International Money Transfer Apps in the US

TransferWise
11.06.19
7 minute read

Sending money abroad used to be a time-consuming and expensive process. The wire transfers that banks offer tend to come at a price, and don’t even reach their destination that quickly. That’s because of the SWIFT network, which often sees your money passed between various intermediary banks before reaching its destination.

But this is one area where some new providers have shaken things up. There are now many apps that can send your money faster – and at less cost to you. Here’s our pick of the best money transfer apps that’ll let you transfer money from a credit card to a bank, or directly from bank account to bank account, or however you want.

TransferWise

Unlike most banks and other providers, TransferWise offers the real mid-market rate on all its international money transfers and prides itself on its simple, upfront fees by getting rid of the intermediary bank fees.

  • Send money easily via the free app
  • Get the real mid-market rate
  • With a borderless account, you also get virtual bank details in six different currencies – you can receive money like a local in Europe, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Poland and the US.
  • You get a debit Mastercard with a borderless account, too – making it even easier to spend money around the world.

How does TransferWise compare to other providers on price and speed? Take a look at this comparison for real-time estimates.

PayPal

PayPal is a giant in the world of online payments, and international payments is just one of the services it offers. Here are a few of its key features.¹

  • You can send money directly to a PayPal account, which is great news if your recipient uses PayPal too
  • You can also do a range of other things like send to a bank account or arrange a cash pickup – these are handled by Xoom, another service which is owned by PayPal. More on Xoom later
  • When you check the fees, be sure to factor in the exchange rate as well as the transfer fee. Compare the offered exchange rate to the mid-market rate to see what sort of deal you’re getting.

Transfast

Owned by Mastercard, Transfast is an international payment provider that operates in over 125 countries.² With the Transfast app you can send to 50+ countries around the world at a guaranteed exchange rate, arrange for various delivery options including bank deposit and cash pickup, and pay via bank, debit or credit card.

  • You can send up to USD 10,000, or more if you provide additional information³
  • Transfast doesn’t give a general ETA for your transfer in their FAQs, but you can check the status of your transfer any time via the app
  • Transfast do charge a transfer fee,⁴ plus the exchange rate probably won’t be the mid-market rate.⁵

Western Union

One of the most established players in the world of money transfers, Western Union has adapted to modern times by bringing its services online and via app. You can send money all around the world using Western Union’s app.

  • Transfer limits vary depending on a range of factors. A typical limit for a transfer from the US to Germany is USD 50,000⁶
  • For that US to Germany transfer, the estimated service time is 0 to 6 business days, or 0 to 4 for cash pickup⁶
  • There will likely be a transfer fee, plus a marked-up Western Union exchange rate: Western Union states on its site that it makes money from currency exchange.⁶

Xoom

As already mentioned, Xoom is owned by PayPal, and it’s another way you can send money out of the US to other countries around the world. Here are the key details:

  • There are three “sending levels” at Xoom, meaning that the amount you can send rises depending on how much you upgrade your account with extra information. The lowest level has a limit of USD 2,999 per day, and the highest one USD 50,000⁷
  • Transfer speed ranges from minutes to a few days, depending on where it’s going, delivery method, and your initial payment method too⁸
  • Fees vary depending on the same factors. Like Western Union, Xoom states that it makes money through its exchange rate, too.⁹

InstaReM

InstaReM is another new kid on the block, and like TransferWise it offers the real mid-market rate. That means you’re able to avoid paying the hidden fees that come with a marked-up exchange rate, although there will be a transfer fee to pay nonetheless.¹⁰

  • US individuals can send between USD 50 and USD 1500 per transaction via ACH, or more than that via bank transfer¹¹
  • A typical InstaReM transfer may be instant, but it could also take more than 2 business days¹²
  • Fees are typically between 0.25% and 1%. The lack of exchange rate markup is a point in its favor here.

Remitly

Another specialist provider of international transfers, Remitly’s primary goal is to help immigrants send money back home¹³. Its website and well-rated app let you do just that.

