A money transfer service allows you to send funds to someone else in a country other than where you live. These services can offer convenience, security and lower fees than traditional methods of sending cash or checks, such as mailed checks or money orders. Whether you need to pay an invoice or split a restaurant bill, money transfers can be a simple and cost-effective option.
Many of the options on this list require you to register an account or provide a valid form of identification before you can make a transaction. These requirements vary, but they generally include a valid phone number or email address, as well as an active bank account. Some also require you to upload a document such as a utility bill or government-issued photo ID. You can check the minimum and maximum transfer amounts and fees for each provider before you start a transaction.
Some providers, such as Western Union, operate an extensive network of agent locations around the world where you can send and receive money in person for a small fee. You can use the Western Union website or mobile app to start a transfer, and you can choose to send money from your bank account, debit or credit card or through one of more than a million locations where you can pick up cash.
Other companies focus on providing online or mobile platforms that allow you to send money from your bank account, digital wallet or other source to another. These services often let you transfer funds to a recipient’s bank account in their home country or to a cash pickup location close to them. They can offer convenience, speed and a higher level of safety than sending cash or using a check that could be lost or stolen in transit.
The most secure and fastest way to send funds is through a wire transfer. These are electronic transfers from your bank to the beneficiary’s bank, and they’re typically completed within a day for domestic wires and a few days for international ones. Unlike mailed checks, which can be misplaced or delayed in the mail, wire transfers are highly reliable and are processed only when you have sufficient funds in your bank account.
A wire transfer usually requires a bank or other financial institution to share information about the recipient, the receiving bank and the amount being transferred, using a messaging system such as SWIFT. Each bank and other financial institution that participates in the SWIFT network has a unique code, which is 8 to 11 characters long and known as a SWIFT number or BIC.
Some money transfer companies fold their exchange rates into the overall cost of a transaction. These hidden fees can add up to 4-6% to the amount you’re sending. It’s important to compare the exchange rates offered by different providers to find the best deal on your transfer. You can find a tool here that shows you how much your transfer will be worth in the destination currency.