Understand how you can send money domestically and overseas and which platforms are best.
Best Money Transfer Services
Whether you're sending money to a family member in a different country, paying for an international purchase, or even just splitting expenses with some friends, there's no denying how essential money transfer services have become in recent years.
Given that we use money transfer companies to make payments almost daily, it's best that you have an understanding of how these companies actually work and which ones are the best.
So, throughout this article, we'll be taking a look at the best international money transfer services, how to use them, and the general pros and cons of this kind of service.
Let's get started by providing a simple definition of bank transfers and when you might use one.
What Are Money Transfers?
At its core, a money transfer is as simple as it sounds — moving funds from one person or entity to another, although it's typically through electronic means.
Now, what separates this service from simply handing someone a load of cash is that you can transfer money to literally anywhere in the world, whether that's in the same country or across international borders.
Naturally, the ability to bridge geographical distances with the click of a button is going to come with a range of different use cases, so let's dive into some of these in the following section.
Diverse Use Cases
Money transfers are indispensable in a surprisingly large amount of situations, some of the most common ones being:
Anyone who's ever moved away from their home country knows the importance of being able to send money overseas in order to support their family members.
In the past, you'd generally have to rely on wire transfers or another international money transfer service to get this done, but it goes without saying that these are highly inefficient when you need the funds to be transferred quickly.
These kinds of remittances are often going to play a major role in improving the quality of life for recipients — especially if the recipient comes from a low-income background — so being able to send the money swiftly is generally the priority here.
Whether you're splitting the bill at a restaurant, sending money to a friend to buy you those concert tickets, or even just contributing to a group gift for someone else, we can't always be in front of each other to simply hand over some cash.
So, generally speaking, money transfers simplify some of the more personal financial transactions we'll make on a daily business.
Aside from remittances or other personal payments, though, the ability to make international money transfers is massively important in the business world, too. Regardless of the size of your business, you'd be missing out on some serious business opportunities if you decided you were going to stick to good old cash.
Of course, the scale of these missed opportunities might change depending on how large your business is — you're not exactly going to be making many money transfers if you're running a corner shop that mainly just sells to the local neighbourhood — but for most reasonably sized businesses, gone are the days where you'd be dealing entirely in cash.
Even if you were running a relatively small business, you can use money transfer services for domestic financial transactions, too; they don't strictly need to be international. Whether it's paying suppliers, your staff, or even just receiving payments from customers, businesses of all sizes can benefit from international money transfer companies.
Online shopping is obviously more of a luxury compared to other use cases we've covered already, but given how eCommerce has made it possible to shop from retailers all over the world, you'd need some sort of money transfer service to facilitate this.
So, whether you're sending money here in England or you need to make cross-border payments, money transfer services let you do so efficiently in a secure environment — even giving you the ability to make payments in various different currencies.
Still, aside from some of the more frivolous luxuries, like online shopping, that we've grown accustomed to in the modern world, perhaps one of the most important use cases of money transfer services is the role they play during times of crisis or emergencies.
The ability to quickly be able to send money across the world can't be understated in its significance; it's a major lifeline.
Whether you have a family that desperately needs the money (like we mentioned earlier with remittances), or you're taking a more altruistic approach and wish to donate to some charities following a natural disaster, for instance, money transfer services allow for quick financial aid to be sent to individuals or regions in need.
Ultimately, though, as touched on earlier, the overall landscape of money transfers has evolved significantly over the years. While traditionally, people would need to rely on banks and wire transfer services for any cross-border transactions they made, these were often characterised by high money transfer fees — not to mention how long it would take to process them.
And in times of need where time is often of the essence, you can't always afford to sit around and wait for the transfer to be processed; you need it to be sent now.
Fortunately, however, with the advent of technology, the financial industry has witnessed a major paradigm shift. Still, how exactly do you use one of these services?
How Do Money Transfer Services Work?
Now that we've got some of the main use cases of one of these services out of the way let's break down how they actually work before exploring some of the pros and cons:
Digital Wallets and Accounts
First things first, more or less every money transfer company, the reputable ones at least, requires their users to create a digital wallet or account before they're able to send any money.
Put simply, these are essentially a virtual repository to safely store your funds — think of them as a kind of digital piggy bank, holding your money until you decide to send it somewhere else.