  • The amount you can send depends on which sending limit tier you’re in. You go in at Tier 1, which lets you send up to USD 2,999 within 24 hours. If you make it up to Tier 3, you can send up to USD 10,000 a day¹⁴
  • How long your transfer takes depends on which option you choose: Express or Economy. Express requires a debit or credit card payment, and should arrive in minutes. Economy, which you pay for from your bank account, should arrive within 3 business days¹⁵
  • You’ve guessed it: you pay more for Express transfers than for Economy ones. The Economy fee for a transfer to Brazil is currently USD 1.99, while the Express fee starts at USD 5.99 and rises depending on your transfer amount.¹⁶

OFX

Australia-based but global company OFX is an established player in international money transfers, also offering other international financial services. It has a range of business offerings too, and generally focuses more on higher-value transfers. Here’s what you need to know:

  • There’s no upper limit on transfers with OFX¹⁷. In fact, the minimum is more likely to be a factor: you can only make transfers of USD 1,000 or more¹⁸
  • OFX estimates it’ll take 1 day for it to receive funds from you (in the US), and 1 day for the money to arrive at its destination¹⁹
  • OFX doesn’t charge a transfer fee²⁰, and offers a “more competitive” than banks – but it still may not be the mid-market rate.²¹

World Remit

WorldRemit was founded in 2010 to tackle the same problem as the other providers in this list: to make the process of sending money abroad more efficient in terms of both time and money. Here are the key points about WorldRemit and the WorldRemit app.

  • In the US, the maximum send limit is USD 9,000 per 24 hours, with a limit of USD 5,000 per transaction²²
  • Usually the transfer should go through straight away, but some – especially if you’re making a bank transfer – may take longer²³
  • There will likely be a fee as well as potential markup of the exchange rate. The fee might vary depending on a range of factors.²⁴

Things to consider when choosing a provider

Whichever provider you go for, you have to make sure it’s right for you. That might be a purely personal decision, but do make sure it’s competitive in the following categories: otherwise you might simply get ripped off.

Cost

If sending money abroad is about one thing, it’s… well, money. Right? It makes good sense to go for the provider that offers you the cheapest deal, so that the highest possible amount of your money makes it through to its destination.

When considering the cost, make sure not just to look at fixed fees. The exchange rate can be just as significant. Compare the rate you’re offered to the mid-market rate using an online currency converter, to see if you’re really being offered a good deal.

Do consider TransferWise’s offer of the mid-market rate, with low fees stated clearly. Thanks to its network of local bank accounts around the world, your money won’t travel through costly intermediary banks on its journey. It’ll just ping straight into the recipient’s account.

Speed

The other problem with traditional international money transfers is the speed. If the money has to pass through a network of other banks, it can add days upon days to the transfer time. That’s not just inconvenient: it also creates uncertainty.

Transfer providers often can’t say exactly when money will arrive, partly for the understandable reason that it isn’t entirely down to them: it also depends on the bank that receives it. But do make sure that your provider is offering you as fast a transfer as they’re able.

Convenience

Transferring money via an app is far more convenient than driving down to your local bank branch. But apps have different levels of convenience, too: do take a look at an app’s rating in the Google Play or Apple store, and also take a look around it before you commit to sending your money that way.

Security of your funds

Do make sure your transfer provider is properly secure. Any company handling your money should be appropriately accredited, and just as safe to use as a bank.

TransferWise is registered with FinCEN and licenced for business in these US states.

Customer support

Last but not least, check you’ve got options in case things go wrong. If a company is taking responsibility for your money, the least they can do is make sure you trust them with it – which means that someone should be there to answer any queries you may have. So make sure you’re able to get in touch with them in case your query can’t be answered via the FAQs alone.

Sources used:

1.PayPal
2.Transfast Website
3.Transfast FAQ sending limits
4.Transfast fee calculator
5.Transfast FAQ rate
6.Western Union Calculator
7.Xoom FAQ What is required to send higher amounts of money
8.Xoom FAQ When will my money get there?
9.Xoom Website
10.InstaReM Currency Converter
11.InstaReM International money transfer limit
12.InstaReM FAQ
13.Remitly Website
14.Remitly FAQ
15.Remitly
16.Remitly Website
17.OFX FAQ: Limits
18.OFX FAQ: Minimum transfer amount?
19.OFX FAQ: Transfer speed 27 Oct 2019
20.OFX FAQ: Fees 27 Oct 2019
21.OFX FAQ: International transfer fees 27 Oct 201922.
22.World Remit FAQ
23.World Remit FAQ: Getting started
24.World Remit Website

Sources checked on 6-November 2019


This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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