← Return to Blog

Ten of the Best Services for Moving Money When You Travel

Luke Armstrong | Jun 12, 2018

map-money-camera-on-table

You know how to access your money when you're at home but what about when you are traveling? 

Unfortunate fact of life: Unless you’ve figured out some magic situation for yourself or are the heir to a throne, most of us need money to to make life work. At home, we know how to get it when we need it — simply go to the bank/ATM and take out what we need. If we’re out of money, odds are we have a credit card that is more than happy to lend us money at an interest rate that makes their shareholders smile.

But what about when you travel? What happens if the ways you thought you were going to procure cash and pay bills are thwarted? What if you’re ATM card doesn’t work? What if — as happened to me on my last trip to Iceland — neither your debit or your back-up ATM card work because your bank cancelled them and sent you new ones that you didn’t receive because your U.S. address is your parent’s address and you don’t live there! (Life and it’s services are not built around an expat existence).

Well, you have other options to move money around the globe. Assuming you have money in some account somewhere, here are ten of the most viable options for moving money from one country to another.

Keep in mind, there is no “best” way. The best way for you to move money overseas depends on a number of factors including:

  • How much are you sending?
  • How much it is going to cost?
  • How often are you sending it?
  • How quickly does the money need to get there?

Here are three steps to take with you to the consideration arena.

Step 1 — Look at your options

There are three main options for sending money:

  • Bank
  • Foreign exchange brokers
  • High street and online transfer firms

Step 2 – How much will it cost?

  • Foreign exchange rates.
  • What the firm will charge you for transferring the money.
  • Charges the recipient might have to cover to receive the money

Step 3 — Confirm all the details

Once you have found the best value option, you will need to confirm the company can handle the amount you want to transfer and in the time frame you want. If you’re sending a lot of money, it’s good to know you’re protected. Make sure you keep all the confirmation receipts in case something goes wrong.

And keep in mind, some of these services transfer from one bank account to another — so even if it sounds good, run it by your situation.

Unlike banks, currency exchange businesses are not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, so there's always the risk, if something goes wrong, you won't be guaranteed full compensation.

1. XOOM

Owned by PayPal, Xoom is a digital provider that supports secure money transfers. Xoom offers a guarantee that promises delivery to your recipient on time or your money back.

Pros

  • Send same-day transfers of $10 to $2,999 worldwide.
  • Get help with transfers 24/7 online or by phone.
  • Protect your money with encryption and a money-back guarantee.

Cons

  • Transfers come with both a variable fee and spread on the exchange rate.
  • Service network covers 67 countries only.

2. ZELLE

Once you’re all signed up and if you’re a customer of a participating bank, Zelle offers one of the fastest ways to send and receive money with your friends. But if you’re not registered with Zelle yet or your bank isn’t a Zelle partner, the app’s benefits begin to fade.

Pros

  • Instant and free cash transfers.
  • Robust bill-splitting tool.

Cons

  • Must have a Zelle account to send or receive money
  • Both parties must be customers of Zelle-partnered banks to get instant cash transfers.
  • No credit cards allowed.

3. OFX

OFX charges a spread on the exchange rate — but here it’s an average 0.4% above the mid-market rate, making for a more affordable transfer.

Pros

  • No-max transfers to 195 countries and in 55 major and exotic currencies.
  • Competitive rates and no transfer fees.
  • Balance savings and convenience with forward contracts and limit orders.

Cons

  • Bank-to-bank transfers only — no cash pickups.
  • New accounts require verification by phone.
  • Two Business Days from send to receipt.

4. HiFX

HiFX offers bank-to-bank transfers with no fees. And its exchange rates are competitive, though you must sign up for a HiFX account to see the exact rate that applies to your transfer.

Pros

  • Third-largest money transfer provider in the world, offering safety and security.
  • Competitive rates and no fees on your transfer, period.
  • Allows transfers of up to $500,000, with a low $100 minimum.

Cons

  • Turnaround can require up to three business days.
  • Exchange rates not available until you sign up for an account.
  • Services limited to some 38 countries only.

5. TransferWise

TransferWise is a strong competitor, fees vary by transfer.

