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Banking

The Best Ways to Send Money Internationally

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Just two decades ago, someone wanting to send money internationally had two, maybe three options in total to choose from. Today, there are countless startups vying for your international money transfer business and more coming all the time. Making sense of all the competing offers can be stressful.

Given the very wide variety of services available, you can easily spend more than you should to send money internationally. Every option has its own advantages and drawbacks, so you need to choose your priority: rapid transfer speed or lowest transfer fee.

The following five money transfer services are some of the best options to send money internationally.

Transferwise

  • Best for: People who want the most advantageous exchange rates
  • How long transfers take: Anywhere from one to four business days

Transferwise believes that it should be simple to send money internationally, and that transfer fees should be fair. When you send money through Transferwise, you’ll be subject to what’s known as the mid-market rate, or the “real” exchange rate — this means you won’t face any markups, and it’s based on the rate that you’d find on foreign exchange websites such as XE.com. Customers can transfer funds to a recipient’s bank account via ACH transfer, bank transfer, debit card payment or credit card payment.

Fees vary depending on transfer method, exchange rate and amount sent. For example, as of this writing it would cost you $6.86 in fees to transfer $1,000 USD to a nation that uses the Euro, based on the mid-market rate of 0.88370 — your recipient would receive €877.64. In contrast, sending that same $1,000 could incur fees of $6.90 to send to the UK in pounds, $10.15 to send in Japanese yen, or $16.01 to send to South Africa. According to Transferwise, as long as your money transfer is received within 30 hours, they guarantee the exchange rate you were quoted.

You can send money internationally to more than 70 countries. Transfer times can be anywhere from one to four business days, depending on your payment method, destination and how long it takes your recipient’s bank to process the transaction. When you initiate a transfer, the company’s site lets you estimate how long a transfer would take, depending on the factors listed above.

You can transfer up to $10,000 per order once every 24 hours via ACH and up to $50,000 per order every 24 hours using other methods. You will need to open an account and complete verification before you can transfer money.

Pros:

  • Uses the mid-market exchange rate
  • Offers a variety of payment methods
  • Website is easy to use and offers upfront information via its FAQ section

Cons:

  • Transfers can take longer than other competitors
  • Recipients can only receive money if they have a bank account

OFX

  • Best for: People who want to send large sums of money and eliminate transfer fees
  • How long transfers take: Anywhere from two to six business days

Headquartered in San Francisco, OFX doesn’t charge transfer fees or limit how much money you can send to the 56 countries it supports. Another perk is their variety of transfer options, which differ on you’re making a single or recurring transfer. For smaller amounts, OFX has what it calls rapid transfers, where you can lock in an exchange rate when making a single transfer. For recurring transfers, you must commit to four scheduled transfers. Both options require a minimum of $150.

OFX also allows you to set a target exchange rate, but only if you’re transferring large amounts of money. Their Buy Now, Transfer Later option allows you to lock in a rate today so you can book a transfer up to twelve months away; however, you will need to transfer a minimum of $30,000. Their Target Rate tool monitors your desired exchange rate for up to six months. When it reaches your target rate, OFX will contact you to complete your transfer — $30,000 online or a $10,000 minimum over the phone.

After creating an account, you can conduct transfers (though only via ACH or wire transfer) and the recipient will receive the cash in their bank account. You can also download their mobile app to track transfers, transfer money and look up exchange rates.

OFX’s exchange rates aren’t based on the mid-market rate like Transferwise, so you may lose some money once your transfer is complete. In comparison, you won’t pay any fees at OFX, but when we tried to transfer $1,000 USD to Euros, the recipient only got €865.30, less than Transferwise.

Pros:

  • There are no transfer fees
  • You can send large sums of money
  • OFX gives you the ability to lock in exchange rates and make recurring transfers

Cons:

  • You can only send and receive money via ACH or wire transfer
  • Some options OFX offers require a high minimum transfer amount
  • Not the fastest transfer option

Xoom

  • Best for: People who want to transfer money quickly, even if it means paying higher fees
  • How long transfers take: A few minutes to a few days, depending on the recipient’s country and method for receiving the funds

Owned by Paypal, Xoom offers one of the fastest delivery times — money can take minutes to reach your destination. For example, if you’re sending money to locations ranging from Albania to Vietnam, your recipient can access the cash within minutes when picking it up at participating locations.

