Every immigrant has family and friends back home. Very often, those friends and family need financial support. On other occasions, immigrants continue to have financial obligations in their home countries, such as a mortgage or tuition payments for a child. This means that for many immigrants, international money transfers are a recurring activity, while for others, a less common thing to do.
Remittances sent from the U.S. to different countries topped $148 billion dollars in 2017, and according to the World Bank, those numbers are going to continue growing. It’s safe to say that as long as the global community is affected by the pandemic, financial support for family members and relatives back home will continue to be a priority. That makes finding he best international money transfer services a necessity.
Things have changed a lot since the days when Western Union was the only option to transfer money abroad. As technology has become more advanced and services more integrated, there are many more options.
Choosing an International Money Transfer Service
Money transfers deal with different countries, different currencies, and different financial services companies that process different steps of the transaction. That means that the best international money transfer services may vary depending on the situation. Some things to keep in mind when you’re thinking about choosing a company for a transfer are:
How long will it take for the money to get to the people that need it? If you’re sending money because someone at home has an emergency, a transfer service that takes several business days is not going to cut it. If you’re transferring money for a more predictable transaction, such as a mortgage payment that is due on a specific date, you can time your transaction once you know how long it takes for money to make it to its destination, depending on the company you choose.
Money transfer companies aren’t providing this service just out of the goodness of their hearts – they, too, have to make money in order to stay in business. That means that your international money transfer will be charged a processing fee. Typically, a percentage of the amount you send is added to the transaction. In online transfers, you typically have a breakdown of all costs to review before you place the transfer. In an in-person transfer, the agent will let you know what the cost is. Some companies charge fees, others don’t. It’s important to check that the fees the company you choose charges are fees you’re comfortable with and make sense depending on the amount you’re sending.
Not all companies work with the same exchange rates. Some companies update their rates at different times. So it’s not surprising that when you compare international money transfer services, you may see different exchange rates advertised for the same transaction. If it’s important for you to find the most favorable rate, keep that in mind.
Sending and Receiving
How will you send the money? Some services require having a bank account. If that is not an option for you, or the person receiving the money, you may have to skip over some of the options we discuss in this article. If you’re sending money for in-person pickup, make sure that there is a location near the recipient.
The best part of all this is that in this day and age, there is a remittance solution to fit every situation. Let’s go over the best international money transfer services available to you right now, based on their most outstanding features:
Remittance Services with the Most Locations Worldwide
Sometimes convenience is an important factor for selecting a money transfer company. If you need more in-person assistance, this may be important for you.
Let’s start by looking at how long Western Union has been around: since 1851. Western Union introduced its money transfer service in 1871, so let’s just say they have a few years of practice. Today, Western Union operates in over 200 countries and territories, and has over 150 million agent locations across the globe. Thanks to this extensive network, it’s hard to think about a place in the world where you may not find a Western Union agent.
As online services have become more available, Western Union has also expanded into online transfers. The Western Union website also has a price estimator that allows you to calculate fees in advance – which helps avoid surprises, whether you do an in-person “Money in Minutes” transfer or an online transaction.
- What’s Best About Western Union
Multiple ways to send and receive money, as well as numerous worldwide locations. Also, “Money in Minutes” really means in minutes.
- Be Careful With
Transfer fees can be high depending on the speed you request for your transfer.
MoneyGram has a comparable number of worldwide location to Western Union (about 300,000 agents over 200 countries), and the company generally transfers money in the same speedy fashion. The service offers bank transfers and partners with banks abroad to make the process easier and send money directly to a bank account instead of having in-person pickup. You can also choose home delivery as a transfer option. You can track the status of your transfer through the website or app.
- What’s Best About MoneyGram
Fast transfers, which makes MoneyGram a great option in case of an emergency.
- Be Careful With
Once again, fees. There are no fees for bank transfers, but there are fees and markups for all other services, which can drive your transaction costs up.
Best International Money Transfer Services with Low or No Fees
Overwhelmingly, most people are looking at fees when selecting the best international money transfer service. When comparing costs to find the best way to send money abroad, it’s important to understand two separate costs. That’s right, money transfers generally involve two different costs that must be added together.
First, there is a flat fee charged by the money transfer company that’s doing the transfer for you. This may be small, perhaps $5. The second cost is the exchange rate that the company offers you for the transaction. This hidden cost is the amount of the new currency that your recipient will receive in exchange for the dollar. For example, Company A may give you less Mexican pesos in exchange for $100 compared to Company B. That’s because Company A is keeping the extra pesos. It’s extra profit for Company A. The two of these costs (flat fee + exchange rate) together makes the “effective exchange rate.” You want to highest exchange rate possible.
Unlike other companies, which charge fees that depend on how much you send, OFX does not charge transfer fees, no matter how much money you send. They do have a minimum transfer amount of $1000, so it’s not an option for you if you’re sending smaller amounts. One of the features of OFX that makes them stand out from other services is the ability to lock an exchange rate, or schedule transfers for when the exchange rate reaches a specific amount. OFX offers transfers from the U.S. to over 55 countries.
