If you are looking to send money from the United States (U.S.) to Europe, the good news is that there is a wide selection of money transfer services at your disposal.
Traditionally, you might have sent through your US bank for international wire transfers. But banks are not the only international money transfer service providers. There are money transfer companies specialized in sending money overseas that are faster, cheaper, and better.
Since banks are familiar, it might seem convenient to send money to Europe from your US bank.
One of the major differences between banks and money transfer specialists is the cost of the transfer. Before you settle on a money transfer service provider, understand what impacts the cost of money transfer such as:
Sending money overseas through banks is expensive and cumbersome. They charge high fees, offer poor exchange rates, and often have hidden charges. In total, you may end up paying 5% to 8% more than a money transfer specialist service.
For example, if you are sending $1,000 to Europe, you may have to pay $50 to $80 for a single wire transfer and get lower exchange rates & also bear hidden charges.
Banks also take a long time to transfer your money, about 3-5 working days. Some services let you transfer money in an instant across international borders, usually at a premium.
Fees charged by some of the major US banks for outgoing international wire transfers are given below:
The fees will vary depending on the transfer method, transfer amount, destination, currency, and speed.
On top of the fees mentioned above, you or your recipient may have to pay a correspondent bank fee if your wire transfer goes through intermediary or correspondent banks. The recipient banks may also charge fees for incoming wire transfers.
Additionally, the exchange rates margins offered by banks for USD/EUR transfers are worse than the mid-market exchange rates. This means you will end up losing money in hidden fees and your beneficiary would get a lesser amount than what you intended to send.
To minimize the cost of your transfers and save more money, money transfer specialists will be the best option for your USD to EUR transfers.
Money transfer specialists charge low fees, offer the best exchange rates, and can send your money faster than banks.
With money transfer specialists, you have different options to pay for your transfer to Europe including bank transfer, debit card, or credit card. And get the money deposited directly to your recipients' bank account or mobile wallet, or opt for cash pickup, card deposits, or mobile phone airtime top-up.
One advantage of having many choices is that you can select the preferred money transfer specialist based on your needs.
Here are the top 5 on the list of cheapest money transfer specialists for USD/EUR Transfers.
Wise (formerly Transferwise) is one of the cheapest ways to transfer money overseas. Wise offers the inter-bank/mid-market rates that are the real exchange rates you see on your Google search and the transfer fees are shown upfront. The fees are low and transparent. So you save money compared to banks and other expensive services.
Sending money from the U.S. to Europe is a breeze with Wise. Your recipient needs to have a bank account to receive the money. You can pay for your transfer through wire transfer, ACH, debit cards, or credit cards.
Payments via credit card can carry a small percentage fee. It is treated as a cash advance in most cases. A cash advance for funding a money transfer is very expensive, check for the fees on Wise's website.
The cheapest option will depend on your payment method. Payment via your bank account may take longer but they are the cheapest.
Wise is a great option for transfers under $10,000. You can check the transfer limits for each currency with their calculator.
Xoom is a money transfer specialist owned by PayPal. Although PayPal is also a popular way to send money internationally, Xoom offers better exchange rates and has lower fees than its parent company.
Read our PayPal review here.
It also offers cash pick-ups as a delivery option in select European countries like Austria, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, and others. You can opt for bank deposits as well. And pay via a bank account, debit, or credit card.
For transfers above $1,000, there is no fee if you pay using a bank account. Debit and credit card payments carry certain fees.
As the oldest and the biggest money transfer provider in the world, Western Union has the largest network. In the U.S. there are more than 55,000 agent locations. You can send cash in person conveniently. Or you can send money online or through the Western Union's app.
With more than 90,000 agent locations all across Europe, you can opt for a cash-pickup delivery option for your recipients or send it directly to their bank account.
Transfers fees are more if you opt to send cash or pay using your debit or credit card but can get your money delivered in 24 hours. Payment via bank account carries less charge but may take about 3-4 days.
With WorldRemit you can send money from the U.S. to more than 20 countries in Europe. You have the option to send the money directly to bank accounts or to mobile wallets, send cash through agents, or as an airtime top-up.
You can pay using a bank transfer, debit card, credit card, Poli, Interac, or iDEAL.
WorldRemit is ideal for small transfers to your friends and family in Europe. Their rates are better than banks and are very competitive.
XE Money Transfers
XE is a well-known trusted brand when it comes to international money transfers and is part of the Euronet Worldwide Group.
For large transfers, XE is highly recommended as it offers better exchange rates than small transfers. The exchange rate offered for USD/EUR transfers will depend on the transfer amount.
Above a certain threshold, usually up to $500 or the currency equivalent, there is no fixed fee. However, there is no minimum requirement. So you can send any amount.
Considering there are multiple money transfer services available in the market, the best approach is to compare the money transfer companies.
To get the best value for your money, you will need to think about the costs and the convenience when comparing the services.
Since the exchange rates tend to fluctuate, choose a service that lets you lock in when the exchange rate is in your favor. This way you don't lose money in case the value of EURO rises against the USD. Also, fees will vary based on the transfer amount. Shopping around can get you the best offer for the amount you are willing to send from the U.S. to Europe.
You also need to pick a transfer method and a delivery option. Depending on your needs, you can pick a faster delivery method which ranges from a week to in minutes. You can do this by narrowing down a service provider that matches your desired choice.
Once you have picked up a service provider, sign up for a free account using personal information such as contact details, some form of identification. After the verification process, you can start your transfer process.
Provide your recipient's details including their name, address, contact information. If you are transferring to their bank account, provide their European bank details (name, address, routing number, SWIFT code, or even IBAN).
Do a final check on the transfer details and pay for it. With most companies, you can track the status of the transfer. You will likely receive a text or email confirmation once the money is received on the other end.
Sending money overseas can be seen as too expensive when one is inexperienced, but armed with research and knowledge about different offerings by money transfers companies that specialize in foreign transactions, you will be able to send with the best exchange rates, lowest fees, multiple pay-in, and pay-out options.
Since the money transfer business is a competitive marketplace, these service providers often offer discounts, higher exchange rates, and lower their fees, to attract more customers. The real-time comparison of these service providers can get you the best up-to-date deals.
We recommend that you test all options to see what is the best way to send money abroad based on your needs.