Best International Money Transfer Apps in 2021

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by Enoch Omololu

Updated

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An international money transfer app simplifies the process of sending money to friends and family who live abroad.

They are very convenient to use and may even save you on fees compared to sending money through your bank.

Since they are easily accessible online and the exchange rates are transparent, you can compare money transfer options without leaving your home and get the best bang for your buck.

Best Money Transfer Apps in Canada

In this article, I compare the best international money transfer apps for iPhone and Android devices in 2021.

  • Wise: Best overall and for mid-market rates
  • WorldRemit: Best for almost instant cash pickups
  • XE Money Transfer: Best for FX tools, currency tracking, and alerts
  • Remitly: Best for multiple funding options
  • OFX: Best for currency hedging and large transfers
  • Western Union: Best for global reach (200+ countries)

Best international Money Transfer Services

The money transfer apps and services below offer affordable global money transfers.

1. Wise

Formerly known as TransferWise, Wise is one of the cheapest ways to send money internationally.

As per its website, you can use the app to send money up to 7x cheaper than big banks and its customers save £3 million every day in bank fees.

The Wise app is available on the Google Play Store and the App Store where it has a 4.4/5 and 4.7/5 rating respectively.

  • Funding Options: Direct debit, debit card, credit card, domestic wire transfer, and bill payment.
  • Countries Supported: 70+
  • Fees: Vary

When you send money using Wise, currency conversions occur at the “mid-market exchange rate” which means you don’t end up paying high markups and more of your money gets to your intended recipient.

In addition to just sending money abroad, you can also use this platform as a freelancer or for your business to accept and spend foreign currencies without needing to convert them.

A Wise multi-currency account can hold up to 65 currencies.

Pros of Wise

  • Uses the competitive mid-market rate (no markups)
  • Has competitive base fees
  • Regulated by the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC)
  • Multiple-currency account available
  • Offers personal and business accounts
  • Versatile mobile app

Cons of Wise

  • Cash or cheque funding is not available
  • Cash pickup is not offered

You can send your first money transfer of up to $800 CAD free of charge using this link. The offer only applies to your first transfer.

Get more details about this platform in my Wise review.

2. WorldRemit

WorldRemit facilitates the international transfer of money in over 70 currencies and more than 130 countries. It is fast with most transfers arriving within minutes of sending the funds.

Even better, if you are transferring money to someone who has no bank account, WorldRemit offers cash pickups.

Other ways your recipient can receive money include through airtime top-ups, mobile money, and directly to a bank account.

The WorldRemit app can be downloaded from the Google Play Store and the App Store where it is rated 4.2/5 and 4.7/5 respectively.

  • Funding Options: Bank account transfer, debit card, credit card, SOFORT, Interac, Poli, Apple Pay, Trustly, IDEAL.
  • Countries Supported: 130+
  • Fees: Vary

The exchange rate on WordRemit includes a markup on the mid-market rate.

Pros of WorldRemit

  • Almost instant transfers through cash pickup locations
  • Available in 130+ countries
  • Reasonable fees
  • Multiple payments options

Cons

  • Not mid-market rates with margins and fees built-in
  • Maximum transfer limited to $4,000 per transaction when using debit, credit, or prepaid cards, and Apple Pay.

You can get your first money transfer free on WorldRemit.

3. XE Money Transfer

XE was founded in 1993 and has since become one of the most popular sites for checking currency exchange rates and sending money worldwide.

The XE Currency app supports 65 currencies and international money transfers to more than 170 countries. It is available on the App Store and Google Play Store.

  • Funding Options: Bank transfer, credit card, debit card, wire transfer, and direct debit
  • Countries Supported: 170+
  • Fees: No transfer fees. There’s a markup on the mid-market rate

In addition to sending money abroad, you can also use the XE app and website to track various currencies and their exchange rates, as well as set alerts.

The app has a 3.7/5 rating on both the Google Play Store and App Store.

From a user’s point of view, it is easier to use the desktop site (web interface) as opposed to the app.

Pros of XE Money Transfer

  • Globally recognized platform
  • No transfer fees and competitive exchange rates
  • Offers an international money transfer account for businesses
  • Has multiple free FX tools, charts, alerts, and apps
  • There is no maximum limit for transfers, however, a rep is required for amounts over $500,000
  • Registered with FINTRAC

Cons of XE Money Transfer

  • Poorly-rated mobile app
  • No cash pickup option
  • You don’t get the mid-market rate
  • Limited funding options

4. Remitly

You can use the Remitly app to send money abroad and have it deposited within minutes or available for pickup by your recipient from thousands of locations.