In general, not everyone is comfortable with storing your money in an online account (cryptocurrency enthusiasts, for instance), but these accounts are encrypted and highly secure, so you typically don't have anything to worry about.
From here, you'll be able to access your funds either through their website or a mobile app, so it's actually a pretty convenient way of managing your finances.
Before you're actually able to initiate a transfer, though, you'll naturally need to fund your digital wallet or account.
Generally speaking, this is normally pretty easy to do, and these companies allow for it to be done through various methods so their users have flexibility and convenience.
The most common way of funding your digital wallet is usually just by linking your bank account so you can make direct transfers, but you can also use a credit or debit card if you prefer. What's more is that certain money transfer companies even let you deposit cash at designated physical locations, so you do actually have quite a few methods at your disposal here.
Though this is slightly less common, some platforms might even offer the option to load funds via other digital wallets or even with cryptocurrencies. Ultimately, the choice is yours here, so just choose whichever method you're most comfortable with.
Great! Now that you've actually got some money in your account, you're finally able to send and receive money from people, regardless of the reason. To do this, though, you'll first need to have the recipient's information, whether that's their name, bank account details, phone number, or email address.
To get specific, some services, like CashApp, for instance, give their users the option to send money directly to the recipient's mobile wallet or even a physical pick-up location.
The best money transfer services always want to provide their customers with as much flexibility as possible when it comes to sending money, even if the recipients do not even have traditional bank accounts.
As you'll know, if you've ever needed to make an international payment, currency conversion tends to play a pretty pivotal role.
Fortunately, though, money transfer services often offer exchange rates that are usually better and more competitive than what traditional banks offer, so you're actually getting quite a good deal here in comparison to going to a bank or a wire transfer.
Still, depending on which money transfer service you choose, they might still charge a transfer fee or margin on the exchange rate, so it's not entirely without its pitfalls.
We'll come onto which money transfer services have the best exchange rates later on in the article, but as a general rule of thumb, it's essential to have an understanding of all of these rates and fees before getting involved with the platform so you can ensure you're always getting the best value for your transfer.
In some of the more volatile currency markets, price fluctuations can be all over the place, so some services might even offer tools to lock in the exchange rates in advance, which is naturally incredibly handy.
So, once you've entered all of the necessary information for the recipient and confirmed the transaction, the platform will then process the money transfer, not dissimilar to the process involved with wire transfers (minus the lengthy waiting times).
There are a few things that happen during this stage, whether that's verifying that you, the sender, have sufficient funds in your account, conducting checks to ensure all the relevant anti-money laundering regulations are being adhered to, or even just implementing security protocols so that you and the recipient are both protected.
This last stage is particularly important if you and the recipient aren't friends/know each other and need some sort of middleman to ensure you can both trust one another.
Generally speaking, it's hard to give a straight answer when discussing the amount of time it takes for the money to reach the recipient, as it can vary fairly widely.
While some transfers can actually be completed within a couple of minutes, others might need to take a couple of business days, depending on a few different factors. Ultimately, though, these services are almost always faster than the alternative option of wire transferring, as this normally takes up to five business days.
Still, the country (and currency) where the money is being sent to, the transfer method you've chosen (bank transfer, cash pick-up, or mobile wallet, for example), and even the service's internal processing times all influence the delivery time, so there's not really a one size fits all option.
As mentioned, these transfers have the potential to be processed in a matter of minutes, but it's important not to rest your hat on this quote, especially when you need to make international transfers that are pretty time-sensitive.
Confirmation and Notifications
So, once you've finally sent the money, you'll tend to get real-time notifications from whichever money transfer platform you've chosen so that you stay informed about the status of your transaction — whether it's confirmation that the money has been sent or when it's actually been received by the recipient.
Not every money transfer service has these notifications on by default, so you may need to dig around in the settings to turn this on first. Either way, though, you'll be able to track the progress of your transfer every step of the way so you can have some peace of mind that it's been delivered properly.
As touched on earlier, security measures are normally a pretty integral part of money transfer platforms — not just to protect your financial information and prevent fraud but also because they're required to employ these measures by law.
In practice, this typically comes in the form of encryption so that your data is secured during transmission. Aside from this, though, two-factor authentication is normally added to your account login details so that you can ensure only you will ever have access to your account at any given time.
And lastly, the best money transfer platforms normally have fairly robust fraud detection systems so that any suspicious activities can be promptly identified and blocked.
