15 Ways To Transfer Money Overseas That You Didn’t Know About

There are many reasons why you might want to transfer money overseas and in this article, we’ll explore some of the most common ones in detail. Situations can vary, so which provider you will want to go with will vary too. The most important thing is to get the best exchange rate, keep your money safe, and have excellent customer service if you need it.


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Factors that impact your costs to send money internationally

There are a variety of different factors that affect your overall price for transferring money internationally.

  • Which provider you select (Paypal, bank, dedicated provider, etc).
  • The mid-market (or bank rate) exchange rate you get and which currency you need to convert.
  • The actual exchange rate you get from the money transfer company.
  • Any associated charges or fees — theses can be flat fees or commission based charges.
  • The dollar amount you want to convert.


This wide range of factors can make it challenging to understand exactly what a transfer is going to cost you. Doing a side by side comparison is your best bet to understanding the real costs. Below is some data from February 2017.


Total Cost to Receive 1000 US dollars from Euros

Transfer Method US dollar Amount Exchange Rate Fee Total Cost
World First 1000 1.0572
HiFX 1000 1.05801
OFX 1000
TorFX 1000 0.7565
Credit Card 1000 0.7680
Western Union 1000 1.0574
Chase 1000
Paypal 1000 0.7385 66.76 $1,420.85
Moneygram 1000 0.7258 75.00 $1,452.88


As you can see the provider you choose really matters in terms of price but what the best option is is going to be is solely based on your specifics. Below are some common examples.


Transferring larger amounts

Our pick: Torfx


When transferring large chunks of money (above $100,000) it is critical to be aware of the exchange rate margin. Flat fees from a bank are probably going to be better than a bad exchange rate from another source in this situation. On the other hand, Torfx is one of the largest foreign exchange companies in the world, they offer great rates, and this is especially true for large amounts.


Related: TorFX reviewed


You’re an expat living in or just moved to the US

Our pick: OFX


For people relocating to the US for work or school, OFX is an excellent choice. Account setup is simple, their website is user-friendly, exchange rates are generally good, and this is true even if you’re exchanging a small amount. OFX has top notch customer service and experienced professionals who can guide you. Additionally, their rates are often close to the mid-market rate and it is almost always better than PayPal, MoneyGram or banks.


Related: OFX reviewed


You want to send money back to your country of origin

Our pick: Torfx


If you send money home on a consistent basis you want a service that is fast and reliable. Torfx offers up to date currency quotes and a currency expert if you have any questions. Their margins are often with 1% of the bank rate, and they have tools to help protect you from currency fluctuations.


You want to send some money to a family member or friend

Our pick: Western Union


A lot of currency transfer providers are going to require a minimum dollar amount for you to use their services, with Western Union’s low minimums you can easily send cash to friends or family. Their exchange rates also tend to beat Moneygram and banks so they’re a good choice from this perspective too. They also allow you to fund your transfer with a credit card or debit card and many other providers don’t offer this (or charge you heavily for it).


Related: Sending money to family overseas


Life events that require you to send money abroad

You or a family member is getting married and you need to pay for the wedding

Our pick: OFX


The cost of a wedding always seems to exceed what you think it will. This can add a lot of stress so the least you can do is use OFX to reduce the stress of transferring the payment. OFX has a superb track record for this type of transfer and a dedicated customer service team to back you up if needed.


Related: Paying for an overseas wedding


You want to receive a pension payment from overseas

Our pick: OFX


When it comes to an issue such as getting your pension payments security and safety is of utmost importance. OFX has a stellar track record with safety and security of their customer’s money/information. They’re a great choice for transferring your pension, and since this will likely be an ongoing transaction they’re a good option from the perspective of the exchange rate as well.


You’ve inherited money from overseas and want to put it in your US bank account

Our pick: OFX


Dealing with an estate after the death of a loved one can be challenging. Let OFX ease the burden a little bit by making the process simple and cost-effective. OFX has handled inheritance transfers many times and their team is sensitive and will make sure your money gets where it needs to be at a good exchange rate.


Related: Inheriting assets from overseas – what you need to know about international money transfers


Talking about transferring money

Paying for goods or services in another country

You need to pay small bills in a foreign country (less than $100)

Our pick: Your credit or debit card


A dedicated currency provider can be a great asset in some cases, but in others it’s better to simply whip out your card, pay a few fees (on average 3-5%) and be done with it. The cost, hassle, and whether or not you can transfer in such a small amount are all reasons why a dedicated currency provider probably doesn’t make sense here.


Related: Five cheap ways to pay your overseas bills


You need to pay for services received abroad

Our pick: OFX


This depends on the cost of these “services” but overall, it’s pretty hard to go wrong with OFX. They have easy to understand fees, competitive exchange rates, and can be a great alternative to Moneygram or Western Union. Their platform is user-friendly and they have some tools to help protect you from currency volatility.


Foreign currency exchange for property

You plan to buy, sell or invest in real estate abroad

Our pick: WorldFirst


When you’re transferring money to buy or from the sale of a property you need to be strategic about the timing. Converting at the wrong time could cost you thousands of dollars and you also need to trust your provider to get the money there when the other party in the deal expects it.


You’re probably thinking of many different details when you’re involved in one of these processes and this is why we recommend WorldFirst. Every customer gets a personal account manager to take you through every step and troubleshoot as needed. They have a global reach and can help no matter what country (almost) you’re dealing in.


Related: Transfer your money back after successfully selling your property overseas


You want to pay a mortgage overseas

Our pick: Torfx

Torfx is a good provider for mortgage payments because they allow you to lock in exchange rates, so you’ll know what the cost will be. If you run into any issues their responsive customer service team is there for you.


