Not many decades ago, transferring money traditionally was an expensive and strenuous undertaking, exemplified by manual paperwork, hidden charges, and never-ending chains of middlemen. The world is now more connected than ever, thanks to the advancements of digital technology. As globalization is growing, billions of dollars need to be transferred worldwide every year for personal and business purposes.
For migrant workers, ex-pats, avid travelers, and freelancers, the convenience and cost of remittances matter a great deal. Some people need a safe medium to send part of their salary back home, provide emergency funds to loved ones in need, or gift cash to friends abroad. Others need a foolproof way to pay employees or suppliers living in another country.
Whatever the reason, the last few years have been great for folks who need to transfer money on a regular basis. International money transfer services have been sprouting up to meet globetrotters’ needs.
Best International Money Transfer Services
As more people move and travel, the demand for international money transfer services is high, and it comes as no surprise that there are dozens of providers sprung across the world. The international money transfer market is huge and only growing. Many services have physical stores in airport terminals, supermarkets, or on the high street in stand-alone storefront operations.
But with so many options out there, how do you cut through the noise and find the best service? Not all services are equally good and trustworthy. And because the money transfer industry isn’t well-regulated, it’s vital you pick a service with great care.
To help you get the best deal, we put together this list of the best international money transfer services.
- Transfer amounts
- Exchange rates
- Transfer fees
- Security and safety
- Payment and pick-up options
- Customer reviews
We will mention each service’s specializations to help you choose the best provider for your unique needs.
Number one on our list is by far the most popular name in the world of international money transfers. Western Union is an international money transfer provider that focuses on remittances. The company may be one of the oldest ways outside banks to transfer money worldwide. It’s pretty amazing how they have managed to keep up with the times.
The company boasts an unmatched network of offices worldwide and offers in-person cash pick-ups even in the remotest of places. Places where banking is severely limited and no other international money transfer company operates.
As of this writing, Western Union has 500k agent locations in 200 countries and territories around the globe, 150 million retail, and digital customers, and supports 145 different currencies. If you’re worried whether it’s legit, Western Union has been in business since 1851, and multiple authorities regulate the company.
The only downsides to Western Union are the comparably slow delivery (4-5 days) and the hefty fees they charge to transfer money. The exact cost of transfers depends on the destination, currency, and transfer amount. But despite high transfer costs, Western Union remains the king of international transfers.
MoneyGram is a reputed international money transfer service that was founded in 1940. As the second-largest international money transfer service, the company has been on the remittance scene since before the internet. MoneyGram has continued to grow and improve over the years. Its outstanding range includes 347k locations of agents distributed across 200+ countries.
Even though the current crisis, MoneyGram has witnessed unprecedented growth due to the adoption of digital payments. While its transfer fees and currency exchange rates are unfavorable, MoneyGram made it to our list due to its wide global reach and reliability.
To make it well-suited for small remittances, the service has no minimum transfer amount. MoneyGram is licensed and regulated by multiple financial authorities. While the transfers are relatively expensive, you can be sure that they are 100 percent safe.
MoneyGram supports 58 currencies for online transfers and offers cash pick-ups. If you make a physical transfer through a shop, you’ll notice additionally supported currencies.
WorldRemit is another remittances-oriented pioneer in the international money transfer industry. The service was founded as a convenient, low-cost alternative to traditional money transfer companies. With over 5.7 million customers globally and availability in 130+ countries, WorldRemit sends over 180,000 money transfers worldwide every month. It’s particularly good for transfers to regions like Africa, Asia, and South America.
WorldRemit charges an upfront fee on all transfers, but using a promo code can waive the fees if you’re a new customer. If you’re looking for a great online option for frequent and consistent transfers, try WorldRemit.
CurrenciesDirect has one mission – to make an international money transfer the best it can be. The service is not one of the new breeds of IMT providers – CurrenciesDirect has been around since 1996 and is recognized by the World Economic Forum.
The 2020 Winner of Money Age’s Money Transfer Provider of the Year award, CurrenciesDirect’s exchange rates are incredibly competitive, and the company does NOT charge any transfer fees. It’s a good option if you’re making regular mortgage or tuition fee payments, buying a house abroad, or doing business overseas.”
You can easily set up an account online or through their mobile app. There’s round-the-clock customer service in case you bump into any difficulty. The only downside to this service is that it only supports 40 currencies, so you may not be able to use them if you’re planning to transfer money to a country that’s not supported.
5. Wise (Formerly TransferWise)
We cannot talk about money transfer services without mentioning Wise. With a $5 billion valuation, Wise leads the new generation of international money transfer services. The innovative company was founded a decade ago by two Estonian friends.
Frustrated at losing their hard-earned money to uncompetitive exchange rates and high fees whenever they had to transfer money home, the idea of Wise was born. It now has 10 million customers, 14 offices worldwide and offers users some of the cheapest fees in the market today.
