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How To Safely Support Your Family Abroad During the COVID-19 Outbreak

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Jacob Parker
Jacob Parker
May. 17, 20214 min read
In this difficult time, many are looking for ways to send cash from the U.S. to loved ones abroad. If you need to transfer money overseas, here’s how to do it.

With countries around the world closing their borders and placing restrictions on freedom of movement in response to the COVID-19 crisis, thousands in the U.S. are unable to reunite with family members abroad and are looking for ways to support them. Now, more than ever, international money transfers are a useful tool for expats who need to send remittances home, parents wanting to support their children living abroad, and businesses who have to pay global employees.

If you’re searching for an economical, simple, and secure way to send money overseas, this article will tell you exactly where to look.

Explore Top Money Transfer Services


Transfer Fee

Transfer Speed

1.6%-2.4% margin

1-2 business days

1.5%-3% marginInstant or near-instant
1%-2.2% margin

1-2 business days

Use an Online Money Transfer Service

The best way to send money abroad from the U.S. at this time is to use a  money transfer service  like XE . Although rates vary between services, online transfer platforms are normally the cheapest way to send cash abroad. Transferring money through one can be done at home from your smartphone or computer. Because you don’t have to go out to make the transfer there’s no risk of getting caught out by social distancing regulations. 

In the past, the most common way to send money abroad was through a bank, and doing so is still possible. However, this is not a good option for most as banks are expensive and slow for currency-conversion transactions. Depending on your bank’s exchange rate and fees, you could end up paying up to 5% of your transfer amount in overseas bank transfer fees.

Even worse, during a period when many need to send cash fast to cover urgent expenses like emergency travel, bank transfers can be painfully sluggish. It’s not unusual for it to take more than a week for a recipient to see cash from an international bank transfer arrive in their account. 

High-street money wiring services are, in more normal times, another popular option for international transfers. These companies allow you to send money that can be picked up as cash, branch-to-branch around the world. However, social distancing measures mean many of these locations are temporarily closed or that traveling to one may not be feasible.

Sending Money Abroad with an Online Service

Each online money transfer service works slightly differently, but all accept similar payment methods. In general, you can choose to pay using a mobile wallet application, by transferring money to the service from your bank, or by card. Several online services also allow you to drop off cash at a local branch but, due to the reasons mentioned above, this is unlikely to be the best choice for you.

At the other end of the transaction, your family member, friend, or colleague will also be able to use a variety of techniques to collect the transfer. It may be deposited into their bank account directly or added to a card balance, for example.

How you decide to send and have the cash collected will normally affect the size of your transfer fee. Another major factor that can determine fees is transfer speed as some services offer expedited transfers for an additional charge.

Not all money transfer services offer upgraded expedited services though. With CurrencyFair , one of the top options for sending money abroad from the U.S., transfer time is instead determined by which currencies you are transferring between. With the best transfer services, you can generally expect your recipient to receive the money within a couple of working days, though same-day and week-long transfers are also commonplace.

Check out leading money transfer services below:

1. XE

XE offers fast and easy money transfers with no fees. XE uses enterprise-grade security to handle transactions in 139 currencies across the world, with no minimum or maximum daily transfer. The company allows you to track your account online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

  • Transfer up to $500,000
  • Easy-to-use app
  • Few locations
  • No credit card payments

XE XE Visit Site

2. WorldRemit

WorldRemit specializes in small transfers of $5,000 or less. Users can send money from the United States to more than 130 countries in a variety of ways, including bank deposit, cash pickup, mobile app, and mobile airtime.

  • Multiple ways to send/receive funds
  • Speedy transfers
  • Fees and terms vary by country
  • Registration required to see rates

WorldRemit WorldRemit Visit Site

3. HiFX

HiFX makes transferring money internationally easy, and can work with more than 139 currencies to over 220 countries and territories across the globe. There are no hidden fees and the company doesn’t charge for membership. The transfers are also kept secure and you can make them 24/7 from any mobile device.

  • No hidden fees
  • No monthly charges
  • Only bank deposit payments accepted
  • You must create an account to transfer funds


Visit Site 

Finding the Right Online Transfer Service

When it comes to convenience, transfer speed, and cost, some money transfer services are better than others. When deciding which to use, one aspect worth considering is the sum you want to send because some providers set minimum or maximum transfer amounts.

A leading service that doesn’t have any minimum or maximum transfer limits is  XE , making this an excellent online money transfer platform for small, regular remittance payments and one-off large transfers alike. With  XE , there aren’t any transfer fees either and most transfers are completed within the same day.  

Another service worth considering for economical international transfers from the U.S. is  CurrencyFair . This provider stands out for its transparent Online Calculator that shows you exactly how much you’re saving compared to a regular bank.  CurrencyFair  can also match you directly with other customers via an exchange marketplace, making things even cheaper than a regular bank if you find a good match. 

Besides the options recommended here, there are plenty of other great transfer services out there, but be on your guard while searching for alternatives. Scammers love the money transfer industry as once your cash is in transit, it’s very hard to get it back. For this reason, you should read Terms of Service conditions on transfer websites carefully and search for trust symbols from reputable organizations.

Finding an Affordable Way to Handle Remittance

During the coronavirus pandemic, the normal channels expats use to send money to loved ones at home may be unavailable. If you’re in this situation, using an online money transfer service like those recommended above should prevent you from being overcharged. 

Some transfer services have built specifically for remittance payments and are certainly worth exploring if you don’t find support for your currency elsewhere.  WorldRemit  is an example of one of these, supporting transfers to more than 145 different countries. 

Whether you’re using a  money transfer service  for remittance or some other purpose, making international payments has never been more straightforward. By taking advantage of these platforms, you can see exactly what exchange rate you’re getting and get cash into your recipient’s hands faster than ever.


Haven't decided yet? Check out more money transfer services here 
Jacob Parker
Written byJacob Parker

Jacob Parker is a financial and technology writer. With a background in climate science, he's deeply interested in the intersection of fintech and sustainability and has a passion for impact investing and ESG research. He writes for BestMoney and enjoys helping readers make sense of the options on the market.‎

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