Perhaps you plan to transfer money from USA to Canada for a family member. Or maybe you’re looking to transfer money from USA to UK in order to buy a house. Whatever it is, the time might come that you need to make an international wire and figure out the best way to do it. Discover the best way to transfer money from the USA (tldr; use a money transfer company – a designated service for expats, businesses and large transfers).
But, let’s start off from the top. How expensive is it to transfer money from the USA?
US Bank International Wire Transfer Fees
|International Wire Sent in US Dollars||International Wire Sent in Foreign Currency|
|Bank of America||$45||$0|
|Wells Fargo||Disclosed at time of transaction*||Disclosed at time of transaction*|
*Wells Fargo domestic wire fee is $30 so we can say almost certainly that international wire fees will be more expensive. Wells Fargo international wire fees are reported as $45 elsewhere but Wells Fargo makes no mention of fees on their website.
For international wires sent in USD bank fees range from $35 – $45. These are some of the highest international payment fees for any country on the planet and significantly higher than the payment fees of banks in the UK and Europe. Citibank has the cheapest USD international wire fee at $35 but the most expensive foreign currency international wire fee. Bank of America offers free international wires when issuing a wire transfer in another currency. It should be noted we have collected information on the international wire fees for transfer which are initiated online – if you prefer to make a transfer over the phone or in branch then international wire fees are commonly around $50. Cheap money transfers I think not!
Our Top 3 Money Transfer Companies for USA Transfers
From our research we have identified the three best money transfer services in the US:
What you can find in this article
You’ll want to find the best money transfer services that are available today. The good news is you have options – now more than ever. The chances are the provider of your checking account will allow you to make an international wire but there is a growing number of specialist money transfer companies in the USA who are offering the service faster and cheaper than the banks.
The leading US banks offer the convenience of sending safe and secure international wires via a number of different channels that can include; your local bank branch, over the telephone or an online transfer. However, you have to watch out for the high fees and slow transfer process that are likely to be involved. As a result, you may quickly start to see that an alternative money transfer company in the USA, like Moneycorp, OFX or TransferWise, may be a better option.
This article will take you through the fees and estimated exchange rates of the largest US banks and compare these to some of the best-rated alternatives. It will also look at some of the most common reasons why you might need to use a money transfer service and why the US has lagged behind other countries in adopting new solutions which makes the process of sending an international wire easier and cheaper.
Lower foreign exchange fees with money transfer companies
If you’re making a sizable USA currency transfer to another currency, then international wire fees will soon start to be dwarfed by other, not so visible, fees. When banks trade FX with other banks they trade at the interbank rate. It’s this interbank rate that you see online when checking the rates on Google or Bloomberg. However, when banks convert money for customers, particularly individuals and small businesses they charge a high markup or ‘spread’. The spread is how much above the interbank rate the bank charges its customers. It is calculated as a percentage of the size of the transfer, so the more you’re sending the more important it is to achieve a lower spread. Whilst it’s impossible for individuals to get the interbank rate itself, specialist money transfer companies in the USA are offering much tighter spreads, from 0.45% – 2%.
Using the information above we can start to make some very rough calculations that provide an indication on the markup that some of the major US banks charge on international wires. Customers using JPMorgan Chase would receive the least markup but still receive €228 euros (or 1.3%) less, when compared to using the money transfer company OFX. Completing the international wire with Wells Fargo would result in receiving €412 (or 2.3%) less compared to OFX. Now if we bear in mind that OFX will charge its own markup or spread (likely to be between 1-2%) then we can start to get a feel for the bank spreads beginning at 2.5% plus.
Combined with the highest international wire fees, US banks are notorious for charging some of the highest FX spreads of any banks in the world. This has been largely driven by the significant barriers to enter the market and a lack of competition in providers but things are changing.
Why Are You Looking to Make a Foreign Currency Transfer from the USA?
This is an important question to ask yourself when determining who is the most appropriate provider for your international wire. Depending on what it is you’re looking to do, different FX products, offered by different providers, can be better suited to help you achieve your outcome. We list a few of the most common reasons to send money abroad and the best money transfer services for each.
