If you’re reading this, then great! It still surprises me how many people stick with using their bank for international money transfers and international money transfer services. Usually this down to sheer laziness on their part or fear of the unknown. Don’t be ripped-off by the banks like so many other expats. Do yourself a huge favour and read on…
Why you should not use your bank for international money transfers
Moving money – No conversion
Let’s say you just want to do an international money transfer to move your currency from your home bank account to your account abroad. Both accounts are in the same currency (unlikely) but if this is the case, all you want to do is move money, not convert it. Your home bank will charge a fee, and an international money transfer service will charge a fee. It is virtually guaranteed that the international money transfer service will be cheaper than your bank!
Moving money – With conversion
If you are looking to move money abroad and convert it into the local currency of your bank account abroad (likely) then two fees apply:
- Fee to move the money (transaction charge)
- Cost to convert money from one currency to another (exchange rate)
I have already explained (1) above (see Moving money – No conversion). However, when you move money abroad and convert it to different currency, this is known as the exchange rate. And this is where you can get kicked in the balls and lose out big time if you’re not up to speed.
If you Google search the exchange rate between two currencies you can see what the actual real-time exchange rate between two currencies is. You won’t get this rate of course, because there’s always a cost to do anything, but at least you will know what ‘cut’ is being taken by any bank/international money transfer service you use.
Let’s say your currency is USD$. You want to convert USD$ into Shekels (fans of Monty Python will appreciate the reference):
- Google Exchange Rate: USD$ = 100 Shekels
- Transfer Service Rate: USD$ = 97 Shekels
- Your Home Bank: USD$ = 93 Shekels
As you can see, not only is it likely that your bank will have a higher fee to conduct international money transfers, it is also highly likely that your bank will give you an exchange rate far less competitive that what you would get if you use an international money transfer service.
Note: Some high street banks have been forced to offer more competitive international money transfer services as their market share of this lucrative business has been eroded by online providers. It is worth checking if your home bank will ‘do you a deal’ whenever you are transferring larger sums abroad. It’s still unlikely they will beat an international money transfer service – but it’s worth asking, most certainly where larger ad-hoc international money transfers are concerned.
Best Online International Money Transfer Services
As you are probably aware, the wonders of modern technology has resulted in many new international money transfer services being available. But which one do you choose?
Rather than providing you with a long list of bewildering options, I will keep this very easy and straightforward for you. After being an expat for many years I have found there to be two, Yes! only TWO international money transfer services that I regularly use and would recommend.
Both offer very easy money transfers from your (home) bank account to your (foreign) bank account. If you are a smartphone or iPad/tablet user they both have very easy to use apps too. Furthermore, once setup, both allow you to have additional ‘trusted accounts’ you can pay into if you need to transfer money into say, a partner or child’s account rather than yours.
For most international money transfer needs TransferWise is going to be your best choice. They offer competitive foreign currency exchange rates that are not too far away from the rate you would find on Google. I have often found them to be the best choice when transferring larger sums abroad for property or major purchases.
I would also highly recommend that you consider WorldRemit. Their international money transfer platform is just as good as TransferWise, with similarly competitive rates. One thing I have found particularly great about WorldRemit for international money transfers to Asia is that any money I have transferred gets credited to my local bank account abroad with seconds – yes seconds! I receive email & SMS Text notifications that the money is in my local account abroad (and ready to spend) both from WorldRemit and my bank abroad – quite brilliant!
Unless you have highly unusual circumstances you cannot go wrong with using TransferWise and WorldRemit for your international money transfer services. They really do deserve to be considered the best international money transfer services for expats living abroad or intending to live abroad.
I use both regularly. I have tended to use TransferWise for larger international money transfers (in excess of USD$100K) and WordRemit for international money transfers in the region of USD$2K – USD$50K.
It is worth noting that whenever you transfer larger sums of money abroad, you are likely to have to complete a little bit more paperwork. This is due to all international money transfer services being required to ‘know their customer’ and ascertain ‘where the money has come from’. Unless you are Pablo Escobar you have nothing to worry about. The process is straightforward and it is not required repeatedly once these services know you and you become a regular customer with a track record/history with them.