Sending money abroad? Venmo compared to Wise for international transfers

Wise

Venmo handled $61.8 billion worth of transactions in 2018, doubling its $31.6 billion total from the previous year.¹ It’s become a popular peer-to-peer payments app enabling users to share costs - PayPal, who owns Venmo reported 40 million users by the end of the first quarter of 2019.²

If you use Venmo, you might be wondering if the service can be used for payments to friends and family overseas. Here’s what you need to know.

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Can I send money abroad with Venmo?

Venmo does not currently allow users to send money abroad.³

Not to worry. There are other options when you need to make international payments. Read on to hear all about them.

What are my options when it comes to sending money abroad?

Users love simple to use, convenient and fairly priced money transfers. If you’re looking for an easy way to make an international payment to someone, here are some of your options:

  • An alternative money transfer service (may often be faster and cheaper)
  • Your bank (may often be slower, but at least familiar)

Choose an alternative money transfer service

The costs of making an international transfer with your bank - either in person or online - may come as a surprise to people used to making local payments.That’s because sending money through the SWIFT network that banks use for international payments, is fairly pricey.

But there are alternatives out there. For example, you could try Venmo’s parent company, PayPal, for your transfer abroad. When consiering wheteher to use PayPal to make your international transfer, it’s important to understand both the fees and the exchange rates. With a currency conversion spread of 2.5%-3% added onto the wholesale exchange rate,⁴ and international fees running from 0.3-2%, and higher fees if making payments via credit or debit cards,⁵ PayPal international transfers may turn out to be costly.

There may be a cheaper option for you.

You could save on international transfers by using Wise

Wise skips hefty international transfer fees by connecting local bank accounts all around the world. So, you may be able to save some money when you send your money abroad.

See if you can save with Wise

Wise uses the mid-market rate without any markup added and charges a flat or percentage fee per transaction - which is set out upfront, so you see clearly how much you are paying.

The mid-market rate is the average of all buy and sell rates - it’s what banks use to trade money on global financial markets. You can find it with a quick Google search for your currency pairing, or by using a currency converter online.

However, most transfer services don’t offer customers the mid-market rate when they make an international transfer. Instead, they may charge a higher exchange rate for the transfer. That means they can claim that there’s no commission charged, yet still make a profit. That’s often not a good deal for customers.

Nobody wants to get pay huge fees when making an international money transfer. For customers used to apps that provide good value and a convenient system, the fees and hassle associated with bank operated international wire transfers - and even services like PayPal - may come as an unexpected surprise.

Sending money with your bank (making an international wire transfer)

Many banks will allow you to make a wire transfer in person or by simply calling into your local branch with all the relevant details.

It’s a good idea to call your bank before you visit - both to check that you can make a transfer in person, but also to ask about the fees. It’s common for banks to charge more for wire transfers made in person at a branch than they do for online transfers.

It's important to know that it’s not only your bank which could add fees and charges. There’s a strong chance your transfer will be processed using the SWIFT network - in that case, intermediary banks, and the recipient’s own bank could add their own charges, too.

Make an online (international wire) transfer, or arrange your transfer on the phone

A more convenient option for many people is to make an online transfer through your bank - also known as a wire transfer. Some banks will let you set these up online, but others won’t. So you may not have that option, even if this is the option you’d prefer.

Many banks have lower fixed charges for making international transfers on the phone or online, compared to an in-person service. However, you could still get charged for extra fees added by intermediaries and the recipient bank, thanks to the SWIFT process.

Choosing an international money transfer service - check the exchange rate before you commit

So you can’t use Venmo for your international transfer - so what should you consider when choosing an alternative?

Fee-free international transfers don’t exist

Making an international money transfer is never going to be free, although some businesses will tell you otherwise. Moving money overseas - and keeping it safe on its way - is a fairly complex process. There are costs involved, and the bank or money transfer service will also, naturally, want to make a profit on the transaction.

So, even if a service claims to offer zero commission or fee-free international money transfers, you should assume that one way or another the costs will be passed on to the customer.

Exchange rates matter

Banks and other international money transfer services structure their pricing in a variety of ways. In some cases, there are upfront fees which you can check before you decide which service offers the best value.

But it’s usually even more important to check the exchange rates used by different international money transfer services. To make sure it’s a fair rate, you need to understand a bit about the mid-market rate, sometimes called the wholesale, spot, or interbank rate, which we talked about above.

Don’t pay more than you have to - check the exchange rate being used before you commit.


Venmo allows you to send your dollars to your friends in the US. For international transfers consider using providers such as Wise.

Sign up for free in the US

And don’t forget - when choosing the service with the best price, be sure to compare the amount of foreign currency you end up getting - or sending - for the amount of dollars that you pay. With a bit of research you can be sure to find the best provider for your particular needs and not pay more than you have to.

💡 If you need to make international business transfers, then the Wise Business account is also an option worth exploring.

Some key features of Wise Business include:
  • Better visibility and organization of business finances. This is helpful for account reconciliations and audits
  • Major local account details for a simple one-off fee to receive international payments with ease
  • No monthly account fees or minimum balance requirements
  • Receive payments from e-commerce platforms such as Amazon or via Stripe
  • Create invoices using the free Wise invoice generator or invoice templates
  • Accounting integrations, including a QuickBooks Bill Pay connection
  • Batch payment options. Fast payment of up to 1,000 people

Discover the difference between
Wise Business vs Personal


Sources:

  1. PayPal Q4 investor update page 9. 15 August 2019
  2. CNBC - Venmo has 40 million users, PayPal reveals for first time 19 August 2019.
  3. Venmo Help Center - Requirements 15 August 2019
  4. PayPal user agreement page 5. 15 August 2019
  5. PayPal - fees for sending money to friends and family page 1. 15 August 2019

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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