5 Best Alternatives
Venmo is great for local transfers in the US.
But there’s one massive drawback – you can’t use Venmo for international transfers.
So what are the options?
Thankfully there are several workarounds that don’t involve painfully expensive and sometimes hidden bank fees.
Here are 5 great services you can turn to, depending on where you want to send money, the amount, and your preferred payout methods.
TransferWise for example enables you to do many of the same things Venmo does, but also makes international transfers cheap, fast and even fun. We will cover the details but if TransferWise doesn’t meet your needs, there are four others including WorldRemit, Remitly, OFX, and XE that should be perfect.
More on that in a bit.
First, let’s get clear on what you can and can’t do.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links and potential savings on transfers if you use some of the links! For more information, see my disclosures here.
- What is Venmo?
- Venmo Costs & Fees
- Does Venmo Work Internationally?
- Can You Use Venmo While Overseas?
- Venmo Alternatives
- Venmo Alternatives Snapshot
Venmo is a payment service owned by PayPal with the exclusive intent of making mobile payments fast, easy, and affordable in the US.
With Venmo you can:
- Send money to friends and family in the US using their phone number or email. They’ll get instant access to the funds if they have a Venmo account. If they don’t have an account, they can just create one in a few minutes. You can also sync your Facebook or phone contacts to find your payee. It’s that easy.
- Pay for goods and services on apps that have approved Venmo as a payment merchant (there are plenty of those)
- Easily split and settle up expenses with friends and family in the app
- Track all your payments in the app
- Make payments with your bank account, credit card, or debit card.
- Apply for a Venmo MasterCard, which is widely accepted in stores in the US
How much does Venmo really cost?
The good news is Venmo doesn’t charge you for most of its services.
- You won’t pay any fees for registering and holding an account
- No monthly or annual fees
- There are no charges for receiving payments in your Venmo account
- No charges for online payments
- Sending money from a linked bank account, debit card or your Venmo balance is free
- In-network ATM withdrawals with your Venmo MasterCard are free
But there are some fees:
- Out-of-network ATM withdrawals will cost you $2.50 per withdrawal
- Funding a transfer with your credit card will cost you 3% of the transfer amount
- Venmo Exchange Rate? Unfortunately there isn’t even an expensive option, because you can’t do it.
- However you might be able to use Venmo while overseas…
Officially Venmo says that its service is “only available in the United States and only compatible with US based bank accounts and phone numbers. You must also be able to send and receive SMS/text messages from short codes.”
So the official line is clear, Venmo is “only available in the US”. However of course your US phone and US bank account can all be accessed while overseas.
This means in theory Venmo can be used while overseas and there are numerous posts online (like on reddit for Europe, Canada and the UK) that verify this is the case, but some suggest you might need to use a VPN.
Despite there being potential workarounds, Venmo is not a recommended option for international transfers. There are lots of fantastic service options available that more than fill the gap and could be cheaper and more convenient.
All the ones we suggest work well in the US as well!
If only Venmo had a foreign transaction fee. Since Venmo only works with US bank accounts and phone numbers if you need to send money to a family member to Canada or a friend who’s in Europe long term, Venmo is not the way to go as they will likely have bank accounts and cell phones in those countries.
What are the alternatives then?
Let’s dive in.
Don’t miss the Alternatives Snapshot table below.
TransferWise is a great Venmo alternative because in addition to international transfers some of their other services are pretty awesome too.
The important bit;
TransferWise makes bank-to-bank and card-to-bank transfers easy and affordable at interbank rates and they show you upfront exactly what you will pay in fees and you can even see how they compare with others. They specialise particularly in sending, receiving or spending money abroad and are on a mission to make it as cheap, convenient and fair as possible.
Availability: They are available from 59 countries (including US, UK, and Canada) and support transfers to 60+ countries in 40+ currencies.
Strengths: Low and transparent fees, easy online interface, great customer service, specialised in international money transfers
Fees: We love TransferWise for their transparent fee structure. Typically, TransferWise’s fees depend on how you fund your transfer (bank transfer or credit or debit card), the amount you’re sending, and the target currency.
Usually, their fees are between 0.4-1% of the transfer amount, which is extremely competitive compared to banks (who charge 3-5% of a transfer). Another great thing about TransferWise is that you’ll always be getting the best exchange rate with them. They never add a markup to the exchange rate which other providers typically do and believe in radical transparency.
TransferWise has created an alternative to the network that banks use to send money internationally, which allows it to minimise fees when sending money all aver the world.
TransferWise also offers a multi-currency account and a prepaid MasterCard (accepted pretty much anywhere globally and great for online purchases) You also get international bank details in major currencies like USD, CAD, GBP, EUR, AUD, SGD, and NZD which makes getting paid or accepting money in those currencies as if you had bank accounts in those countries. This means you can receive payments in those currencies for free and you avoid bad exchange rates.
If this all sounds pretty great check out our full review of the TransferWise Transfer Service.
