Top 3 Free Ways (2021) to Transfer Money Overseas

Yes banks were taking you to the cleaners, but the good news is money transfer companies can be just a fraction of the cost.

But it gets better.

From time to time money transfer companies offer juicy promo codes or offers – like “Zero Frees” or “Fee Free” transfers.

Right now, I am going to show you the best deals and also tell you about a few other things that can save you more money – long after the promo expires!

That is not the best bit. 🙂

Apart from finding what is cheap and great, I will show you some tips to make international money a whole lot more awesome.

Let’s dive in!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links (which saves you money). For more information, see my disclosures here.

Jump Links

  1. Fee Free Ways
  2. Cheapest Ways (for Ever)
    1. Hidden Fees
    2. Fixed Fees
    3. Currency Conversion Fees
  3. What You ALSO Need to Know (Beyond Cheap and Free)
    1. Avoiding Losing or Having Money Frozen?
    2. What are the Fastest Ways?
    3. Is Free Safe?
    4. Trust the Review Sites?
  4. 3 Pro Hacks + Bitcoin
    1. Bitcoin and Crypto
    2. Multi Currency Account + Prepaid Card
    3. Using a Challenger Bank

1. Cheapest (and Fee Free) Ways – Updated 1 September 2020

ServiceBest ForLimited Time OffersReviews 
CurrencyFairSmaller Transfers from 60+ countries (Not USA)10 Free Transfers (Current)>> Full Review
WorldRemitSmaller Transfers (including USA)3 Free Transfers (Use Coupon Code "3FREE")>> Full Review
OFXLarger Transfers anywhere in the world$15 Fee Removed (All Transfers, for Ever, if Applicable)>> Full Review

“Updates on Future Offers? One page PDF containing latest cheap and free money transfers (includes promo codes and special links that are on this page, PLUS any new offers that come through in the future). Updated September 2020

Get the PDF + Updates

Above $7000 USD / 4000 GBP /  9500 AUD/CAD / 5000 EUR is considered a large amount.

Below these amounts is a small amount for money transfer companies.

There are loads more services that have “fee free” periods but these services have been hand picked for excellence as well. Read the reviews for more if you aren’t sure.

As you may notice many of these coupon codes or fee free ways expire usually after you have used them for a trial period.

However you are just about to find out how to ensure your fees are cheap as possible for ever!

2. Cheapest Ways (for Ever)

No doubt about it, “fee free” transfers are awesome and can help significantly in the total fees.

But what about those other fees including the hidden ones?

Also what happens when those juicy fee free periods end – are they still relatively cheap?

Jump Links

  1. Hidden Fees
  2. Fixed Fees
  3. Currency Conversion Fees

ServiceFixed Fee (without link)Currency ConversionLocal Bank Accounts*Estimated Fees on $1000*Estimated Fees on $50,000
CurrencyFair 10 Free Transfers (Current for Aug 2020)€3 ($4)0.25% to 0.3%Most Majors - Most notably not Canada or New Zealand$3 (with Fixed Fee Removed)$470 (Fixed fee negligible and not included)
3 Free Transfers (Use Coupon Code "3FREE" Offer Ends 31st August 2020)
$3.99 to $24.99 depending on various factors such as the currency, country, amount, and delivery option.1% to 1.5%"extensive range of competitively priced payout options in more than 120 countries, including cash pick-up, bank account transfers and mobile money."$1.5 (with Fixed Fee Removed)$500 - $750 (Fixed fee negligible and not included)
OFX $15 Fee Removed (All Transfers, for Ever, if Applicable)$15 (Applicable to transfers below $10k)2% to 0.4% (smaller as amounts grow)"OFX uses a network of 115 bank accounts worldwide" - "unable to send funds to the following countries: Afghanistan, Belarus, Burma, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Zimbabwe."$2 (with Fixed Fee Removed)$450 (Fixed fee negligible and not included)
BankNone usually$79 (Very rough guide, varies enormously)$2340 (Very rough guide, varies enormously)
Important Notes:
Fixed Fee - This fee is a small charged (but can vary depending on the amount)
Currency Conversion - This fee is built into the currency conversion compared to the interbank rate. This figures come from common currencies but please note this will vary depending on currencies, amounts and other factors.
Local Bank Accounts - One of the largest "hidden fees" can be significant reduced through local bank accounts.
*Estimated Fees - Please use as a guide only and do your own checks before transacting. Information on this page will help you to know exactly what to look for.

2.1 Hidden Fees

These fees can be charged by the service themselves for many weird and wonderful things you might not expect.

For example, a very common and perfectly understandable fee is often charged by services that allow you to use a credit or debit card to fund the transaction.

