One of the many challenges of relocating to another country is finding a way to transfer money without it costing you a fortune. Whether you need to shift around investments or simply wish to send smaller amounts back as gifts or payments, it is vital that you minimise your losses at every step.

While there is certainly no shortage of ways to transfer funds, few places offer quality foreign exchange rates and many will cost you a small fortune in fees. The following is a brief look at four main methods of transferring money and the major differences between each approach.

Bank transfers

Bank transfers are one of the easiest and safest ways to transfer money, especially if you are with an international bank. To send a bank transfer, all you need is the name, address and account details of the recipient and you can conduct the transfer online from anywhere that has a secure internet connection.

The drawback of bank transfers is that the exchange rates offered are rather poor and fees are often charged to both send and receive money. Bank transfers are also quite slow – taking up to a week to process – and many banks restrict the amount you can send and how often you can do so.

Money Transfer Services

Services such as Moneygram and Western Union provide a fast and easy way to send money to even remote locations and the recipient doesn’t need a local bank account to collect it. You only need the name and location of the recipient to send the funds and they simply need a piece of photo ID and a confirmation number to receive it.

The main problem with these services is that they are extremely expensive, particularly when sending large amounts – the foreign exchange rates offered are also rather unfriendly. Money transfer services tend to have strict limitations regarding how much you can send as well – particularly online – and there are few protections for your money if something goes wrong.

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This increasingly popular service is free to join and is now available in over 200 countries. Providing that both the sender and the recipient both have PayPal accounts, all you need is the name, email or phone number of the recipient and the money is transferred instantly.

Unfortunately, PayPal is quite expensive. A fee of 1% of the amount sent is charged to the sender and the recipient is charged a further 3.9% of the transferred money, which is far from ideal when sending large sums. Additional fees apply if the transferred money needs to be converted into the local currency, as well as if a credit card is used to make the transfer.

Foreign Exchange Brokers (Forex)

To maximise your finances when transferring funds you need to find the best foreign exchange rate available – forex brokers will do so for you! You can even lock in a particularly beneficial rate for future transfers and, depending on how much you send, many brokers offer transfers free from fees and charges.

You can schedule recurring transfers in advance so that you never miss a payment and the money is usually available within 24 hours of being sent. Unfortunately, forex transfers are not available on small amounts, often requiring a minimum transfer of around €5,000 EUR.

Regardless of how long you plan on living abroad, you will need a cost effective way to move your money around. You will have enough on your plate settling into your new home without having to stress over money.

The following table compares the estimated fees involved with sending €5,000 EUR to Ireland. All amounts include the cost of sending and receiving money.

(From)Bank TransfersMoney Transfer ServicesPayPalForex brokers
Australia$45 (AUS)$300 (AUS)$368.15 (AUS)Free
Canada$27 (CAN)$300 (CAN)$352.54 (CAN)Free
USA$45 (US)$217 (US)$269.09 (US)Free
China354.66 CNY217.34 CNY1,670.19 CNYFree
India5,758.78 INRn/a17,281.38 INRFree