The international money transfer online business is expected to hit a high of $42 billion by 2028. Many options already exist, whether you’re a business trying to pay a remote workforce or a freelancer looking for the cheapest way to get paid.
Services like OFX, Wise, and many others have completely disrupted how we send money to another country. If you’re still relying on traditional banks to help you send money to another country, it’s time to stop.
These international money transfer online services are cheaper, faster, and much more convenient.
1. OFX (Highly Recommended)
Quick Facts about OFX
- Headquarters: Sydney, Australia
- Established: 1998
- Countries Served: 190
- Currencies Supported: 55
OFX was born in Australia, from where the service spread across the world. Like many other online money transfer services, it uses local bank accounts to facilitate international fund transfers. This process is transparent to users, but it’s what helps to reduce costs.
Several vital points make OFX a compelling service to use, which either help you save more money or make things more convenient. For example, you can use the Spot Transfer option to lock in favorable rates for future transfers.
You can also open a Global Currency Account with OFX. It’s the equivalent of having a local bank account that deals in various currencies, including USD, EUR, GBP, CAD, AUD, and HKD. If you need to deal with many overseas purchases or transfers, it’s a highly convenient option.
There is a fee of $15 per transfer for amounts under $10,000, but once you exceed that value, the only thing you’ll notice is the exchange rate. OFX uses a slightly marked-up mid-market rate, which is much better than what a bank will offer.
Money Tip: Use OFX FX Tool to check foreign exchange rates before transferring your money. You could save a lot by timing your international payments right.
Quick Facts about Wise
- Headquarters: London, United Kingdom
- Established: 2010
- Countries Served: 61
- Currencies Supported: 50+
Wise, founded over two decades ago in London, is our next option on the best international money transfer services list. The company has undergone several brand evolutions to consolidate operations.
Like OFX, Wise uses local bank accounts to exchange money in-country while facilitating your international fund transfers. That allows it to offer you rates as close to mid-market as possible. In addition, this method can speed up transactions considerably since the money doesn’t move between countries.
Wise is one of the most transparent international fund transfer services in the market. Everything you need to know about the service, its fee structure, and more are spelled out clearly on the website.
Wise’s transfer fees depend primarily on three components; the exchange rate, a fixed fee (typically around one dollar), and a variable fee (less than 1%). One thing to note is that the method you use to fund the transfer may affect the fees involved.
Quick Facts about Xoom
- Headquarters: California, USA
- Established: 2001
- Countries Served: 160
- Currencies Supported: 100+
Xoom may seem newer than some competitors in the business, but it is an offshoot of PayPal. That means the company has a lot of experience in digital payments and fund transfers in multiple jurisdictions.
Since it’s a spin-off, Xoom doesn’t try to be everything. Instead, it focuses on two key areas; sending money to overseas bank accounts and mobile phone top-ups in several countries. It does sound a little unusual.
Nevertheless, Xoom sheds some of the stiffer regulations that have somehow become associated with PayPal. To transfer money, all you’ll need is an ID and bank statement to verify your identity.
The problem with Xoom isn’t in ease of use but rather the fees involved. No matter where you’re sending money, they’ll charge a flat rate plus earn a percentage off the exchange rate. They also charge a hefty sum if you fund the transfer using a debit or credit card.
Quick Facts about Payoneer
- Headquarters: New York, USA
- Established: 2005
- Countries Served: 200
- Currencies Supported: 150
Payoneer is considered a new kid on the block despite over a decade in service. Based out of New York, the brand managed to grow significantly. Today, it serves over 200 countries, handling over 150 different currencies.
Interestingly, Payoneer manages to capture the attention of individual consumers and big businesses alike. It supports massive brands like Google and is partnered up with several eCommerce marketplaces as well.
Perhaps because of this high profile of operations, verifications take a little longer for Payoneer accounts. After you send them the necessary documents, there’s an average wait of two days before you get confirmation.
Fund transfers also take a little longer than some of the top services around, like OFX and Wise. Some may take a couple of days, but it mostly depends on the source and destination.
The most significant advantage that Payoneer offers is for members. If you’re sending money from one Payoneer account to another, there are no fees involved. Any fees involved are typically low at around 1%. However, that increases up to 3% if you’re paying via credit card.
Quick Facts about Alipay
- Headquarters: Shanghai, China
- Established: 2004
- Countries Served: 110
- Currencies Supported: 27
With China being a late bloomer, Alipay came to be considerably later than most competitors. Yet, the service has gained wide adoption in the shorter time it’s been in the market. Part of it is because Alipay also processes payments.
The most significant advantage that Alipay offers, though, is that it’s native to China. The country’s booming business ecosystem has spread globally, and thanks to erratic regulation, those needing to move funds via China will find Alipay a more reliable partner.
There is a slight downside due to regulation. Payments or transfers will be limited to RMB 50,000 ($7,700) per day and a monthly total of RMB 200,000 ($30,880) per month.
Sending money with Alipay is more convenient if both parties have an account on the platform. There’s a flat rate for international transfers, plus the mark-up on exchange rates. Still, the overall cost is lower than you’d encounter with a bank.
Why Use Online Services Instead of Traditional Bank to Send Money Abroad
A long history in the financial services business has seen banks grow fat and highly regulated. The result for consumers isn’t pretty. To get a bank to send money overseas typically involves lots of documentation plus stiff fees and a massive loss due to retail exchange rates.
That’s where international money transfer service providers come into the picture.
These companies often offer low fees and exchange money based on mid-market or wholesale rates, with a small percentage marked up. They also aren’t as fussy as banks when it comes to identity verification.
The overall effect is a much more pleasant experience that’s faster, cheaper, and less stressful for users. This experience is especially important to customers that need to move smaller amounts of money—for example, freelancers and small to medium businesses.
How to Choose the Right Service to Send Money Internationally Online
There are easily dozens of international money transfer services in the market today that offer a similar experience. While the common advantages they offer are primarily identical, you need to choose the right one that more precisely fits your needs.
Some areas to consider closely include:
Most online money transfer services have implemented strong security measures. However, if you want to feel more secure, look for an option regulated in the various jurisdictions it operates in. For example, OFX is regulated in many countries and has anti-money laundering certification.
Transfer and Exchange Fees
While there is almost no exception that money transfer services will be cheaper than banks, service providers vary fees. Look closely at what each service provider charges, specifically on the currencies you’re most interested in.
Speed of Money Transfers
Digital fund transfers today are all quite speedy. In addition, many of the services we’ve discussed work in different ways compared to banks. That often means there’s no need for complex routing, approvals, or stops. Expect transfers to go through within a few days at most.
Ease of Use
While this may not seem important, I’ve seen some service providers implementing complex systems. This additional layer of murk isn’t ideal, especially if you plan on using the service regularly. Most will offer free accounts, so sign up for one and give it a spin before committing.
Although most service providers are pretty upfront about their business model, some still try to waltz around details. It may not necessarily mean something bad for you, but I feel safer when they spell things out in black and white.
Despite the challenge posed by online money transfer services, many banks still haven’t woken up from their slumber. Even for those who have, bloated business models means they still need to charge users hefty fees to survive.
In today’s borderless world, there is an increasing focus on smaller businesses. The gig economy plus technology means that even freelancers need to handle international payments from clients.
Transferring money internationally online is an excellent way of meeting the needs that banks are not willing to. I’ve tried many of the services, and they’ve managed to impress me in most cases.
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