Most services are pretty good, but occasionally there are surprises.

The biggest hidden fee that most services fail to highlight are the fees charged by banks at either ends.

For smaller amounts these fees can be a substantial part of what you end up paying. 

For example, if you were transferring $1000 USD to the UK, your bank in the US could charge up to $50 for the transaction (usually $20 to $40) and the receiving bank likewise will charge up to £20 to receive the funds (usually £10 to £20). £20 is about $25.

As you can see in the table above, if you pay $30 – $75 to the banks for their fees and only $3 or $4 to the money transfer company, these “hidden fees” can really add up.

For larger amounts, this is not such an issue.

Now you might be wondering why I call these fees “hidden fees” when the money transfer company has nothing to do with them – it is the banks at either end.

Here is the thing.

They can and often do a whole lot to reduce and even eliminate these fees!

Money transfer companies that crush these fees manage a network of local banks worldwide which means that these fees aren’t charged by banks in the same way you can accept money from someone in your country or pay someone in your country usually with no fees.

See table above for any “hidden fees” you need to be aware of.

Fees uncovered

2.2 Fixed Fees

As you can see, the fixed fees (which you can get removed using the links) are quite significant for smaller amounts, but less so with a company like CurrencyFair which can keep its currency conversion fees incredibly low due to it’s peer to peer structure.

On an ongoing basis, CurrencyFair will almost always be a great option for smaller transfers, although if Canada or New Zealand are one of the countries, the do not yet have local bank accounts in those countries.

OFX is also super interesting, because while they may charge a little more for smaller transfers in currency conversions, there is no fixed fee for ever which makes them competitive for even smaller amounts.

WorldRemit is also a standout performer in any circumstance and the offer cash pick up as an option in some countries.

2.3 Currency Conversion

This is often the largest fee! (assuming the hidden fees are small)

We have also found something awesome you can do to minimize these!

First, a quick note of how these work: When you look at a service online, most services only show you the interbank rate or mid-market rate. This is the exchange rate that banks use to exchange money with each other. The good ones are pretty up front about this, but often won’t show you the exact exchange rate until you have signed up, logged-in and you are all set to transact.

After many years of writing reviews and using these services ourselves we started to really understand an easy way you can make these service work best for you.

Some money transfer services are really cheap for smaller transfers, and others are really cheap for larger transfers.

This is really important, because it can not just save you a bundle you also end up with a better service for those amounts and it can save you a lot of heartache.

Let me make this brief: The reason you can save a bundle has to do with a money transfer companies business models.

Companies that transfer smaller amounts cheaper tend to make you do everything online and have very efficient automated customer service departments – think chat bots, ticket support and helpful online resources. They also make sign up simpler and often automated. The problem is these companies strengths become weaknesses when larger amounts are involved.

Companies that are cheaper for larger amounts have a strong telephone support which can a huge benefit to you in ensuring everything runs smoothly from sign up through to transacting. Usually they also try to do many things online, but often a real person is needed as the amounts grow.

At the same time money transfer companies tend to reduce the percentage fees as the amounts grow.

There is more to this as I will uncover now.

3. What You ALSO Need to Know (Beyond Cheap and Free)

3.1 Avoiding losing or having money frozen?

The potentially ugly side of money transfers no matter who you do it through (banks included) means that many of the services you use are subject to regulations and anti-money laundering laws.

For the most part, the regulations surrounding these laws are a good thing and minimize the potential for scams and fraud. Many of the regulatory hurdles money transfer services have to jump through also protect your money in important ways.

For example, companies have to use segregated accounts from their own operating accounts which means that your money should be safe even if a money transfer company goes bust.

But the reality of these regulations can also mean your account is frozen at any time (while more information is gathered) and this can mean your money is held up for periods of time and this in turn can be a source of high anxiety.

Fortunately there is still a lot you can do to ensure this possibility is minimized.

The most important is simply choosing money transfer companies that are designed for the amount you will be sending.

Top Tip: Money transfer companies that are designed for larger amounts of money tend to get all the necessary documentation out of the way before you can transfer money in the first place. The downside of this is that these companies tend to not be as easy to sign up initially but if you plan to transfer larger amounts of money at any time now or in the future – we recommend you choose one of these.

Alternatively if you plan to always move smaller amounts, then using an even cheaper, easier to sign up money transfer company that also has great customer service is the way to go.

In Practice: Over time, you might want two money transfer companies. One for larger amounts and one for smaller cheaper amounts. This tends to keep costs as low as possible and provides the necessary services needed to make things run smoothly.

