How To Receive Money From Overseas: The Best Ways in 2022

Byron Mühlberg, writer at Monito.com
Jun 30, 2022
Affiliate disclosure

For many people, receiving money from abroad by bank deposit may seem like the easiest, cheapest, and safest way to go. However, while bank transfers are often best for receiving money from abroad (especially when made locally through a money transfers specialist), they're not always the best suited to your individual needs and preferences.

In this guide, we go through the main options at your disposal for receiving money from abroad before contrasting each to see how they differ from one another. Then, we explore the cheapest and safest ways to receive money online and weigh up which might be right for you.

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To find the cheapest, fastest, and safest way to receive money online to meet all your individual requirements, compare money transfer services on Monito's real-time comparison engine. (Tip: switch tabs to see the best providers for different receiving methods!)

How To Receive Money From Overseas

In most cases, you'll be spoilt for choice when it comes to receiving international payments, with a lot of different methods at your disposal depending on your country and the country of the person sending money your way. Take a look at the major ones below:

1 ⁠— Bank Deposit

Thomas Lefebvre on Unsplash

The most common way to receive money from overseas is via bank deposit, which takes place when the sender of a money transfer makes a bank wire (or another type of bank transfer) from their bank account to yours.

In most cases, bank deposits are the receiving side of an international wire transfer — a secure and well-used method of receiving money from abroad that's offered by most banks and all money transfer services. However, due to the fees associated with wiring money over SWIFT, bank deposits can sometimes be one of the more expensive ways of receiving money from overseas.

Advantages of Bank Deposits:

  • Extremely safe and secure;
  • Convenient, with money going directly into your bank account.

Disadvantages of Bank Deposits:

  • Can be expensive when received bank to bank;
  • Banking services are not accessible everywhere;
  • Wire transfers and other forex services aren't available in all banks;
  • Wire transfers cannot be reversed once sent;
  • SWIFT transfers can take up to five working days to arrive.

2 ⁠— Cash Pick-up

Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

One of the fastest, simplest, and cheapest ways of receiving money from abroad is collecting it in person at a cash pick-up location.

Depending on which country you're living in, you will, in all likelihood, have access to a range of choices for receiving cash from overseas. These can range from places such as convenience stores, pawnshops, gas stations, and credit unions.

On the other end, the person sending you the cash also has a lot of choices in how to make their transfer. Many people opt for traditional currency exchange providers such as MoneyGram and Xoom to get the job done, but data¹ from around a hundred thousand recent comparisons on Monito show that newer fintech companies also offering cash pick-up services ⁠— particularly Small World and Remitly ⁠— tend to be cheaper on average.

To find the best provider to suit your needs when receiving money internationally via cash pick-up, run a search on Monito's real-time comparison engine before you transfer, and select the 'Transfer to a cash pick-up location' tab on the results page.

Advantages of Cash Pick-up:

  • Typically no fees for receiving international payments;
  • An accessible option used worldwide;
  • Money can be tracked and traced;
  • Safe and secure, with a valid photo ID and reference number needed to pick up cash.

Disadvantages of Cash Pick-up:

  • Typically more expensive for senders than online transfers;
  • Sometimes inaccessible in remote and rural locations.

3 ⁠— Money Order

Trinity Nguyen on Unsplash

Another popular and secure option for receiving money from abroad is through an ol' fashioned money order — a prepaid printed certificate received in the mail that can be swapped for cash at a physical location.

Increasingly a thing of the past, money orders today are used primarily in countries such as the US, Canada, India, and Australia, where they've proven a durable and well-established transfer method for decades. However, their use has declined over the last 20 years, with the number of money orders sent to Mexico, for example, plummeting drastically since 2009.

In the US, money order certificates can be bought easily at many physical locations authorized by either the US Postal Service (USPS), MoneyGram, or Western Union.

We recommend money orders for receiving money from the US if you live in a Latin American country, as they're often the cheapest method available for unbanked populations in those regions. However, we also recommend in general that you make sure that money orders can indeed be received in your destination country, as their global scope can be quite limited. If you live in the US, look at the USPS's list of countries to which money orders can be sent.

Advantages of Money Orders:

  • A safe and secure method of sending cash;
  • No expiration date;
  • Little personal information is required for receiving money from abroad;
  • Money can easily be tracked and traced.

Disadvantages of Money Orders:

  • Used in only a small number of countries;
  • Fewer locations offer money order services than cash pick-up;
  • Higher fees for the sender when sending internationally.

