Best Ways to Send Money Internationally
Sending money internationally used to be a hassle. Today, there are many low-cost, efficient ways to make an international transfer. You don’t have to wire money through your bank or send an envelope of cash — the best money transfer services keep your funds secure and charge low fees.
This guide will review seven of the best online platforms to send money internationally. Whether you’re looking for the lowest fees or the most secure option for a business, one of these companies might be the best choice for you. Read on to find out more.
Our Top Picks for the Best Ways to Send Money Internationally
- Wise — Best for Low Fees
- PayPal — Best for Peer-to-peer Money Transfers
- Western Union — Best for Availability
- MoneyGram — Best for Cash Transfers
- OFX — Best for Large Amounts of Money
- WorldRemit — Best Mobile Option
- XE — Best for Business Transfers
The Best Ways to Send Money Internationally Reviewed
- Fast debit and credit card transfers
- No markup rates
- Lower fees than other options
- Transfers can only go to bank accounts
- No cash pickup or delivery option
Why we chose it: Wise provides fast international transfers with low upfront fees. Its exchange rates are competitive and can facilitate transfers between 70 countries.
Wise, formerly TransferWise, is a financial tech company that markets its services as “borderless banking.” You can quickly transfer funds through this platform, even if your recipient doesn’t have a Wise account (but you will need to provide their bank details). It offers various payment options: credit and debit card transfers, wire transfers, ACH and SWIFT transfers, Apple Pay and Google Pay.
Bank transfers through Wise are a little slower than other providers and may take up to a week. However, Wise’s credit and debit card transfers are practically instant (within three minutes on average). You can transfer online through the company's website or mobile app. Wise also has a live customer help center and a 24/7 helpline if you need assistance.
Wise’s exchange rates are average or slightly above average (depending on the currency) but have no markup, making them more affordable overall. The company also charges low fees for most transfers. Lastly, Wise accounts have no monthly maintenance fees and allow you to withdraw money for free twice a month — provided the total amount is $100 USD or less.
Wise is ideal for someone who travels between countries frequently and wants to make fast, low-cost transfers or withdrawals. But because of the lack of transfer options, it may not be the best choice for a business that needs multiple ways to send and receive payments.
- Instant delivery for most transfers
- No bank account transfer fee
- Funds can be transferred from a PayPal balance
- High transfer fees
- Takes additional time to send funds to a bank account
Why we chose it: PayPal makes it easy to send instant transfers between accounts anywhere in the world. This is a long-established platform and ideal for sending money to friends or family abroad.
PayPal was one of the first online peer-to-peer money transfer services. Today, it’s still a popular choice and ideal for relatively small, instant transfers. You can use PayPal to send money internationally with only the recipient’s email address. Just make sure you know and trust the person you’re sending money to — PayPal can’t issue refunds for scams.
One advantage of PayPal is that you don’t have to use your bank account for international transfers. You can send funds to your PayPal balance from your debit card or bank account, then make international transfers from your balance. That way, a recipient or sender in another country won’t have access to your account information. But transferring funds from your balance to your bank account might take an extra day.
Opening a PayPal account is free, and the service is available in over 200 countries and accepts 25 currencies. The company has a customer service helpline and live chat, but some customer complaints on the Better Business Bureau report slow response times.
The main disadvantage of this platform is its fees. PayPal's fee for international transfers is 5%, which could translate into a minimum charge of $0.99 and a maximum of $4.99. Up to $5 per transaction can add up, so this isn’t the best platform for a business making regular transfers. There is also a limit of $60,000 per transaction, yet certain overseas transactions have an even lower limit of $10,000.
PayPal's transfer fee doesn't make it a good option for daily payments. But the ability to easily add a recipient and make instant transfers without a bank account (though you will need to link a credit or debit card or have an account balance from other transactions) makes it a good platform for one-time payments between friends and family.
- Great for cash transfers
- Same-day delivery available
- Wide availability
- Higher fees than other options
- Exchange rate markups aren't always clear
Why we chose it: Western Union has the widest availability of any international cash transfer service and offers four ways to send money: online, over the phone, via its mobile app or in person at one of its 500,000 branch locations.
