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Student Guide to International Money Transfer
5 min

Student Guide to International Money Transfer

Dec 20, 2021
5 min

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The Smarter Way to Send Money

It can be challenging to find a trustworthy source to transfer money across borders. Here's our guide to international students' best money-transfer and money-receiving services.

As an international student, figuring out how to make an international money transfer or exchange sums between currencies is difficult. 

While traditional banks may appear to be the best and safest way to transfer money between countries, they may have hidden fees and complex processes under the sheen of terms and conditions.

Fortunately, there are more alternatives for sending and receiving money while studying abroad, such as money transfer specialists and non-bank providers.

See below for information on the fees associated with international money transfers, as well as which services may be best for you. But first, let's read about international money transfer and the best way to transfer money internationally.

What is an international wire transfer?

Western union international wire transfer branch

International wire transfer, a.k.a swift transfer is a sharing process of funds from one person to another. These are done to carry on the basic daily expenses without much difficulty. For you as an international student, this can mean paying for your rent, your eateries or your basic spending.

The reason why international wire transfer is also called Swift Transfer is due to the SWIFT number. This unique bank identifier code is used to transfer funds from a bank account in your home country to overseas banks. These methods are more secure, fast and enable real-time updates as well.

How does international money transfer take place?

Many times the word ‘international money transfer’ is enough to intimidate people. Lots of paperwork, verification, identification and who knows what else! But wait, you can avoid all such hassle by staying organized and gathering all necessary documents.

Additionally, it is important to keep in mind that the exact process varies from one bank to another and the company/service you use. That’s why the best way to transfer money internationally is by being sure to contact them to verify all the information you require.

A few general items to remember are:

  • Account holder’s name, full mailing address and institution number
  • Account number
  • SWIFT code 
  • Routing number 
  • Branch number

When making an international wire transfer, it is vital that you consider all the fees and additional costs associated with it. Fees are charged whether you are sending or receiving funds and cost significantly if not judged properly.

Advantages and disadvantages of international money transfer

Some of the basic benefits of a swift transfer is their property of being safe and secure. They prohibit any leaks of funds and are today’s best way to transfer money internationally. Another great advantage is the introduction of several end-to-end encrypted international wire transfer services like Paypal international transfer, Chase wire transfer and many more. 

This shifts the paradigm from the commissioned international money transfer services and reduces several add-on charges for the customers. While we discussed these many advantages, there are a handful of drawbacks of international money transfer which you should learn about.

A major disadvantage of international bank transfer is the hidden costs which are added to your transfer. This makes sending money internationally more expensive than domestically. Another con of international money transfer services is their one-way mechanism which exempts you to reverse the payment once done. 

This makes it easier for Scammers and hackers to take meaningful disadvantage of such services. That’s why it is always recommended to use legitimate international bank transfer services and double-check all the details entered.

How much does international wire transfer cost?

Urban League of Hampton Roads

The cost of making an international bank transfer is determined by the currency used, the destination, and the sender. Each bank and provider will have its fee structure and charge different fees on top of the daily exchange rate.

There are three significant fees to keep in mind:

The fee for sending money —Traditional banks will usually charge you a fee of around £30 or higher to complete the transaction of sending money abroad.

The exchange rates — Traditional banks frequently charge a margin of up to 5% above the daily exchange rate, known as a hidden fee, which can quickly add up if you're an international student who needs to transfer money on a regular or large scale.

The fee to receive the payment — Depending on the bank, some banks may charge your recipient a fee to receive money abroad.

Because of these factors, you can save a lot of money on fees if you shop around before sending money abroad.

Which are the cheapest international money transfer services?

Using a money transfer specialist or a non-bank payment service provider is usually the cheapest way to transfer money abroad (PSP). And is the best way to transfer money internationally too!

Money transfer specialists and payment service providers (PSPs) are third-party platforms that allow you to store and transfer money in various currencies. Wise (formerly TransferWise), OFX, and CurrencyFair are a few examples.