Buying a Property Overseas
The first thing you’ll need to establish is whether your provider offers the currency you require for your house purchase. With each of the money transfer companies listed in this article offering 50+ currencies the chances are they will have you covered – certainly on all major currency corridors. If you’re fortunate enough to be purchasing a house outright of $1,000,000+ then TransferWise will not be suitable as payments are capped at this figure. OFX and Moneycorp have no maximum payment limits.
Secondly, when you are moving such a large sum the timing of your transfer can end up having a much more significant impact then the fees charged by the provider. By speaking to a currency expert at OFX or Moneycorp you may pick up on upcoming events and external factors which will impact your currency pair. Both of these firms offer a tool known as a forward contract as well – allowing you to guarantee today’s exchange rate for up to two years in the future. Timing when you agree to your forward contract can snag you a significantly better rate one week or even day to the next. As a private client, you won’t have access to dedicated FX experts with your checking account provider and you won’t have access to forward contracts – only spot deals.
Solution – Moneycorp
Making Overseas Mortgage Payments
Linked to buying a property overseas, if you’re set to be making regular mortgage payments overseas then money transfer companies will allow you to set up regular transfers that will be automatically executed on the day you require them. When establishing your regular transfers, for example a mortgage payment which sees you transfer money from USA to Australia every month, you can either agree to take the exchange rate it will be on the day or set each regular transfer as a forward contract – locking in the current exchange rate for every regular transfer up to 2 years.
Solution – Moneycorp or OFX
Repatriation Of Overseas Earnings
Similar to making a regular payment, if you know you are set to receive the same amount each month – earning an overseas salary for example – you can establish a regular transfer with your money transfer provider. You can ask your employer to pay your salary to the money transfer company – they convert the FX – and then disburse USD to your domestic US bank account.
With TransferWise you can open a USD currency account and an account in the currency you are paid – it’s then up to you if you want to convert the overseas currency into USD as you receive or hold the funds in a foreign currency until the exchange rate improves.
Solution – OFX or TransferWise
Sending Money to Friends and Family
A very popular reason for sending money overseas and often lower value wires. If you’re transferring a smaller sum – under $10,000 for example – then TransferWise will almost always be the best option for this. You’ll only be able to trade ‘on the spot’ but you’ll know that only a small markup is added. If you’re sending or receiving a larger sum – perhaps you have inheritance due – then it will certainly pay to speak to an FX expert. OFX has a locally based US team that you can speak with to discuss your transfer options and when might be the best time to execute the transfer – ensuring you get the most value of any sum owed to you.
Solution – OFX or TransferWise
If you aren’t earning a regular fixed sum, like a salary, then regular transfers aren’t for you. As a freelancer, you won’t necessarily know how much you’re due until it’s time for invoice. With that in mind, it’s important you’re getting a fair price. So opting for TransferWise means you can ensure you’re getting some of the tightest spreads available on the market. Registering for a TransferWise borderless account will also provide you with local currency accounts that you can include on your invoice for your clients to pay into. You then have the flexibility to hold balances in different currencies, make and receive local payments in a wide number of countries, and convert funds back to USD whenever you wish.
Solution – TransferWise
If you’re reading this guide as a business then a tailored hedging strategy will be vital. Being able to understand your upcoming costs and reducing exposure to the FX markets is important. By working with Moneycorp, businesses are provided with a designated account manager who will be able to build a currency strategy specific to your business and risk appetite. A forward contract can completely remove your exposure to currency markets, whilst a number of other FX tools could allow you to benefit from some potential upside in your currency pair if you’re prepared to pay a premium upfront or risk the market moving against you should that so happen with your currency pair. An FX expert from Moneycorp will be able to provide their view on the markets and the FX tools that could be of benefit to your business.
A top of the range treasury management platform, bulk payments and cash delivery services makes Moneycorp a clear choice for businesses.
Solution – Moneycorp
Cheap Money Transfers – Why has the US been so far behind?