Transfers can be sent from 17 countries (including Canada, United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom) to 100+ receiving countries.

The Remitly app is available on iOS and Android devices and is rated 4.5/5 and 4.8/5 on both platforms respectively.

  • Funding Options: Bank transfer, debit card, credit card, Sofort, IDEAL, SEPA, and Passbook.
  • Countries Supported: 17 for sending and 100+ for receiving.
  • Fees: Vary

Remitly sets its own exchange rate which has a markup and is not as competitive as the mid-market rate.

Pros of Remitly

  • Multiple ways to receive funds including bank deposit, mobile money, cash pickup, and home delivery
  • Competitive money transfer fees
  • Registered with FINTRAC in Canada
  • Money back guarantee if you are not satisfied with the service (fee refunded)
  • Versatile user-friendly mobile app

Cons of Remitly

  • Does not use the mid-market rate (includes margin fee)
  • Sending limits are based on your account tier
  • You can only send money from 17 countries
  • Express transfers cost more

5. OFX

OFX was established in 1998 and has since facilitated more than $130 billion (USD) in global money transfers.

You can send money in over 55 currencies to recipients in 190 countries.

The OFX money transfer app can be downloaded from the App Store and Google Play Store where it is rated 4.8/5 and 4.4/5 respectively.

  • Funding Options: Bill payment, electronic fund transfers, and direct debit.
  • Countries Supported: 190
  • Fees: Vary

Most transfers via OFX are completed within 1 business day, however, it may take up to 3-5 business days for some currencies/locations.

Pros of OFX

  • No minimum sending limits
  • You can view the interbank rates and compare it with OFX customer rates
  • Can set limit orders for target exchange rates or lock in a rate using forward contracts
  • Large transfers have no extra fees and you only pay the FX margin
  • Supports business accounts
  • Registered with FINTRAC

Cons of OFX

  • Does not use the mid-market rate
  • No cash pick up option for recipients
  • Can’t pay with cash, credit cards, cheque, or bank drafts
  • Minimum transfer amount is $150 USD
  • Limited payment options

6. Western Union

While it is not close to being the cheapest option for sending money, Western Union is one of the most popular money transfer apps in the world.

It is available in over 200 countries and recipients can receive funds in their bank account, mobile wallet, and through cash pickup.

The Western Union money transfer app is available for iOS (4.7/5 rating) and Android devices (4.4/5 rating).

  • Funding Options: Credit card, debit card, and bank transfer. Cash payments also offered at agent locations
  • Countries Supported: 200+
  • Fees: Vary

Cash pickup transfers sent using credit or debit cards are available within minutes. Mobile money and bank transfers reach the recipients within 3 business days.

You can send up to $999 CAD per day.

Pros of Western Union

  • Globally recognized international money transfer service
  • Over 500,000 agent locations and cash pickup and payment options
  • Registered with FINTRAC
  • Fairly reasonable rates compared to banks

Cons of Western Union

  • Expensive compared to Wise, WorldRemit, Remitly, and OFX
  • Does not use the mid-market rate
  • Slow customer service
  • Low maximum sending limit

7. PayPal

PayPal is a popular way to send and receive money for both personal and business purposes. It is available in over 200 countries and recipients can receive funds in 100+ currencies.

The company was founded in 1998 and trades on NASDAQ under the ticker symbol “PYPL”.

The PayPal app is available on the Google Play Store and the App Store with review ratings of 4.2/5 and 4.7/5 respectively.

  • Funding Options: Credit card, debit card, PayPal balance, bank account
  • Countries Supported: 200+ markets
  • Fees: Vary based on location and funding method (e.g., $2.99-4.99 CAD + 2.90% + fixed fee for cards)

PayPal adds a 3-4% minimum markup for currency conversions.

The company also owns XOOM, an online money transfer service that offers cash pickups, deposits to bank accounts, and cash deliveries to homes.

Pros of PayPal

  • Well known payment service with 325 million active users
  • Fast payments speeds
  • Can be used for business or personal purposes
  • Free domestic transfers when there is no currency conversion
  • Registered with FINTRAC

Cons of PayPal

  • Does not use the mid-market rate
  • Transfers include several fees (expensive!)
  • Slow customer service
  • Accounts freezes are common, potentially increasing payment processing time

8. MoneyGram

The MoneyGram money transfer service is available in more than 200 countries and territories. The app is available on the Google Play Store (4.6/5rating) and App Store (4.8/5 rating).

