How to Pay Independent Contractors


Self-employed workers and freelancers cover 9.3 percent of its total workforce in 2019 and are significant to Singapore’s economy. So if you’re looking for skilled independent contractors to work for your business it’s wise to look in Singapore. The speed of advancement in technological innovation in the country makes it a good place for a competitive workforce especially in the field of information technology (IT). It is worth every dollar to outsource the best skilled worker in the field because it can give you competitive advantage and new skill-sets can be developed.

Ways to pay contractors in Singapore

Sending money internationally to pay your contractors doesn’t have to be costly as long as you do it the right way, paying your contractors in Singapore doesn’t end through bank wire transfer. Over the years, sending and receiving money internationally have evolved significantly; we now have online money transfer services that are very reliable and cost-efficient. Here are some of them:

1. Wise International Payment

One of the cheapest ways to send money to Singapore. Wise supports transfers to 45+ currencies including Singaporean Dollars. You can take advantage of a fast transfer with a real exchange rate and low transfer cost.

With Wise Business you also can set Auto Conversions. Choose your currencies, the amount to convert, and your desired exchange rate. Wise will then automatically exchange the amount when your desired rate is available. This is a great, easy, and safe way to save money if you need to pay employees or contractors in Singapore or abroad.
Cost$10.49 (0.53%) conversion fee
Speed0 - 2 working days
  • If you’re paying multiple contractors, you can use a dedicated tool for running payroll - Wise Batch Payment. Instead of making several payments separately, you can send multiple payments in one go.
  • You can make business payments via the app.
  • The business can be integrated to accounting software called Xero to help ease tax reconciliation.


  • Real Exchange rate
  • High Transfer limit - up to $1,000,000
  • Low transfer cost
  • Recipients don’t need a Wise account to receive payments
  • Instant transfer for some currencies
  • Accepts Payments through debit and credit card, ACH direct debit and Wire transfer
  • Bank-level security.


  • Business and personal accounts need to get verified first
  • No Cash Pick-ups
  • Recipient cannot track the status of the transfers


2. Instarem

Instarem is also one of the cheapest ways to send money to Singapore especially for small amounts. They add a very small exchange rate mark-up⁴ on top of a 0.5% transaction fee.

Cost$12.18 (around 0.11% exchange rate mark-up + 0.5% transaction fee)³
Speed1 - 5 working days
  • Accessible on the app
  • Supports Mass Payment


  • Straight forward fee structure
  • Loyalty points that can be redeemed against transactions
  • Low exchange rate margin
  • Payments through ACH direct debit and wire transfer


  • Account verification process can be lengthy
  • No card payment available

3. OFX

Doesn’t charge transfer fees. They make money by adding a mark-up on their exchange rate which can vary according to the transfer amount and your transaction history with them. It’s usually higher for smaller amounts and vice versa.

Cost$8 - $50 (0.4 - 2.5% exchange rate mark-up)⁵
Speed1 - 5 working day
  • Accessible on the app.
  • Can be integrated to accounting software
  • Can set up recurring payments
  • Batch payments tool


  • No transfer fees
  • No transfer limit
  • Operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week


  • Exchange rate mark-up
  • Doesn’t offer same-day delivery
  • Minimum transfer is $2,000

4. MoneyGram

Offers a fast and reliable money transfer service but payments to Singapore can only be received via cash pick-up and the fees are quite high.

Cost$120.66 (4% exchange rate mark-up + $40 transfer fee)²
Speed0 - 5 working days
  • Accessible on the app


  • Fast and reliable
  • Secure


  • High transfer fees and exchange rate mark-up
  • Can only send through cash pick-up in Singapore
  • Low transfer limits

5. Banks

Most banks in the U.S. offer international wire transfer services but they tend to be more expensive than online services that solely focus on money transfer. Most often, a wire transfer goes to your bank account to the recipient’s account, and it should be affiliated because it will be costly and may take longer days to process. Though, it is still a good option especially in larger sums of money.

Cost$20 - $50 transfer fees + 3 - 7% exchange rate mark-up
Speed1 - 5 working day
  • Can be integrated to accounting software
  • Can set up recurring payments


  • Safe
  • Reliable


  • High exchange rate mark-up
  • Expensive
  • Long processing time

The fees shown above are the estimated cost of a $2000 transfer to SGD. Fees may vary according to the provider's exchange rate set for you.

Things to consider when making international transfer

Although there are several ways to transfer money, and one method might have an advantage to another depending on the benefits you get from the service provider. It is a must to do research to get the most out of your money by knowing exactly how to find the lowest fees and best exchange rates and out there. Here are some things to consider in selecting your money transfer partner;

  • Cost – transfer fees, processing charges and exchange rates; cost is the most important factor to consider in international transfer so you’ll get the best deal in town; be careful with currency spikes and commission fees to avoid unnecessary or excessive charges.
  • Convenience – online money intermediaries make it possible to send and receive money in the most convenient way, however there are risks associated in online transfer because of hidden charges and some money intermediaries are fraud.
  • Speed and Reliability – speed and reliability must be also considered so you’ll get the money on time without any hassle and unnecessary charges, well most of international money transfer providers are reliable. We'll just differ in processing speed.
  • Security – typically bank wire transfers offer the highest security in international transfer but then again it is associated with higher costs, so you should always consider options which are also safe even in larger sums of money but are still reliable and speedy.

Singaporean dollar is one of the most highly traded currencies in the world, giving you several options when you’re looking to send money from the US. However, the wide selection means you should take extra time comparing the differences between banks and money transfer companies. This might sound like a lot of hassle but it could save you thousands of dollars in the long run.


  1. Straits Times blog post
  2. MoneyGram price estimator
  3. Instarem website
  4. Instarem support center
  5. OFX FAQ

This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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