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The Difference Between Transferring Money Through a Bank vs. an Online Service

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There are various options for transferring money overseas, and many people find it confusing as to whether they should use a bank or choose a remittance service provider. The wide variety can complicate your decision. It is crucial to make the right choice and take into consideration all the factors that can affect your money, including reliability, transfer fees, transfer time and most importantly, the exchange rates.

When it comes to your personal finances and sending money internationally, the first option that generally comes to mind is a bank. But the truth is, banks may not be the best choice. Here are some facts to consider:

Banks are usually more costly

Banks generally offer comparatively lower exchange rates. Additionally, banks ordinarily have higher wire transfer fees ranging from $20-$40 per transaction. For example, the average cost for an outgoing international wire transfer with a reputable American bank is about $40.

Some banks may offer overseas wire transfers with no wire fees, but beware of hidden costs and service charges that may initially be difficult to identify. Also, don’t forget to calculate the final cost, which will include the fees charged by the receiving bank at the other end of the transaction.

Banks often require a lot more information

Some banks do not offer online wire transfer services, and you may have to visit a local branch. The bank will most likely require you to fill out a lengthy wire transfer form and may ask you for additional information each time you send money. They may also require you to present your ID card in order to validate your identity.

Banks may require you to have an account with them

With many banks, you have to be an existing customer to utilize their wire transfer services. If you do not have an account with them, you may have to open a new account for the wire transfer to be initiated.

Bank transfers may take longer                        

Bank wire transfers may take longer to reach the recipient. Online service providers, such as Xoom, can execute money transfers to countries like India within 4 hours. Another online service provider, Western Union, can arrange cash pick-ups in just minutes.

Most banks may only transfer to other banks.

Transferring money via the bank will usually restrict you to the sole option of transferring it to another bank on the receiving end. Online service providers, such as Western Union or MoneyGram, can administer money transfers so that the receiver may pick up cash at an agent location in the recipient country.

Online service providers are more beneficial for smaller transactions.

Companies like Western Union, MoneyGram, Xoom, or Remit2India are better equipped to handle smaller amounts being sent overseas. Some banks may have special remittance programs with no transfer fees for smaller amounts, but the exchange rate will not be as favorable.

Consider Forex companies for larger money transfers.

To transfer high currency amounts, such as a home purchase or mortgage, consider sending money via online Foreign Exchange (Forex) companies. Forex companies specialize in money transfers and offer much better exchange rates with low or no transfer fees. Companies like USForex offer $0 transfer fees to send $5000 or more.  With companies like these, the higher the amount, the better exchange rate you will be offered.

It is always a good idea to shop around and compare exchange rates, transfer fees, transfer time, and other aspects of remittance before selecting the service. You should use our Compare Money Transfer tool to analyze all the various channels, and then determine the most cost-effective and beneficial option to send your money. 

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