International Money Transfers a complete guide from two travellers who have been ripped off far too many times!
As we have travelled all over the world in the past two years, we have learnt a thing or two about international money transfers.
Unfortunately, we discovered the hard way, by paying a fortune for fees, charges, hidden charges, receiving fees, and every fee word imaginable 🙁
BUT fear no more as this guide is going to help you not get ripped off when sending money abroad.
A quick Google on “International Money Transfer Companies” brings up so many results, with plenty of ads. :SADFACE
But which one to choose and what the heck do I need to know about international money transfers?
That’s precisely what we are going to cover in this article on international money transfers.
Scenario 1: You have moved to another country on a holiday visa and you need to send money from bank account A to bank account B
Ah! This is our speciality not only did both of us lose about $300+ when we first went to Australia, but so many other people do as well!
*Update we have just moved to Canada and you can read all about how to send money to and from Canada here.
What do you mean, “so many people do as well?!”
We both got to Oz on a working holiday from Ireland.
We had about €3000 each and had just opened Australian bank accounts.
It was so easy we just logged into our online banking added a beneficiary, hit exchange and boom had the money in a few days it was great….
Or was it…
Later that month we were talking to one of our friends who had been in Australia for about six months on a WHV and he said
Hahaha you just transferred it directly! Haven’t you heard about CurrencyFair or a money transfer company!?
Steve and Sabina were both speechless here.
Nobody had told us about CurrencyFair or any money transfer companies at this stage.
So obviously we were like
Emm what do you mean? Sure we got great exchange rates and like only paid €40 or something to send it
Okay okay…were not going to open a whole dialogue here but we had no clue that this was even an option or who the hell CurrencyFair were lol.
Now CurrencyFair is not the only money transfer companies out there, and there is a whole host of additional ones.
Over our two years in Australia, we also heard about MANY other international money transfers but we feel there is four that we would recommend.
Our personal international money transfer recommendations would be:
International Money Transfer Deals For You:
Okay, we wouldn’t be very good travel bloggers if we didn’t give something back.
Transferwise – Still another excellent choice and in our top 3, we will update this once we manage to secure a deal 😉
HiFx – You probably have heard of XE currency? Well, they just acquired them and are probably one of the most popular among expats. Well worth checking out
TorFX – TorFX has been providing bank-beating foreign exchange and international payments for over ten years.
Scenario 2: Your chilling in Bali(or any holiday destination, outside of Europe) for a few weeks and you think “Oh I’ll just take money out of the ATM.”
We spent an epic three months in Bali; it was unreal! If you are visiting Bali, we have our top 6 Bali destinations listed here.
Okay back to it!
Yea so we were having a great time, popped down to the ATM whenever we needed some Rupiah(Indonesian currency) and withdrew money from our Australian or Irish bank accounts.
A few weeks later(money lasts quite long in Bali 🙂 ) we checked our online banking and were shocked to discover AU$12.50 withdrawal charges on our Australian account and like €6.32 on our Irish account each transaction!!! :O
Soo we had probably been to the ATM.. 5 or 6 times.. just casually taking out $100 or €100.. we didn’t even think about international money charges.
Yup, so in a matter of weeks we had racked up easily $100+ and €50+ just by going to the ATM!!
We did, of course, know there would be some charges on ATM withdrawals but had no idea it would be so much.
The same goes if you have an Australian bank account and you are visiting Europe. We feel you pain!
So there is essentially two things you can do:
- Take out €2000/$4000 for your entire holiday before you go
- Recommended: Use a money transfer service such as Western Union
We don’t recommend taking a bunch of cash with you as this can lead to a whole host of problems, but we certainly recommend bringing some cash.
Wherever you are in the world, there will probably be a Western Union or a retailer that can accept payment. Not only that but charges are WAY less than just going to the ATM.
Sure it is a hassle to drive/walk and set everything up but trust us it will totally be worth it!
Important facts you need to know about doing an international money transfer:
- It can take quite a bit of time to set up your account with these money transfer companies.
- Just like with a bank they need things like photo ID, proof of address, bank statements and just your standard identification documents
- It’s worth the pain – Trust us, we have wasted 100’s of $’s and €’s just because of convenience… it is just as convenient if not easier once you set everything up.
- The money transfer companies we mentioned above do direct money transfers and peer to peer money transfer.
If you are confused by how it works then just watch this video:
- It’s not free – There still is charges on sending money abroad with any money transfer companies these vary from $5 – $10 up depending if you are doing a priority trade(~24 hours) or a standard trade(~2-3 days)
What about Paypal or direct bank transfers?
Yup I can see a few of you shouting at the screen saying “Em Hello we use Paypal and we pay nuthinnn“ or “Nah bank transfer are the best, my bank gives me free transfers.”
Yes, both are good points.
I’ll start with Paypal – Okay we agree, for like 50-100$ transfers you can’t go wrong they are the king for receiving payments via email, etc.
But when you look into going above that amount and exchanging currency then things get a bit hazy.
Now I’ll try not get to technical here but PayPal says here that they base their rate on the ‘Interbank Exchange Rate’ and that ‘Customers may use these rates as a reference’.
These rates aren’t guaranteed and start at around 2.5% of the exchange rate. See here. Meaning for larger amounts over $100, we would advise you to use a money transfer service.
Now fo the bank transfers…
I know we said a complete guide…
but covering every single bank would not be a fun time for you or us..
So please don’t use a bank to transfer money.
We have yet to come across any bank that even compares close to the rates we have got with CurrencyFair.
Additionally because you are sending it from for example Australia – Ireland then you might like we had to pay a “receiving fee” where the bank charges you to receive an international transfer.
Yes, they get you every which way they can.
The bottom line on international money transfers
The main reason we decided to write this piece on international money transfers is to give at least an insight into the money transfer world out there.
There will be some scenarios where you have to withdraw money out of the ATM, or you will have to do an urgent money transfer, and that’s okay.
Only yesterday while we were in Madrid(great place!) we ran out of cash and had to get money fast.
So..yea you guessed it we went to the ATM, and it probably cost us about $20+ in the exchange rate + fees. So we drowned our sorrow in some cheap beer 🙂
For those of you that already use another money transfer service(there is a LOT of them) be sure to comment with what service you use and why below. We love the feedback.
Cheers to some extra money in your pocket and a successful international money transfer! Don’t forget to press any of the share buttons below to help other not get screwed in international money transfers. Thanks
Lastly, here is our international money transfer recommendations:
We are affiliated with these companies but only because we have used or been personally recommended.
This means that we get a small commission from you signing up. This is at no additional cost to you(but it does help our travels).
What money international money transfer company do you use? Comment below