It's not exactly essential to have a firm understanding of how these security measures actually work in order to use these platforms, but having a general idea of what you should be looking for in terms of security can definitely help you choose a trustworthy platform for any transfers you need to make.
Finally, one of the aspects of a money transfer service that's slightly overlooked is the level of customer support that's offered. Whether you encounter technical issues, have questions about your transfer, or generally just need assistance with using the platform, there's always a fairly responsive customer support network that can make your experience smoother.
Furthermore, since all of the platforms that we'll be covering in the review section of this article will be international money transfer services, you should generally be able to access their support networks around the clock.
Ultimately, though, just make sure you're looking for services that can offer multiple different support channels, such as email, phone, and live chat. And, just to be sure, check their hours of operation so that you can guarantee they'll be available at any time should you need them.
Now, let's take a look at some of the wider pros and cons of using these kinds of services to send money abroad or domestically.
Pros and Cons of Money Transfer Services
Depending on your circumstances and the specific needs you might have, money transfer services tend to have a range of different benefits and drawbacks.
While we've talked quite highly about money transfer platforms up until this point, it's only fair that we delve into a few of the pitfalls you might expect when using one of these platforms, too.
So, to remain impartial, let's take a look at both the advantages and disadvantages of using these services:
✔️ Speed and Convenience
Generally speaking, one of the biggest advantages that money transfer services have over other transferring methods, like wire transfers, is the speed and convenience they come with.
In the past, before mobile banking, you'd actually have to visit a financial institution or bank, Western Union, for instance, in order to send money — even then, it could take up to five business days to fully process. Now, however, you can simply open up your mobile device or computer and send money all around the world, at times in just a few minutes, with several clicks or taps.
Obviously, this is particularly advantageous whenever you find yourself needing to send money urgently, as you're not bogged down by the same lengthy process as other transferring options.
Aside from just how fast you can send the money, though, another major benefit of these services is that they're usually highly accessible, most of them being available 24/7 through websites and mobile apps.
Going back to the previous example of wire transferring at a physical location, you'd naturally need a member of staff present to facilitate the transfer for you, whereas now you obviously don't need to have another person present if you're using a mobile app.
So, this added level of accessibility ultimately means you're able to initiate transfers from any location at any time, making them far more suitable for anyone who has a fairly busy schedule or just lives in different time zones.
✔️ Cost-Effective Options
As touched on earlier, compared to some of the more traditional banking methods or wire transfers, most of these services tend to provide far better exchange rates and lower fees, so you're able to save more money in the long run.
Of course, when you're sending money to someone, you're already going to be a few pennies lighter, so you'd never want to add to the amount of funds you're losing by unnecessarily giving the money transfer company you're using even more money.
✔️ Global Reach
Lastly, most, if not all, money transfer services have pretty extensive global networks and are connected to over a hundred different countries. As such, you shouldn't ever have any major problems sending money to a non-western country or region.
Any business owners out there that either currently or are looking to extend their global reach would benefit massively from using one of these types of services, as there's not really a more efficient way (both in terms of price and speed) of conducting international transactions with other businesses or individuals.
Just make sure you're aware of any potential fees that come along with money transfers that are made outside of the United Kingdom!
❌️ Fees and Exchange Rates
We mentioned in one of the pros earlier on that money transfer services are far more cost-effective than other banking methods, and while this is certainly true, it's worth mentioning that they're still not entirely fee-free.
Whether it's the amount of money you're transferring, the destination of the recipient, or just how fast the transfer will take to process, certain platforms are going to charge fees based on a few different factors, so it's worth understanding what each service's individual fee structures are.
In addition, you might always be receiving the most favourable exchange rates out there when you use one of these services, which, of course, can impact the overall cost of your transfer.
Still, don't panic because we'll be highlighting some of the best money transfer companies later on in this article and will explore what their various fees and exchange rates are so you're able to choose the most cost-efficient option for your needs.
❌️ Security Concerns
We're highlighting this point because although the vast majority of UK-based money transfer services are regulated by the government and employ stringent security measures, there is always a possible risk of fraud or data breaches.
Albeit, it's not an incredibly high risk based on the aforementioned security measures — encryption, and the like — but it's still essential for you to choose a trusted service and take all the extra precautions you can.
Whether you're enabling two-factor authentication, transferring money on a secure and private network, or generally just using strong passwords, it's paramount that you're doing all you can to protect your financial information.