With Western Union, you can deposit cash into an overseas bank account or coordinate a cash pickup. This last option is a great way to send money to someone who doesn’t have a bank account. As the sender, you drop off cash at a Western Union location or send it through the company's online platform or mobile app (for which you’ll need a credit card, debit card or bank account), and the recipient picks up the equivalent in their local currency at their nearest branch.
Western Union receives good reviews for its customer service. It has a live chat channel and three phone lines for international calls. Customer service agents are also available in person at any Western Union branch. Its wide availability, multiple ways to send money, and responsive customer service make it one of the best options for sending money internationally.
Unfortunately, it’s not the cheapest option. Western Union’s fees vary by country and are often higher than average. For example, sending $500 to Mexico City will incur a fee of around $2, while sending the same amount to London may cost up to $12. Western Union’s exchange rate markups vary depending on the recipient’s country, pickup method and other factors, so it isn’t always clear how much your transfer will cost.
Western Union allows its customers to transfer money to and from over 200 countries, making it a widely available and convenient option. Just keep an eye out for high exchange markups.
- Low fees for cash transfers
- Same-day delivery for all payment methods
- Intuitive mobile app
- Low fees for cash transfers
- Low transfer limits
Why we chose it: With 380,000 service locations worldwide and low transfer fees, MoneyGram is one of the best platforms for fast worldwide cash transfer and pickup services.
MoneyGram doesn’t have as many physical locations as Western Union, but it is a popular service for fast cash transfers. It charges minimal upfront fees and completes most transfers on the same day, regardless of the method.
Like Western Union, MoneyGram allows you to send international transfers in several ways. You can go to the company’s website or use its intuitive and highly-rated mobile app to send money from your bank account to another or a MoneyGram location. Alternatively, you can drop off the cash at your nearest branch and request a transfer.
While MoneyGram’s app has a live chat feature, their company doesn’t have a customer helpline, so you can’t talk to an agent unless you go to a branch location. Another downside is its exchange markups, which can be as high as 3% of your total payment. In most cases, the transfer limit is $10,000, but some transactions from the U.S. to select European countries can be as high as $15,000.
MoneyGram is great for same-day cash transfers, making it an ideal option for those who need to send emergency funds to a traveler or family abroad. However, its high exchange markups and low transfer limits don’t make it suitable for business transfers.
- No transfer fees
- Competitive exchange rates for large transfers
- No maximum transfer amount
- $1,000 transfer minimum
- Can take up to a week to send money
Why we chose it: While it isn’t the fastest option on the list, OFX is secure and has no transfer fees or maximum transfer amount, making it our top pick for large transfers.
If you need to send over $1,000 to an overseas bank account and speed isn’t a concern, consider OFX. This online money transfer service is available in 190 countries and doesn’t charge fees. You can send money directly from your bank account using the OFX website or mobile app.
OFX only allows transfers between bank accounts, meaning you can’t send a payment using your credit card or cash. This provides an advantage regarding security, as bank transfers are the safest way to send money internationally, eliminating the risk of theft or identity fraud. The disadvantage is that it’s a slower process that can take up to four business days or longer, depending on banking hours and holidays.
While OFX doesn’t apply fees for international money transfers, most currency exchanges cost between 2% and 4% of the total transfer amount, which is higher than other options. And while it has a customer helpline available 24/7, OFX doesn’t offer live chat services through its website or mobile app.
Because there is no maximum transfer amount, OFX is the best platform for large money transfers. It isn’t the right choice if you want to make a same-day transfer under $1,000.
- Allows cash pickups
- Multiple ways to send money
- Lower-than-average fees and markups
- Not as secure as other options
- Lower transaction limits than other options
Why we chose it: WorldRemit is a popular money transfer service with an easy-to-use mobile wallet. You can transfer money to your WorldRemit wallet from a bank account or debit card, then use it to pay bills or send money overseas. The wallet automatically converts your payment to the recipient’s currency with a small exchange markup.
WorldRemit also offers cash pickup services in 130 countries. In terms of costs, WorldRemit is one of the cheapest options out there. It charges low upfront fees and has competitive markup rates (usually 1% to 1.5%). It’s also fast; most transfers are instant, while others may take up to a full business day.
