Are you looking for an easy and affordable way to send money abroad or to friends and family at home using a mobile device? This is what I’ve been looking at lately after my daughter was accepted into an intensive language and culture program for American students abroad. She will study in Indonesia, a great opportunity that of course comes with some logistical and practical challenges to overcome.
After doing some research, here is a list of some of the best apps and providers I’ve found for sending money overseas and domestically.
What you need to know
Apps that you can use for transactions may be limited to certain geographic locations. This means that you cannot send your money to people who live in certain regions of the world. Geographic restrictions vary from provider to provider.
With some mobile apps, your money arrives in minutes. For others, delivery can take up to several working days. This is something that you should confirm before making a payment to make sure your money arrives on time.
Some providers charge a fee for every transaction you make, while others don’t. If a company doesn’t disclose all fees upfront, you’re not taking any chances. Transaction fees aren’t the end of the story either. The best apps for sending money are also determined by exchange rates. The best option is usually mid-market rates, which are also used by established banks.
If you live in the US and plan to send money to Croatia, for example, you want the guarantee that all of your money will be safe during the transfer and will actually be deposited into the intended recipient’s bank account or e-wallet.
This is why it is important to rely on a reputable bank or provider to track the funds throughout the process. For international transfers, these are often credit unions.
Sending money to strangers
In general, peer-to-peer apps are not ideal for sending money to strangers. This is because if something goes wrong, you may not get your money back. For example, PayPal offers purchase protection; Not Venmo.
Best Apps for Sending Money Abroad
What if one of your children is studying abroad or you have relatives abroad who you want to support financially? In this case, you need a mobile app that not only allows you to securely send money to certain countries, but also to convert it into the currency you want and at an acceptable rate.
These are some of the best apps I’ve found for sending money overseas:
OFX’s mobile app allows you to send money to more than 190 countries and in 55 different currencies in a day or two. Transfer as much as you want and use the app to keep track of all your activity, monitor exchange rates, and set rate notifications. You can even set rates for future transfers.
In addition, there are no transaction fees. Instead, OFX takes a competitive margin on exchange rates, which is typically less than 2%. The only downside is the minimum transfer amount of $ 1,000.
Bottom line: OFX may be the best option if you want to send at least several thousand dollars abroad.
With TransferWise, you can send money to family and friends, and businesses in more than 40 countries around the world.
TransferWise is a little slower than OFX. The transaction takes one to three days. The provider charges a variable – but very competitive – transaction fee that you can quantify using TransferWise own computer. If, at the time of this writing, you’re sending $ 1,000 and wanting to convert to euros, TransferWise will only charge $ 6.96, a 0.7% fee.
A clear advantage of TransferWise over OFX is that there is no minimum transfer amount and TransferWise offers a very simple registration process.
Bottom line: Low transaction fees make TransferWise a great tool when you just want to send a few hundred or thousand dollars to the countries you normally send money to.
We all know PayPal and most of us already use it. So there is a chance that you won’t have to set up a new user account and link your credit or debit card to your regular bank account.
Within the USA, PayPal allows you to save and send money for free unless you are paying for goods or services or settling a bill. In this case, the payment provider charges the business at the other end of the transfer and you can benefit from PayPal’s buyer protection. In addition, PayPal charges fees for debit and credit card transactions (2.9% plus 30 cents within the US) and for converting currencies.
For international transactions, Transfer fees from your bank or PayPal balance to Canada and Europe is $ 2.99, and charges to other countries are $ 4.99. When using a credit or debit card, there is an additional 2.9% of the transaction amount plus a fixed fee that varies from country to country. The good news is that you can send money to people in 190+ countries and all you need is their email address or cell phone number. More than 20 different currencies are available.
Bottom line: PayPal is a well-established mobile payments player, and you can send money to almost any remote location in the world.
World first There is no fee for making a personal transfer over $ 10,000. There is a flat fee of $ 10 for transfers under $ 10,000. If you’re a US resident, you can send money to more than 120 countries. Transfers usually take two to three working days. You can also use the app to track payments and exchange rates. To complete a transaction, only the sender needs to have a WorldFirst account to send money. You can enter the recipient’s bank details.
One downside is that with WorldFirst, the minimum amount you can send is $ 1,000.
Bottom line: WorldFirst is not suitable for sending small amounts of money. If you go past $ 10,000, however, the exchange rates are pretty competitive.
WeltRemit, a UK based company, founded in 2010, enables you to send money to family and friends in more than 140 countries. What makes WorldRemit unique is that it offers one of the fastest international money transfers out there. According to the provider, transfers arrive immediately in most cases.
There is no minimum transfer limit and the fees are low. They depend on where you want to send money and how much you want to send. You can pay from a bank account or a credit or debit card, and the recipient can have money in their bank account or mobile wallet deposit, or as a cash pickup.
The WorldRemit app is very simple; It doesn’t have a lot of extra features and the focus is on sending money quickly and easily.
Bottom line: If you are looking for a reliable money transfer provider, WorldRemit is a great choice.
Best Apps for Sending Money to Domestic Family and Friends
When sending money abroad, fees and security are paramount. When sending money to family members within the United States, the focus may be more on ease of use and fast transactions. Here are three of the best apps I’ve found to send money to family and friends:
cell is a “quick, secure, and easy way to send money to your friends and family in minutes,” but you must have a bank account with a participating US bank to qualify to use the app. These include Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citi, and Morgan Stanley.
Transactions take no more than a few minutes when sending money to another cell user. If the recipient has not registered for the service, expect a processing time of one to three working days.
Most importantly, the app is free and there are no fees for sending or receiving money.
Bottom line: Cell’s banking app is the perfect solution for sending money to your family and friends.
Venmo is owned by PayPal and is designed to send money to people close to you for free (3% for credit card payments) and to receive money too. Because of this, the app offers several social features, such as:
- One that you can use to connect with other users (Venmo integrates with Facebook and your phone book).
- You can define an audience that can see your transactions (public, private or just friends).
- You can “like” and even comment on transactions made by other people in your network.
With Venmo, you can also share payments with your friends and family and make purchases in mobile apps. You can link your bank account and your debit or credit card when you set up your account.
Bottom line: Venmo is an all-round app that combines personal financial management with your social life.
Square cash is another app for fast peer-to-peer payments. It’s pretty similar to Venmo, but it doesn’t have all of the additional social features. You can request and send money to someone who doesn’t have a Square Cash account.
Transactions are free to conduct unless you’re a business and you can link your bank account and debit or credit card as usual. An additional feature is the “$ Cashtag”, which works like a personalized website where friends and family members can make payments to you.
Bottom line: The special thing about this app is that it is really easy to use and it allows you to keep track and track your transactions with ease.
There are many ways to send money
There are a large number of apps that you can use to send money abroad and to friends and family at no cost. While some providers are faster than others, transactions are generally completed in an acceptable time frame. If you want to send larger amounts of money, remember to compare the fees and exchange rates of different providers.
CEO, Blue Ocean Global Wealth
Marguerita M. Cheng is Chief Executive Officer at Blue Ocean Global Wealth. She is a CFP® Expert, Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor℠, Retirement Income Certified Professional and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst. It helps educate the public, policy makers and media about the benefits of competent, ethical financial planning.