An international money transfer isn’t only available at banks. In fact, you’ll likely pay lower costs and get your money faster by using one of these licensed money transfer companies. Here are five to consider.
Best for: Cheap Costs, great web experience
Coverage from the U.S.: Over 70 countries.
Cost: One of the cheapest. TransferWise offers some of the best exchange rates you can find, and upfront fees tend to be lowest if you use a bank account, typically less than 1% of the transfer amount. For sending $10,000 or more, though, you might find OFX a better deal.
Speed: Bank transfers tend to take days, but same-day delivery is possible. A transfer using a debit or credit card can arrive within minutes, while a transfer using a bank account can take, on average, about one to three business days, depending on the destination.
Transfer limits and options: Sending limits go up to $1 million per transfer, if using a wire transfer to pay TransferWise. You can also pay with debit card, credit card, Apple Pay or a direct debit (or ACH transfer) from your bank account. Your recipient needs to have a bank account.
Customer experience: Phone support is limited to weekdays, but TransferWise’s mobile app receives high user ratings and its website has easily discoverable FAQs.
Best for: Cheap costs
Coverage from the U.S.: Over 80 countries.
Cost: One of the cheapest. OFX charges no transfer fees regardless of how much gets sent. Exchange rate markups tend to be less than 1%, so you get favorable rates too.
Speed: No same-day delivery option. OFX generally receives your bank transfer within one to two business days and delivers the money to your recipient in another one to two business days, depending on the destination.
Transfer limits and options: The sending minimum per transfer is $1,000, and there’s no set maximum. Transfers can only be made between bank accounts, as opposed to delivering to cash pickup locations abroad.
Customer experience: OFX’s 24/7 support line and its website FAQs are helpful, but there are some barriers. You must register to see its exchange rates and sending money is not the most user-friendly process if you’re unfamiliar with the foreign exchange market and its terminology.
Best for: fast delivery, great web experience
Coverage from the U.S.: Over 120 countries.
Cost: Pricey for an online provider. Xoom tends to have low upfront fees, such as under $5, when you use a bank account instead of debit or credit card, but exchange rate markups can be over 3%. Some providers mark up their rates by less than 1%. Xoom still tends to be cheaper than banks’ international wire transfers (see what banks charge).
Speed: Many transfers can arrive within minutes, regardless of the payment method. But it could take up to a few days, depending on factors like banking hours or time zones.
Transfer limits and options: Cash pickup at supermarkets or other locations is a delivery option in some countries. Sending limits vary, but individual transfers cap at $50,000. You can fund a transfer with a bank account, debit or credit card, or PayPal account since Xoom is owned by PayPal.
Customer experience: Phone support is available 24/7 in English, Spanish and Filipino, and during certain hours in French, Italian, German and Arabic. The online platform provides clear cost calculators and FAQs, and mobile apps receive high ratings.
best for: fast delivery, in-person transfers
Coverage from the U.S.: Over 200 countries with 350,000 locations.
Cost: On the higher end. Upfront fees for transfers funded by bank account tend to be low, but fees for other payment methods as well as MoneyGram’s rate markups, which can go over 3%, tend to be high.
Speed: Delivery can be within the same day, regardless of payment choice, but can be longer, depending on banking hours and other factors.
Transfer limits and options: MoneyGram maxes out at $10,000 per online transfer and per month. It has the advantage of physical locations so people, especially those without bank accounts, can pay in cash and have recipients pick up funds. Its web platform lets you pay with bank accounts, and debit and credit cards.
Customer experience: Support by email and live chat is available (and by phone for reporting fraud), and fees, rates and other information can be found online easily. Its mobile apps have solid ratings.
5. Western Union
best for: in-person transfers, destination countries not offered by other providers
Coverage from the U.S.: Over 200 countries with 550,000 locations.
Cost: Varies. Fees for transfers up to $1,000 can be under $5, but Western Union’s rate markups range from less than 1% to over 6%, depending on the destination.
Speed: Same-day delivery is possible when you have transfers sent to cash pickup locations and use a debit or credit card (or pay cash in person), though you pay more for the rush. The cheapest transfers require bank accounts for sending and receiving money and can take over a week for delivery.
Transfer limits and options: Western Union’s website varies its transfer limits by country, such as $5,000 to Mexico and $50,000 to India. As the biggest transfer provider worldwide, Western Union’s main advantage is its network, especially for sending cash in person and providing cash-pickup delivery options.
Customer experience: There’s phone support and live chat available every day, but the website doesn’t make it easy to compare exchange rates and FAQs aren’t easily discoverable or thorough.
METHODOLOGY FOR INTERNATIONAL TRANSFERS
We analyze seven providers that work in the U.S., focusing on major players in the international money transfer industry, based on market research, experts, cost analysis and U.S. internet traffic.
Fees and exchange rate markups mentioned are based on the analysis linked below.