Best Ways to Transfer Money When Overseas

Posted on 02/04/2014 ~ Categorized as Invest
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dhalbert@escapeartist.com

As the lead inbound marketing consultant and web designer, Don Halbert practices what he preaches and enjoys living, working, playing and investing abroad in Costa Rica.

Best Ways to Transfer Money When Overseas

When living or retiring abroad, there are lots of options for establishing your finances.  Regardless of how you choose to organize your money, at some point you’ll probably need to transfer money into your account or out of your account into someone else’s.   Thanks to globalization and the Internet, international money transfers are easier than ever before.

The most traditional means of transferring money is a bank to bank wire transfer.  These are ideal if you will be transferring a large amount.  For this, you will need a bank account in the country that you’re in.  Sometimes this can be done online, but more often than not you’ll need to work with a local branch.  From the receiving bank you’ll probably need:

  • The IBAN number
  • The SWIFT number
  • The checking account number
  • The routing number
  • The bank’s address
  • The name on the account

Fees for this service will vary depending on the bank, the countries, and the exchange rate.  However, if both parties use CitiBank, then a transfer of any size can be made automatically for only $10.

If you need to have money wired to you but you don’t have an account in the country, then Western Union or Travelex might be your best option (or if you need to get money to someone else quickly).  They are incredibly secure ways to transfer money, but to collect, all you need is identification.  They have locations everywhere in the world and are generally cash transactions so there’s no waiting period to access the money, unlike bank transfers.

The downside to using money transfer services like this are the high fees.  Plus, depending on where you are and what your transportation options are, getting to the Western Union office might be difficult.

A more modern way to transfer money is through online payment services such as PayPal.  To receive money, you need to have an account with PayPal that is linked to your bank account, regardless which country it’s in.  If both parties have PayPal, then the transfer fees are negligible.  If only the receiving person has PayPal, then the person transferring the money can use their credit card to make a payment directly into the other’s secure PayPal account, which can then be transferred into their bank.

The benefit of PayPal is that it’s not necessary to go to a bank or find a Travelex office since it’s totally online.  The biggest con is that while the payment to PayPal is automatic, it will take about three days for the money to transfer into your bank account.  Plus, PayPal will take a 2-4% cut of the funds for fees, so it’s not ideal for large amounts of money.


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