When sending money, your recipient can receive the money in their bank account or pick up the cash at an agent’s location.

  • Funding Options: Credit card, debit card, Interac, and cash
  • Countries Supported: 200+
  • Fees: Starts at $4.99 CAD plus currency exchange rate markups

Transfers sent to a bank account take 2-4 business days to be completed. When using online transfer, the maximum you can send is $990 CAD every 30 days.

Pros of MoneyGram

  • Global money transfer company with readily available agent locations (approximately 350,000)
  • Can use app to pay thousands of billers
  • Supports cash pickup and cash funding

Cons of MoneyGram

  • Online transfers have a maximum limit of $990 CAD per 30 days
  • Does not use the mid-market rate
  • Can be expensive when the FX markup and fees are considered
  • Senders in some countries can only pay using cash

9. Ria Money Transfer

Ria is a money transfer service founded in 1987. It has 435,000 locations in 160 countries and recipients can get funds using cash, pickup, bank deposit, or via courier delivery to their home or office in some countries.

The Ria Money Transfer app is available on the Google Play Store and App Store where it has a 3.5/5 and 4/5 rating, respectively.

  • Funding Options: Debit card, credit card, and bank account
  • Countries Supported: 160
  • Fees: Vary

Transfers paid for using a debit or credit card take approximately 15 minutes to be processed. Bank account transfers can take up to 4 business days.

There is a maximum limit of $3,000 per transfer per day, and you can send no more than $8,000 within 30 days.

Pros of Ria Money Transfer

  • Supports cash pickup at thousands of locations
  • No minimum transfer amount
  • Registered with FINTRAC
  • Fast transfers when paying with a debit or credit card

Cons of Ria Money Transfer

  • Does not use the mid-market rate (you pay a markup + fess)
  • Maximum daily limit of $3,000 and $8,000 per month
  • Poorly rated mobile app for Android devices

Related: Simplii Global Money Transfer Service.

What To Look for in an International Money Transfer App

When sending money abroad and choosing a money transfer app, you should consider the following factors:

Fees: How much are you paying in transfer fees? Some money transfer companies charge a flat fee, or you may be paying a percentage. Generally, the fees will vary with how much you are sending, the location of the recipient, and how fast they get the funds.

Watch out for hidden fees that are not clearly advertised upfront.

Exchange Rates: The most competitive exchange rate a provider can offer you is the mid-market rate or interbank rate. Apart from Wise (formerly TransferWise), many money transfers apps add a markup to the exchange rate which can be as high as 5%.

This markup translates to a fee you are paying even if the provider is marketing their service as “zero” fees.

Transfer Speed: This is how long it takes for the money to reach your recipient. Some providers only deposit in bank accounts which take some time to clear, and others may offer instant cash pickups at an agent location.

Locations: Confirm that the money transfer company operates in your country and in the country, you are sending money to.

Funding Options: Some providers are limited in the forms of payment they accept. Also, check what each payment option costs. For example, credit card payments may cost a lot more in fees.

Customer Support: Look at online reviews to see what others are saying about the provider’s customer support service. If your payment is frozen for whatever reason and you can’t reach customer support for a few days, your transfer could be delayed for several days.

Transfer Limits: A money transfer platform may limit how much money you can send per transfer, per day, and per month. For example, you can only send up to $990 CAD per 30 days when using MoneyGram online.

Safety: Is the provider regulated and licensed to operate in your country? Money Service Businesses in Canada are registered with FINTRAC and AMF.

Conclusion

Money transfer apps eliminate most of the hassle when sending money to your friends and family.

Compared to visiting a physical bank and paying exorbitant wire transfer fees, these apps are often a lot cheaper and you can send money in just a few clicks.

Related: Best Cash Back Apps in Canada.

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Author

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Enoch Omololu

Enoch Omololu is a personal finance expert and a veterinarian. He has a master’s degree in Finance and Investment Management from the University of Aberdeen Business School (Scotland) and has completed several courses and certificates in finance, including the Canadian Securities Course. He also has an MSc. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Manitoba and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Ibadan. Enoch has a passion for helping others win with their personal finances and has been writing about money matters for over a decade. His writing has been featured or quoted in The Globe and Mail, Winnipeg Free Press, Wealthsimple, Financial Post, Toronto Star, Credit Canada, MSN Money, National Post, CIBC, and many other personal finance publications.

His top investment tools include Wealthsimple and Questrade. He earns cash back on purchases using KOHO, monitors his credit score for free using Borrowell, and earns interest on savings through EQ Bank.

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