5 Cheap Ways to Pay Bills Overseas

cheap ways to pay bills overseas


Regardless of whether you are paying tuition, rent, household fees, medical expenses or other bills this process can be a bit tricky when it comes to paying outside the US. Here are 5 ways you can reduce the cost of these payments and avoid some of the headaches.


#1 Credit Card

Providing your credit card details online, or directly to someone you are paying the bill to, means you are likely to be charged a fee as a percentage from your bank or card issuer (unless the account has no foreign transaction fees). This percentage tends to run around 3% to 5%.


When is this a good option?

This is a fast, reliable and relatively cost-efficient way to pay small international bills (meaning under $200).


Pros and Cons of paying a bill by credit card

Using a credit card is arguably the easiest way to pay for bills in another country. The main downside is that the bank fee is typically a percentage of your bill payment. This means if the bill you’re paying is large, the fee will be the same.

Related Link: Can you use a Credit Card to send money overseas?


#2 An International Money Transfer Online 

If the person billing you has a bank account that you can pay directly into via an international money transfer, good news — this can be a great option. There will be fees (usually fixed) of course, though, and many providers require a minimum $1,000 to complete a transfer.


When is this a good option?

An international money transfer is a good idea when you’re dealing with large sums and the person billing you has an account open to international transfers. If you go this route be sure to add some identifier so it will be clear who the payment is from.


The Currency Shop is partnered with OFX. Use this link to register and enjoy your first two payments fee-free (normal fee is $10 for amounts under $10,000)


Pros and Cons of paying a bill via an International Money Transfer

Most often the exchange rate you’ll get with an international money transfer will be superior to what you’d find with Paypal or your credit card, it does take a little more effort though. Banks tend to charge between $35 and $45 so, for smaller amounts especially, it can be an expensive way to send money overseas.



Paypal is the world’s largest and most used internet payment company. It is easy to set up an account and many people/organizations will accept payment from Paypal, making their service quite handy.


When is this a good option?

If your Paypal account already has money in it, then it’s a great option. It’s also a relatively cost-effective method to cover smaller bills up to $200.


Pros and Cons of paying a bill through Paypal

Paypal is very quick and easy to use – this is especially true if you already have a Paypal account set up.


Paypal does charge you for this convenience, though. They charge a flat fee and a percentage of the payment. This won’t matter too much for small bill payments (under $200), however, there are cheaper options for larger amounts.


#4 Western Union

Some people view Western Union as outdated, with the emergence of newer online players, such as Paypal and Transferwise. They do however remain a good option in certain situations.


When is this a good option?

The biggest benefit of using Western Union is their global network. They are particularly useful if you need to pay bills in a country that does not have a big or well-established banking system. Payments to some parts of South America, Africa, and Asia are almost impossible through a bank but with its unparalleled global reach, Western Union can be the solution.


Pros and Cons of paying a bill via Western Union

The biggest drawback of using Western Union is simple, the cost. Unfortunately, there is no flat or standard fee. The exchange rate, fees, and charges all depend on where you are sending the money, the quantity and how it is being received.


#5 Set up a local bank account

The internet has allowed people to get a lot more creative in their financial dealings, so why not take advantage and set up a local bank account where you will be paying bills?  For example, if you own a house in France and are constantly paying bills on it (in euros), setting up a local account makes sense. Sometimes this can be done from outside the country other times you’ll need to wait for your next visit.


Once the account is set up, you can make an international money transfer to the account and pay bills as they come up.


When is this a good option?

This is a great idea for dual citizens. This also works well for those who have highly consistent bills to pay.


Pros and Cons of setting up a local account

The biggest benefit of having a local bank account is not worrying about high international credit card or Paypal fees. It’s also easier to pay a bill in a local currency from a local bank than any other solution we’ve reviewed. The big negative about this option is the hassle of setting the account up and ensuring the minimum balance is maintained.


In some cases (depending on the country/bank) you cannot set up an account if you are not a resident.


What to consider when paying overseas bills

We’ve created a checklist so that, going forward you’ll know what to keep in mind about paying bills overseas.

  • How much am I paying? For bills under $200, Paypal and your credit card can be considered a good option
  • How often do I need to pay a bill? If you have a lot of reoccurring bills opening a local account makes a lot of sense.
  • What are the fees involved? Before committing to something always know exactly what the fees are.
  • What exchange rate am I getting? Before committing to something always know exactly what the exchange rate is.
  • Are there any discounts for paying on time or early? Not always the case but checking never hurts.

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