Transfer Money Internationally Without Fees? - Is it possible?


Transfer Money Internationally Without Fees? - Is it possible?

By Jupiter Team · · 5 min read

With technological advancements, international money transfer has become easier than ever. You can send money to your loved ones within hours using digital transfer methods. Money transfer has evolved over the years and has become very convenient. However, despite this, we are unable to send money without paying a high fee. Banks and money transfer agencies are charging exorbitant and obscure transfer fees from us for every transfer we do. Although it is impossible to transfer money internationally without fees, you can reduce it. Read to find out how to reduce the fee you pay for international money transfers.

Costs involved in international money transfer

To know where to reduce costs, it is important to understand the different costs involved in international money transfers.

Exchange rates

The exchange rate measures the value of one currency against the other. It is not a fee but the cost of transferring money. It makes up a significant portion of the transfer fees. Exchange rates are determined by market demand and supply and keep fluctuating. Hence the amount the beneficiary receives can only be determined during the transfer.

Marked-up exchange rates

A marked-up exchange rate is an additional cost that the bank levies on the exchange rate. It is usually not disclosed and is calculated as a percentage of the amount you transfer. The larger the amount, the higher the marked-up charge.


The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT) is a messaging network that banks use to send and receive money transfer instructions securely and quickly. Banks part of the SWIFT network charge a small fee to enable the transaction.

Correspondent fees

Banks and financial institutions that are not a part of the SWIFT network use third-party intermediaries to transfer money. These third parties charge a small fee which the banks do not disclose.

Recipient fees

Some banks charge a fee from the recipient for international money transfers.

Overhead fees

Additional costs like overhead fees are charged by banks which are not disclosed upfront by banks.

Factors that influence transfer fees

The transfer fee increases or decreases due to the following factors:

  • Speed: The speed of the money transfer affects the transfer fee. The faster the speed, the higher the transfer fee. Ideally, it takes 48-72 business transfers for online transfers. In the case of demand drafts and money orders, it takes a few days.
  • Exchange rates: Foreign currency exchange rate forms a major portion of the transfer fee. It also includes a bank charge called the markup. Hence the exchange rate varies from bank to bank. Even a small difference in the exchange rate affects the total cost.
  • Overhead fees: Banks and financial institutions charge an overhead fee as a percentage of the total amount. This covers the commission to the third party and the costs of transferring the money. This varies from bank to bank.
  • Transaction amount: Transfer fees are usually calculated on the amount you transfer. The higher the amount you transfer, the higher the transaction fee.

How to save fees while sending money abroad?

Here are a few tips for saving money on your next international money transfer:

  • Compare exchange rates: Always compare the exchange rates of banks and financial institutions. To better understand the markup, compare the exchange rates of financial institutions and banks with the online rate. Losing a few rupees for every Rs 1 lakh might not sound like a lot, but it can add up to become a huge amount. Hence always compare and do your research when you want to send money abroad.
  • Compare fees: Banks and financial institutions do not declare all fees upfront. Hence read the fine print in the brochure they give you. Always talk to them to understand their fee structure and how they charge it. Look for providers that declare all fee upfront and choose the one with the lowest fee.
  • Go for a flat fee structure: Very few service providers offer a flat fee structure. Choose them if you are sending a huge amount. This will keep your costs low. Also, avoid banks if you are transferring a huge amount. They usually charge a very high transaction fee for higher amounts.
  • Plan ahead and use delayed transactions: The speed of the transfer is directly proportional to the cost of the transfer. The faster the speed, the higher the transfer fee. Hence plan your transfers ahead and delay your transaction by two to four days to incur a low fee.

Best ways to transfer money internationally

Below are some of the best ways to transfer money abroad with low fees:

Wire transfer

Banks offer wire transfer which is cheaper than direct online transfer and is faster than a demand draft. However, it takes up to five working days for the money to be transferred into the beneficiary's account. Despite a delay, this is one of the best methods to send money abroad.

Demand draft or money orders

Though a traditional method, demand drafts and money orders are still in use due to their low costs. Moreover, they are very secure. However, the transfer takes a minimum of seven working days. But if you plan your transfers ahead, then the delay in transfer shouldn't affect you.

Email money transfer

Some financial institutions offer email money transfers. The funds are not delivered through email, but the initiation of the transfer and notifications are sent through email. Usually, the recipient will have to answer a few security questions to retrieve funds. Email transfers are a cheaper option than online transfers.

Money transfer agencies

Money transfer companies like Wise, OFX, Xoom, MoneyGram, or Western Union offer competitive rates for transferring money abroad. They offer both fast and slow transfer options. Pick the slow transfer, as they will cost you less.

Currency exchange brokers

Currency exchange brokers are very useful when transferring a huge amount. They lock in the exchange rate for a set period, ensuring your costs related to the exchange rate are fixed.


Transferring money internationally without fees is impossible. But by planning your transactions ahead and comparing the costs of different providers, you can save a lot on the transfer fees. However, do not get lured by the low cost and never compromise on safety. Always check the creditworthiness of the service provider and make sure you choose the reputed names in the industry.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the least expensive way to transfer money internationally?

A demand draft and a money order are considered the cheapest way to send money internationally. They charge a very minimal fee on every transaction. However, they take a longer time to transfer money to the recipient.

How do I make an international payment without charges?

It is impossible to transfer money internationally without charges. However, you can reduce your total costs by choosing a service provider with less fee. Also, plan your transactions ahead to take advantage of low-cost options.

Does it cost money to send money internationally?

Yes, there are certain costs involved in making an international money transfer. Exchange rates are a major portion of the costs. Apart from this, the provider charges a markup on the exchange rates, SWIFT fees, and other overhead fees. Some banks also charge a small fee from the recipient.

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