- What’s Best About OFX
No fees for transferring. You may also set up one-time or recurring transfers.
- Be Careful With
Exchange rate markups and transfer processing times, which take several business days. May not be a great option if you need money to get to its destination quickly.
Remitly offers low markups and low transfer fees in both their bank transfers and their in-person pickup services. You can send money abroad to be received directly in the destination currency through a variety of payment methods. Home delivery is also an option in some locations. Fees depend on the origin and destination of the transfer instead of the amount you transfer.
- What’s Best About Remitly
Express transfers, which make money available in a matter of minutes. You can also send higher amounts as you send more money via Remitly. Economy transfers (with the lowest fees) can take up to 5 days.
- Be Careful With
Fees. Remitly does charge an exchange rate markup and a transfer fee. Even if they’re low, it’s important to factor that in to your transaction costs.
Online-Based International Money Transfer Services
PayPal is one of the most accessible payment platforms in the world. It allows you to send money to friends and family or pay for services while protecting your payment information and your bank account. One of the great features of PayPal is that everything happens digitally, which translates into fast processing times from one account to another.
Those receiving transfers via PayPal can choose to have money transferred to a bank account, or keep the money in PayPal and use it as PayPal balance. PayPal balance can be used across the internet to pay on different websites.
- What’s Best About PayPal
PayPal transfers are fast. Like, really fast. You can also choose to fund your transfer through different methods, including bank accounts and credit or debit cards.
- Be Careful With
Fees on international transfers – they can be quite large.
Xoom is a PayPal company, with the same reputation as a fast money transfer service. Xoom partners with banks abroad to offer direct transfers from accounts in the U.S. and Canada to accounts abroad. Transfers happen in minutes or a few days, depending on the bank and the currency. Xoom offers transfer services to over 130 countries. Xoom also offers additional options in a handful of countries: using Xoom funds to pay for some utilities, reload mobile phone credits, and cash delivery.
- What’s Best About Xoom
Reliable customer services, and multiple options for users in regions receiving high levels of money transfers, such as Latin America and some countries in southeast Asia. Xoom can also be used in multiple languages, not just English; this makes it great for those who are not comfortable with the language just yet. You and the person receiving the funds can get updates on the progress of the transaction by text message updates.
- Be Careful With
Transaction limits. If you need to transfer a higher amount than the standard $2,999.00, Xoom requires additional verification documents. Also, the “send money” portion of services is only available to those with bank accounts in the U.S. and Canada.
Wise (formerly TransferWise)
The name may have changed, but the company stays the same: TransferWise, now known as Wise, focuses on “borderless banking,” which allows users to manage multiple currencies under one account. Wise is ideal for those who need to exchange money between currencies very often, and those who have to make regular money transfers.
A Wise account also gives you access to money in multiple currencies through a MasterCard debit card. Opening a Wise account requires a minimum deposit of $25, and you can sign up with Google, Apple, or Facebook. Wise offers their transferring services to over 70 countries. The biggest downside of Wise is that you need a bank account to open an account with Wise, so it’s definitely not a service for everyone.
- What’s Best About Wise
No exchange rate markups and the ability to have access to multiple currencies in one account. Transaction fees are minimal and you can get a guaranteed exchange rate for one day.
- Be Careful With
Transaction fees, which depend on the amount you send, and ATM withdrawal limits.
WorldRemit works in over 140 countries, making it a solid online-based option for international money transfers. WorldRemit is a leader in mobile transfers and does mostly cashless transactions. It offers multiple options for transfer and delivery, like most other services, and transfers can be started on the website or the app. Fees are low for industry standards, and transfer times are as fast as other services depending on how money is sent – bank transfers take a few days, and card transfers are available as soon as cards are authorized.
- What’s Best About WorldRemit
No minimum transfer amounts, apps available for iPhone and Android, and competitive exchange rates.
- Be Careful With
Maximum transfer amounts. WorldRemit’s transfer maximums are lower than other services discussed in this article.
A Helpful Tool to Find your Ideal Remittance Service
If you don’t have a favorite remittance service yet and are still deciding which one is best, Monito helps you compare the different exchange rates and find the best international money transfer service for your situation. That way, you can get a rate that you’re happy with, and choose what you prefer based on the exchange rate they offer and the fees they charge.
Like the global remittance market, U.S. immigration law and policies are constantly changing. That’s why CitizenPath is constantly adapting and improving our online immigration services to serve you. Our work at CitizenPath doesn’t end with preparing a perfect application we guarantee will be approved by USCIS – we also believe in supporting immigrants in their everyday lives by sharing helpful information like these money transfer services. And as your immigration journey moves forward, we’ll be right here, ready with a step-by-step application package – same guarantee as always.