Whether you’re an individual or a business, a time will come when you need to make an international money transfer. When that need comes, who do you call?
- With the world getting even closer, international money transfers have become a necessity.
- Today, there are several channels through which you can send money internationally
- Banks used to be the de facto choice for international money transfers, but their speed limitations have opened the gate for other services to compete
- When sending money internationally, consider the overall fees, speed, convenience, and security of the chosen channel
The world has indeed become a global village. Thanks to the internet and other technological innovations, two people on opposite sides of the world can easily connect—whether for professional or personal reasons.
Just as well, the growth of globalization has made it imperative for people and businesses to find ways to send and receive money internationally. And as interconnection continues to grow around the world, so are the prospects available for this.
According to estimates from the World Bank, international remittances (the practice of sending money internationally) to low- and middle-income countries should hit a staggering $630 billion in 2022 alone.
When you consider the total amount of international remittances, we should easily be talking in the trillions of dollars.
While a bank might seem like the obvious choice for anyone looking to make international money transfers, they have proven not to be as efficient as most people believe.
From a cost perspective and a speed perspective, banks can be quite challenging to work with when it comes to international wire transfers. Fortunately, there are different other options available for anyone looking to move money overseas.
In this article, we’ll consider some of the best options to choose for anyone looking to make an international transfer, as well as how to make the right choice depending on your needs.
The most popular option for anyone looking to send money is to conduct a bank-to-bank transfer. As the name suggests, this is a transfer that is initiated between two bank accounts, whether domestically or internationally.
Generally, bank-to-bank transfers can happen in different ways. Some of the more prominent options include:
A wire transfer is an electronic money transfer sequence that moves money between two accounts internationally. These transfers are often used for high-volume transactions, with banks charging flat fees for each outbound transfer.
Typically, a wire transfer should take a few days to complete. In fact, international wire transfers might take up to a week to be processed.
As for fees, banks can charge either flat fees or operate a tiered fee system where the amount of money paid will depend on the volume of transactions. For instance, a bank can impose a $25 charge for transactions under $10,000. Once your transfer amount passes this threshold, your fee will increase.
You should also note that getting a refund after making a wire transfer can be challenging. So, you should only send a wire transfer to someone you trust.
An Automated Clearing House (ACH) transfer is an electronic transfer method of sending money. Also known as a Direct Deposit, an ACH transfer is one of the most popular bank-to-bank transfer methods in the United States.
It can be used to move money between two different accounts in two different banks, and it can also be used for bill payments, salary settlements, and much more.
ACH transfers usually take between one and five business days to be completed. Your processing time will usually depend on the bank. Some banks charge small fees for outbound ACH transfers, although most banks offer the service without any charges.
Besides wire transfers and ACH transfers, you can also send money via a peer-to-peer platform.
Several top names process international P2P platforms seamlessly. They include:
- Apple Pay
- Google Pay
Most of these platforms will require you to create an account and complete some form of identity verification. Others will use your existing bank account and can even be directly accessed when you’re on your bank’s online portal.
The process of moving money via most of these platforms is pretty simple. They already have important details that you can enter to process your transaction, so you simply need to do that and you’re through.
You can process your payment either by your bank account or with your card, and you can do so from the convenience of your home.
Just as well, most of these apps give you the option to keep your funds in your bank account or within the app itself. The former is more recommended, as some of these apps could be subject to data breaches or hacks. Except it’s money that you plan to spend in the short term, it should be kept in a bank account.
Formerly known as TranferWise, Wise is one of the most popular platforms for anyone looking to send money internationally. It provides money transfer services to over 70 countries, offering a compliant and reliable service for users in the United States.
One of the biggest benefits of Wise is its affordability. It provides a favorable exchange for users, while its upfront fees are also mostly lower than bank accounts. In most cases, the fees tend to be less than 1% of the total transfer amount.
As for speed, you can rest assured that Wise is also quite effective. Bank trainers using Wise can take a few days, but you can also access same-day delivery options for some countries.
Transfers using debit or credit cards take seconds, while those using bank accounts can take anywhere from a few seconds to two business days, depending on the destination.
Wise also has spending limits of up to $1 million per transfer – for wire transfers. It is worth noting that there are payments supported for services like Apple Pay, Google Pay, and more – in addition to cards and ACH transfers.
Regardless of how you choose to make the transfer; however, your recipient will need to have a bank account as well.
