Money transfer service: Many of from us is working overseas for a bit and you saved some money and now you need to bring it back home or maybe you’re moving somewhere and you need to put a deposit on a flat or buy some furniture and you need to bring the money over before your first paycheck arrives. So how do you do it? How do you transfer the money?
Well a lot of people end up milking the ATM and that is the worst way to do it. It is super expensive. So, the best way that I’ve found to transfer money over is to use a money transfer service. Now before we dive too deep you need to understand that no matter which technique you use to move the money you will end up paying. Nobody’s going to move your money overseas for free. You end up paying via fees and you pay via the spread.
The spread is the part most people don’t check and it’s by far the most expensive. So, what is the spread? Well, the spread is the difference between the actual mid-market rates and the rate that you’ll end up getting for your transaction.
Let’s take an example that’s easy to understand. Let’s say you want to move five thousand dollars from Australia to Canada and that today’s exchange rate is a very easy 1 Australian dollar equals 1 Canadian dollar. First there’s the obvious milking the ATM. Australian bankcard. Canadian ATM. Pop the card in, get five hundred dollars out. Your bank will charge you perhaps four dollars in fees and the ATM, because you’re using a foreign card, will also charge you four dollars in fees.
So that’s eight dollars total fees. When you look at the small print on the receipt you realize that you’re not getting the exchange rate of the day which was 1 Australian dollar equals 1 Canadian dollar. You’re getting a different exchange rate. The exchange rate you’re getting is 1 Australian dollar equals 94 Canadian cents so what happened there?
Well the spread is what happened there. Your bank is charging you a six percent spread. So how much did it cost to move $500 then? Well, we paid eight dollars in fees plus six percent spread which means that the total cost of the transaction was 38$.
Now remember we didn’t want to move $500 we wanted to move $5,000. This means that if we went back to the ATM 10 times, because of the daily 500$ limit, the total true cost of our transactions would be 380$. That’s insanely expensive! So, there must be another way. So, the other obvious way is to use an international wire transfer at your bank.
Now I looked at my own bank and they charge a $22 flat fee plus the same 6% spread. That means in this case that the total cost of the transaction would be 322$. So, it’s a bit cheaper than the ATM but still very expensive.
So that brings us to our third option, my favourite, the cheapest, which is using an international money transfer service. The way these services work is they have bank accounts all over the world and you transfer locally and they do the International part of the transfer.
So, the first one is XE.com. XE charges a 1.5% spread and no fees so the total true cost of the transaction would be $75. The second service is TransferWise. TransferWise charges a 0.7% fee and no spread so the total true cost of the transaction would be 35$ And finally CurrencyFair charges a 0.56% spread and no fee so the total true transaction costs would be 27$.
Now that’s insane when you think about it! If you compare milking the ATM at 380$ dollars with the cheapest money transfer service at $27 that’s the massive difference. Alright! So, money transfer services are cheap but how do you use them?
Well the first thing you need to do is open an account with them. Usually that means going on their website and sending them some photos or scans of ID documents. Most of the time you need two pieces of ID. For instance, a passport and a driver’s license and proof of address like a recent utility bill or anything with your name and your current address on it. Once your account is up and running how do you move money around? Well you need to set up a trade.
So, you go on the service’s website or mobile app and set up the trade by telling the system I want to move that much money from country A to bank account XYZ in country B. Now once you set up the trade that system will give you important local bank detail information for you to transfer the money. So, the next step is simply to go on your own bank’s website, the same website you use to check your balance or pay your bills, and do a local transfer to the money transfer service. And that’s it! Now all you have to do is wait for the money to show up at the other end! Alright so out of the three money transfer services that we looked at: XE TransferWise and CurrencyFair which one do I recommend? Well it’s simple I recommend all three of them. Setting up an account with them is free — it’s a bit of work — but once you’ve done it once it’s good for ever and you’re good to go. So, whenever you move just pick the service that’s giving you the easiest and fastest and the cheapest rate.