It can be overwhelming to research your options of transferring money to or from another country. Many companies support moving money between countries and it’s important to understand the differences between the services those companies provide.
Use our 10-point checklist below to determine which international money transfer service is right for you.
- Frequency & Purpose. Some money transfer companies work well if you need to make a once-off large transfer, e.g. paying tuition or buying property. Other services were designed for small businesses to make frequent, small(er) transfers. So, when looking at the various options, the first thing you should do is determine how often you need to transfer money.
- Transfer fees. To determine how expensive a certain service is, you must know the applicable fees. One way international money transfer firms make money, is by charging a transfer fee. The transfer fee is generally a flat fee, between £5 or £10. Some firms waive this fee entirely. Certain providers offer services and tools to help detect optimal timing for the transfer. Depending on the transfer amount and service quality savings might outweigh fees.
- Exchange rate. If you’ve ever been inside a bank or store that offers currency exchange, you’re probably familiar with the exchange rate concept. Exchange rate is the general way to express how much currency you’ll get when you exchange it for another currency. Exchange rates are set by banks, but the exchange rate you’ll receive from a money transfer service will almost certainly be more favorable to you. That’s another way, in addition to transfer fees, international money transfer services make money.
- Recurring transfers. There are many reasons for making recurring international money transfers. Maybe you work overseas and need to send money back home. Or maybe you need to make a mortgage or rent payment in one currency when you hold another. It can be a pain to have to enter the same exact information every month to move money. So, some international money transfer firms make it easy to set up a recurring payment. Check and see if a particular service offers “repeat” or “recurring” transfers.
- Sending and receiving options. When you’re sending money internationally, you can choose from a variety of different options. Some firms will let you drop off cash at a teller window. Most money transfer companies provide various options, like sending money off a credit or debit card, or making direct transfers from your bank account or stored value account. If you’re an online seller, you may benefit from a direct integration with eCommerce marketplaces that some some transfer firms offer. Important to keep in mind is that sending money is just half the equation. You (or the recipient) will also have to find out how to release the money on the other end. Similar options exist on the receiving side, but they can sometimes be more restrictive. Be smart and find out upfront how it all works.
- Transfer speed. Every international service transfers money at a different speed. To make things more complicated, the speed of a transaction can also depend on the currencies involved in the transfer. Make sure to check if a transfer service takes 0-1 days to deliver your money, or 2-3 days.
- Transfer limits. Different firms have different policies when it comes to how much money you can transfer using their service. Some international money transfer firms don’t limit the amount you can transfer. Identify a service provider that works with customers with a profile similar to yours.
- Special features. Because of the competitiveness of the money transferring field, some of the businesses offer special features that help them stand out from the competition. Some firms offer better exchange rates, waive transfer fees, and offer cash pickup options, hedging tools, and fixed exchange rates to pull you in as a customer. In our comparison of top 10 money transfer services, we highlight these special features to help you choose which service is right for you.
- Special offers. The international money transfer industry is becoming really competitive. New companies regularly enter the arena in search of your business. Some offer cash incentives to get you to sign up with them. Others use cash incentives to get you to refer your friends. If you want to take advantage of these offers, do a quick online search to see if a particular money transfer service offers this type of freebies.
- Customer support. Finding an international money transfer firm with good customer support is a lot like buying insurance: you hope you’ll never need it, but when you do, you’re glad you have it. The best firms offer 24/7 service along with a variety of ways to contact them, including phone, email and chat.
Choosing the best international money transfer service for your needs doesn’t have to be a confusing affair. Once you know your options, you can determine which company is right for you.