You can transfer to over 132 countries and depending on the country, the recipient can pick up cash at a participating location, via bank deposit or courier delivery. You can send money internationally via bank transfer, debit or credit card. Since Xoom is a Paypal company, you can also use your Paypal to send cash, though you can’t use your Paypal balance — only a bank account, credit or debit card linked to the account.

The amount you send depends on the level Xoom assigns you. If you provide all required documentation — a government issued photo ID, a bank statement or pay stub and completed security questions — you can send up to $50,000 within a 24 hour period and up to $60,000 per month. However, sending over $10,000 a time delays processing times. Xoom says it’ll take two to three business days in addition to normal processing times, assuming you send funds before 4 p.m. PST.

As for fees, Xoom charges quite a bit depending on your method of payment. As an example, sending $1,000 to Austria means the recipient will only receive $873.20. You don’t have a fee if you transfer funds via your bank account, but you’re looking at a $30.49 fee if you do so via credit or debit card.

Pros:

  • Money can arrive within minutes
  • You can send money using a variety of methods and you can choose how you want your recipient to get funds

Cons:

  • Fees can be pretty steep, especially if you send money using your credit or debit card

Remitly

  • Best for: People who want low fees and the option to transfer money faster
  • How long transfers take: Depending on the country and how you send money, it can take anywhere from hours to five business days

Launched in 2011, Remitly wanted to create a company that helps immigrants and their families save fees on international money transfers. Customers can send money to more than 40 countries via their express option — money arrives within hours — or their economy option in which funds arrive within five business days. The company also claims the offer of a money-back guarantee if your money doesn’t arrive on time.

You can choose whether recipients get funds via bank transfer, cash pickup or delivery, though not all options are available in all countries. The fees you may pay are dependent on location and how you want to send money. It can be as low as $0.49 for the economy option, and some transactions may not even be charged a fee at all. Although there aren’t exact fees mentioned on Remitly’s website, you could pay a higher fee if you use a credit card.

The currency exchange rate isn’t based on the mid-market rate, so Remitly will also make money off the difference. For example, at time of publication, Remitly offered an exchange rate of 3.97 when transferring money to Malaysia, compared to the mid-market rate of 4.06. In other words, when sending $1,000 USD through Remitly, your recipient will receive $3,970.00 Malaysian ringgits, compared to $4,060.76 using the mid-market rate.

Although there are no minimum transfer requirements, you can only send up to $10,000 within the first 24 hours after registering for your account, based on the additional personal information you provide. When you have your account open for a minimum for 180 days, you can increase that limit up to $60,000.

Pros:

  • Low fees
  • Offers options to send money internationally faster

Cons:

  • Available in fewer countries than most competitors
  • Send limits lower than competitors if you don’t pass security checks

Ria

  • Best for: People who would like the recipient to be able to pick up cash at a wide variety of locations
  • How long transfers take: Anywhere from 15 minutes to four business days, depending on the method of payment and delivery

Part of Euronet Worldwide, Ria is available in 369,000 branches throughout 149 countries for money transfers in person or online. There are a few options for sending money — from a bank account, credit card or debit card — and you can also send your cash at participating 7-Eleven locations. All you need to do is initiate a transfer online using the PayNearMe app, then bring cash to the nearest participating 7-Eleven.

The recipient can receive funds via cash pickup, bank deposit or courier delivery; at time of publication, cash delivery is only available in the Dominican Republic, the Philippines, Peru and Vietnam. It can take anywhere from 15 minutes to send money by debit or credit card, to four business days via your bank account. The recipient can receive money as rapidly as the same day if you choose cash pickup or courier delivery.

Fees differ depending on the destination country, how much you’re sending and how you pay. Rates online are different that those at physical locations. The good news is that fees can be as low as $0. For example, sending $1,000 USD to Austria will cost you $5 if you’re transferring funds via bank transfer; the recipient will get €867.50 EUR. If you send via debit card, the fee will go up to $15, and to $35 if you use a credit card. Keep in mind that the cost of sending money using PayNearMe and at a local branch may differ, so contact Ria to find out what the costs are before making a decision.

