Sending Money Abroad? A Guide to Choosing the Best Option for Your Needs


Bench Accounting


Reviewed by


December 21, 2023

This article is Tax Professional approved


In our interconnected world, the need to transfer or send money online and internationally is a common occurrence, especially for small business owners in the U.S. However, the process can be daunting, filled with jargon, varying fees, and complex exchange rates. This guide aims to simplify this process, offering clear, actionable advice on the best value for money when conducting efficient and cost-effective international money transfers.

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Making an international money transfer? Consider these key factors

Get to know the foreign exchange rate

The foreign exchange (forex) rate is the cornerstone of international money transfers. These rates dictate how much foreign currency your dollars will buy. They can fluctuate based on global economic conditions, political stability, and market speculation. For a small business, these fluctuations can mean the difference between a profitable transaction and an expensive one. For example, if the U.S. dollar strengthens against the Euro, sending money abroad to Europe becomes cheaper and vice versa. Keeping an eye on these trends or consulting with a forex expert can be beneficial.

Make safety a priority

When it comes to making an international money transfer, the security of your funds is a top priority. This includes not only the physical safety of the funds during transit but also ensuring compliance with international anti-money laundering laws. Choosing a reputable service is crucial. Banks are typically a safe bet, offering secure transactions, but at the cost of higher fees and longer transfer times. Third-party services like Western Union or PayPal offer faster transfers but vary in terms of global reach and reliability.

Affordable international money transfers

Banks vs. online transfer services

Traditional banks offer familiarity and comprehensive services, making them a reliable choice for international money transfers. They provide direct account transfers, multi-currency accounts, and the reassurance of dealing with a well-established institution. However, their services often come with higher fees and less favorable exchange rates. Online transfer services usually offer transparent fees, real mid-market exchange rates, and quicker transfer times. The choice between a bank and an online service should be based on the size of your transfer, the frequency of your transactions, the destination country, and how quickly you need the money to be transferred.

Cost-effective strategies

To ensure you're choosing the most affordable option, compare the total cost of the transfer, including fees and the exchange rate. Some services offer lower fees but compensate with a less favorable exchange rate. It's also worth considering multi-currency accounts, which can save money on conversions for regular international cash transactions.

Comparing money transfers for family vs. contractors

Personal transfer fees vs. business transfers

The purpose of your transfer significantly affects the choice of service. Personal transfers, such as sending money to family overseas, often prioritize cost, convenience, and the ability to send smaller amounts. For these, services like PayPal or Western Union might be suitable due to their convenience and widespread availability. For business transactions, such as paying overseas contractors, the priorities shift to compliance, speed, documentation, and often larger sums. A service that provides detailed transaction records, competitive rates, and compliance with international business transaction laws is more appropriate for these cases.

Legal and compliance considerations

When transferring money for business purposes, it's crucial to understand the legal and tax implications. This includes ensuring compliance with the tax laws of both countries involved in the transfer. For instance, payments to contractors might need to be reported to tax authorities, and failure to do so could result in penalties.

Understanding currency and exchange impacts

Navigating exchange rates

The impact of the exchange rate markup other rates on international money transfers can be significant. For large transactions, even a small change in the exchange rate can have a big financial impact. Some transfer services offer tools like rate alerts or the option to lock in an exchange rate for a future transfer. This can be particularly useful in a volatile currency market, allowing you to plan your transfers strategically to take advantage of favorable rates.

Currency trends and strategies

Keeping abreast of currency trends can help you make more informed decisions. Factors like political stability, economic policies, and global market trends can influence currency values. For businesses engaged in regular international transactions, developing a currency strategy with the help of financial advisors or using hedging tools can mitigate risks associated with currency fluctuations.

How Bench can help

As you navigate the complexities of international money transfers, Bench can help. Accounting software, like Bench, is an expert financial solution for small businesses, as you’ll get access to a team of small business experts that provide you with real human financial support. You can access financial insights in real-time, receive a package at tax-time with everything you need to file, and best of all, you don’t have to worry about the complex bookkeeping of your international money transfers day-to-day.

We offer customized solutions tailored to your specific needs, ensuring your transfers are not only cost-effective but also align with legal and regulatory requirements. With Bench, you can confidently manage your international bank and debit or credit card transactions, knowing you have a reliable partner to guide you through every step.

Leverage technology for smarter transfers

Embrace digital solutions

In today's digital age, leveraging technology can make international money transfers more efficient and less costly. Digital platforms offer faster processing times, lower fees, and user-friendly interfaces. Bench integrates these technologies to provide seamless transfer experiences, ensuring you can both send money, and receive funds with ease and confidence.

Security in the digital realm

With the rise of digital money transfer apps and methods, security becomes a crucial consideration. Bench employs state-of-the-art security measures to protect your financial data and transactions. We ensure that your money and information are safeguarded against cyber threats, giving you peace of mind.

Building a global payment strategy

Ensuring your business has the right ecommerce tech stack supporting it is key when it comes to successfully selling in new international markets. Many SMEs around the world realize that moving money and making payments across borders using traditional international wire transfer systems (such as SWIFT) can be costly and slow. With this in mind, the migration towards digital global ecommerce solutions and innovative fintech is on the rise.

Here are tools ecommerce companies can use to effectively manage their cross-border financials.

Online payments software

When expanding to new markets, it’s important that you provide a localized checkout experience for your global customers. In other words, you need to let them pay you the way they want.

Bench partner Airwallex offers a world-class payment processer which integrates seamlessly with Shopify, WooCommerce and Magento. Plug Airwallex into your online checkout, and you’ll be able to accept payment in multiple currencies directly into your Global Account, without being forced to convert those currencies to USD.

You’ll also be able to offer 70+ local payment methods including ApplePay, Klarna and Alipay, in addition to MasterCard, Visa and American Express payments. By offering the payment methods your customers know and trust, you’ll reduce friction at your checkout and increase global sales.


Sending money internationally requires careful consideration of various factors. These include understanding forex rates, prioritizing the safety and security of your funds, choosing the most cost-effective wire transfer method, and ensuring legal and compliance considerations are met, especially in business transactions. Whether sending money to family or conducting business with overseas contractors, the right payment and delivery method can save you money and ensure transaction security.

In the globalized economy, the ability to transfer money internationally efficiently and cost-effectively is crucial for business success. This guide has provided an overview of the key considerations and options available to send money internationally. Remember, the right choice for bank transfers depends on your specific needs, the nature of your transactions, and the countries involved. By staying informed and choosing the right bank accounts and partners, you can ensure that your international money transfers are not just transactions to pay for, but strategic moves that contribute to your business's growth and success.

Bench and Airwallex are here to be that partner for you, offering expertise, technology, and personalized services to make your international financial transactions as smooth and beneficial as possible.

This post is to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, business, or tax advice. Each person should consult his or her own attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in this post. Bench assumes no liability for actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.
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