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.
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.
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.
Some banks charge a fee from the recipient for international money transfers.
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 cheapest way to send money abroad from india with low fees:
- Transfer Money on Trusted Apps
There are some apps that lets you transfer money via apps. You need to be a verified user by completing the KYC (Know Your Customer) processes to be eligible to use the app.
Apps like Jupiter Money (partnered with Federal Bank) lets you send money abroad affordably which helps you save cost in 'other'/ hidden fees that the other services charge customers.
There are other apps like Remitly, Revolut, Skrill, etc. which also allows international money transfer.
- Bank-to-Bank Transfers
Major banks offer wire transfer services in a minimum of 25 foreign currencies. Some banks also transfer funds directly to the recipient’s account based on the latter's location.
However, the transaction may take up to five business days to complete. Moreover, you must share your and the recipient’s bank details. Nevertheless, this mode saves you a lot of hassle.
Moreover, the low fees charged make it one of the most preferred money transfer modes.
- Money Transfer Companies
One can also opt for money transfer companies with online operations such as Western Union and MoneyGram. However, if the money transfer is not urgent, schedule the transfer between two to four days. It is cheaper to remit money over a longer duration.
Through PayPal, you can initiate an electronic transfer from one PayPal account to another. Even though PayPal does not charge extra to remit money, the recipient overseas will have to pay a fee to encash the payment.
- Bank Drafts
Bank drafts are known by many names. It's called money orders in Canada and cashier's cheques in the US.
You issue a bank draft in the recipient's name and courier it to them. The process may take longer than usual, even going up to 15 days.
On a brighter note, you save on fees using this method. Moreover, the drafts are traceable, thus lessening the chances of you losing money.
- Currency Exchange Brokers
Currency brokers are considered far cheaper than banks when it comes to international money transfers. So, who exactly works as exchange brokers?
it's a team of specialists who focus on the purchase and sale of currencies.
This mode is ideal for hefty transactions. You need to first open an account with the company. Then, use your bank account or credit card to add funds to this account.
However, this option comes with benefits like fixed exchange rates for a particular period. Hence, you can plan transactions to make the most out of the offers and save money.
- Email Money Transfers
You can also save on remittance via email money transfer services offered by financial institutions. This doesn’t indicate the physical transfer of funds. instead, a transaction is initiated and the recipient receives a notification when funds are available via email.
The recipient’s bank account number is not required. However, a security question is asked to verify the recipient's identity.
- Fee-waiver Requests
To avoid paying extra fees, you can request the bank to waive the fees. Remember, that the letter must be formal and brief.
- Multi-currency Accounts: multi-currency accounts make it easier and cost-effective to hold money in multiple currencies all in one place.
These generally come with lower transfer fees than sending and getting money in individual accounts with separate currencies.
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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