Note that you can’t send more than $3,000 per day online ($999.99 for Arizona and Oklahoma residents) unless you do so at a physical Ria location, though even then you’re limited to $7,999.00 every 30 days. If you’re sending money with PayNearMe, you can send up to $900 outside the U.S., and no more than $2,999 per 24-hour period.

Pros:

  • Offers a variety of methods for sending and receiving money
  • Can send funds as cash
  • Large network of branches worldwide
  • Offers low fees

Cons:

  • Exchange rate isn’t based on mid-market rate
  • You can only send up to $3,000 per day or $900 if using PayNearMe

How to send money internationally safely

The money transfer services reviewed above provide convenient and secure ways to send money internationally. Use one of them, and avoid unknown or unfamiliar options. There are many elaborate transfer schemes that scam people and steal their money. Remember, transferring money is like sending cash: Once money leaves your hands, there’s virtually no way of tracing a sketchy transfer and getting your funds back.

Avoid sending money to someone you’ve never met. There are countless scams — people saying you’ve won a foreign lottery, calls from long lost relatives in crisis, mysterious online purchases you didn’t actually make — and scammers usually try to get you to make a money transfer. They also send their target victims emails that appear to be from a legitimate money transfer company, like the ones listed above, asking you to open an account. Ignore solicitations like these, as most companies won’t contact you this way. Most money transfer companies have fraud detection teams that monitor suspicious transactions.

You can send money internationally inexpensively and conveniently. However, you will need to remain vigilant and do your research to ensure your money is safe and gets to its intended destination. With so many options available, pick the one that’s best suited to your needs and review all information before you send any amount of money.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Sarah Li Cain
Sarah Li Cain |

Sarah Li Cain is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Sarah Li here

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Banking

Money Management Tips to Help You Save Successfully

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Increasing your savings is easier said than done. The National Endowment for Financial Education’s most recent annual consumer survey found that saving money is the biggest cause of financial stress for more than 51% of Americans. If you feel the same way about your savings, don’t despair. There’s a way to manage your money instead of letting it manage you.

Top 14 money management tips

Have enough income to cover your monthly expenses, but can’t seem to gain traction when it comes to building a college savings fund, saving for a down payment on a home or growing your retirement nest egg? Start by taking charge of your finances by using these simple, yet practical, money management tips.

1. Use a budgeting app

Tracking your spending on the go is easy when you use a budgeting and personal finance app, like Mint or YNAB. Simply download your app of choice and, if you want to, link it to your bank account. You can then input your fixed and variable expenses and monitor your spending with the swipe of a finger. Keeping your budget within arm’s reach also helps you to stay on top of your daily spending and stick to a monthly budget.

2. Trim unnecessary expenses

Examine your spending habits to determine where you can cut unnecessary spending. Food is a common expense that can be reduced with a little planning. A grocery shopping list can be your first line of defense against overspending, as it’s easier to make impulse buys at the grocery store when you don’t have a shopping list to guide your purchases.

3. Commit to a written savings goal

Establishing a clear savings goal can keep you motivated and put a stop to impulse buys. Make your goal SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. For example: “I will transfer $100 a month to my savings account so that by Month 20YY, I will have $800 to put toward a new television.” Post your written goal in visible locations to help reinforce your commitment to achieving it.

4. Live below your means

Spending more than you earn is a recipe for financial heartburn. When you have more bills than money with which to pay them, you could be subject to late fees and other financial penalties which make it harder to save. Cancel services you no longer need or can access at a lower cost. For example, nix the gym membership if you haven’t used it in five months or downgrade your cable package to only include the channels you actually watch.

5. Pay off debt

Eliminating debt may allow you to save more money. By bringing your balances to zero as quickly as possible, you’ll save on future interest charges. To potentially save money now, consider refinancing your debt to a lower interest rate or transferring your debt to a credit card with a lower interest rate.

Once your credit cards and loans are paid in full, you’ll have additional funds to contribute toward your financial goals. Use the same amount you were paying your creditors each month and deposit those funds into your savings account.

6. Build an emergency fund

Financial experts recommend stashing three to six months of living expenses in a liquid high yield deposit account in case of an unexpected job loss or another financial emergency. If this sounds overwhelming, start with a smaller goal of $500 for your emergency fund.

