routes within Europe. However, on some currency routes it may take 1-2 days. Make sure you check the transfer times before you initiate the transaction as transfer times may vary considerably across service providers.

What to do next

If you need to send money to Europe, you can start with some research to find out the best money transfer company for your needs. Remember, there is no single company that is best for every single individual money transfer. It all depends on where you want to send money, from where, what amount, and how soon you want it to happen. 

Some money transfer providers can prove substantially cheaper and faster compared to their competitors, but with so many providers available people often feel overwhelmed and unable to choose between them. Thankfully, our easy-to-use online tool makes it super easy for you to find out the best way to send money to Europe. 

Simply enter the amount you want to send, where you’re sending from, and where you’re sending to, and a full comparison of your options will appear on your screen in seconds. We’ll help you find out the best way to send money to Europe in just a few clicks.

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Jonathan Merry

Jonathan is the founder and editor of MoneyTransfers.com. Jonathan is highly experienced in the currency transfer market, having previously worked in the FX trading industry, alongside being an avid traveller. Using his knowledge he identified a need for transparency and further education to help people save money on their money transfers, leading to the creation of MoneyTransfers.com

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