4 — PayPal

With its 300 million customers, PayPal is one of the most widely-used transfer platforms globally. Due to its immense reach and fast, convenient money transfers, it may be tempting to use PayPal as a way to receive money from overseas.

However, we recommend against using PayPal for this purpose, as the platform is one of the most expensive ways of transferring money between currencies. This is because it charges the sender a highly variable, nontransparent exchange rate margin fee of anywhere between 2.50% and 4.50% of the entire transfer amount, meaning less money will arrive in your PayPal wallet on the other side.

Advantages of PayPal:

  • Speedy and convenient;
  • Widely available worldwide;
  • Many people already have PayPal accounts and are already familiar and comfortable with using PayPal's services.

Disadvantages of PayPal:

  • Costly exchange rates;
  • Only competitively priced on Monito 0.26% of the time;
  • Low customer satisfaction ratings.

5 ⁠— Mobile Wallet

Mehdi Lamaaffar on Unsplash

Rather than using a bank account, many people choose to handle some or all of their financial services using a mobile wallet instead. Encompassing various solutions, mobile wallets are used as more of a payment method than a bank account, though they can also be used to receive money from abroad.

In general, mobile wallets are used to spend and manage money and function as an alternative to cash or bank cards when making a purchase. Popular mobile wallets include bKash in Bangladesh, GCash in the Philippines, Paytm in India, and MTN Mobile Money, M-Pesa, and Orange Money in Africa.

Advantages of Money Wallets:

  • Speedy payments;
  • High level of security;
  • Low fees for transfers within the app infrastructure.

Disadvantages of Money Wallets:

  • Not all vendors accept mobile wallet payments;
  • Exchange rates tend to be very expensive;
  • Money can sometimes only be withdrawn via a bank account.

6 ⁠— Door-to-Door Money

Handy Wicaksono on Unsplash

Door-to-door money, also known as home cash delivery, is a specialised way of receiving money from abroad where cash is delivered to one's residence by a courier.

According to data from Monito², this receiving method isn't widely used and is most common in countries such as India, Vietnam, and the Philippines. These services also typically come with an additional fee and thus tend to be pricier than other ways of receiving money from abroad.

Advantages of Door-to-Door Money:

  • Cash payment made right to your door;
  • Safe and secure, requiring a valid ID to receive funds.

Disadvantages of Door-to-Door Money:

  • An expensive option for receiving international payments;
  • Not accessible everywhere.

Three Best Ways To Receive Money From Overseas

As we saw above, there are many ways to receive money from abroad. However, which is ultimately the easiest way to receive money from abroad to suit your particular needs will depend on which receiving method you opt for.

According to pricing data from hundreds of thousands of comparisons on Monito, the cheapest way to send money internationally varies considerably based on receiving method. Take a look at the three best ways to receive money from overseas according to three of the most popular receiving methods on Monito:

Wise — Best for Bank Deposits

Cost: Wise charges a mix of fixed fees and commissions for different corridors, which usually constitute between 0.25% and 1.00% of the total transfer value. Wise was the cheapest service on 21% of global comparisons on Monito between July 2020 and 2021.

Coverage: Available in the EEA, UK, US, Singapore, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand, Wise supports transfers to around 57 foreign currencies across the globe.

Recommendation: We recommend Wise especially for small- to medium-sized bank transfers (up to US$10,000.00) destined for international bank accounts, as the platform is particularly well-priced for these transfers.

More info: See our full Wise review.

Remitly — Best for Cash Pick-up

Cost: Remitly's fees are built into the exchange rate and typically range between 0.50% and 2.00% of the international money transfer value, depending on the currencies in question. Remitly was the cheapest service on 20% of global comparisons on Monito between July 2020 and 2021.

Coverage: Available in Europe, North America, Singapore, and Australia, Remitly supports transfers to around 47 currencies on every continent.

Recommendation: Because of its speed and pricing for cash-related transfers in particular, we recommend Remitly for sending money for cash pick-up and cash home delivery services.

More info: See our full Remitly review.

WorldRemit — Best for Mobile Wallet Transfers

Cost: WorldRemit's fees vary significantly from transfer to transfer and generally constitute anywhere between 1.00% and 2.50% of the international money transfer value. WorldRemit was the cheapest service on 9% of global comparisons on Monito between July 2020 and 2021.