You can grow your emergency fund account by setting up an automatic transfer from your checking account to your emergency savings account each pay period. To grow your emergency fund faster, consider cutting unnecessary expenses, selling unused items around your home, depositing your tax refund or starting a side job.

Without an emergency fund, you risk paying for your next dental emergency or major car repair with your credit card or a personal loan, which can keep you in a debt cycle that’s hard to escape.

7. Increase your income

As long as you save the money instead of spending it, increasing your income with a side hustle, part-time job or more hours at the office is one of the quickest ways to reach your savings goal.

Before adding additional work to your already busy schedule, determine how many hours you have available along with how many months or years you’ll need to commit to the side hustle. When searching for side jobs, be wary of jobs that require an initial outlay of money to get started.

8. Plan for a regular review

Block out time on your calendar to evaluate your progress toward your savings goals. Consider establishing a monthly or bi-weekly financial review. Asking yourself if you’re still on track or if you’re able to contribute more towards your objectives is key to meeting your goals. A quick assessment of your savings plan can also help identify areas where you may still need to reduce expenses.

9. Never pay full price

Online and mobile coupons make it easy to save on groceries, clothing and big-ticket items like televisions and computers. When saving money is convenient, you’re more likely to stick to your savings plan. Do you do most of your shopping online? Install browser extensions that give you cash back when you shop through their online portals. Is mobile shopping more your thing? Download your choice of mobile app that offers cash back, gift cards and notifications of online and in-store deals.

10. Eat out less

Brown bag lunches and meal planning are smart money management strategies that can save you thousands of dollars annually, but sometimes you’ll want to treat yourself. To keep your spending under control, be selective about when and where you eat out. Make a list of local happy hours, upcoming culinary events and prix fixe restaurants to reinvent what it means to eat out on a budget.

11. Bank your financial windfalls

While it may be tempting to go on a shopping spree, upgrade your ride or take a weeklong vacation in the Caribbean when you get a financial windfall, that might leave you with a financial hangover. Once the thrill has subsided, you’re no closer to your savings goal. Instead, be strategic with any unexpected funds that come your way. Commit to adding at least half of these funds to your savings account.

12. Make savings automatic

Contact your financial institution to sign up for electronic funds transfer. This allows you to designate a set dollar amount for transfer from one account to another before you spend it on something else. For example, set $50 to automatically transfer from your checking account to your savings account on the fifth of each month.

If you have multiple savings goals, use a money savings app connected to your bank account to help to make auto transfers goal-specific.

13. Entertain your options

Movie buffs and avid readers rejoice! Free and low-cost services are available that allow you to binge-watch or read the latest big hit without busting your budget.

Movie rewards programs are available across the country. These programs allow you to earn points based on the amount you spend. Points can then be redeemed for additional movie tickets or concession items. Movie clubs allow fans to consume at least one movie per month at a discounted rate in addition to concession discounts.

The public library is an often overlooked resource for endless media entertainment. Look beyond the hardcover and paperback books, and you’ll find CDs, DVDs and magazines. Many libraries now provide a portion of their catalog online, which means you can access e-books, audiobooks, movies and music on your device of choice — for free.

14. Become rate savvy

Online search tools can reduce the time it takes to locate financial institutions offering the best returns on savings deposits. Use the Maximize Your Bank Savings tool from DepositAccounts, another LendingTree company, to help you identify the best place to park your funds to meet a specific goal. The higher the annual percentage yield (APY) the account pays on deposits, the faster your money can grow. Generally, certificates of deposit (CDs) limit withdrawals but offer higher APYs over savings accounts.

Next steps

A consistent savings habit is necessary to reach both short-term and long-term financial goals. If you’re intentional with your money, you’ll see the results. Recognize each achievement for what it is — documented proof that you’re in control of your financial future. Open a dedicated savings account today, and you might only be a few months away from achieving your first savings goal.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Tracy Scott
Tracy Scott |

Tracy Scott is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Tracy here

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Banking

Money Inflation: How Inflation Has Affected Your Money

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Do you remember when you used to be able to buy a regular cup of coffee for less than a dollar? How about gasoline? As recently as 2004, the average gallon of gas cost less than $2. Today, these prices are a distant memory. Inflation is the metric we use to describe the phenomenon of rising prices, which is a basic fact of economic life that you should know about.