WorldRemit isn’t the best platform for regular business exchanges, however. While you can make secure bank-to-bank transfers through the app, they are limited to $5,000 per transaction and no more than $9,000 within 24 hours. You can, however, link your mobile wallet to a Google Pay or Apple Pay account for easy peer-to-peer transfers.
WorldRemit receives good reviews for its app and customer service. It offers live chat through its website, and several customer reviews report a quick response time for email queries. On the other hand, some negative customer reviews refer to a lack of transparency and security in the company. It’s easy to sign up for WorldRemit, which makes it slightly more vulnerable to scams than other options.
WorldRemit is best if you want an easy, speedy mobile wallet service. You shouldn’t use this platform if you want to make large transfers or run a business overseas.
- Available in 170 countries and 65 currencies
- Cash pickup option available
- Per-transfer limit waived for customers who send more than $70,000 in a year
- Mixed review for customer service
- Unclear markup rates
Why we chose it: XE offers a secure way to make international bank transfers. High transfer limits make this a good platform for large purchases or business transfers between countries.
When it comes to business transfers, security is a high priority. XE facilitates safe large-scale transfers between banks. There is a transfer limit of $535,000, but that limit doesn't apply to U.S. customers who transfer more than $70,000 in one year.
XE also allows you to send large amounts of money for cash pickup at participating locations, including secure banks and stores. It has over 500,000 high-security pickup locations worldwide. Some locations use XE’s facial recognition software to verify the pickup, while others require a government-issued ID number and a PIN provided by the seller.
There is no minimum amount for cash and debit card transfers with XE, but wire transfers must be over $3,000. It charges reasonable fees that vary depending on the currency and amount transferred. Unfortunately, its exchange rates aren’t always clear. XE’s currency converter tool shows the market-standard exchange rate. But in reality, the service will charge up to 3% markup.
XE’s customer service gets mixed reviews. Its website offers a 24/7 helpline and live chat, but some customers report the mobile app can be confusing. Other customers complain about the lack of transparency regarding fees and markups.
Because of its security and high limits, XE is best for overseas real estate purchases or business transfers. Its lack of transparency concerning fees and costs can make it unsuitable for day-to-day transactions.
Other companies we considered
The companies reviewed above offer a range of services for same-day, large-scale, business and peer-to-peer money transfers. But they aren’t the only options to send money internationally online. Here are a few other competitors we considered.
Xoom, PayPal and Venmo share the same parent company. This service charges a flat fee per transaction and provides fast transfers but has limited customer support. Xoom's fees are lower for transfers under $1,000, so it's best for small peer-to-peer transfers.
- Offers cash pickup and home delivery
- Easy-to-use mobile app
- Poor customer service
- Security limits for transfers over $3,000
Ria has over 400,000 locations worldwide for cash pickups. It also offers fast credit card transfers and home delivery. But this service gets poor customer reviews and has low transfer limits. Plus, you can only send money from the U.S., Canada, Australia and Spain.
- Plenty of locations for cash transfers
- Same-day delivery
- High rate of customer complaints
- Transfers limited to $3,000
Remitly offers multiple ways to send and receive money internationally, including a mobile wallet and cash pickup. Its fees are low for some countries but much higher for others. Because of its varying fees, this service gets mixed customer reviews.
- Multiple sending options
- Low fees for some countries
- Fees and markups vary by country
- Mixed customer reviews
Best Ways To Send Money Internationally Guide
Sending money overseas can seem complicated. Exchange rates aren’t always clear, and you must ensure your money reaches the right hands.
This article will help you select the right platform for sending money internationally based on your budget and preferred delivery method.
What is a money transfer service?
Money transfer services allow individuals and businesses to safely transfer funds from a sender to a recipient. Financial institutions like banks, credit unions and companies specializing in money transfers (such as those listed in this article) offer these services.
Many popular money transfer services allow you to instantly transfer money within the U.S. for free. But international transfers are a little more complicated.
Most international transfer services charge an upfront fee plus a markup on exchange rates. In other words, the service takes an extra percentage on top of the standard exchange rate as payment for switching currencies.
For example, when you send money internationally with Western Union, you could pay a markup of as much as 3% of the total transfer amount.
There is always a fee to send money across borders. Don’t trust any app that advertises 100% free transfers — it might be a scam or have hidden fees. That said, fees shouldn’t exceed 5% of your transfer.