WorldRemit is a Venmo alternative for international transfers if your recipient doesn’t have a local bank account. With WorldRemit, you can send cash, initiate mobile wallet transfers, and even top up your recipient’s prepaid mobile with their Air time service.
Availability: WorldRemit is available in 44 countries, including the US, UK, and Canada and support transfers to 150 countries worldwide.
Strengths: Wide selection of receiving countries and many payout methods.
Fees: WorldRemit’s fees depend on the target currency, payout method, how you fund your transfer, and the transfer amount.
WorldRemit’s exchange fees depend on market fluctuations (so not at the interbank rate). They charge a margin on the exchange rate and their fees range between USD 3.99 and USD 24.99, depending on the currency and pay out method.
Typically, transfers funded with a credit card are more expensive and banks at either end can also charge fees. But their rates are still great compared to high street banks.
Cash transfers are a bit more expensive. But you can save big on your transfer if your recipient chooses to receive the funds in a local currency.
See our full review of WorldRemit here.
Remitly makes currency transfers fast and affordable for immigrants based in developed countries to their families in developing nations.
With Remitly you can send cash as well as transfer funds to your recipient’s mobile wallet or bank account.
Availability: Remitly is available in 16 developed countries: UK, US, Canada, Australia, Ireland, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Austria, Belgium, Finland, Netherlands, Norway, Singapore and Sweden and supports transfers to family members in 50 countries worldwide (personal transfers only).
Strengths: Instant international transfers, focused on personal transfers, many payout methods.
Fees: Remitly’s fees vary based on your sending country, the transfer amount, selected service (Express or Economy – which determines transfer speed), and the target currency.
You can send money instantly to your family members with Remitly’s Express service.
These transfers can only be funded with a credit card and are typically more expensive. But it can be really handy in an emergency.
Their Economy service is more affordable but also slower (3-5 days). You can fund these transfers with a bank transfer or a debit card.
For some receiving countries, Remitly waives their transfer fees if you send more than USD 1,000 via the Economy service. This can turn out to be a great deal if you want to cover personal expenses for your family but don’t really need to funds money urgently.
Remitly limits transfers between the 16 sender countries, so Venmo is still a great option for local transfers in the US. But if you’re looking for international fund transfers in minutes to your family members who are based outside the US, Remitly is a great alternative.
Want more details on how Remitly works? Check out our full review here.
XE is one of the biggest players in the international money transfer arena, with support for both personal and business transfers to almost every country across the globe.
Availability: XE is available in the US, Canada, UK, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand and supports transfers to 170+ countries in 60+ currencies.
Strengths: Supports many receiving countries, enables fee-free transfers (with a caveat) at the mid-market rate, phone support for transfers
Fees: XE makes money by charging a % on the mid market exchange rate (0.3-1.2% of the transfer amount, depending on the currency), and this fee decreases as the amount increases. This makes XE a great option for transferring large amounts (USD 1000 and above) to recipients who have a bank account (XE doesn’t support cash picks or mobile wallet transfers).
Want the low down on how XE works see our full review here.
Looking for a currency transfer service that can help you process those large transfers ($7000 USD and above) from the US?
OFX lets you set up these large transfers online (bank to bank transfers only) and also provides phone support, which we find extremely reassuring. After all, when a substantial amount is on the line, it’s always nice to be able to speak to a human instead of jumping through digital hoops.
Availability: OFX is available in the US, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and HongKong and supports transfers to 190 countries in 55 currencies.
Strengths: Great for large transfers, offers phone support.
Fees: OFX sometimes charges a flat 15% fee + a margin on the exchange rate for all transfers below $10,000. Plus, they have local bank accounts in over 115 countries and can help you avoid the extra fees banks may end up charging.
OFX may charge a fixed fee of $15, however if you click here you can avoid these fees all together.
Need more details before setting up your transfer with OFX and get the $15 fee removed, check out our full review here.
|TransferWise – Check out their full review
|One of the best and most affordable services for international bank-to-bank or card-to-bank transfers for low amounts ($7000 USD and below). Our top pick.
|No instant transfers, no cash pick ups
|WorldRemit – Check out their full review
|Affordable transfers to 150+ countries from the US. Cash pick ups and mobile wallet transfers supported.
|No instant transfers
|Remitly – Check out their full review
|Instant international transfers from 16 sender countries to 50+ countries worldwide. Cash pick up and mobile wallet transfers supported.
|Personal transfers only
|XE – Check out their full review
|Great for transfers from the $1000 US and above. Provides phone support for transfers.
|Bank-to-bank transfers only
|OFX – Check out their full review
|Excellent option for sending USD $7000 USD and above. Great phone support for transfers.
|Bank-to-bank transfers only
Venmo is a no-brainer for transferring funds to friends and family if you’re in the US.
If you are travelling and have a Venmo account, it is probably not a good way to do as we discovered above.
But if you need to send money home, pay for things or even transfer funds to yourself internationally, you can’t go wrong with TransferWise especially amounts below $7000 USD. And if you’re a digital nomad, expat or frequent traveller, you’ll love the optional extras that come with TransferWise Borderless.