One of the greatest advantages of living in the Digital Age is the convenience of financial transactions. Whether you’re using a banking app to deposit a check or an Automated Clearing House (ACH) to pay employees, a money transfer is just a few clicks away.
When it comes to international money transfers, though, the options can seem overwhelming, from PayPal for convenience on your iPhone to perhaps even using a Bitcoin wallet on Android for anonymity. There are dozens of services that claim to be secure and offer the lowest prices, but how do you find the right one for your particular needs?
We’ve done the research, crunched the numbers and put together this easy-to-follow guide for saving money on international transfers:
Step 1: Determine the Fees and Exchange Rate
Different services can vary in terms of the fees they charge and the exchange rate they offer for international transfers. These numbers – especially the latter – fluctuate often.
It would seem, then, that finding the best service would require a simple comparison of these two metrics, right? Wrong…
There are dozens of transfer services out there, and each is vying for consumer attention. As a result, these companies have unique pricing systems to attract certain niches.
For example, some companies offer fee reductions for transfers of high volumes of money; others have service memberships that appeal to companies that hire overseas employees. Still others target exchanges among specific countries, such as the United States, China, India and the Philippines. So if you hire freelancers in New Delhi, for example, then it may be best to go with a transfer service that specializes in helping companies send money to India.
After outlining the fees and exchange rates, it’s time for step 2…
Step 2: Calculate the Value of Each Transfer Service Relative to the Transfer Amount, Exchange Rate and Fees
It is usually easy to narrow your choices to three or four transfer services because the fees are much lower and the exchange rates are significantly higher for specific dollar amounts. This is because, according to ConsumerReports.org, most people who transfer money internationally have a specific dollar value they need to send. If that’s the case, then follow these two steps to identify the best remittance service:
- Add the amount you want to send to the transfer fees.
- Divide that into the amount of currency delivered after applying the exchange rate.
For example, let’s say you want to send $100 USD to India, and you find two international money-transfer services with the following properties:
Total to Send: $100 USD
Transfer Fee: $5
Exchange Rate: 1 USD to 65 Rupees
Total to Send: $100 USD
Transfer Fee: $10
Exchange Rate: 1 USD to 70 Rupees
Below are the respective calculations for each service’s value, which is also known as the “effective exchange rate:”
Service 1: (65 x 100) / (100 + 5) = 61.90
Service 2: (70 x 100) / (100 + 10) = 63.64 ** BEST VALUE
Other Factors to Consider
The effective exchange rate calculation is the best way to compare money-transfer services in most situations, but there are other factors to consider. Before you compare the options, ask these four questions:
- When does the money need to be available to the recipient?
- How often do I need to send transfers?
- Can I sign up for automatic transfers?
- Are there any special deals available?
Depending on your answers to these questions, it may be possible to find a money-transfer service with reduced fees. Make sure you do your homework, crunch the numbers, and do not settle for the first transfer service that comes to mind.