❌️ Transfer Limits
Though a similar kind of transfer limit is imposed on regular bank and wire transfers, you might find that certain money transfer services have a cap on the amount of money you're able to send to someone else, whether it's a business or an individual, within a day.
For businesses, this can be slightly problematic, as there are often times when you might need to make fairly large transactions — more than simply sending your friend your half of the money for the taxi you two took last night, for instance.
So, if, in the end, you realise that you actually need to send a fairly substantial amount of money, you unfortunately might encounter a few limitations that force you to use other methods instead.
Fortunately, though, there are a few alternative, slightly unconventional (in terms of mainstream popularity) methods that can be used to send large sums of money around the world, so we'll be exploring some of those later on in the article.
❌️ Regulatory Compliance
And lastly, one of the biggest complications of making international transactions with money transfer services is that the platform itself needs to comply with various regulatory requirements in different countries — not just the UK.
So, if the service that you end up using is somehow unable to verify your identity, or there are restrictions on certain types of transactions, you might find yourself experiencing some delays or other complications.
What Is the Best Money Transfer Service? — Reviews
Now that we've provided a sufficient amount of background information about these platforms let's get into the best money transfer services that are currently available, both for domestic and international transfers.
Aside from providing an overview of these platforms, we'll also be getting into perhaps the most important feature that distinguishes them from one another — the fees and how fast it takes for the transaction to be processed.
1. Xe Money Transfer
Xe Money Transfer is one of the most reliable options out there when it comes to international payments specifically, given that they let you send money to over 200 different countries — more or less every country in the world!
Xe was formerly known as HiFX, and as far as simplicity goes, they provide one of the most straightforward approaches to international money transfers out of all their competitors. Fortunately, they provide a business account as well as a personal account, so any business owners out there will gain access to quite a few different business solutions.
Still, regardless of what type of account you want to register on their platform, you'll be able to see exchange rate information in real time, so you're always able to make an informed decision no matter where you're transferring money to.
Let's take a closer look at their platform while also outlining some of their fees and the average amount of time it takes to actually transfer funds:
As for the fees, Xe money transfers are generally pretty competitive with their exchange rates and fee structure, offering a fixed rate for every transfer that varies depending on the region you're in.
Starting with the UK, the fee is £2, and it's also $3 in the United States and Canada. Moving on to Australia and New Zealand, you'll end up paying a $4 fee on your transactions, and, lastly, it's €2 for any small transfer you make in any country that’s in the Eurozone.
Aside from this, it's worth noting that there are actually no fees whatsoever for any business customers using Xe transferring over $500,000 in foreign currencies. Now, although there's a fixed rate anyway, it's still worth cutting costs at every corner, so anyone making larger transactions can benefit a lot from Xe's platform.
As you'll find with the majority of money transfer platforms out there, the time it takes for your funds to actually be processed with Xe Money Transfer largely varies depending on where the recipient is located — as well as the transfer method you've chosen.
On average, though, according to their website, it generally takes around one day for your transfer to be completed, sometimes taking just a couple of minutes.
Still, they also mention that you should allow up to three business days for your funds to reach the recipient's account, so it's worth being wary of this if you ever need to make a particularly urgent international transaction.
Next on our list, we have Wise, which you might recognise under its former name, TransferWise. In terms of a cost-effective approach, Wise is one of the strongest options on our list, so let's explore the rest of their platform and outline some of their fees and transfer times, too.
Like Xe, Wise offers an incredibly intuitive and user-friendly platform for you to transfer money on, whether you're opting for the mobile app or directly through their web instead.
Furthermore, regardless of whether you're a business owner or just want to use their platform for personal transfer, they have a multi-currency account feature to save on currency exchange rates.
In essence, this allows you to hold and manage funds in various currencies, so it's an especially useful tool for anyone who's making international transactions rather than focusing on domestic ones.
Wise prides itself on its transparent fee structure. They typically charge a fee starting from 0.41% of the transfer amount, which can be significantly lower than what traditional banks or other money transfer services charge. This makes Wise an attractive option for cost-conscious individuals and businesses.
Wise has pretty fast transfer processing times, all in all, typically taking less than 24 hours (and two working days at longest), according to their website.
Also, they make note of the fact that you can convert money between balances instantly when you're using a Wise account. So, all things considered, Wise are an extremely efficient way of transferring money, whether it's internationally or here in the United Kingdom.
