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How to save when transferring money overseas

Transferring money overseas can be a daunting task, with so many options and FX terminology to get to grips with. In this article, we’ll walk you through the process of international money transfers and provide tips on how you can reduce fees and keep more money in your pocket.

Understanding foreign exchange

How international money transfers work

Before making an international money transfer, it’s important to understand how the process works. Typically, you’ll send money from your bank account to a bank account or digital wallet in another country. The money is converted into the recipient’s local currency, and then deposited into their account. However, there are important things to consider when making an international money transfer.
First, you’ll need to know the recipient’s bank information, including their account number and routing number. You may also need to provide additional information, such as the recipient’s full name and address, to ensure that the money is transferred to the correct account.
Second, you’ll need to consider the exchange rate between your currency and the recipient’s currency. Exchange rates can fluctuate rapidly, so it’s important to keep an eye on them and make your transfer when the rate is favourable.
Finally, you’ll need to choose the right transfer method for your needs. Some methods, such as wire transfers, can be expensive but offer faster processing times. Other methods, such as online money transfer services, may be more affordable but take longer to process. You will also need to provide a purpose for transfer, which is a measure used by banks to combat financial crime.

Fees and charges in money transfers

There are several fees and charges associated with international money transfers, which are often hidden and can add up quickly. Some common fees to look out for include transfer fees, exchange rate markups, and intermediary bank fees. Transfer fees are charged by the company or bank facilitating the transfer, and can vary widely depending on the method and amount of money being transferred. Exchange rate markups are fees charged for converting your currency into the recipient’s currency, and can also vary widely depending on the exchange rate being used. Intermediary bank fees are charged by banks that process the transfer, and can be difficult to predict or avoid.
It’s important to carefully review the fees and charges associated with any international money transfer before making the transfer. Some companies may offer lower fees or better exchange rates than others, so it’s worth shopping around to find the best deal e.g. CurrencyFair offers its new customers 5 transfers free of charge as well as being one of the most competitive foreign exchange companies.

How to choose the best money transfer service

When it comes to sending money overseas, choosing the right money transfer service can make a big difference in terms of cost, speed, and convenience. Whilst banks and money transfer companies both offer this service, there are some key differences to consider.

Banks vs. money transfer companies

Banks are a traditional option for sending money overseas, but they are not always the most cost-effective. Banks tend to have higher fees and less competitive exchange rates than money transfer companies. This means that you may end up paying more to send the same amount of money through a bank than you would through a money transfer company.
Money transfer companies, on the other hand, specialise in sending money overseas. They often have lower fees and more favourable exchange rates than banks. Additionally, many money transfer companies offer a wider range of currencies and destination countries than banks do.

Comparing exchange rates and fees

When choosing a money transfer service, it’s important to compare exchange rates and fees. Look for a service that offers low fees and competitive exchange rates, and be sure to read the fine print for any hidden costs. Some money transfer companies offer zero-fee transfers, which can save you a significant amount of money.
It’s also worth noting that exchange rates can fluctuate throughout the day and from one provider to another. Make sure to compare rates at the same time of day to get an accurate comparison.

Evaluating transfer speed and convenience

Another factor to consider when choosing a money transfer service is transfer speed and convenience. Some services offer same-day transfers, while others can take several days or even weeks. If you need to send money quickly, look for a service that offers fast transfers.
Additionally, some services allow you to send money using a mobile app or online, while others require you to visit a physical location. If you prefer the convenience of sending money from your phone or computer, look for a service that offers this option.
It’s also important to consider the recipient’s location and access to banking services. Some money transfer companies have a wider network of agents or physical locations, which can be helpful if the recipient lives in a remote area or does not have access to online banking.
Choosing the best money transfer service requires careful consideration of fees, exchange rates, transfer speed, and convenience. By comparing different providers and reading the fine print, you can find a service that meets your needs and budget. Whether you’re sending money to family or friends, paying for an international purchase, or managing a business, a reliable and cost-effective money transfer service can make all the difference.

Tips for saving on international money transfers

Timing your transfers wisely

The timing of your money transfer can have a significant impact on the exchange rate and fees. Consider the exchange rate trend and the days of the week on which you make the transfer.

Reducing fees with bulk transfers

If you frequently send money overseas, consider sending larger amounts less frequently. Many money transfer services offer bulk transfer discounts, which can help you save on fees.

Negotiating better exchange rates

Some money transfer services may be willing to negotiate exchange rates for larger transfers. Don’t be afraid to ask for a better rate, especially if you’re a frequent customer or sending a large sum of money.

Utilising digital wallets and cryptocurrencies

Advantages of digital wallets for international transfers

Digital wallets, such as PayPal and Venmo, offer a convenient and fast way to transfer money overseas. They also have lower fees and more competitive exchange rates than many banks and traditional money transfer services.

How to use cryptocurrencies for money transfers

Cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, offer a decentralised and secure way to transfer money overseas. While they can be more complex to use than traditional money transfer services, they often have lower fees and faster transfer times.

Risks and considerations when using digital currencies

When using digital currencies for money transfers, it’s important to be aware of the risks and potential drawbacks, such as high price volatility and lack of consumer protections. Do your research and only use reputable and secure platforms such as Coinbase.


Transferring money overseas doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. By understanding the process, choosing the right money transfer service, and utilising digital wallets and cryptocurrencies, you can save on fees and get more value for your money. Keep these tips in mind the next time you need to send money abroad.

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