The business of sending international payments has evolved over time. Amongst the earliest companies to allow electronic wire transfers was Western Union, which started all the way back 1856!
The Western Union model, which has expanded to include similar businesses like MoneyGram, is often what people think of when they think international money transfers. But while these companies have their perks, including cash pick-up and same-day sending, they also come with some serious drawbacks, including high costs and less robust security.
Thanks to advances in technology there are now a wide-range of options available for making international money transfers from Australia. By shopping around you may find that there are better options available than Western Union or Moneygram. Here's how these companies stack-up against other international money transfer services.
International Bank Transfers
Pros: Bank transfers can be a more convenient way to send money overseas compared to other providers. As a banking customer your personal information is already on file and your money doesn't have to be transferred over from a third-party account. The level of trust you associate with your bank may be higher than if you went with a new international money transfer company.
Cons: Banks often charge excessive fees, both hidden and explicit, on overseas money transfers. Charges will usually include an international transaction fee, which may be stated, as well as an exchange rate margin, which will won't be. Banks can charge margins as high as 5.0% of the cost of your transfer without telling you upfront. Transfer times also lag other competitors, with speeds ranging from 1-5 businesses days.
Pros: Paypal has a number of convenience factors that make using it to send money overseas an attractive option. It doesn't require the recipient's banking information, just the email or phone number. Instant transfers are possible if both the sender and the recipient have Paypal accounts. Payment options (how you credit your account) are flexible, and you can use credit or debit cards. As a well-recognised name, Paypal has a level of trust that is could be superior to other, lesser known, money transfer companies.
Cons: Although it may be convenient, the costs associated with using Paypal to transfer money overseas are generally high. With large transfer fees and worse exchange rates compared to some other companies, Paypal is often among the most expensive options for sending money overseas. Paypal has also been known to freeze funds if they suspect any suspicious activity associated with your payment. This can cause unwanted delays when sending larger sums.
Western Union or Moneygram
Pros: Ideal for people who need money ASAP in emergency situations or for recipients who need physical cash. Transfer times can be done very quickly, often in the same day. Some companies, like Western Union, do not require you to sign up or create an account to send money.
Cons: The service fee charges tend to be very high, higher than Paypal. This is especially true if you are looking for same-day transfers. The exchange rate you receive is usually also poor, further increasing the overall transaction cost. There is also a higher change of fraud associated with these transfers, since there is little information about the recipient provided. Generally, walk-in money transfer companies are the least economical way to send money overseas.
Online Money Transfer Companies
Pros: Access to competitive exchange rates and the ability to track the status of your payment. Some services do not charge transaction fees, making the overall cost of using these companies considerably less than other providers. Depending on the company you choose, transfer times can vary from 1-3 days to as quickly as a couple of minutes. Account verification process ensures extra level of security of data and funds.
Cons: Cash pickup is not an option, and for those looking for instant funds transfer you may also not want to use these services. While this is a great choice for small and large transfers alike, it is not meant for shopping or other retail websites.
Things to be Aware of When Sending Money Overseas
Being informed about the different transfer options is a good first step in determining which international money transfer service is best for you. The next is knowing what to compare between offerings.
Fees, exchange rate margins, transfer times and customer service can vary across providers. When it comes to comparing costs, it's important to keep in mind the following:
- You are usually charged a send fee, a receiver fee and an exchange rate margin with every transfer you send with your banks
- Fees will vary depending on what service you choose so it's important you compare before you decide to send
- It will generally always be more expensive to arrange your transfer with a walk-in money transfer company than it would be with an online service
- The exchange rate matters. This is generally where businesses profit the most from international money transfers and is a "built-in" fee that companies charge on top of transfer fees. The exchange rate margin is the difference between the mid-market rate and the exchange rate you are quoted. Some companies use the exchange rate to mask charges up to 5% of your total transfer.
These days you don't need to pay unnecessary or high fees for a service you can access elsewhere for a lower cost. There are plenty of options out there to choose from. Online money transfer companies, like FlashFX, are one way to save on the exorbitant costs charged by places like Western Union, MoneyGram and the banks.
Check out FlashFX today and start saving on international money transfers