Currency transfers for businesses

Your business imports goods from abroad

Our pick: WorldFirst


If your business involves importing goods, it is tough to beat WorldFirst in terms of handling some of the financial aspects. They work with many US business and specialize in international payments, receipts, processes, and documentation


Related: 10-step guide to importing goods into the US


Your business exports and wants to receive payments from abroad

Our pick: HiFX


If part of your business model is receiving payments from overseas exchange rates can factor prominently in your margins. HiFX offers foreign currency accounts so if exchange rates are unfavorable you can hold the money until conditions improve. They also offer a $0 fee structure, which is great if you’re transferring small amounts often.


Related: HiFX compared


You have an e-commerce business that deals with international customers

Our pick: WorldFirst


E-commerce is the wave of the present (and future), and many currency providers have come to realize this. WorldFirst is leading the pack by offering specialized service for online retailers. WorldFirst does not charge any hidden fees and you can choose to transfer money back the US when rates are in your favor.


Related: The Big Review – WorldFirst


Learn to transfer money overseas

Other foreign currency exchange scenarios

Miscellaneous reasons for sending a small amount of money overseas

Our pick: Paypal


Sometimes random reasons can pop up that you need to send a bit of cash abroad. Paypal can be expensive, but for options under $200 they tend to be a good choice. There is no minimum payment size, you can send $6 if you want (we don’t recommend it). Paypal fees are going to be much better than banks in small increments but be careful, though, their exchange rates are not always the most competitive. In order to pay someone they must also have a Paypal account.


Related: Converting and sending currency via PayPal – How does it compare?


Miscellaneous reasons for sending a large amount of money overseas

Our pick: Torfx


If you’re transferring above six figures you should probably use a dedicated currency provider and really advocate for a good exchange rate. TorFX is one of the largest foreign exchange companies in the world and they consistently have excellent exchange rates, especially for large quantities of cash.


Financial protections for your money

Protecting your personal data and money is the most important thing when it comes to transferring money.  Whichever provider you choose, be sure that they:

  • Are a registered money services provider with an MSB Registration Number
  • Are a licensed financial institution with the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System.


All companies discussed in this article meet these basic criteria.


Resources to help you learn more about overseas funds transfers

Often times people simply turn to their banks when it comes time to transfer money overseas. Unfortunately, this can end up being one of the most costly methods. The big four US banks charge between $30-40 for wire transfers and some charge even more if you make the transfer from a branch location.


It is, however, typically easy to transfer via your bank. Here’s how:

  1. Log in to your online banking dashboard
  2. Click on “transfers or payments” usually wire transfers will be a sub-tab
  3. Enter the details of where you’re sending money in the “recipient” section
  4. Select the account you wish to fund the transfer from
  5. Confirm details and submit


Western Union

Is one of the most well-known brands when it comes to money transfer and related services. The best scenario for sending money overseas with Western Union is small amounts that need to be picked up in cash. They are flexible with funding options and allow you to transact online or set up a transfer in person. Due to the many different options available, fees, charges, and exchange rates are not always transparent. The cost of Western Union depends completely on where you sending money and how much.


Related : What you should know about using Western Union for international money transfers



We generally don’t recommend Paypal due to their being better value options available, but it’s fast, easy (if the other person has an account) and not too expensive for small amounts.


Related: Converting and sending currency via PayPal – How does it compare?


OFX, TorFX, World First, HiFX, and other international currency provider specialists

All of the companies listed above are specialized currency providers operating in the US and abroad. Due to their focus on currency services they usually offer better exchange rates and lower fees than Western Union, Paypal or banks.


Useful resources and links

The information you’ll need to transfer money overseas — Before you send money abroad, check what information you will need first to save you time, money, and hassle. Learn about SWIFT Codes, IBAN numbers, and other information you’ll need to transfer money internationally.


What is a Wire Transfer? — Learn what a wire transfer is, how they work, if they are safe and the fees involved.


Exchange Rates: How to Work Out If You Are Getting Ripped OffExchanging money from one currency to another doesn’t need to be complicated, but it’s important to make sure you’re getting the best deal. Foreign exchange businesses make money every time you make a transaction. We’ll look into all the most common ways they charge people too much.


Locking in (fixing) your exchange rate Forward Exchange Contracts (FECs) are the most common tool that American business owners use to keep an exchange rate steady. This article is a collection of those stories, experiences, and myth debunking that will tell you everything you need to know about Forward Exchange Contracts.


How long does it take to transfer money overseas? — International Money Transfers can take anywhere between a few hours and a week (or longer in the worst case). So why is there such a substantial difference between the fastest and slowest methods of sending money?


Other notes:

  • The exchange rates quoted are indicative and were taken from publicly available websites. See “free resources” to help you learn more about sending money overseas for all the links.
  • Outside of the exchange rate and fees, each method has it’s own pros and cons. Make sure you research each provider before deciding if they are right for you.
  • TorFX, OFX and World First have minimum transaction requirements.
  • Exchange rate margins and fees are different for other currencies and are subject to change.
  • We have compared the most common methods of payment.
  • The Currency Shop has commercial partnerships with some, but not all of the banks and companies listed. For more information, see our list of partners here.
  • Credit card charges do vary. We used the typical charges and exchange rates from a VISA or Mastercard.
  • Western Union fees and exchange rates vary. They change depending if it is a bank transfer or pick-up, whether you pay via bank transfer or using a credit card, and finally whether you transact online or in-person.

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