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Updated on Wednesday, May 29, 2019
India is the top destination for remittances worldwide, with nearly $80 billion sent to the subcontinent from abroad in 2018. If you need to send money to India from the United States, you have more options than ever before, with a wide variety of payment options available. To help you decide on your best option to send money to India, we’ve compared a variety of the leading money transfer companies out there, including a side-by-side comparison of fees and transfer speeds.
How to send money to India
People who need to send money overseas have more choices than ever before. Almost all remittance services let you pay to remit funds via bank transfers, credit cards and debit cards, though prices can vary widely depending on which option you choose.
Some money transfer companies maintain large networks of retail outlets where you can either handle the entire process in person, or initiate a transfer online and then pay in cash at an agent location. Recipients can get cash by showing up at a retail location, or they can get funds transferred right to their bank account. In some cases, cash is delivered to their home address.
Brian Kollmeyer, director of fraud monitoring at Western Union, says that India has more strict regulatory guidelines for sending money from abroad. India only allows cross border transfers for family and personal use, and some money transfer companies may require you to specify why you’re sending money.
When comparing services, consider how much it’ll cost to send money to India and approximate arrival times. Money remittance companies earn money two ways: transfer fees and currency exchange markups. While it’s simple to compare the fees charged by different services, it can be much trickier to compare exchange rates, because they vary from currency to currency and they are always in flux.
“Exchange rates are adjusted in line with prevailing rates in the global financial markets,” Kollmeyer said. “[For example,] Western Union’s pricing varies among the 20,000 corridors in which we operate and varies with the complexity of the marketplace.”
If you’re trying to get the best rates, you could try to compare remittance services within the same day you make a transfer, though that’s not necessarily a guarantee that you’ll find the lowest rate.
Compare services to send money to India
As with all personal finance decisions, you need to compare multiple options in order to find the best choice for your needs. Check out our side-by-side comparison of seven leading international money transfer companies.
|Company||Cost to send $100 to India||Time it takes to get to recipient|
|MoneyGram||At a physical office: $11.00|
Online bank transfer: $3.99
Credit card or debit card: $3.99
|Bank transfer: 3-4 business days
Credit/Debit card: within minutes
Cash pickup: within minutes
|Remitly||Bank transfer or debit card: $3.99||Bank transfer: 3-5 business days
Debit card: within 4 banking hours
|Ria||To the recipient’s bank account:|
Debit card: $2
Credit card: $4
If recipient picks up cash:
Debit card: $5
Credit card: $6
|Up to 4 business days|
|TransferWise||$1.99||Within 1 business day|
|Western Union||To recipient’s bank account:|
Bank transfer: $0.42
Credit card: $7.49
Debit card: $2.99
If recipient picks up cash
Credit card: $8.50
Debit card: $4
Bank transfer: $2.99
Sending via physical branch: $4
|Anywhere from within minutes up to 5 business days, depending on how you send money|
|WorldRemit||$0.99||Within the same business day|
|Xoom||Bank transfer: $2.99|
Credit card: $4.99
Debit card: $4.99
|Within 4 hours if sent during Indian bank processing hours|
Send money to India with MoneyGram
MoneyGram has over 36,000 agents in India, out of a total of 350,000 agents around the world. If you’re looking for fast service, MoneyGram can get cash to your recipient for pickup within minutes, although this may not be your cheapest option.
You can easily show up at one of MoneyGram’s many retail locations to send money. If you’d prefer to use their online services, you’ll need to register for a free account first — your transfer will proceed once you indicate how much you want to send, the method of transfer and recipient information. The cheapest option is a bank transfer or a debit card payment, which can take anywhere from minutes up to four business days to arrive in India.
Send money to India with Remitly
Remitly offers a money-back guarantee if your money doesn’t arrive on time. You can choose from two different transfer options: The economy option allows you send via a bank transfer, while the express option charges your debit card. Both options cost the same amount to transfer money to India, while money arrives within minutes in your recipient’s bank account with the express option and up to five days for economy.
To initiate a transfer, you’ll need to register for an online account. You may only send up to $30,000 within the first 24 hours after registering, depending on what information you provide to verify your identity.
Send money to India with Ria
Launched in 1987, Ria has over 369,000 branches in over 149 countries. To transfer money to India with Ria, you need to register for an online account, verify your personal information and confirm that the bank account you’ll use to make transfers actually belongs to you. A simpler option is to find the nearest Ria agent and pay via a bank transfer, credit card or debit card. Whether you choose an online or offline option, you’ll need to provide your recipient’s bank account information.
There is no transfer fee to send money from your bank account to a recipient’s bank account, but it could take up to four business days for the funds to arrive. Also, keep in mind that while there is no fee, Ria takes a cut of the money by offering you an exchange rate that is less than the market rate.
Send money to India with TransferWise
TransferWise offers a variety of payment options — ACH transfer, bank transfer, debit card or credit card payment — but the recipient will need a bank account to receive funds. TransferWise offers customers currency exchange using the mid-market rate, with no markups, based on the current market average rate, like you’d find on currency exchange sites like XE.com.
To send money to India from the U.S. with TransferWise, start by registering for an online account and completing the verification process. TransferWise lets you send up to $10,000 every 24 hours per order using ACH transfer and up to $50,000 with other methods. Once TransferWise receives your funds, it claims the money will arrive within one business day, though it can be as fast as two hours.
Send money to India with Western Union
Western Union, one of the largest money transfer companies in the world, offers a wide variety of options to send and receive money. You can show up at any one of their 42,000 branches in the U.S., use their online website or their mobile app, and you can pay via bank transfer, cash or Apple Pay. Recipients can pick up cash at over 121,000 agent locations in India or have funds sent directly to their bank account.
Western Union charges no fee to send money to most major bank accounts in India online or through Western Union’s mobile app, although it’s worth keeping in mind that the company takes their cut by using a currency exchange rate that’s lower than the going market rate. In addition, it could take up to five business days for funds to arrive via this option.
Send money to India with WorldRemit
Founded in 2010, WorldRemit offers one of the lowest fees to send money to India. However, you’re only allowed to send money via bank transfer to your recipient’s bank account, and funds should arrive within the same business day.
After registering for an account, you’ll need to verify your identity using an official ID before you can transfer funds.
Send money to India with Xoom
Xoom is owned by Paypal, and it offers one of the fastest transfer times for sending money to an Indian bank — as soon as four hours. Once you register for an account and provide all required documentation, you can send money online or via their app using your credit card, debit card or bank account. If you already have a Paypal account, you can use that instead to send cash, but you can’t use your Paypal funds — only your linked accounts.