Dealing with international finances can be rather tricky, especially if you have relocated to another part of the world. You will likely need to transfer money to your new home until you get established and you may even want to send money back to cover things like gifts or emergencies.

The right transfer method for you will depend upon how often you need to send money, how fast it needs to get there and the amount involved. This guide looks at some of the most popular ways to transfer money and will help you find a method that suits you.

Bank transfers

Banks offer a safe and easy way to transfer money almost anywhere and you can do so from the comfort of your own home. Not only do banks offer more protection for your money than almost any other transfer method, all you need is the name, address and account information of the recipient for your transfer to be processed.

The problem with banks is that they offer extremely poor foreign exchange rates and commonly charge fees to send and receive money. Bank transfers can also take up to a week to process and there are generally strict limits regarding how often you can transfer money, as well as how much you send.

Money transfer services

If you need a fast and easy way to transfer money few options can compare with services such as Moneygram and Western Union. All you need is the recipient’s name and location and you can send money almost anywhere and all they need to collect it is photo ID and a transfer confirmation number.

The big drawback of these services is that they take a serious cut out of your transfer by offering dismal exchange rates and the more money you send the higher the fees. These services are also rather inconvenient when sending larger amounts as there are daily limits for how much you can send and transfers over a thousand dollars can’t be completed online.


Free to join and now available in over 200 countries, PayPal provides an extremely easy way to transfer money almost anywhere. While both parties need to have PayPal accounts, to transfer funds you simply need the name, phone number or email or the recipient. This popular online service also provides customer service support 7 days a week via phone and email.

However, PayPal is best kept for smaller transfers as the sender is charged a fee comprising 1% of the transferred funds. The recipient is also charged a fee of 3.9% to receive it. Accessing your money will take a minimum of 3 days after it has arrived in your PayPal account and additional fees are charged if the funds need to be converted into the local currency.

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Foreign Exchange Brokers (Forex)

If you need to transfer large amounts of money your best bet is to use a foreign exchange broker. Not only will this ensure that you enjoy access to premium rates, many brokers even offer fee-free transfers above a certain amount. Forex brokers also allow you to schedule recurring transfers to take advantage of the most lucrative rates.

Forex brokers are extremely knowledgeable on the latest from the world currency markets and will ensure that you are always getting the best deal. The only downside of using foreign exchange brokers is that they don’t handle small transfers, with most brokers only dealing with transfers above €5,000 EUR.

The following table compares the estimated costs involved in transferring €5,000 EUR to Italy. All estimations include both sending and receiving the 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
UK£25£ 140£172Free