Home Wire Transfers How To Wire Money Internationally

How To Wire Money Internationally

A wire transfer is an electronic means of moving money from one party’s account to another’s. It is a popular means of money transfer for domestic payments as well as international transfers. If you’re looking for the best way to wire money to friends, family, a business, or to make an international purchase, you may be looking into how to wire money internationally for the most convenient and secure way to get your money to its destination. Here, we’ll look at everything you need to know about wire transfers.

Updated: 01/05/2021
Read time: 7 minutes
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What you need to know about wiring money internationally

Wiring money internationally is a popular way of sending money abroad. The electronic nature is this type of transaction makes sending money via wire transfer fairly hands off, requiring you only to know your recipient’s name, bank details, and the sum you are sending abroad.

However, there are a few caveats to wire transfers you may want to consider when deciding if this is the right option for you:

  • Wiring money internationally via your bank can be expensive: An international wire transfer processed via your bank can incur large fees (anywhere between £8 to £40), as well as a high markup on the interbank exchange rate. You may also need to take into account any fees likely to be charged by your recipient’s banks, which could leave them with much less money than you meant to send.
  • One-off sums vs frequent smaller amounts: Typically, wiring money internationally will work out cheaper if you can send a larger sum in one go than incurring fees on smaller sums sent multiple times.
  • Speed vs convenience: Depending on the currency you are converting to and the amount you are sending, there may be more affordable, faster options than a wire bank transfer such as paying by card or arranging for your funds to be delivered as a cash pickup.

5 best ways to wire money internationally

These days, it isn’t just traditional banks that can initiate a wire transfer abroad. Money transfer providers are well equipped to move your funds online, often for lower fees and more competitve exchange rates.

Below are some of our top recommended transfer companies.

1. XE

XE has a large distribution network, supporting transfers in 60 currencies to over 170 countries worldwide. This online money transfer is a popular and trusted name in the industry with no transfer fees for sending money internationally, although their exchange rate markup can be higher than some other providers in some cases.

Transfers can take anywhere between 1 – 4 working days, depending on the specifics of your transfer.

2. Wise, formerly TransferWise

Wise is an extremely well-known online money transfer operator, with over 8 million users worldwide. The company is popular for its policy to always provide transfers at the mid-market rate, with a transparent fee structure that clearly explains the fees you’ll be charged for any international transfer.

Transfers can take anywhere from minutes up to 5 working days, taking longer you if pay for your transfer via bank account.

3. WorldRemit

Supporting transfers to over 150 countries across the globe, WorldRemit is popular for its versatile delivery options, including cash pickups, mobile airtime top-ups, and bank transfers. With over 2 million people using WorldRemit’s services in the last year alone, this is a well-trusted company supporting a wide range of transfer options.

Transfers with WorldRemit could be instant, or they could take up to 3 working days for your recipient to receive the funds in their account.

4. OFX

OFX is known for offering competitive exchange rates with no transfer fees, making it a popular choice for affordable international transfers via the company’s user-friendly online platform or mobile app.

With OFX, transfers will typically take between 1 and 5 days to be processed.

5. Remitly

Remitly supports transfers to over 50 countries worldwide and has over 140,000 agent locations worldwide to support in-person transfers and cash pickups. Remitly is well-known for providing a high-quality service with a range of payout options, even including home delivery for added convenience for your recipient.

Transfers with Remitly can take minutes, or between 1 and 3 working days for a transfer with lower fees.

International money transfer options

Bank transfer

International bank transfers can be a convenient way to wire money internationally because typically all you’ll need is your recipient’s bank details plus the sum you are sending. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that though convenient, banks usually come with higher international bank transfer fees when it comes to international wire transfers – not to mention one of the slowest.

SWIFT transfers can take anywhere from 1 to 5 working days, although this can be affected by factors including the destination you are sending to and what day of the week you are sending the funds. For this reason, it’s important to make sure you’ve got the correct details for your recipient as an incorrect digit or entry can delay your transfer even more.

Online money transfer provider

Online money transfer providers are an extremely popular option for sending money internationally, and tend to be a much cheaper and faster way to wire money internationally.

Money transfer providers will either charge a set fee for your international transfer at the mid-market rate (such as TransferWise), no fees but a markup on the exchange rate (such as OFX and XE), or a mixture of both (such as Azimo and World Remit).

Sending money internationally online

Online transfer providers are an extremely popular option for sending your money internationally, offering:

  • Lower fees
  • More competitive exchange rates
  • Faster transfer times

Whether you’re looking to send money abroad as a one-off payment or as a regular thing, researching money transfer providers could potentially save you a lot of money. Azimo, for example, offers your first two transfer for free and promises savings up to 90% compared with a traditional bank.

Walk-in transfer providers

Another option for wiring money internationally is to use a walk-in transfer provider with a physical location, such as Western Union or MoneyGram. These options can be convenient if you would prefer to talk to someone in-person and both provide the option to deliver your funds to your recipient as a cash pickup.

How to make an international wire transfer with your bank

Step 1: Use online banking to find the wire transfer section
Step 2: Start your transfer
Step 3: Enter the sum and what currency
Step 4: Check the fees you’ll be charged
Step 5: Initiate your transfer

How long does it take to wire money internationally?

International wire transfers can take anywhere from minutes, up to 7 working days. Using an online money transfer provider to send your money, for example, can get your funds to your recipient’s account within minutes (especially if you arrange for the transfer to be a cash pickup and you pay by card). However, a traditional wire bank transfer can take longer, closer to 3 – 5 business days.

If you’d like to know more, make sure to read our how long wire transfers take guide for more information on this.

What is the cheapest way to wire money internationally?

The cheapest way to send money abroad really depends on: 

  • The sum you are sending
  • The currency pair you are converting between
  • How fast you want your recipient to receive the funds

Charges associated with sending money abroad can be broken down into a few key areas:

  • Fixed fees
  • Exchange rate markups (a percentage added on to the mid-market exchange rate)
  • Charges for particular payment methods, such as credit card fees

Finding the cheapest way to wire money internationally therefore really depends on comparing these various charges for the individual circumstances of your transfer. Typically, an online money transfer operator such as the examples listed above will give you more competitive exchange rates and lower fees than wiring money abroad with a traditional bank.

International wire transfer fees

Sending money abroad via a wire transfer will often incur a fee of some sort whether you use your bank or a money transfer provider. However, wire transfer fees with banks will be much higher and can vary depending on what bank you use. Our guide to wire transfer fees looks at the fees for sending and receiving international transfers for US and UK banks.

What to look out for when wiring money internationally

As well as cost, there are a number of other factors to watch out for when sending money internationally that can affect your overall experience. These factors are all taken into consideration in our comparison tool to help you find the best service for your sending needs, and include:

  • Security
  • User reviews
  • Transfer speed

Bottom line: how to wire money internationally?

Wiring money internationally is one of the most straight forward ways to send money abroad, simply transferring funds from one account to the other by inputting your recipient’s bank information. What can be complicated at times, however, is finding the best way to wire money internationally with the lowest fees.

Our best advice would be to always compare providers to make sure you can find the best service for your needs.

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