The US has always been known to have an outdated and clunky payment system. Making cheap money transfers traditionally impossible to achieve, Even when it comes to card payments, the US has been reluctant to move to the more secure chip and pin technology – preferring instead to keep the card swipe which sees funds debited from an account a few days after a transaction is actually made. Wire transfers have been much the same too – with different clearing houses and payment options that result in slow delivery of funds. .
Navigating local US settlement hasn’t been the only issue for new entrants however. The state-based licensing arrangements, which requires individual regulatory approval per state, is a significant compliance outlay from both a financial and time-investment perspective. As a result, only the largest money transfer companies have been able to absorb these compliance costs and launch in the US. Many of the boutique FX brokers launched in the UK have thus been unable to onboard US-based clients. Reducing the competition and resulting in bigger markups for clients.
Awareness has been an issue too – many US clients believing that registering for a money transfer company would be a replacement service to their checking account – when in fact it should run parallel to normal domestic services and only used for international wires. The sheer scale of the US means the marketing outlay for companies to build their brand is a challenge too – many money transfer companies carving out niche industries in the US built on word of mouth.
Things are changing though and with better-known brands such as TransferWise driving the cost of international wires down, other money transfer companies and banks in the US are having to respond.
Alternative Money Transfer Companies in the USA
Through our research into the US international payment industry, we’ve identified a number of money transfer companies in the USA and whilst we don’t believe the offerings to be as cheap or developed as either Moneycorp, OFX or TransferWise, we still feel they’re worth a mention.
Xoom (Provided by PayPal)
Xoom can help you send funds to over 70 countries. Just as you’d expect from a PayPal service the online process is slick and payments are delivered fast. There are a number of funding options too – clients can by bank wire transfer or debit/credit card. The overriding issue is the cost – another trait known to Paypal – as the markup and additional fees they apply can easily eclipse that of US banks. Freelancers, looking to transfer money from USA to UK for example, can see close to 10% of the value of the invoice knocked off.
MoneyGram has a global network of locations in over 200 countries. Transfer speed is improving but can sometimes prove slow. Its biggest advantages that you can send online, via mobile or in store to a number of locations for cash collection. Making it a popular choice for low-value remittance payments to territories where the beneficiary may not even have a bank account. It’s not cheap though, markups start at around 3% and payment fees can be up to $35.
The reason that Americans refer to online transfers as ‘wire transfers’. Before it was possible to make transfers online, the first widely used service was launched by Western Union in 1872 on its telegraph network. The money transfer giant is located in over 200 jurisdictions. Just like Moneygram it allows for cash collection as well as online transfers but it’s costly and markups are generally between 2.5%-4%. In order to pay less in payment fees, customers have to select slower payment options.
Very similar in setup to Moneycorp and OFX, Currencies Direct was launched in the UK in 1996. An award-winning money transfer provider, it has a large global network, including offices in the UK, Europe, South Africa and India, but has a smaller footprint in the US. Currencies Direct holds licenses to operate as a money transfer provider in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, New Jersey and Washington – bringing a wide variety of FX solutions. Watch this space as it plans to expand its US footprint in the years to come.
Concluding Thoughts – Best Money Transfer Services in the USA
Cheap money transfers have finally arrived. With the rise of money transfer companies in the USA, new firms are bringing new products and cheaper solutions to the US money transfer market. Your checking account provider will be able to provide a safe and secure international wire but this security can be matched by the best money transfer services to have launched in the US. These services prioritise individuals and small businesses, not only reducing payment fees but drastically bringing down the cost of the whole transfer down and offering products that grant much greater flexibility and choice to the client as to when they want to exchange their funds. Most money transfer companies in the USA, with the exception of PayPal, offer cheaper money transfers than US banks but note that even when opting for a money transfer company the cost can vary to a huge degree and choosing the right one is important.
Find the cheapest way to transfer money to USA with our list of money transfer companies in USA. We only choose the top money transfer companies in the market.
Transfer money from USA to UK, EU, Australia, or Asia with 0% fixed fees, as well as excellent currency exchange rates for the dollar. Using our selection of the best money transfer services in USA, you can save up to 80% of the associated international money transfer costs, and enjoy better money transfer services than you get today with your bank or currency provider. Now you know how to transfer money to the US with zero fees.