Using Square Cash internationally: Are international payments possible?

07.03.18
7 minute read
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Square Cash is a simple way to send and receive money. It’s useful for personal payments - like splitting a restaurant bill - and can also be used for business purposes. You can send and receive cash in a number of different ways - using the Square Cash App, online, or even through iMessage or Siri if you have an iPhone. It’s convenient to use, and for personal payments made with your Cash balance or a linked bank account, there’s usually no fee.

If you love Square Cash, you might be wondering if the service can be used for payments to friends and family overseas. Here’s all you need to know.

Sending money to or from the US? TransferWise could save you up to 8x versus your normal options

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Psst. Before you really get started, a word.

Banks and money transfer providers often give you bad exchange rates to make extra profits.

TransferWise is different. You could save up to 8x by using TransferWise rather than your bank when you send your money abroad. Check out how to make your first transfer with TransferWise. And give it a try.

Oh, and while you’re at it, check out TransferWise’s free borderless multi-currency account. Where you can manage and send dozens of currencies all from the same account.

We’ll talk a little more about TransferWise later. But, for now, back to what you came here to read.


Can I send money abroad with Square Cash?

square international transfers

To use Square Cash, you have to be a resident of the US, and also physically present in the US. That means you can’t use it when you’re travelling or if you’re an expat and live abroad.

If you’re planning on using Square Cash to make a payment, it’s also useful to note that the Cash app can’t be used in some US territories. Here’s how Square explain it online:

Currently, Cash isn’t available in U.S. territories such as Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Northern Mariana Islands or outside the U.S., so you won’t be able to use Cash while traveling internationally, living abroad, or residing on overseas military bases.¹

Your recipient must be based in the US to be eligible to access Square Cash. That means that you can’t use it to make payments to friends or family who are based outside of the US. Bad news if you want to send cash to, or receive money from overseas.

If you need to make an international payment, you can’t use Square Cash - but you do have other options. Keep reading for more on good alternatives to Square Cash for sending money abroad.

Choosing an international money transfer service - check the exchange rate before you commit

check the rate

Let’s start at the beginning. You can’t use Square Cash for your international transfer or payment - but what do you need to consider when choosing an alternative?

Fee-free international transfers don’t exist

Whatever your bank or international money transfer service might say, making an international money transfer is never going to be free.

There are costs involved - and of course, the bank or money transfer service carrying out the payment will want to make a profit on the transaction.

Don’t be fooled by services which say they offer zero commission, or fee-free international money transfers. One way or another the costs will be passed on to the customer. Sometimes this is in the form of upfront fees which you can check before you decide which service to use. But very often, the fees are hidden in the exchange rate - making it very tricky to work out the true cost of the transfer.

Exchange rates really do matter

To make sure you’re getting a fair deal on your international money transfer, you should pay attention to the exchange rates used by different international money transfer services.

The exchange rates on offer from different banks and money transfer services can vary a lot. To make sure you’re being given a fair rate, you need to compare it to the mid-market rate, sometimes called wholesale, spot, or interbank rate. It’s the rate you find on Google.

The mid-market rate is what banks use to trade money on global financial markets. It’s the only real exchange rate. It goes up and down with the markets, but you can find the current mid-market rate by simply doing a Google search for your currency pairing, or using a currency converter online.

Most services don’t apply the mid-market rate when they make an international transfer. Instead, they add a margin onto the exchange rate they use, which covers their costs and profit. Then - abracadabra - they can say they offer a fee-free transfer service, while still pocketing a profit. That’s not transparent - and seldom a good deal for customers.

Don’t get ripped off. Check the exchange rate being used before you commit.

What are my options when it comes to sending money abroad?

options transfer money overseas

One of the great things about Square Cash is the convenience it offers. If you need to make an international transfer you’ll want a service which is just as simple and customer friendly - without having to pay a fortune for it. So what are your options?

  • An alternative money transfer service (often faster and cheaper)
  • Your bank (often slower, but at least familiar)

Choose an alternative money transfer service

Traditional banks don’t always offer great value for international transfers. In fact, the costs of making an international transfer with your bank might come as a bit of a shock.

You can’t always make your transfer online via a traditional bank, either. Needing to call into your local branch in person isn’t necessarily convenient - but there are alternatives which allow you to carry out your transaction online if your bank won’t.

For example, you could try PayPal for your transfer abroad. It’s simple enough to arrange an international payment through PayPal - but the fees are fairly high. You can expect to pay a currency conversion spread of 2.5%-3%² on top of the wholesale exchange rate, and international fees running from 0.3%-2%³, and more for credit and debit card payments.

Luckily, there are other options out there which are just as convenient, and don’t cost the earth.

You could save up to 8x by using TransferWise for your international transfers

TransferWise is not like your regular bank. Its new technology is designed to avoid high international transfer fees. You pay in money in one country. And TransferWise matches the equivalent amount in a local bank account in your recipient country. Money is paid out by local bank transfers in the beneficiary nation from money being moved the other way.

Not only that, but TransferWise only ever uses the real, mid-market rate, and charges a small fee per transaction - which is set out upfront so there are no nasty surprises. And what’s more, you can arrange your international transfer with TransferWise easily online, for a simple, convenient experience. With fair fees.

You may be able to save up to 8x by using TransferWise rather than your bank when you send your money abroad. Check it out today.

Sending money with your bank (making an international wire transfer)

If you prefer to use your regular bank to make your international transfer - also known as an international wire transfer - you can usually do so by simply calling into your local branch.

Call your bank before you visit to check the process, and what documents and details you might have to provide. It’s also well worth asking about the fees. If you prefer to do your banking in person, then you might have to pay more for the privilege. That’s because it’s common for banks to charge more for wire transfers made in branch than for online transfers. Unfortunately, though, many US banks will require you to, at the very least, come in to a branch for your first international transfer. Some don’t offer the service at all. Regardless, you may need to reach out to your bank first to find out.

When sending money internationally via a regular bank, it’s not only your own bank which could levy fees and charges. Most likely your transfer will be processed using the SWIFT network, and that means that intermediary banks, and the recipient’s own bank could add their own charges, too.

If you love the convenience, speed and fair prices you get when using Square Cash in the US, then TransferWise could be the answer when you need to send money abroad. Do your research, and see what you could save - for many customers, TransferWise offers a better deal on international money transfers.

Sources

1 https://squareup.com/help/us/en/article/5187-get-started-with-cash-app (March 7, 2018)
2 https://www.paypalobjects.com/webstatic/ua/pdf/US/en_US/ua.pdf (March 7, 2018)
3 https://www.paypalobjects.com/digitalassets/c/website/marketing/na/us/ebooks/pdf/fees-page.pdf (March 7, 2018)

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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