Inflation is the gradual increase in the price of goods and services over time. As inflation rates rise, you’ll pay more for the same goods and services, which impacts your daily life, as well as your investments. In the U.S., the current inflation rate is 2.2% as of July 2019.

What is inflation?

Inflation is a general upward trend in the cost of goods and services across the economy, from the price of food to the cost of housing, gas and clothing. As inflation rates rise, the buying power of currencies like the U.S. dollar falls, which means you’ll pay more for a product than you did several years ago.

However, it’s not quite as simple as comparing the cost of milk from one year to the next. Rather, economists determine inflation by looking at the prices of a “basket” of products and services and then measure the average price changes over time.

How inflation affects your money

Inflation impacts the buying power of the dollar, which in turn erodes the value of a consumer’s cash reserves. Each year, your dollars buy fewer goods and services, even if it’s a small change from one year to the next.

While inflation is largely inevitable, there are ways you can protect your money against inflation. Start by looking at your savings account. Up to 99% of savings accounts have interest rates that fall below inflation rates, which means that even as your money grows, it’s not growing quickly enough to keep up with inflation. A MagnifyMoney study found the average savings account rate is just 0.26%, well below the average 2% inflation rate.

You are most susceptible to inflation if you keep large reserves of cash rather than investing your money in vehicles that are more resistant to inflation. Look for investments that have historically appreciated at greater rates than inflation, as well as those that are specifically designed to protect against inflation. Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) are the most direct investments that can help keep your money safe from inflation.

Most bond investments set interest rates that account for inflation, but a TIPS investment has a principal adjustment mechanism increases with inflation and decreases during times of deflation. When your TIPS has reached maturity, you’ll be paid the adjusted principal amount or the original amount, whichever is larger. These investments pay out fixed-rate interest twice a year – the rates also rise and fall with inflation and deflation rates. TIPS are a good way to diversify your portfolio and the most direct way to hedge your money against inflation.

How inflation is calculated

Economists measure inflation with the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which focuses on how inflation affects consumers; the Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) index, which is more tightly focused version of CPI; and the Producer Price Index (PPI), which is based on surveys of prices businesses charge for goods and services. These three indices measure the cost of baskets of products and services, and each month reports are published on changes in CPI, PCE and PPI.

In 2016 and 2017, the CPI surveyed approximately 24,000 individuals in the U.S. Those consumers provided the CPI with detailed data regarding their quarterly spending habits, while another 12,000 provided information on their spending over a two-week period.

One easy way to understand inflation is to compare the buying power of $100 over the course of the last several decades. Think of how much rent and other housing costs have increased over the years. Those increases are likely be due to a wide variety of factors, but one of them is inflation and the declining buying power of the dollar. This graph indicates the changing value of $100 in 2019 money:

A closer look at inflation rates historically

As you can see in the graph, inflation has held pretty steady since 1940. However, there are also some aberrations that reflect the state of the U.S. economy at any given time. For example, the economy experienced deflation during the years of the Great Depression through the 1930s, when markets crashed and unemployment rates sat at historic highs. Deflation is the opposite of inflation: When the buying power of a currency increases over time.

You can also see rapid inflation growth in the 1970 to 1980 period. The Great Depression and the 1970s are outside of the norm, and the Federal Reserve Bank tempers inflation rates to keep them around 2%. The Fed aims to keep inflation rates at about this rate to provide greater spending stability for consumers, promote high employment rates and to temper long-term interest rates.

The bottom line

Inflation is inevitable, and it has a direct effect on your money. It’s important to understand how inflation affects your money and to keep an eye on the rate of inflation over time.

Despite the fact that you can’t stop inflation and the impact it has on your cash reserves, you can take steps to protect your finances from inflation. Look into investments that have inflation embedded into their returns, such as as fixed-income securities. You can also explore bond investments that account for inflation in their interest rates and principal payouts, such as TIPS.

Seek out investments that have historically appreciated more quickly than inflation has increased at a rate greater than 2% each year. You may not be able to stop inflation, but by diversifying your portfolio and monitoring the CPI over the years, you can know what to expect and how best to protect your money.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Anne Bouleanu
Anne Bouleanu |

Anne Bouleanu is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Anne here