Pros

  • Easily sign up to start transferring money in minutes.
  • Transfer from $1 to $199,999 or more, depending on your account.
  • Get a strong mid-market exchange rate with no hidden fees.

Cons

  • Bank-to-bank transfers only, with no option for cash pickup.
  • Two-step process can result in up to five days turnaround.
  • Social Security number required.

6. Currencies Direct

An international money specialist, Currencies Direct supports transfers of any amount with no hidden fees and same-day delivery for select currencies.

Pros

  • Competitive rates and no fees on most transfers.
  • Supports large, seemingly unlimited transactions.
  • Monitors exchange rates for your ideal transfer.

Cons

  • Bank-to-bank wire transfers only.

7. Western Union

Around for more than 160 years, Western Union continues to make it easy for you to transfer money across the US and around the world — it makes cash pickups available in minutes.

Pros

  • Trusted provider that’s been in the business since 1871.
  • Sends money for pickup in minutes at more than 500,000 agent locations.
  • Multiple transfer options by credit or debit card, bank account, cash pickup even mobile minutes in select countries.

Cons

  • Weak exchange rates that can be more than 5% higher than the mid-market rate.
  • Expect to pay higher fees than many other money specialists.

8. MoneyGram

The second-largest international money transfer service in the world, MoneyGram is a big-name contender, but a larger network and higher maximum might provide more flexibility.

Pros

  • Extensive network of 350,000 agent locations in 200+ countries.
  • Online or in-person transfers for cash pickup, bank deposit or mobile wallet delivery.
  • Fast transfers, with same-day service to many locations.

Cons

  • Fees vary by payment type with higher costs for credit or debit card.
  • Rates can be 5% or more above the mid-market rate, depending on your destination.

9. Walmart


Walmart? Yeah — Walmart! You didn’t think Walmart was going to miss out on anything did you? You might only know Walmart for its stores, but this retail giant also offers convenient cash pickups at any of its locations in more than 190 countries, thanks to a partnership with MoneyGram.

Pros

  • Widespread network of stores and agents.
  • Sends cash for convenient pickup worldwide in minutes.
  • Supports nearly 200 countries.

Cons

  • Rates and fees vary widely by destination.
  • Limits transfers to cash pickups only.

10. PayPal

This digital giant isn’t just for online purchases. PayPal is like a digital banking service, offering a variety of transaction types at rates that beat most banks and financial institutions.

Pros

  • Sign up and send money in under 5 minutes.
  • Safe, secure transfers to more than 203 countries.
  • Cost-effective solution for smaller amounts.

Cons

  • Due to proportionate fees, the larger your transfer, the more money in PayPal’s pocket.
  • Weak exchange that starts at 2.5% above the mid-market rate.

About the Author

luke armstrong

Luke Maguire Armstrong is the author of "The Nomad's Nomad." He has spent the last decade traveling, writing and designing, and funding philanthropic programs around the world.

Be Our Guest

Have an exciting travel story you'd like to share? Let's talk!

Navigator Alliance

Join Navigator Alliance

Navigator Alliance offers a variety of free benefits and services to help make your life and your travels a little easier. You’re welcome if you’re an avid traveler or a want-to-be traveler. You will receive perks you won’t find elsewhere, all for free.

Join Us

This website and various social media updates provided by Seven Corners contain content, information, articles, videos, and links to websites created by third parties. Seven Corners, its owners, and its employees neither endorse nor are responsible for the accuracy, timeliness, or reliability of any third-party information, statements, opinions, or advice and are not liable for any loss, harm, or damage caused by your reliance upon them. Use of such information or the linked websites is entirely at your risk. Concerns regarding this third-party content should be directed to the third party. Seek professional advice, as appropriate, regarding your use of the such information and websites.

Because the information on this website and in Seven Corners’ blogs and other social media is written and compiled using knowledge and information available at a certain point in time, it may become outdated. For that reason, information, events, legal requirements, and product changes (including benefits, limitations, exclusions, and services) may not be up-to-date, complete, or accurate at the point in time it is being read. Again, use of such information is at your risk.