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International Money Transfer
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Sending Money Abroad: International Money Transfer

Send Money Abroad - International Money Transfer

International Money Order International Money Transfer Send Money Abroad Overseas Online

Bank Account Guide USA

There are three major ways to send money transfers from the United States to someone in another country ("international money transfer"):

(See our International Money Transfer Cost Comparison Chart below)

International Cash Transfers

Western Union, an established leader in international money transfer, can send money worldwide, including the ability to transfer money online or send money abroad by phone.

  • Its international money transfer website has a useful feature that calculates the cost of sending money abroad to the country of your choice. If you transfer money online or send money overseas by phone, you pay using a credit card or debit card.

  • If you do not transfer money online or send money abroad by phone, you will need to locate both a sending "international money transfer" agent and a receiving "international money transfer" agent. There are 196,000 money transfer agents located in over 190 countries and territories. If using a sending international money transfer agent, you must pay for the international money transfer in cash.

  • Fees, procedures, and the locations of international money transfer agents are available on the website or by calling 800-325-6000.

  • Each international money transfer transaction has a unique international money transfer control number. It makes it easier for collection of funds if the recipient knows the number.

  • The recipient should be able to pick up the funds within the hour (subject to the hours of operation at the receiving agent location). Proper identification is required.

Western Union Online FX is a more helpful online solution for frequent users - those individuals or businesses that need to send money abroad, or make international money transfers or payments, frequently or periodically. You can establish your own online international money transfer account at no cost (no setup fee, no account fee or maintenance fee), and you have more choices about how to fund and deliver transactions (including direct debit, EFT, ACH, bill payee, wire transfers, and drafts). Phone and email support is provided, and your online account provides transaction history with full details. Western Union Online FX is part of Western Union's new service offering, and it has the feel of a premier service that may cost you less to use than other methods.

MoneyGram is a competitor in international money transfer and now offers the ability to send money online as well. It has 75,000 agents in 170 countries. Like its competitor, its website has a useful feature that calculates the cost of sending money to the country of your choice. It claims to be cheaper than the leading international money transfer provider, although costs may vary by country and the amount of the international money transfer (for example, we found it significantly more expensive for sending money to Mexico, but slightly less for sending money to the United Kingdom).

International Money Orders: U.S. Postal Service & Banks

The United States Postal Service issues international money orders:

  • Maximum allowed is $700 per international money order. However, you can purchase multiple international money orders per day, up to a maximum of $10,000 in international money orders.

  • The processing fee is $3.85 per international money order.

  • U.S. Money Orders can be cashed in banks or post offices in most countries around the world.

  • All U.S. post offices provide international money order service.

  • You must fill out the recipient's name on the international money order before mailing the international money order to the recipient.

  • Keep the numbered carbon copy receipt for your records.

  • In case of problems, the international money order is traceable by its unique number.

For more information, see the International Money Order page on the US Postal Service website.

Most banks also issue international money orders. The maximum is $1,000 and the fee is $4.50 per international money order. Most of the routines of U.S. Postal International Money Order purchases apply.

International Bank Transfers

If you have a bank account, there are several ways to send money overseas by making international money transfers through the banking system. Not all banks send money abroad in the same way. Check with your local bank for details on its services related to international money transfers.

Sending a Check Abroad

  • International check clearing can take from 4 - 6 weeks.
  • Even though it's easy to issue a check, it may not be easy for the recipient to cash the check.
  • The recipient will be charged a fee of about $50 for international check processing.
  • Some countries have less streamlined banking systems than others and may not honor foreign-drawn checks.

Foreign Drafts

  • Depending on which city or town you live in, this can take from a few days to a week for the bank to prepare the foreign draft.
  • You mail the foreign draft to the recipient.
  • The money comes out of your account when the foreign draft is prepared, not when the recipient receives it.
  • There is a fee for this service of about $25.
  • Since the foreign draft is drawn on your bank to another (corresponding) bank, the recipient must have access to the corresponding bank.

International Bank Wire Transfers

  • You don't have to be a customer of the bank to send an international bank wire, but you have to pay cash.
  • Sending an international bank wire transfer is quicker than a Foreign Draft, since it is done almost immediately.
  • The fee for sending an international bank wire transfer is about $65 for non-customers and about $40 for bank customers.
  • The recipient must have access to the corresponding bank.


International Money Transfer
Cost / Efficiency Comparison
Sending $300 from the United States to the United Kingdom

Western Union


Recipient can pick up cash in 20 minutes.

Ideal for frequent users...
Western Union Online FX


Direct Deposit / EFT (3 days)
Foreign Draft (2-3 weeks)
Wire Transfer (24-48 hours)



Recipient can pick up cash in under 60 minutes.

International Money Order


Five days mailing time. Will probably be able to cash the money order on the same day.

International Check


Five days mailing time plus clearing time for check. Anywhere from 5 - 7 weeks.

Foreign Draft


One week draft processing plus mailing and bank clearing time. Total about three weeks.

International Wire Transfer


About one business day

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