Looking to send a large amount of money quickly and reliably? OFX is where you want to be. The platform appears to have been built more for businesses looking to send money internationally, but it succeeds at helping to move funds without any barriers.
The platform allows you to send any amount of money internationally, not placing any caps on transactions. However, a minimum of $1,000 per transfer is imposed.
Support for over 190 countries puts OFX among the very best when it comes to reach. While many of its competitors struggle to add countries—especially in the low- and middle-income bracket—OFX easily onboards these countries and facilitates transactions.
Nevertheless, the service does have its pitfalls. First is the fact that OFX is a bit more expensive than most other money transfer services.
It doesn’t charge transfer fees regardless of how much you’re sending, but OFX places a massive markup of between 2% and 4% on exchange rates. Compared to other providers, this is a bit of a high-end option.
You should also note that there is no same-day transfer option available on OFX. Bank transfers usually take about a business day to be completed, although this could rise to two or three days depending on the location.
Finally, OFX only processes transactions using bank accounts. Cards and other digital payment services aren’t supported here.
One of the most popular online payment services in the world, MoneyGram provides a service that allows individuals and businesses to seamlessly move money from one location to another.
With coverage for over 200 countries and more than 380,000 locations, MoneyGram is one of the biggest online money transfer services in the world. As expected, it supports payments in different forms—from bank transfers to credit and debit cards and a few other e-wallet services.
Also, the platform has the advantage of operating in several physical locations across the countries it covers. This way, people—especially those without bank accounts—can still receive money.
In terms of delivery speed, MoneyGram stands right up there with the very best. It can deliver funds to your destination within the same day, although this window can be a bit longer depending on banking hours and other external factors.
As for fees, MoneyGram has relatively low upfront fees for bank account transfers. However, fees for other payment methods can be as high as 3% of the entire transaction amount. When you consider MoneyGram markups, these fees can get slightly higher.
You should also note the platform’s transaction limits. MoneyGram allows for up to $10,000 in online transfers monthly. However, depending on the country, this limit can go as high as $15,000 monthly.
Factors to Consider When Choosing An International Money Transfer Method
Generally, you want to be careful when processing international money transfers. To ensure that you get the best service, try to keep these conditions in mind:
The subject of fees is a bit of a dicey one. Fees can be broken down into several categories, including:
- Platform fees: This is the fee charged by the service you choose to employ for your money transfer. Some services charge flat fees based on the amount of money you’re sending, while others can charge a percentage of the sending amount instead.
- Exchange rate: This is the price of one currency in relation to another. For instance, if you’re sending money from the United States to Nigeria, you need to know how much Naira you can exchange for one dollar—and vice versa.
- Mid-market rate: Also called the benchmark rate or interbank exchange rate, this is the rate that big banks use to swap currencies. Ost services use this as a benchmark when setting their exchange rates and other charges.
- Exchange rate markup: Most service providers also use an exchange rate markup when pricing transfers. Essentially, this is the addition of the mid-market rate with a small markup, which the exchange adds to make a profit on the transaction.
So, say the mid-market rate for dollars and the Naira is 500 Naira to the dollar. Then, a 2% exchange rate markup means that the provider is giving you 490 Naira per dollar.
For a $1,000 transfer with the midmarket rate, you’d send 500,000 Naira. However, the 2% markup means that you’d end up sending 490,000 Naira.
The higher the markup, the less your recipient will actually get on the transfer.
You also need to know how fast your chosen service completes international transactions. Some services offer same-day money transfers, although they could add a small charge to make this happen and essentially give you priority service.
Depending on how quickly you need the money to get to your recipient, this is a suitable option for you to choose.
Ease of Use
Convenience is definitely a factor you want to consider when moving money internationally. Even with bank-to-bank transfers, there are now mobile and online banking services that allow you to process transactions from the comfort of your living room.
Even if the money won’t get to your recipient that very day, international money transfers should be convenient.
You should find out the caps and floors for international money transfers on the service you choose to use.
Some services impose minimum transfer amounts while eliminating caps. Others go the other way around, with caps but no transfer minimums. Figure out the prevailing numbers on your chosen transfer method and go with anyone who works for you.
You also need to know that the platform you choose is secure. With many money transfer platforms allowing customers to keep their money, understanding that your funds are safe—and that those in transit can’t be hijacked—is critical.