Although this is a slightly more left-field option in comparison to the two money transfer companies we've just covered, in recent years, cryptocurrencies have become an excellent alternative method for sending large sums.
Whether it's their speed, potential to reach anyone across the world, or just the underlying technology that makes cryptocurrency exciting, there's a lot to explore here.
So, let's wrap things up for this section by taking a look at a few different cryptocurrencies and covering how they can be used to make international money transfers.
Like the other two options, cryptocurrencies aren't without their expenses, either, so we'll also be taking at some of their associated fees and ultimately whether they're a better option than the other money transfer services we covered like Xe and Wise.
For anyone looking to send large sums of money, cryptocurrency can be especially advantageous given the speed at which transactions can be processed — all without needing a bank as an intermediary.
Generally speaking, it's hard to give a specific figure when talking about some of the transfer fees associated with a cryptocurrency transaction, given how widely they can vary. Ultimately, though, it's based on which cryptocurrency you're sending and how congested the network currently is.
Stellar (XLM), for instance, is one of the most widely used cryptocurrency assets due to how affordable it is regarding transfer fees. In fact, the coin was actually made with the specific aim of transferring funds cheaply — costing only a mere 0.00001 XLM, the equivalent of £0.000010, for every transaction you make.
Naturally, this makes it incredibly popular for sending funds in comparison to the other money transfer platforms we covered earlier.
Having said that, though, you've naturally got to consider that while these crypto assets are significantly cheaper to transfer than GBP or USD, they're obviously nowhere near as stable. As such, you'd be risking your money fluctuating, up or down, by holding significant amounts of money in these coins.
So, if you do make large transactions using coins like XLM, for example, you'd want to convert it into GBP as quickly as possible to avoid the issues that come with volatility.
Ease of Use and Speed
Now, aside from how affordable cryptocurrencies are in terms of their transaction fees, one of the best parts about them is how much faster they can be for international money transfers compared to traditional methods — especially for larger sums.
Because the technology is decentralised and miners all over the world are verifying transactions instead, cryptocurrency transfers are processed 24/7, meaning funds can be transferred within a matter of minutes, depending on network confirmations.
Still, while the benefits of using crypto are obvious for anyone who's tech-savvy, you've got to consider how familiar the recipient is with cryptocurrency and whether or not they have access to cryptocurrency exchanges or wallets so they can convert the digital assets into their local currency.
You'd always want to make money transferring an easy process for whoever's on the receiving end, so you'd probably be asking a lot of them to get familiar with how crypto transactions work if you were set on making this your primary transfer method.
Lastly on the topic of cryptocurrency, it might also help to consult with a financial advisor or general cryptocurrency expert so you can ensure you're navigating the, though innovative, complicated crypto landscape properly.
Ultimately, though, the choice between some of the more traditional money transfer services — Xe and Wise, for instance — and cryptocurrencies depends on what your individual preferences are. But, generally speaking, it might be best to save this option for business partners or individuals who understand how the cryptocurrency space operates.
To wrap things up, it's clear how far we've come since the early days of money transfer services, where you'd need to visit a physical location and wait days for the money to process — not to mention how you'd have no indication of how far along the processing timeline you were.
Nowadays, we can send money all over the world with the click of just a few buttons, whether that's via cryptocurrency platforms or other online money-transferring services.
Still, just as they were in the days before the internet, there are still plenty of fees attached to this process — from exchange rate fees to general transfer fees imposed by the platform you're using.
Best Money Transfer Services: FAQs
Are there any hidden fees or charges?
While the majority of money transfer services are pretty transparent about their fees, it’s still imperative that you read the terms and conditions so that you fully understand all the potential charges. Be mindful of exchange rate markups, too, but you can usually just read the fine print so that you avoid any nasty surprises that weren’t obviously stated.
What if my money transfer gets delayed or goes missing?
Though this would certainly be a rare event, reputable money transfer services have customer support teams available specifically for this sort of thing — ultimately helping you track the transfer and resolve any problems. Still, it’s worth keeping all the relevant transaction details and proof of payment in case you need to escalate the matter further.
Can I track my money transfer?
Yes, you’ll find that almost all modern money transfer services provide some form of tracking capabilities through their website or mobile app. This means you can monitor when the funds are sent, received, and even deposited, so you’ve always got peace of mind for any time-sensitive or generally important transfers.
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