Best Ways To Send Money Internationally

In-depth look at each payment method.

Updated: May 21, 2024
Matt Crabtree

Written By

Matt Crabtree

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Generally speaking, the ability to send money at scale overseas is valued higher and higher each day.

Regardless of whether you're a small business owner trying to expand your operations overseas, or a student who's been studying abroad trying to transfer funds back home, a streamlined process to facilitate it can be a lifesaver.

However, let's not forget that while it feels like it's been around forever, international money transfers are still a relatively new phenomenon, and with that comes its own set of complications.

From making wire transfers the traditional way to utilising an online payment platform, there's a multitude of ways you can get the job done. Still, a smooth transfer requires a firm understanding of the process, the various fees, exchange rates, and security measures you need to take.

So, to make the topic easier to digest, we'll be exploring all you need to know about sending money abroad in this article.

Factors To Consider When Sending Money Internationally

Before we go over your different transfer methods, let’s explore a few factors that are worth taking a look at.

Exchange Rates & Fees

To kick things off, let’s take a look at the various exchange rates and fees you can expect when making international transactions. The specific exchange rates for a transfer will always change depending on where you go, so take some time to compare a few money transfer companies.

Furthermore, currency conversion and receiving fees are among the hidden charges that tag along with a transfer.

In general, platforms that facilitate international money transfers will aim to draw you in with low exchange rates only to reveal their high fees further down the line. This works in reverse, too, so make it a priority to understand how each provider's cost structure works before actually committing to anything.

Speed Of Transfer

Next up, we have the amount of time spent waiting for the transfer to complete. It’s worth mentioning that international transfers have a tendency to take longer than their domestic counterparts, so the speed of transfer is always a concern here.

Having said that, if you're desperate to send the money quickly, you'll want to find a provider that can offer either instant or same-day transfers. Unfortunately, it's not that simple, though — if you're insistent that the money needs to be sent quickly, you'll have to pay extra fees (or have lower exchange rates).

Needless to say, it may be worth settling with a slower transfer speed if you're not in any particular rush.

Security & Reliability

As you might've realised by this point, international money transfers mean enlisting the support of a third party to act as a middleman. Naturally, this needs to be someone of utmost trustworthiness, which means doing your due diligence when it comes to checking their history and customer reviews.

Furthermore, it’s always worthwhile to pick a provider that can ease your mind with additional security measures — things like 2FA or fraud protection.

Depending on the amount of money you're transferring, lost funds can have a significant impact on your personal finances, so never underestimate the value of an established middleman.

Convenience & Ease Of Use

While this isn't necessarily as integral as the other factors, you might as well choose a third-party platform that's simple to navigate. In general, sending money can be stressful enough, let alone having to consider the implications of an international money transfer. 

To make the entire process feel a lot smoother, try to source a platform that can give you a user-friendly experience that streamlines your transactions — search for things like a mobile app or an intuitive interface so it’s more accessible.

Accessibility Between Each Country

Lastly, it’s worth mentioning a factor that might not appear immediately obvious as being problematic further down the line. Depending on where both you and the recipient are located, the provider you’re using to transfer the money might not be available in both of your countries.

If the platform is still available, there might only be limited services — things like lower transfer limits or higher fees.

As such, always make sure that the platform you ultimately choose explicitly mentions on their website that your countries are compatible.

Comparing Different Transfer Methods

So, now that we've explored some of the additional fees and factors attached to an international money transfer, it's time to weigh out your options.

We'll be taking a closer look at their respective pros and cons later in the article, but first, let's discuss what methods are available and how they work.

Bank Transfers

The first method we'll be looking at to send money abroad is the good old-fashioned bank transfer. While you're probably already familiar with these, a bank transfer is a popular method of transferring funds electronically from one bank account to the next, and they get used every day for both domestic and international transfers.

When you first initiate a bank transfer, the funds are debited from the sender's account and immediately credited to the recipient’s, as you’d expect. After the bank has received a request from you to make a transfer, they’ll first take a look at your balance to see if you have the funds.

Naturally, this process requires a few different intermediaries to get the transfer over the line, but this can also slow things down slightly too. For example, for the transfer to be successfully complete, there'll need to be input from both your and the recipient's bank.

However, things can change slightly when making international transfers, and an additional intermediary that can facilitate the transfer between separate countries and currencies may be called upon.

While generally speaking, bank transfers are a reliable method; they're not without their limitations. This is especially true when comparing this method with other options like crypto transfers or online money transfer services.

Online Money Transfer Services

Next on our list are online money transfer services — digital platforms that let users send money to people in different countries. These services focus strictly on the internet, so you won’t be able to use this method in a bank or building society.

Essentially, they’re run by a special kind of software that provides a secure platform for transferring funds between bank accounts.

