How to Transfer Money Abroad (+5 Money-Saving Tips!)

More money, more problems? Seriously, the more money you have to transfer, the more difficult it can be. Transfering money to another country can be a really tricky thing because you’re dealing with different currencies, different banking systems, different laws and maybe even trying to get it all done with people speaking different languages.

The amount of information you will need is quite extensive, so get ready:

  • Recipients full name
  • Recipients address
  • Recipients IBAN (international bank account number) or bank account number
  • The name, address and contact information of the recipient’s bank
  • BIC (Bank Identifier Code) / SWIFT Code / Clearing Code


  • Sender’s full name
  • Senders bank account number
  • Amount to be transferred
  • BIC for Sender’s bank
  • Sometimes the bank will send you a form to sign, scan and send back to them (depending on the amount you’re transferring)


How Much Will This Cost Me / How Much Will I Lose in Fees?

Okay, so this may hurt your wallet. Especially if you need to (for some reason, like messing up the transfer, which yes, has happened to me) need to make two transfers. Typically you are charged a WIRE fee (when your bank sends the money, and sometimes (usually) an ACCEPTING fee (when your other bank receives the money).

Now what you might not know (because I definitely didn’t) was that sometimes there’s a middle-man-fee. Okay, so say you have a bank in Canada (like me). And you want to send your money to somewhere in Europe. Sometimes, depending on which bank you’re using in Canada, they may have a partner bank in America or somewhere in Europe that they send your money to first, and then it gets routed to the destination you’ve specified. I have asked my two banks why this happens and gotten different answers; from partner-banking (baby-bear bank in Canada needs Momma Bear bank in USA to sign off on this substantial money transfer), or the other thing I was told was that if your bank isn’t connected to a “world wide” bank (similar to how ING bank may be called Tangerine in some places – same institutiion, different names) – then your bank may choose to send your money to a bank who is connected to a world wide network.

For me, personally, I was billed: 

  • 10$ CAD Wire Fee
  • 60 $ USD Fee (partner bank in USA – middle-man

* All fees are based on how much you send, where you send it and what your banking institution can do for you. 

I was charged this, three times; because I sent money to the wrong account (I tried sending it to a savings account, DO NOT DO – read more below). So the money had to go, come back and then go again. It was really exhausting, sad to have that money be wasted and that’s the main reason I’m writing this.

Something else to consider is that you will lose on the exchange – and you want to wait for a good rate. You can do this through a broker company but you can only hire a broker in the country where you pay taxes (most of the time). I wanted to hire a Canadian broker my family had been using, but couldn’t as I don’t pay taxes there anymore, so we decided to just watch the market ourselves and transfer when we thought it was a good rate.


Here are some tips for transferring money (large sums or small payments) abroad:

Choose your transfer system by researching and making a decision based on your needs.

There are lots of different ways you can transfer money, whether it be with bank-to-bank transfers, going through a broker or using a peer-to-peer currency exchange like TransferWise. Each of these offers something different for your situation; with a bank-to-bank transfer, you may get a bad exchange rate but it may arrive to you faster than it would if you sought out a broker and waited for a good exchange rate to pop up. If you’re using an online exchange like TransferWise, it’s more automated and if you run into problems, it may be a bit more difficult to have them addressed – but it often cuts out the middle-man and has less fines involved (as each bank your money comes into contact with, will take their fee from it).


Do NOT send your money TO a Savings Account.

I, unfortunately, had to learn this the hard way (and by hard, I mean it cost me almost $200 and an additional 2 weeks of waiting for my money).

What happened was, I decided to transfer my large sum of money from Canada to Belgium, and when I gave the account number for the destination of the money, I choose my Savings account (which was attached to my Chequing account). I did this, I guess, to save time because I would later transfer the money from my Chequing to my Savings (even though that takes literal seconds with today’s online banking…)

Well, apparently this isn’t allowed. A Savings account cannot accept wire transfers the same way you cannot write cheques from a Savings account. So from Canada to USA (my Canadian bank’s American partner) to Belgium AND BACK AGAIN my money went, each bank (3 in total), taking their fee from it. By the time it arrived into my bank account in Canada I had lost:

– $10 wire transfer fee from my Canadian bank
– $100 transfer fee from my Canadian bank’s American partner (because my Canadian bank is a small branch of an American company)
– $30 holding fee in Belgium (where it was tried and denied entry into my Savings Account)
– $40 acceptance fee to re-receive to my Canadian bank account

A grand total of $180 because I had NO idea you couldn’t transfer money into a Savings account. So – now YOU know. 


Please, please wait for a decent exchange rate (unless it’s an emergency).

Oh, I cannot stress this enough. While it’s a nightmare to try to determine when the best time is, includes a lot of research (if done by yourself) and A LOT of waiting – getting a good exchange rate (especially for a large sum of money) can save you literal hundreds (or thousands) of dollars. It’s worth the wait and the hassle.

There are really easy ways to do this (if you’re willing to pay a broker or do the searching yourself), you can almost always find a day (even in a currency rate downfall like the one Canada is having now) where you can save yourself a bit of money.

Keep in mind, you can only hire a broker in a country where you have an active tax number. In any case, I would suggest asking your bank of choice what they recommend, as a lot of the time they work closely with specific broker agencies or know of a way to do this that can save you money.


Declare what needs to be declared and be as clear as possible about where this money is coming from.

In my situation, I suddenly came into a sum of money through a life insurance policy payout when my father died. This was directed to my Canadian bank account, which I use about once a year. So for there to all of a sudden be a sum of money in there, that I then requested to send internationally, I figured that may look a little suspicious and decided to inform both banks of why this money was coming to me and what I planned to do with it.

While this isn’t a necessary action, I do think it could save a lot of confusion and in the worst case, maybe they freeze your account until they get into touch with you about the abnormal activity. Better safe than sorry!


And check out a few cool ways to keep your money safe while you travel: 


sending money to another country

Great Resources for Sending Money Internationally:

Telegraph – The Cheapest Way to Send Money

ECheck – Best Ways to Send Money

Nationwide – Understanding the Basics of Sending Money Abroad


Share This:

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

About Travel Pray Love

Expat motherhood, travel lifestyle blog.
View all posts by Travel Pray Love →

Leave a Reply