A certified money transfer service is the fastest way to send money internationally, and it's much safer than sending cash. With simple online platforms, using these services is also easier than setting up your own wire transfer to a foreign bank.
How to choose an international money transfer service
Before you send money to a friend, family member or business in another country, make sure you’re using the right service.
Here are a few key factors to keep in mind.
Compare exchange rates and transfer costs
All money transfer services have different fees and markups. Those fees should be clearly stated on the company’s website. A service that doesn’t publicize its fees could be a scam, especially if it has no customer reviews.
However, remember that fees may vary depending on the country you’re sending money to. The best way to get a precise cost estimate is to call the company’s customer helpline.
Decide on a wire transfer, debit card transfer, or cash pickup
There are several methods of sending money internationally. Make sure the transfer service you choose offers your preferred method.
- Wire transfers — This is the slowest but most secure way to send money internationally to a bank account. Wire transfers may take up to a week.
- Debit/credit card transfers — This method allows you to use a credit or debit card to send money from one bank account or mobile wallet to another. The best apps to send money internationally offer instant debit card transfers.
- Cash pickup — If you want to money to someone without a bank account, you can do so through a cash pickup service. This option allows you to send cash to a secure location where the recipient can pick it up. Not all money transfer services offer cash pickup.
Be aware of transfer limits
Most money transfer services have per-transfer, per-day or per-year limits. For large transfers, look for platforms like OFX or XE, which have no limits. Limits can also vary depending on the currency or the recipient’s country.
How to send money internationally
International transfers can feel complicated. But if you follow the right steps, sending money overseas is safe and fast. Below is a brief step-by-step guide.
1. Choose an international money transfer service and register an account
Find a website, bank or app that offers your preferred money transfer method. Make sure it works for your budget and schedule and that it allows you to send the amount you want to transfer.
Your recipient should be familiar with the transfer service you want to use. If they need to set up an account or mobile wallet to receive the transfer, they should do it before you send your funds.
2. Decide how much money you'd like to send
Confirm the amount with your recipient. Remember, if you send money from one currency to another, you can expect markups beyond the standard exchange rate.
3. Provide accurate sender and recipient details
Know and trust your recipient. If you're sending money to a business, be sure to talk to someone over the phone beforehand. Confirm the recipient’s address and account information — most platforms won’t issue refunds for lost money, so it’s important to get that information right.
4. Choose how the money will be received
You and your recipient should be on the same page. If you are sending a cash transfer, make sure they know the exact address and time to pick it up.
5. Pay your transfer fees
Your money transfer service will let you know how much you’re being charged before the transaction is finalized. In most cases, fees and markups will be included in the total cost. You shouldn't be charged additional fees after you send the money — and your transfer service should inform you of any exceptions.
6. Track the transfer and notify the recipient
Let your recipient know when the money has been transferred. If the transfer isn’t instant, keep track of the transaction on the service’s website or app, so you know when it arrives. Ask your recipient to tell you once they have the money, especially if you’re sending funds for a cash pickup.
Best Ways To Send Money Internationally FAQ
How long do international money transfers take?
Is sending money internationally safe?
Are there fees when sending money internationally?
Is it better to send money internationally via bank transfer?
How We Chose the Best Ways To Send Money Internationally
To choose the best ways to send money internationally, we reviewed several money transfer services. Here are a few critical features we looked for.
Fees and exchange rate markup
The best money transfer services charge small or no fees and have markups under 5%. None of the services we reviewed are 100% free. It’s safer to pay for a legitimate service than to trust a free online service with your money.
A good money transfer service should send debit, credit and mobile wallet transfers within a few minutes. Our top platforms for bank transfers took one week or less.
The broader the availability, the better. In addition, we looked for transfer services that could exchange money to at least 20 different currencies and had over 300,000 locations for cash pickups.
When sending money overseas, it’s important to have access to professional, responsive customer service agents. We looked for money transfer services that have live chat, helplines or fast email services to answer questions.
Summary of Best Ways To Send Money Internationally
Wise — Best for Low Fees
PayPal — Best for Peer-to-peer Money Transfers
Western Union — Best for Availability
MoneyGram — Best for Cash Transfers
OFX — Best for Large Amounts of Money
WorldRemit — Best Mobile Option
XE — Best for Business Transfers