With a $1 minimum transfer amount and its fixed currency exchange margin, Wise is perfect for remittances and small personal transfers. The company is transparent in its pricing so you can make low-cost, easy, and fast international transfers. You can always check their website to see exactly what the exchange rates are.
Being a digital-first company means no physical cash locations for pick-up are available. But both the mobile and online transfers are user-friendly, and the level of customer service is unparalleled. Multiple financial authorities regulate Wise.
The only reason Wise didn’t top our list is that its global reach is not yet as extensive as Western Union. But considering its rapid growth rate, this might change soon.
This online money transfer service is available in the U.K., US, Canada, and several other countries. Being one of the largest independent digital remittance companies, Remitly offers quick and convenient money transfers and has a fixed exchange rate.
Remitly has 2 options for sending money: Economy or Express service. The economy has a cheaper fee, but transfers take 3-5 business days. As the name suggests, Express is faster (4 hours or less) but at a higher rate. If you pay by card, your recipient will receive money almost instantly.
Customers can choose to pay via bank transfer or with credit or debit cards. Recipients can transfer the money directly into their smartphone’s mobile wallet or in the local currency. Cash pick-up and delivery are also available. As mentioned, Remitly set their own exchange rate, which is lower than the mid-market rate (the one you see on Google).
Skrill is a global payments service recognized for making it easier to deposit, send and pay money online. This online wallet makes it free and convenient to transfer money between Skrill wallets. Skrill’s digital wallet is offered in 40 different currencies. The platform allows you to send money to local bank accounts in 120+ countries.
To enjoy the benefits, you first need to sign up for a Skrill account, load your wallet and use it to make transfers. I like Skrill because you don’t have to share your personal bank details, and there’s no fee to receive money in your bank account.
Skrill specializes in international transfers, eCommerce, gaming, and cryptos. It uses bank-level security and offers reliable customer support.
OFX (previously OzForex) is an online-based international money transfer company that offers the versatility of services. The company has 1million customers globally and supports 55 currencies. Their client pool is very diverse, with users from across the globe.
AUD 250 is the minimum transfer amount. OFX offers rather low fees and exchange rates to both individuals and businesses. It’s easy to lock in the best exchange rates possible on the date of transfer, thanks to OFX’s live exchange rate currency converter.
Businesses and investors will enjoy flexible margins, meaning the larger the transfer, the cheaper it will be. They will also appreciate OFX’s corporate desk services such as hedging and dedicated currency guidance. OFX is traded publicly and has 55+ regulators, meaning your money is safe. Transferring money with OFX is just as safe and secure as any bank.
Due to the large volume of transactions, waiting times for support can belong. Also, transactions take 2-4 business days.
Despite it being slightly limited in its functionality and transfer types, Pioneer allows seamless cross-border payments to millions of professionals and businesses. Payoneer offers such a great ease of use and balance of price. That’s why it deserves a place in our list of the best 10 international money transfer services.
Payoneer recently announced a $3.3 billion deal to go public by merging with Betsy Cohen SPAC. This shows that the company is constantly improving and growing. Payoneer has a wide global reach and is popular with online merchants, travelers, freelancers and expats. It’s a great solution for fast and small to medium transfers.
Lack of high-volume discounts makes it unsuitable for large transfers.
If you’re a PayPal user, you might have come across their subsidiary money transfer service, Xoom. It allows you to transfers money, no matter how small, to 131 countries and supports 100+ currencies. Xoom earned the 10th spot on our list due to its cheap remittances, upfront pricing, and tracking feature. Xoom also has a user-friendly mobile app for faster transfers.
As of this writing, Xoom allows users to transfer money from the U.S. and Canada, but plans are underway to expand operations in other countries. The transfer fees increase as the transfer amount increases, but the fees are reasonable.
What is International Money Transfer?
International money transfer (IMT) is an electronic transfer of a specified amount and currency from your bank account to an account belonging to someone you know in another country. How it works is that most providers have an online portal where you register and transfer funds from your existing bank account. You have to indicate the destination and recipient’s details.
The service will transfer the money to the recipient, typically at much lower fees and rates than your bank would charge you.
How Long Do International Money Transfers Take?
Some services offer same-day transfers while others take a few days. Certain factors can affect the time it takes. For instance, if money has to be transferred through several banks across a number of countries, it might delay than if it’s just hopping across the border.
How Much Money Can I Transfer?
There are no official international money transfer limits. Your maximum and minimum transfer amount will differ depending on your preferred international money transfer service.
What Happens If The Money Doesn’t Arrive?
While this doesn’t happen often, here’s what to do if your money doesn’t arrive in the specified time:
- Confirm whether the info you provided is correct. This can range from the names and bank account numbers of the recipient to the international codes for the destination bank.
- Ask the recipient to contact their bank or agent and check any issues that could cause a delay.
- Contact your IMT service and let them know that the money hasn’t arrived so they commence an investigation.
IMT services can seem intimidating at first, but now that you’re in the loop, the best deals are within your grasp. International money transfers incur fees, and exchange rates may differ per service, so it’s advisable to compare your options before making a transfer.