International Payment Methods: Simple Guide (2024)

Mike Renaldi

International payments have become a vital part of global trade and commerce. Businesses are operating on a global scale and individuals are traveling across borders. They need efficient and secure payment methods to make transactions in different currencies. This need has become more pressing than ever before.

In this article, we will explore some of the most used international payment methods. We’ll also give you the most important information about these methods, as well as some information about how the Wise Business account could save you money while conducting business internationally.

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International Payment Gateways vs. Payment Processors

When it comes to making international payments, there are two main services. These are payment gateways and payment processors. You may have heard about both as the same thing. While they may seem similar at first glance, there are some key differences between the two.

A payment gateway is a service that acts as an intermediary. It goes between the merchant (seller) and the customer's bank. It captures, encrypts, and sends credit card information to the acquiring bank. The bank then authorizes it. Some popular international payment gateways include PayPal, Stripe, and Square.

A payment processor is a service that handles the actual processing of transactions. It verifies funds and facilitates the transfer of money from the buyer's account to the seller's account. Popular examples of payment processors include Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover.

Need a simpler explanation? International payment gateways and processors help conduct online payments in different currencies. Gateways focus on collecting payment information. Processors handle the transaction process.

Important Things to Consider When Choosing International Payment Methods

When choosing an international payment method, there are several factors to consider.

The first and most important factor is the security of the transaction. This includes protecting personal information and financial details. You also should ensure that the funds reach their intended recipient without any delays or errors.

Another crucial factor to consider is the speed of the transaction. Businesses operate on tight deadlines. Individuals need quick access to funds while traveling. You need to choose a payment method that offers fast processing times.

The cost of transferring money with a currency conversion is also an important consideration. Some payment methods may have higher fees or exchange rates than others. Comparing and choosing the most cost-effective option is essential.

Lastly, understanding the local laws and regulations of both the sender's and receiver's countries is crucial. Some countries may have restrictions or specific requirements for international transactions. This can affect the choice of payment method.

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Best International Payment Methods

Without further ado, here are our top 6 picks for the best international payments on the market. For each option, we’ll give you a detailed description, including:

  • what they are
  • how customers use them
  • how vendors accept them
  • the average cost for vendors and/or customers
  • pros and cons

1. International Transfer Providers

International transfer providers are companies that specialize in transferring money between different countries. They offer lower fees and better exchange rates than traditional banks. This makes them an attractive option for international payments.

How Customers Use Them

Customers can use these providers by signing up for an account online. They can also do so through their mobile app. They can then start transfers from their bank accounts to the recipient's bank account in another country.

How Vendors Accept Them

Vendors must also have an account with the transfer provider to receive payments. The funds will be transferred to their local bank account in their currency of choice.

Average Cost

International transfer providers often are a subscription-based service. They also need a transfer fee for each transaction. For example, a transfer of 1,000 USD with a currency exchange to Euros could cost $0-$6.82 in extra charges. But it’s important to note that up to almost 39 EUR is lost in transition. Wise is one of the best options for retaining funds and they charge a one time fee. The payer is the one who pays for this service most often.²


  • Lower fees compared to traditional banks
  • Faster transfer times
  • Better exchange rates than banks


  • Some providers may have limits on the amount that can be transferred at once
  • Not all countries and currencies are supported

2. Wise for Receiving and Sending International Transfers

Founded in 2011, Wise Business is on a mission to make it easier and cheaper to move money around the world. Wise is not a bank, but a Money Services Business (MSB) provider and a smart alternative to banks.

In addition to offering international payments at the mid-market exchange rate, Wise Business offers an international account that lets you store money in more than 40 currencies.

Also, you can get your own virtual account details for receiving local transfers in currencies, such as GBP, EUR, USD, CAD, AUD, JPY, and more. You can sign up for free, pay a simple one-off fee for account details, and there’s no monthly fee to worry about.

If you need to make mass payouts to international contractors, make batch payments with Wise Business - with just a single file upload.

  • High limits
    Depending on which state you’re located in and where you’re sending money to, you could send as much as $1,000,000 in a single transaction with Wise. If you’re sending money in batches, you can send a lot more in total.

  • Low cost
    How to pay international contractors? Simply, fast and as cheap as possible. Compare the prices of Wise with other providers and see what fits your business the best.

The true cost of sending USD to GBP

  • Convenience
    Once you open your multi-currency account you can pay your international contractors in 80 countries. If you need a local account to receive money and allow your customers to pay you in their own currency, get account details (such as routing number, IBAN, sort code and more).

  • Online
    You might wonder what's the best way to pay contractors online. With Wise Business there's no need to visit a branch or call anyone up. Everything happens online.

  • Your recipient gets notified
    If you enter your contractor’s email, they will get an email once you’ve paid them, which is good for their peace of mind as well as yours.

  • Your recipient doesn’t need a Wise account
    When you use a solution like PayPal, your recipient will need to sign up to get hold of their money. Not so with Wise — it goes straight into their bank account.

  • Bulk payment options
    One of the best ways to pay international contractors -if you have many- is to make mass payroll payouts with Wise Business.

  • Great exchange rates
    You’ll get the mid-market rate like you see on Google, which should save you and your overseas contractors a lot of money. You aren’t likely to get that from a bank.

