The best way to send money internationally
International wire transfer
Wire transfer is a common way to send money abroad. Typically, you can make an international wire transfer through your financial institution or through a third-party service such as Western Union.
You can usually set up a wire transfer online or at your bank branch. To do this, you need the routing number, account number and recipient name; Some services may also require the recipient’s address.
If you initiate a wire transfer on a business day before the institution’s stated cutoff time, the funds may take one to two business days to arrive, but may take longer. As the transfer is handled by the financial institution, it will not be processed on bank holidays or weekends. Wire transfers are one of the fastest ways to send money internationally, but they come with high fees. Outbound international wire transfer fees average around $44, according to Bankrate’s analysis.
Wise, formerly known as TransferWise, offers a unique way to send money internationally without the high fees of a wire transfer.
The service is basically an online account that connects you to other accounts around the world. To send money through Wise, you make a bank transfer to a local Wise account for a low fee. Instead of transferring the money directly to the receiving country, Wise withdraws the corresponding amount from its account located abroad in the country you wish to transfer.
For example, say you’re sending $1,000 from the United States to France. First, you enter both your account information and the recipient’s account information on the site. By linking your bank account, Wise can initiate an ACH transfer for a $2 fee, plus a $5.30 service fee, for a total of just a $7.30 fee (this may vary by currency). After transferring the money to the local Wise account, the recipient will receive the amount converted to Euros from the local account in France.
Transfer speed varies depending on which country you’re sending to, but Wise Transfer usually takes no more than two business days. Wise lets you transfer money from a debit or credit card, albeit at a higher cost.
Xoom is an international money transfer service offered by PayPal that works like other peer-to-peer (P2P) payment apps. You need a PayPal account to send money through Xoom, but the recipient does not. Payments through Xoom can be sent from a bank account, debit card, credit card or PayPal balance. Debit and credit card transfers usually have additional fees, though. Otherwise, you will typically be charged an international fee of 5 percent and a fixed conversion fee that depends on the recipient’s currency.
Users also have the option to send money for cash pickup. This means that when you send money to another PayPal user, you can choose to make it available as cash to the recipient at a convenient location, such as a local bank or retailer.
The amount of money you can send through Xoom increases based on how much personal information you provide. The baseline limit is $2,999 per day. This increases to $10,000 when you provide a Social Security number or passport. This increases to $50,000 when you provide a driver’s license or passport and a bank statement or pay stub, as well as answering security questions.
Money transfers through Xoom are usually quite fast, appearing in the recipient’s PayPal or bank account within minutes. However, if you send them to PayPal, the recipient will need to transfer that extra money to their personal bank account, which can take one to three days. Instant transfers are possible for an additional fee.
With MoneyGram, you can make international transfers online or in person. Online, customers can send money from a credit card, debit card or bank account. In most cases, cash is the only mode of payment when transferring money in person to a MoneyGram agent.
MoneyGram also has a unique tool called SendBot, which is offered through Facebook. Facebook users can activate Sendbot by searching in the Facebook or Messenger app. After entering your account information, Sendbot will guide you to complete the money transfer.
Transfers are cheaper through MoneyGram. With a debit card, the fee is usually no more than $2. Fees may be higher for other payment types and there is a higher fee for its cash pickup service, which allows recipients to receive the transferred amount in cash at a nearby location.
The time it takes for money to reach the recipient’s bank account varies by country. For most countries, it is available within the next business day.
How to send money internationally
1. Decide which transfer service to use
The four methods described above — Wire Transfer, Wise, Xoom, and MoneyGram — are the most common. Transfer speed, fees, available countries and accepted payment methods are some of the factors that vary between them.
How fast should the money be sent? If the transfer is urgent, wire transfer or Xoom may be better options, as they have faster delivery speeds.
Is it a large transfer amount? Some services have strict restrictions on how much money you can send internationally. For example, your bank may only allow up to $1,000 with an international wire transfer.
What country are you shipping to? Not all transfer services are available in all countries MoneyGram, for example, only allows online international transfers in 34 countries, while Western Union, a wire transfer service, is available for almost every country.
What payment method are you using? Fees charged may vary depending on which payment method you use. If you use a debit card, for example, there is a higher fee for transferring through Xoom, while paying with a debit card is relatively cheaper using MoneyGram. Additionally, not all service types, including Wise, accept cash.
Does the recipient need money in cash? If cash is needed, you’ll need to use a service like MoneyGram or Xoom, which has an international cash pickup option.
2. Input sender and recipient information
To start an international transfer, you first need to provide the transfer service with some basic information. Most services require you to provide the recipient’s account number, routing number, and name. With your out-of-bank services, you’ll also need to provide your own banking information to link your bank account.
Some services like Xoom may require you to submit additional identification documentation to transfer large amounts.
3. Choose the currency and amount to send
Check to make sure you are sending to the correct country with the correct currency conversion. Conversion fees may vary depending on which country you are sending money to.
Often, the fees you pay for services and conversions are deducted from the total amount you send. Make sure to send enough money, so that the amount that ends up in the recipient’s account after deducting fees is correct.
4. Complete and track your transaction
Once you send the designated transfer amount, it can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few days for it to show up in the recipient’s account. If you’re transferring money for cash pickup, make sure the recipient knows when and where they can get the cash.
Track your account history to make sure the transfer has been processed and view any additional fees that may have been charged in case it needs to be disputed.
Sending money internationally is an easy process with the variety of services available today. Note that your bank may be the first place to go for an international wire transfer, but this is usually the more expensive option. Many nonbank services offer international money transfers at much lower fees and reasonable delivery speeds.