Your full guide to the best international payment methods

Aman Saxena

When you need to make international payments, there are often multiple options you can choose from to complete the transaction. But each differs based on cost, time, and ease.

Learn more about international payment methods with this guide, so you can make the best decision for you.

📝 Table of contents

Here is a quick table looking at the best international payment methods and how they compare on fees, time, and convenience.

Method of paymentFeesTime takenConvenience
Payment gatewaysTransaction fee + exchange rate markupImmediate or 2-3 days, plus time for depositing in bank accountEasy for digital payments through websites or payment links
SWIFT paymentsProcessing fee + exchange rate markup3-5 business daysTypically completed through a bank’s online banking or at a branch
Debit cardsTransaction/currency conversion fee + exchange rate markupImmediateCan be done virtually, through a website or payment gateway, or in-person
Credit cardsTransaction/currency conversion fee + exchange rate markupImmediateCan be done virtually, through a website or payment gateway, or in person
International transfer providersTransfer fee + exchange rate markup (depending on provider)Immediate to 2 business days on averagePrimarily online or through a mobile app

The exchange rate markup fee is a hidden fee that is tucked into the exchange rate you get on international transactions. Banks, card companies, and some transfer providers will weaken the exchange rate you get when you are making a payment.

This difference between the real exchange rate- which you can find on Google - and the one you get on a transaction is a hidden fee that can make a purchase more expensive.

Payment gateways

  • Simple way to get payments online
  • International and domestic payments can differ
  • Stripe, PayPal and Razorpay are popular gateways

Payment gateways are a third party company that helps the buyer and seller with payments online. They can be inputted into a website or online store and then allow customers to use their service to make purchases.

The payment gateways take a cut of every transaction and may charge an extra fee for international payments. Payment gateways are ideal when they offer relevant payment options for your consumer audience and there is an online store, digital invoices or website.

SWIFT payments

  • For bank to bank transfers
  • A low cost but slow option
  • Ideal for direct payments

SWIFT payments is a traditional global payment system between banks. It allows for direct transfers from one bank account to another. To complete a SWIFT payment, both banks must be part of the SWIFT system and have a unique SWIFT code. SWIFT transfer can be done at your local bank or typically through your bank’s online banking system. While fees may be low, it is often not the fastest option out there.

Debit cards

  • Easy way to pay from a bank account
  • Can have multiple fees
  • Requires a point of sale or payment gateway

A debit card is a card with swipe or a chip that links to a bank account for direct debit for purchases. Debit cards are usually used via Visa, Mastercard or associated processing companies that link it to the bank and bank account to deduct from.

When a debit card is used, a PIN may be required and the funds must be in the bank account. It is a simple way to pay online or at a point of sale, but can carry transaction fees, currency conversion fees, and an exchange rate markup when used internationally.

🔖 Read more: Using debit cards internationally

Credit cards

  • Can be used online or via physical card
  • Typically is more accepted globally
  • Can have multiple fees

Credit cards are linked to an account with a credit line where users pay back for usage, often with interest. Credit card companies like Visa, Mastercard, and American Express make payments smooth without a bank and are typically accepted everywhere- often without a PIN required.

The ease of use and availability to be used in most places for international payments however does often come with multiple fees and markups on top of the interest rate.

International transfer providers

  • Can be done online or by mobile
  • Often cheaper and faster than other options
  • Direct to bank account options

Modern international transfer providers often use tech to make international payments easier than other options. Popular providers like Wise, Western Union, or Moneygram let users transfer money using their bank account or debit/credit cards either online or through a convenient mobile app.

And the funds can arrive directly into a bank account locally, or even be picked up as cash. But keep an eye out for unnecessary fees and make sure to shop around for a trusted provider.

Let Wise take care of your international payments

Wise (Web/Android/ iOS app) is an easy, fast, and cost-effective way to send money around the world

Wise offers Indian businesses and freelancers with account details in 8 different currencies to receive payments from abroad. You can use these account details to receive payments from platforms like Upwork or your clients pay you with a local transfer in their currency, and you receive rupees in your INR bank account — with eFIRC for every transfer.

Get started with a Wise Business Account 🚀 and save with a low-cost transfer fee and mid-market exchange rate - which is the same as the one you see on Google.

And if you are in a currently supported country abroad, check out the Wise Multi Currency Account with a linked debit card. It is a single account where you can hold, send, receive and shop with multiple currencies- including Indian rupees.

*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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