Coverage: Available in 56 countries around the globe, WorldRemit supports money transfers to as many as 150 foreign currencies.

Recommendation: We recommend WorldRemit for mobile money transfers due to its industry-leading coverage among mobile wallets. These include Vodafone M-PESA, MTN Mobile Money, Airtel, Globe Cash, Tigo, and many others.

More info: See our full WorldRemit review.

Why Money Transfer Providers Are the Cheapest Way of Receiving Money From Abroad

When it comes to receiving an international money transfer, it can be easy to assume that using the bank is the only way to go. In reality, however, there are many highly competitive international money transfer specialists whose sole business model is centred around doing the same thing that forex departments at banks do — only much cheaper and much faster!

The major difference between banks and specialists comes down to price. When you receive money overseas with your bank, the sender will be charged the following two kinds of fees in addition to SWIFT fees (which are charged separately by third-party banks):

While money transfer specialists also make money using the above two types of fees, they usually only charge either the one or the other, while banks usually charge both. What's more, when third-party money transfer services charge transaction fees or exchange rate margins, these also tend to be much lower than those charged by banks.

We've laid out more clearly how this works in the table below:

Type

Transaction Fee

Exchange Rate Margin (%)

SWIFT Fee

Banks

Higher fixed fees and/or commissions

0.50% - 20.00%

US$0.00 - US$100.00

Specialists

Lower fixed fees and/or commissions

0.00% - 3.00%

None

Last updated: 08/07/2021

Ultimately, because specialist foreign exchange providers are generally much cheaper, faster, more transparent, and just as secure as banks, we recommend using them over banks in most instances.

Run a search on Monito's award-winning comparison engine to find the best deal in real-time:

Compare the Best Ways To Receive Money From Overseas

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Is There a Safest Way To Receive Money Online or Physically?

So long as you're receiving money via bank deposit with the bank or cash pick-up or alternative method through a licensed operator, your transfer will be just about as safe as it can get, meaning there's no safest way to receive money online ⁠— at least not in the strict sense.

That being said, it's certainly the case that some money transfer services have a more established record of service and are thus more trustworthy as a result. Factors such as transfer volume handled, number of customers, authorisation from financial regulators, avoidance of high-risk financial instruments and derivatives, number of employees, and years in business all contribute to the trust and credibility of a money transfer company over the long run.

At Monito, we only review and feature the safest and most secure money transfer services on our website, meaning you can have confidence that every provider appearing on our comparison engine is a safe way to send and receive money online.

To find out more ⁠— including how to receive money safely from abroad ⁠— be sure to look at our in-depth guide on security in international transfers here.

How Long Does It Take To Receive Money From Overseas?

Just as with the cheapest way to receive money from abroad, the length of time it takes to receive money from overseas varies drastically, taking between seconds and days to arrive at the extremes. Here's a rough estimate of how long you can expect to wait for your money to arrive by payment method:

  • Bank wire deposits via SWIFT: Between one and three business days, although up to five business days is not unusual.
  • Bank deposits from transfer services (local P2P payments): Between one hour and two business days.
  • Cash pick-up: Between 30 minutes and one business day.
  • Credit/debit card deposits: Usually within seconds.
  • Money orders: Up to a week.
  • Mobile wallet: Usually within one business day.

However, it's well worth remembering that these estimates are based on average times, meaning that the actual time it takes for you to receive your payment may be longer or shorter depending on your country and currency, the country and currency of the person sending you money, and the bank or transfer operator facilitating the transaction.

Frequently Asked Questions About Receiving Money From Abroad

Notes Used in This Guide

1. Small World and Remitly were the cheapest cash pick-up services on Monito in July 2021 on a combined 51.5% of global searches. MoneyGram and Xoom were the cheapest on a combined 19.8% (n=93.4K).

2. Door-to-door cash transfers accounted for only 0.17% of total global clickouts on Monito between mid-2020 and mid-2021 (n=1.2M)

Why Trust Monito?

You’re probably all too familiar with the often outrageous cost of sending money abroad. After facing this frustration themselves back in 2013, co-founders François, Laurent, and Pascal launched a real-time comparison engine to compare the best money transfer services across the globe. Today, Monito’s award-winning comparisons, reviews, and guides are trusted by around 8 million people each year and our recommendations are backed by millions of pricing data points and dozens of expert tests — all allowing you to make the savviest decisions with confidence.

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