When transferring money, these platforms typically have much lower rates than traditional banks, making them worth investigating for international students who need to do so regularly.

What distinguishes money transfer specialists and non-bank payment service providers from banks?

It is critical to understand that money transfer specialists and PSPs are not banks; you cannot obtain an overdraft, a loan, or earn interest on savings using these services.

They are not intended to be used as long-term storage or savings accounts but rather as a supplement to a traditional bank account.

The benefit of these services is that they allow you to transfer, receive, and spend money in different currencies for free or at a much lower cost than traditional banks.

Which international money transfer methods are best for students?

Use the table below as a starting point to find a transfer service that will work for you. This is by no means an exhaustive list, so do your research based on your specific requirements. You can also narrow your search by using money transfer comparison websites.

Table 1
Name Which currencies
do they support?

How do I set up
an account?

What are the
Wise multi-currency
Register online and provide
photo ID
Receive money in EUR, GBP, AUD, NZD, RON, HUF,and SGD at no cost and spend in any supported currency for FREE. You can a card for this account, a UK accountnumber, Euro IBAN and US routing number.
CurrencyFair  17 Register online and provide
photo ID
Send and receive money to and from more than 150 countries. Same day transfers for most transactions.
OFX  55 Register online and provide
photo ID
Often has a fixed fee for transfers for example $15 AUD for transfers up to $10,000. Commonly used by international students in Australia.
Western Union  40+ Register online with photo
ID and a valid email
Commonly used by students in the UK- there are more than 5000 Western Union agent locations where you can
transfer money in person. Regular refer-a-friend deal.
XE  Over 50 Register online with photo
ID and a valid email
You can send money to over 130 countries.Extremely low rates for transfer under $10,000.
World Remit  Over 70 Register online with photo
ID and a valid email address
You can send money to over 130 countries. Money usually available within minutes.

Consider the following factors when deciding how to transfer your funds:

The amount you'll be transferring and how frequently you'll be transferring – Before using the best international money transfer services, it is important to know if you're going to be frequently transferring, look for the transfer service that will give you the best deal over multiple transactions.

If you're planning a one-time or substantial transaction, you might want to look for any current deals that might best suit your needs.

Do they accept the currencies you use? – While most transfer services will accept most major currencies, make sure that the platform you are using accepts the currencies you need to transfer money. Similarly, if you're sending money abroad, make sure the platform supports the destination you're sending to or receiving money from.

What protection will your money have? – Before handing over any money, make sure to check the credentials of any service you use, and only do so if you are confident in how your money will be protected.

Financial services are regulated by various bodies in each country, including the Financial Conduct Authority in the United Kingdom, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in the United States, the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada, and the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority.

Before selecting a service, make sure to read many reviews and ask your university, friends, and family for recommendations.

How long will it take for your money to be transferred? - Most money transfer services will take a couple of days to process your money. Still, the time will vary depending on the transaction, location, and service you choose, so keep the processing times in mind when managing your finances.

Frequently asked questions for international money transfer services

Q.1 How long does it take to complete an international wire transfer?

A: It usually takes 1-4 business days to complete an international money transfer. This can also be altered depending on the seasonal rush, currency cut-off times, exchange rate fluctuations, or any bank holidays.

Q.2 What is the minimum amount I could get in a swift transfer?

A: The minimum amount you can get in a swift transfer depends on the service you’re using. The best international money transfer can be as low as $1 in some while several thousand in others.

Q.3 How often does the exchange rate change during international wire transfer?

A: The exchange rates change variable according to global markets and settle at a fixed point which is also known as the exchange rate cut-off point. You’ll get the latest exchange rates at all the swift transfer services.


So here is everything you need to learn about international money transfer services. While making an international wire transfer is now easier than ever, it is always a safe bet to know everything before making the use of the best way to send money internationally.

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