In order to start using one of these services, you'll typically have to punch in some personal information into their website or mobile app. This might include things like your name, address, credit or debit card, and then the same for the recipient too.

While this might sound like a slightly drawn-out process, online money transfer services are wildly effective at making swift international transfers, but we'll explore this in more detail later.

After you've completed making an account and have provided all of the relevant information, you can start a transfer pretty easily by simply selecting how much you want to send and where you want it sent.

Next, the specific platform that you're using will calculate the total cost of the transfer, which should include any of the fees or exchange rate charges you'd expect with any other method.

How Is This Different From Bank Transfers?

Now, while bank transfers and online money transfer services sound functionally identical, this is a common misconception. Think of bank transfers as the ‘grandfather’ of international money transfers — the most commonly known and traditional method.

While these have been around a long time and are fairly straightforward to use, there’s no getting away from their slow speeds and expensive fees. Not to mention their speed of transfer, which you’ll recall is a significant factor in deducing the best way to transfer money internationally.

On the other side, online money transfer services are like the new kid on the block — a fresh, more convenient way of sending money internationally. As touched on earlier, these services operate entirely online, so you can send money to people in different countries without visiting a bank or even leaving your home; it’s all on your phone/computer.

In addition, these services often work with much higher efficiency, completing the job within just a few hours.

Cryptocurrency Transfers

Lastly, let's talk about cryptocurrency as a method of making international money transfers. In essence, this is a process that involves sending a form of digital currency, such as something like Bitcoin or Ethereum, to another user, often through a decentralised network of computers.

To reiterate, the concept of cryptocurrency is decentralisation, so it's not something that can be controlled or regulated by a single entity like governments or banks. As such, this makes them fairly unique in comparison to more traditional currencies.

In order to make a successful cryptocurrency transfer, both you and the recipient will need to get your hands on a digital wallet, which is basically just like a digital bank account. This is the wallet that’s used to store all your cryptocurrencies, as well as sending and receiving too.

Once you’ve found a reputable cryptocurrency broker (we recommend an established platform such as Binance or eToro), you’ll need to enter your recipient’s wallet address and select which crypto you’d like to send them. After this, you need to confirm the transaction by entering your digital wallet password or by using some other form of authentication.

Finally, once the transaction is confirmed, it's broadcasted to the public blockchain, where other users, known as nodes, verify them.

Pros & Cons Of Each Method

Since we've covered the most popular ways to send money overseas, you're probably left thinking about which is the right method for my needs.

Well, in this final section of the article, we'll be providing unbiased insight into the benefits and drawbacks of all of your options so you can deduce the best way to send money internationally.

Bank Transfers: Pros & Cons

Representing one of the oldest methods for sending money, bank transfers are known for their reliability and simplicity. Let’s take a look at a few of the pros and cons of using bank transfers:

Pros

✔️ Banks are typically well-regulated, so your money should always be safe and sound.

✔️ They’re typically fairly quick and can be done online or in person.

✔️ Access a range of different services like wire transfers and international money orders.

Cons

❌️ Not the cheapest option as they often come with high fees and poor exchange rates.

❌️ Has the potential to be a bit more complicated than it needs to be, especially if the transfer requires intermediary banks.

❌️ Banks may also place limits on the amount of money you can transfer at one time.

Online Money Transfer Services: Pros & Cons

The new option that’s being used more than ever before — online money transfer services. There’s a few pull factors that give this option a slight edge to bank transfers, so let’s break them down.

Pros

✔️ Often cheaper than bank transfers, with lower fees and better exchange rates.

✔️ Straightforward process that can be completed from the comfort of your own home.

✔️ Most online money transfer services offer mobile apps, making it easy to send and receive money on the go.

Cons

❌️ Most of these services aren’t held to the same regulation standards as banks, which could be cause for concern.

❌️ Depending on which provider you choose, some might not offer the same level of security as banks do.

❌️ Not every country has access to these types of services.

Cryptocurrency Transfers: Pros & Cons

Cryptocurrency is still a fairly novel method of making international money transfers, so with that comes a unique set of positives and pitfalls. Let’s explore them.

Pros

✔️ It takes seconds to complete and doesn't even require any intermediaries.

✔️ Depending on which type of cryptocurrency you use, transfer fees can be extremely low.

✔️ Transactions can be made anonymously, which can be a benefit for some users.

Cons

❌️ The crypto space is very volatile, so exchange rates can fluctuate wildly.

❌️ They’re not widely accepted yet, which can limit their usefulness and accessibility.

❌️ Lack of regulation can be a red flag for some.

FAQs

Is It Safe To Send Money Internationally?

Do Any Regulatory Authorities Play A Role In International Money Transfers?

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