3.2 What are the fastest ways to transfer money?

Time it takes to transfer comparisonIf speed is critical some services enable you to transact faster often through the use of a credit or a debit card which funds the transaction quicker than your bank itself can send the money.

These methods however often come with an additional cost which is mostly passed on to the card and network companies. You can also use services like PayPal (how to) which while relatively expensive enable you to transfer money from PayPal to PayPal account which can be practically instantaneous.

3.3 Safe to send money using a money transfer company?

Well known money transfer companies are highly regulated and also make it their entire business for your money to arrive safely. This means they have a strong interest in making sure your money is safe and also means that should something go wrong there are also safeguards in place that regulators require which further protects your money.

I could go on and on about all the regulatory bodies and technical security measures that are in place (we do that in the reviews) but I think it is more important knowing that their whole purpose for being is aligned with your money arriving not just safely but happily.

This is why they are growing like crazy.

3.4 Trust the Reviews Online, Trust the Companies?

Many companies actively solicit reviews. We have no worries with that. The question here is do they only focus more on people who have had a positive experience? Of course this could have the effect of making a company look better that it might actually be?

To help counteract this, in all the reviews we do for each company we focus on the negative reviews and do an analysis of them to uncover any common issues people face.

We also use the services ourselves and a handful mentioned here – very regularly.

4. 3 Pro Hacks including Bitcoin

  1. Bitcoin and Crypto
  2. Multi Currency account + Prepaid Card
  3. Using a Challenger Bank

4.1 Bitcoin and Crypto

Money Transfer with Bitcoin or other CryptoThe beautiful thing about decentralized crypto currencies like Bitcoin is that no one person, country or company is in control of your store of wealth. This means that country borders don’t exist and your Bitcoin can be sent extremely inexpensively to anyone, anywhere.

The problem however is that when you are thinking about transferring money you are probably not being paid in Bitcoin the money is not being spent in Bitcoin, this means that exchanges need to be involved.

Fees range from 0.1% to 1% at each end of the transaction.

Binance (the largest exchange) charges a fixed fee of 0.0001 or $4 USD (at $10k Bitcoin Price) to withdraw and 0.2% for the transactions (0.1% each for the sender and receiver assuming they exchange the Bitcoin to local currency). The fee for using the Bitcoin network is about $5 / transaction at present but this can fluctuate wildly and is usually lower.

Total Fees = 0.2% (0.1% x 2) + $4 (withdrawal from senders exchange) + $5 (gas)

If you were transferring $1000 total fees would be about $2 (0.1% x 2) + $9 = $11 or 1.1%

The Binance exchange fees (0.1%) are very low (compared to the industry), but the gas price in this instance is historically high.

If you or your receiver are happy to hold Bitcoin, it could be a relatively cheap option but remember Bitcoin is highly volatile.

4.2 Multi Currency account + Prepaid Card

Many people fail to appreciate the money they are losing when they accept payments in different currencies and then pay for things again (often) in a different currency.

Here is an example to highlight:

Let’s say you live in the US and got paid by someone in the UK for some work you did then you used that money to travel overseas.

The $1000 was sent to your bank or PayPal – without you having to do anything (just waiting for money) PayPal or your Bank took their fees 4.4% + 30c on Paypal and and about 3%-8% through your bank.

Now you would have $955.70 deposited.

Hopefully you just spend the money in the US, but if you purchased something from Canada or Mexico using a credit card, once again you would pay 2-4% mostly just for the currency conversion fee.

Total Fees = 6% to 12%

Now using the same $1000, let’s say you use a Multi Currency Account

Instead of getting paid in USD you accept whatever currency is being paid into your multi currency account.

Now you would have $1000 deposited.

Then when you purchase anything you use the often free prepaid visa debit card that comes with the account. The fees vary but the exchange rate charged is typically free to 2.2%.

In this example, you would save 4% – 8% simply using a multi currency account in combination with a prepaid visa card.

For expats, backpackers or entrepreneurs multi currency accounts are the next step in making international money easier.

Our favourite game changing multi currency account and pre-paid visa card is the Borderless Account (review) through TransferWise (review) who also a top pick for smaller amounts. 

We also uncovered how well TransferWise does head to head with its competitors which while not offering a free fees, charges no margin on the exchange rate. 

4.3 Challenger Bank

OK now we are getting really ninja.

Using a challenger bank often has all the functionality of a regular bank without the fees to keep accounts plus you can have access to multi currency accounts and prepaid debit cards. In some you can even buy and sell Bitcoin.

Even better than this is the way things work.

Challenger banks often sync easily with your accounting software (like Xero) and have apps and online platforms that are light years ahead of old school banks.

Thanks for reading.

Happy Money!

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