The Different Money Transfer Options And How They Work


There have never been so many options to transfer money overseas. We take a look at three of the biggest, the pros and cons of each - and when to use them.

High Street Money Transfer Operators

You’ll find these guys somewhere on your local high street, whether they have their own shop or tucked away inside a local shop. The biggest global remittance players in the UK are Western Union and MoneyGram.

  • The pros: You don’t need to have a bank account to transfer money and they have a lot of branches. Straightforward but can be expensive

  • The cons: It’s expensive compared to other methods and you have to be able to get to a MTO office. Due to the limited paperwork and ID needed, it has been used in a multitude of scams

  • When to use it: If you need to send or receive money very fast, and have limited ID and no bank account

Peer-to-Peer Money Transfer Providers

A relatively new addition to the international money remittance industry, peer-to-peer transfer allows senders and receivers to take advantage of much cheaper options. Part of the “collaborative consumption” economy (think Airbnb and Uber), peer-to-peer is becoming increasingly popular. Wise uses the principles of peer-to-peer transfer in order to keep costs as low as possible but takes away all the hassle for the user.

  • The pros: Transparent pricing compared to banks, and smaller fees. The mid-market exchange rate is used for transfers

  • The cons: This is a new form of money transfer, so the companies are less established

  • When to use it: When you want to send money cheaply and safely with a good exchange rate

Online Money Transfer Services

As long as you have a bank account, then online money transfer companies such as Wise allow you to make secure and fast payments domestically and internationally, with the minimum of hassle. We explain how Wise sets its exchange rates here.

  • The pros: Better exchange rates than a high street bank, easy to use interfaces and these services generally offer a very transparent and customer orientated service.

  • The cons: The transfer can take a little longer than via other methods, sometimes up to a few days

  • When to use it: If both parties have a bank account, and you don’t need the transfer to appear immediately, then choosing this method for making international money transfers is really a no-brainer.

Please see terms of use and product availability for your region or visit Wise fees and pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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