How To Receive Money From Overseas: The Best Ways in 2022
A writer at Monito, Byron possesses a keen interest in the intersection of personal finance and technology. A former journalist, he strives to bring complex information to life in a way that can be widely understood and appreciated.
Co-Founder of Monito and money transfer expert, François has been helping Monito’s users navigate the jungle of money transfer fees, bad exchange rates and tricks for the last six years.
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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.
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!)
- 01. How to receive money from overseas
- 02. What is the best way to receive money online?
- 03. Why transfer services are cheapest for receiving money from abroad
- 04. What's the safest way to receive money online?
- 05. How long does it take to receive money from overseas?
- 06. Other frequently asked questions about receiving money from abroad
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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):
- Transaction fees: These are charged as fixed fees, commissions, or a mix of the two;
- An exchange rate margin: This is the profit that banks make by charging their own exchange rate.
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:
Exchange Rate Margin (%)
Higher fixed fees and/or commissions
0.50% - 20.00%
US$0.00 - US$100.00
Lower fixed fees and/or commissions
0.00% - 3.00%
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
🧾 Is money received from abroad taxable?
Generally not. If you're an ordinary consumer receiving money from abroad or if you're receiving remittances from a foreign country, you typically won't be subject to any tax on your international transfers. Taxation generally is only applicable to businesses seeking to import goods from overseas. However, if you're planning to receive a very large wire transfer from abroad, there's a chance it may be subject to taxation, declaration, or other legal requirements in your country. We recommend doing your research and contacting a legal professional before receiving large amounts of money from overseas.
📥 How can I receive money from abroad?
These days, it's easier than ever to receive money from abroad. To access your funds, you'll have several options at your disposal, including via bank deposit, cash pick-up, mobile wallet, credit/debit card deposit, PayPal, and door-to-door cash. Compare the top providers for all these methods on Monito's real-time comparison engine.
💵 Do banks charge for receiving money from abroad?
Yes, banks sometimes charge for receiving money from abroad. These fees are known as beneficiary bank fees, as they're applied to bank wires by the receiving bank before the funds are credited to the recipient's bank account. While not all banks charge this type of fee for receiving money from abroad (the sender typically settles most money transfer fees), the practice is nonetheless not unusal.
🏪 How do I get money from abroad through Western Union?
Western Union offers an impressive number of pay-out methods for receiving money from abroad. To collect money send to you through Western Union, you should first confirm with the person sending you money what method they have used (or intend to use) to send money your way. These methods can include bank deposit, cash pick-up, mobile wallet deposit, and others.
📲 What is PayPal's fee for receiving money from abroad?
PayPal does not charge a fixed fee for receiving money from abroad, so long as the payment is a personal payment and not for the exchange of goods and services. However, PayPal does charge a high exchange rate margin of around 4.00% of the transfer value on all currency conversions, meaning considerably less money arrives in your PayPal wallet when receiving money from abroad than left the sender's wallet in the first place.
🚫 What restrictions are there on receiving money from abroad?
Restrictions on receiving money from abroad vary from country to country, with governments imposing different on laws payment service providers regarding anti-money laundering (AML) and know your customer (KYC). However, in general, sending and receiving money internationally requires the sender to enter the personal information of the beneficiary, usually including their full name, contact details (e.g. email address and/or mobile phone number), bank account number, and sometimes a residential address and the relationship between the two parties. Moreover, there are often restrictions on the amount of money that can be sent per transaction or period of time. These restrictions differ dramatically from country to country.
🎭 What's the best way to receive money online anonymously?
Outside of the realm of blockchain, it is not possible to receive money online with complete anonymity. Because online payments overwhelmingly come in the form of bank transfers and peer-to-peer transfers though mobile apps (including PayPal and Venmo), personal information is generally required from both parties in order for a payment to be processed and facilitated. That being said, some transfers require less personal information than others. However, the exchange of one's full name and bank account details (where applicable) is practically inescapable when receiving money online.
💻 How do I receive money online without a bank account?
To receive money without a bank account, you'll have a number of options. These include cash pick-up transfers, money orders, and mobile wallet payments. To learn more about each method and which one might be best for you, take a look at our guide on how to send money to someone without a bank account.
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)
See Monito's In-Depth Money Transfer Guides
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