Money transfer apps are the quickest and cheapest way to send money abroad. as they offer better exchange rates and less red tape than banks. In our guide to we review some of the best money transfer apps including OFX, Wise, and Western Union. We have also compared money transfer apps based on pricing, fees, speed, transaction size, and how many currencies and countries they offer so you can choose the best money transfer app for sending your money abroad.
Best Money Transfer Apps 2022
Our picks for the best money transfer apps are based on over 7,000 votes in our annual awards, our own experiences testing the accounts as well as an in-depth comparison of the features that make them stand out compared to alternatives.
OFX: Best for large money transfers
If you are transferring a large amount of money abroad for a personal property purchase or for business OFX are a good choice. As these large money transfers are not regular occurrences and can often be quite daunting, having a personal account execution to help with administration and to ensure the process goes smoothly is a real help.
- Excellent for large transfers
- Bank beating exchange rates
- Personal service and advice
- Not good for small transfers
- No cash or credit card deposits
- Fixed exchange rates
- Transparent fees
- Simple to use
- Expensive for large transfers
- No personal service
Western Union: Best for small money transfers & cash
Western Union is one of the oldest money transfer providers in the world. The app has recently rebranded as WU which allows users to send money worldwide at excellent rates. This year significantly reduced fees and improved its exchange rates to compete with money transfer startups.
- Established network of branches
- Cash and credit card transfers
- Good app and online platform
- Better for small transfers
- No personal service or advice on large transfers
What are money transfer apps?
Money transfer apps let you send money cheaply and quickly to other countries and people around the world. They are cheaper because they provide better exchange rates and lower fees than banks. As they are specialist apps, it is quicker for the recipient to receive money as well.
An international money transfer, or ‘currency transfer’, is a way of sending money abroad. Usually, it involves sending money from a bank account in one country to a bank account in another country. Depending on which money transfer provider you use, the money could be transferred almost instantly.
Money Transfer Apps Explained
If you want to send money abroad, it is much cheaper to use an international money transfer provider compared to your bank. Money transfer companies specialise in currency transfers, and as a result, tend to offer better exchange rates than the high street banks, as well as faster, more efficient transfers.
Transferring money to a foreign bank account can be much faster and cheaper when you use a money transfer company over a bank because money transfer companies are much quicker to handle and process your transactions and normally offer exchange rates much closer to the market than high street banks.
You will also be able to get an idea of the different types of service each provider can offer, the steps you will need to follow and the information you will need to provide to start your transfer. Many money transfer companies will also give you an idea of how long your money will take to arrive.
Here is how to compare money transfer companies in the UK to help you find the best service to send money abroad or receive money from overseas.
People make international money transfers for many reasons, including:
- To send money to family and friends overseas.
- To pay for goods and services from a company that is based overseas.
- To send money home when working abroad.
- To send money to an international bank account.
- To cover the deposit when buying property abroad.
You can use international money transfers to make both one-off and regular payments overseas.
How to do a money transfer & send money abroad
Sending money abroad via an international money transfer provider is typically a straightforward online process.
After comparing money transfer companies to find the best one for your requirements, the first step is to create an account with a provider. To open an account with an international money transfer app or website, you will need to sign up via their website or app with a phone number, email address and you name. The money transfer company will request your personal details, as well as the details of the bank account you wish to send your money to. Opening an account can take some time because providers today have to perform strict identity checks for money laundering reasons. It can be a good idea to have an account set up well before you want to make a transfer.
If you are sending up to £10,000 abroad the anti-money laundering requirements are less stringent, so it is easier to open an account. However, if you are sending more than £10,000 abroad, you should use a currency broker instead of a money transfer company as they can offer additional services such as advice, exchange rate limits, alerts and personal service.
Once your account is set up and you are ready to make a transfer, it is usually just a matter of agreeing on the exchange rate and making a payment to the provider. Once the provider has received your money, they will then transfer the money to the bank account overseas.
Beware though, exchange rates are constantly fluctuating. So, if you plan to make an international money transfer, it can pay to keep an eye on exchange rates. By making a transfer when the exchange rate is more favourable, you can potentially save money. If you are sending a large amount of money abroad you can lock in the current exchange rate with a currency forward contract for a transaction in the future.
How to compare money transfer services
When comparing money transfer companies, there are a number of things to consider, including:
Fees and charges
Every provider has different fees and charges, and it’s important to understand how these work. Some providers, such as Wise, offer excellent exchange rates but then charge a small transaction fee. Others have no transaction fees, but offer less attractive exchange rates. Fees may also depend on your method of payment and how quickly you need the transfer processed. When comparing fees and charges, it’s sensible to visit the websites of a few different providers and input your planned transfer to see the rates and charges different firms are offering. Make sure you consider the size of your planned transaction and whether you are likely to make frequent transactions, as many providers offer fees and exchange rates that vary depending on transaction size and frequency.
