There are several ways to send money overseas and different types of firms competing for your business. These include traditional banks, money transfer services and foreign exchange (FX) brokers, as well as an increasing number of smartphone apps.
Which money transfer option works best for you will depend on several factors. How much money do you need to send? How much will it cost? What is the current exchange rate? How does the recipient need to receive the money (i.e. into their bank account or in cash)? Do you need to set up automated regular payments? How quickly does the money need to be there?
A major influence on the money transfer service you use will be the services available in the country you’re sending it to. These might include cash pickups, delivery services, bank account credits, and mobile services. Below is a guide to the benefits and things to look out for when using these services.
Many people will turn to their bank for foreign transfers – they tend to be easy, convenient and secure. But overseas bank transfers will cost you dearly. Rates can be poor and commission charges high.
Banks may not be the quickest option either, with standard transfers taking up to four days and even “fast” transfers a couple of days. Some foreign banks will also charge for receiving the money, adding to your costs.
Foreign exchange brokers
In general, foreign exchange (FX) or currency brokers will offer better exchange rates than banks. There are plenty to choose from too – high-profile brokers including Travelex and, UAE Exchange.
The key question you should ask is “How many dollars/euros/rupees etc will I get for X pounds, after all the charges?” To get the best deal, get quotes from multiple companies and use Google to research your chosen company’s reputation.
The past few years have seen peer-to-peer services (P2P) offer an alternative to FX brokers. With this type of service, you use websites or apps to transfer money to your recipient directly, via the internet or over a mobile network. When this is done internationally, the services will match you with someone else who is buying or selling a different currency (depending on what you’re doing) to generate a competitive exchange rate.
P2P is a good way to avoid the high exchange rates that banks often charge for transferring money abroad, but be careful, the rates you see may not be what you get. With P2P the rate is not confirmed until a buyer is found, meaning it could have changed dramatically by the time the payment goes through, costing you a lot more.
A mobile wallet is accessed via an app on your beneficiary’s smartphone and is linked to his/her mobile phone number. It acts like a digital version of a normal wallet – one can store cash and credit and debit card details. In order to send money to a mobile wallet, you need to visit a money transfer organisation like Xpress Money, provide the receiver’s mobile number and hand over the cash you want to send. The advantages of a mobile wallet are payments can be received instantly and they’re very convenient – your loved ones don’t need to travel to get the money from you.
Mobile payments are another way expats can send money, both to their accounts overseas and to friends and family. Most payment apps are simple and straightforward to use. You sign up online, or directly on the app, and you can then send money internationally, as well as receive payments from abroad.
Before you pick a mobile payment app, make sure you double check the exchange rates that will be used and any fees charged.
In some circumstances, recipients in other countries may need physical cash rather than having money sent to a bank account, mobile wallet or app. For those of you that feel more comfortable sending cash in person, Xpress Money has 350 agents located in the UK, including corner shops and Travelex bureaus, all ready to help you send the cash wherever it’s most needed.
Once the cash has been deposited with a high street agent, the money can be collected from an overseas agent within minutes. The beneficiary can receive the money as cash from an Xpress Money agent or delivered to their home, as a deposit into their bank account or mobile wallet, or withdraw it from an ATM, depending on the service available in the country the money has been sent to.
In order to make things as easy as possible for you, it’s important that you’re able to access a strong network that allows you to send money to wherever you want. Convenience is a key part of the experience as well – it should never be a chore to transfer money abroad. Xpress Money has over 200,000 agents in 165 countries, meaning you’re never far away from a location where you can send money to help a loved one.
Sending money can sometimes seem daunting, but it needn’t be and hopefully the above helps. To find out more about Xpress Money’s remittance service click here, or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you need any further advice and the Xpress Money team will be there to assist.