Sending money abroad has never been easier. It’s also never been less expensive – that is, if you know the right foreign exchange tools to use.
These days you can do all kinds of international money transfers either online or with a quick phone call. Want to send money overseas to yourself or your family’s bank account in a foreign country? You can do that. Dream of having your US salary transferred to where you’re working from abroad in New Zealand? You can do that, too. You can even make international transfers to pay the mortgage on your second home in another country or pay for college tuition overseas if you wish.
Of course, you can’t send money abroad for free. Every bank and foreign currency exchange firm has its own set of fees and charges. And unless you know the rules, you could be paying a lot more in fees and ultimately sending a lot less of your money. So with that in mind, here are a few cost-saving tips to know before you transfer money overseas.
Tip 1: Send more, save more when you transfer money
Ever buy something in bulk to save money? International money transfers work the same way. Generally, the more money you send in one transaction, the better the currency conversion rate you’ll get and the more money you’ll save overall. If your transaction amount is large enough, some companies may even waive the associated transfer fees, too (more on this in the next tip).
If you plan to regularly send money abroad, you can minimize your fees and conversion costs by saving up larger sums of money and transferring less frequently, perhaps on a quarterly or six-month basis.
Tip 2: Go with an international payments company to save big on fees
Banks may be the most popular choice for making international transfers, but they also tend to charge more in fees. A recent wire transfer fee survey by Nerdwallet found that US banks and credit unions charged an average of $42 for an outgoing international wire transfer – and there was sometimes a fee on the receiving bank’s end, too.
Using credit cards to pay for things overseas isn’t much cheaper. A recent CreditCards.com article found that card companies typically charge a foreign transaction fee from 1 to 3 percent of the transaction amount – which could mean a $30 fee for every $1,000 spent overseas.
Instead, consumers can often save the most on a money transfer by choosing reputable firms that specialize in foreign currency exchange, such as an international payments company. Because international payments companies typically have lower cost structures than a bank, they may offer more competitive exchange rates and charge very little (or no) fees. World First USA Inc (World First), for example, charges just $10 to transfer up to $10,000 to an account overseas, and doesn’t charge a fee for international transfers larger than that.
Tip 3: Get a market watching service to help protect your overseas buying power
This tip can save you from taking unnecessary losses caused by currency exchange rate fluctuations. Most of us don’t have time to watch the ever-changing currency markets ourselves, let alone know what market events can threaten our money’s buying power. That’s where an international payment company’s market watching service comes in.
With your unique currency interests in mind, a payments company can regularly send you brief email, text, or phone update on what direction your currencies are moving, based on live currency rates. They can see what upcoming market events could impact your money’s value.
Tip 4: Wait for the currency exchange rates you want
Have a certain currency exchange rate in mind? Some international payments companies (including World First) can watch the markets and notify you when a foreign currency is trading at the price you want to buy it for – which could help your dollars go further when you send money overseas.
For example, let’s say you want to transfer money to Europe to buy a rare art piece. If euros cost $1.12 each, but you want to wait until the foreign exchange rate goes down to $1.10 before you make the money transfer, you could ask an international payments provider to send you a text or email alert once the euro falls to that exchange rate. If you’re more serious, you could use a “firm order” contract to automatically transfer your money to Europe if the euro falls to $1.10.
Tip 5: Have an international payments company find you good currency exchange opportunities
Don’t know what a good exchange rate looks like? An international payments company can help you identify good opportunities to buy and transfer your preferred foreign currency while it’s “on sale.”
Let’s say for example that you’re a British expat working in the US that regularly transfers money to the UK where you want to retire. Then, the UK votes to leave the European Union and the pound’s value plunges 10%, from $1.45 to just $1.30. A payments company could call to tell you that it’s a good time to take advantage of the favorable rates and make your money transfer to the UK, as your US dollars could stretch 10% further there.
The takeaway for saving on international money transfers
While there are plenty of institutions that can transfer money overseas and back, they’re not all created equal. So rather than simply going with a firm that promises the lowest costs, it may be a better idea to find a reputable international payments company that gives you personalized service for your unique transfer needs. That way you can take advantage of all the tools available to you to get great foreign exchange rates, pay less in fees, and ultimately stretch your money as far as it can go every time you transfer money abroad.