Transaction speed varies among providers. Some offer instant transfers, while others offer slower transfers that can take a few days or even weeks. Speed may depend on your method of payment. For example, if you pay with a debit card, it may be faster than if you pay by bank transfer.
Some providers do not offer money transfers to certain countries, so it’s important to check what countries you can transfer money to.
Some money transfer providers offer more features than others. One example of a feature is a ‘limit order’. With a limit order, you set instructions to carry out your money transfer once the exchange rate reaches a certain level. Another example is a ‘forward contract’. These allow you to book money transfers for the future at rates that are locked in today.
Safety of funds
You want a secure provider that you can trust. Top money transfer providers offer a high level of security and provide features such as two-factor authentication for logins, encryption, 3D Secure authentication for card payments, and fraud monitoring to keep your money secure.
It’s important to use a transfer provider that is regulated by a financial regulator such as the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Companies that are regulated have to follow certain rules that are designed to protect consumers. For example, they have to keep your money separate from their money.
How to compare money transfer rates
The best way to compare money transfer rates is to use our comparison table and get a quote with specific rates through our quote generator. It is really easy to add the details of how much you want to transfer and when your money needs to arrive so providers can give you a quote. This should enable you to find out what rate is available, as well as the fees and charges you’re facing.
What is the safest way to send money?
The safest way to send money internationally is through an FCA-regulated money transfer firm. Companies that are regulated by the FCA have to follow certain rules that are designed to protect consumers. For example, they are required to ‘safeguard’ your money by keeping it separate from their money. This means that you are likely to get your money back if the company goes bust. Using a regulated money transfer provider can also help protect you from scams and fraud – which are very common in the payments space. You can check if a company is regulated by the FCA on the FCA’s website.
It’s important to understand that money transfer companies are generally not covered by the UK’s Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). That’s because the FSCS is only available to UK-authorised banks, building societies, and credit unions. Most money transfer companies are classified as ‘e-money institutions’. E-money institutions are still required to keep clients’ money safe and secure. However, they do this differently to traditional banks.
To ensure that you are sending money safely, it’s a good idea to use a provider that offers a high level of security. Ideally, a provider should offer:
- Two-factor authentication for logins
- Data encryption
- 3D Secure authentication for card payments
- Anti-fraud monitoring
- Regular auditing
One example of a provider that offers all of these security features is Wise.
There are more tips, advice and strategies in our currency transfer guides.
How to Send Money Instantly?
It’s worth noting that while many companies advertise that they offer ‘instant’ transfers, these transfers are often not really instant. In reality, they can take several minutes or even hours to go through.
To make an instant transfer, you may have to pay in a certain way. For example, you may have to pay by debit card instead of bank transfer. You may also have to pay a higher fee.
If you need your money to reach the recipient account by the next day, it’s generally worth doing an instant transfer. Otherwise, you run the risk that your payment may not arrive in time.
How to Transfer Large Amounts of Money?
If you wish to transfer a large sum of money, it can be worth using a currency broker instead of a money transfer provider. Currency brokers tend to specialise in large transfers, meaning that they may be able to make the process more efficient and cost-effective for you. You can find out more about using a currency broker to transfer a large sum of money here.
One advantage of using a currency broker for larger transfers is that they tend to have higher maximum transfer limits than money transfer companies. For example, whereas Wise has a limit of $200,000 for GBP to USD transfers, Currencies Direct allows you to transfer £300,000.
When transferring large amounts of money internationally, it’s crucial to compare providers to ensure that you get the best overall deal. With large transfers, even small differences in exchange rates can make a big difference to the money received or spent. As well as considering the exchange rates on offer, it’s important to consider other factors such as speed of transfer, hidden fees and charges, and security.
It’s also a good idea to contact your bank before making a large payment to a currency broker. Many banks only let you transfer a certain amount of money online per day. Lloyds Bank, for example, has a limit of £25,000.
To make a large transfer, you may have to provide the currency broker with some extra information, such as the source of funds, Swift bank codes, additional ID, and more.
How to Avoid Wire Transfer Fees?
To avoid fees when making wire transfers you should;
- Choose a provider that offers no fees. Some providers build their fees into the exchange rates they offer so….
- Check the exchange rates your money transfer provider is offering to make sure they are competitive with other similar services
- Avoid high street banks for your transfers. Banks normally charge high fees for international transfers or offer much worse exchange rates.
- Pay in a certain way, for example with a debit card or accept a slower transfer speed and you could enjoy cheaper fees or better rates with some providers