  • End payments in US dollars or local currency
    In most countries, you can pay your international contractors in either the local currency or in US dollars.

  • Secure
    Wise is regulated by the financial ruling bodies in each country it operates.

Looking to send and receive funds overseas at low cost?

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3. P2P Payments

P2P (peer-to-peer) payments are transactions between two individuals using electronic payment methods. These types of payments have become increasingly popular due to the rise of mobile banking and digital wallets.

How Customers Use Them

Customers can start P2P payments by linking their bank accounts or debit/credit cards to a mobile app or online platform. Venmo or Zelle are two popular options. They can then send money to another individual's account by entering their email address or phone number.

How Vendors Accept Them

Vendors can receive P2P payments by signing up for a payment service. PayPal or Square Cash are two popular options. They can then request payments from customers who have accounts with the same service.

Average Cost

Vendors: P2P companies often just charge payment processing fees. These are a percentage and flat rate per transaction. The percentage is anywhere from 0-2.7% and the flat rate is 5-10 cents. Some services also have a monthly fee in exchange for lowered payment processing fees. This fee can be over $99.³

Customers: P2P payments do not cost a user anything. But they may take a small percentage when transferring funds from the app to your bank account. Some also offer safety features. These will take a small percentage in exchange for a full refund when needed. But these features are not required to make a payment.


  • Convenient and fast way to transfer money between individuals
  • Can be used internationally without incurring high fees
  • Many options available. This makes it easy to find a platform that suits individual needs


  • Limited acceptance by merchants compared to other methods
  • May not be suitable for large transactions
  • Not all countries have access to popular P2P payment platforms

4. SWIFT Payments

SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) payments are bank-to-bank transfers. They allow individuals or businesses to send money around the world. This method uses a messaging network to send financial information between banks.

How Customers Use Them

Customers can start SWIFT payments by providing their bank with the recipient’s bank account details. The transaction takes 1-5 business days to complete.

How Vendors Accept Them

Vendors must have an account with a bank that is part of the SWIFT network to receive payments. The banks charge a fee for processing the transaction. The funds are then transferred to the vendor's account.

Average Cost

The cost of a SWIFT payment varies depending on the banks involved and the currency being exchanged. On average, customers can expect to pay around $25-$40 per transfer. Vendors may have to pay a percentage-based fee on the total amount received. SWIFT payments can also be shared between customers and vendors. Or either one of them can choose to accept the cost.


  • Secure and reliable method of payment
  • Accepted by banks around the world


  • Transaction fees can be high for smaller transactions
  • Transactions can take several days to complete


5. Debit Cards

Debit cards are plastic or digital cards linked to a customer's bank account. They can be used for both online and in-person transactions. Unlike credit cards, the funds for debit card sales come from the customer’s bank account.

How Customers Use Them

Customers can use their debit card just like a credit card. They do so by entering their card information during checkout on an e-commerce website or swiping it at a physical store. Some banks also offer virtual debit cards. These can be used for online transactions without having to enter actual card details.

How Vendors Accept Them

Vendors can accept debit cards in the same way they accept credit cards. They must have a merchant account and a card reader to process transactions.

Average Cost

Vendors: Fees for debit card use are per transaction. They are lower than credit card use fees. The Federal Reserve reported that the average fee was $0.34 or 0.74% per transaction in 2022.⁴

Customers: The cost of a debit card depends on your ability to make payments and keep a required balance in your account. If you are on top of things, the costs should reflect the payments you make.


  • Funds are immediately available for vendors. This reduces the risk of chargebacks
  • No interest or debt accumulation for customers


  • Limited protection against fraudulent charges compared to credit cards
  • May have transaction fees for international sales

6. Credit Cards

Credit cards are often used for international transactions. This is because they offer a convenient way for customers to make sales in different currencies. Customers can also earn reward points or cashback on their sales when using credit cards.

How Customers Use Them

Customers can use credit cards by entering their card details at checkout. They can also swipe the card at a physical point of sale terminal. Many credit card companies now offer chip-enabled cards for added security.

How Vendors Accept Them

Vendors must have a merchant account with the credit card company to accept payments. The company charges a transaction fee for each payment processed. The funds are then transferred to the vendor's bank account.

Average Cost

Vendors: Fees for credit card use are per transaction. They are higher than debit card use fees. The Federal Reserve reported that the average fee was 1.40% per transaction in 2022.⁴

Customers: Like debit cards, the cost of a credit card depends on your organization and ability to make payments. If you pay back your statements on time, you may make a small amount of money by using your credit card.


  • Accepted by most merchants around the world
  • Offers rewards and cashback incentives for customers
  • Can be used for both online and offline transactions


  • Customers may face foreign transaction fees or currency conversion fees when using their credit cards abroad
  • Vendors must pay processing fees for each transaction


Sources used :

  1. 10 Best Payment Gateways (January 2024) - Forbes Advisor
  2. International Money Transfer | Send Money Abroad with Wise (ex-...
  3. How to Accept Peer-to-Peer Payments at Your Business - NerdWallet
  4. Debit Card Processing Fees: Merchant Guide - Merchant Maverick

Sources last checked on 16-January 2024.

*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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