5 Best Apps for International Banking Needs
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Managing money abroad means more than keeping track of different currencies and exchange rates. Sending or receiving money electronically across international borders is not that easy. In the United States, bank accounts are identified by routing and account number. In Europe, International Bank Account Numbers (IBANs) are used, but different IBANs have different prefixes – FR in France, DE in Germany, IT in Italy, etc. Australia, on the other hand, uses BSB codes.
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If you’re planning to live, study or even just travel abroad on holiday, make sure you have a plan to manage your money, not just the cash in your bag. Below is an overview of the most popular apps for sending and receiving money, making payments, and exchanging cash safely and securely outside your home country.
Don’t wait until you’re traveling abroad to plan how to manage your finances once you get there.
Formerly known as TransferWise, Wise is known for fast and cheap transactions almost anywhere – it’s available in 170 countries and supports 50 currencies.
With a $1,000 trial transfer, Wise is cheaper than banks like Chase and Wells Fargo, banking services like WesternUnion and OFX, and payment facilitators like PayPal. This is because it uses the real, mid-market rate for every transaction. There are no maximums or minimums for transfers, and Wise only charges one transparent fee.
About 400,000 businesses rely on Wise, and travelers, students and expats use it to move money across borders, from sending money to friends to paying mortgages in other countries.
Wise’s own test transfer of $1,000 showed that Remitly was the cheapest of all major international money transfer services — including Wise itself. Remitly supports over 75 currencies and has no hidden fees.
You can send and receive money in more than 145 countries, including 40 countries in Africa, Mexico, India and the Philippines.
It stands out with a number of delivery options for those on the receiving end – cash as a bank deposit, mobile transfer to phone, cash withdrawal from thousands of locations, and even delivery to the recipient’s home.
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PayPal is one of the oldest, most popular, and most trusted names in payment facilitation, but familiarity is only one of the reasons international users flock to it. With PayPal, you can send money to almost every country in the world – more than 200 in total.
On the downside, prices and fees can be vague and confusing, but PayPal’s menu of services is hard to piece together. International users can send and request money, donate and collect money, deposit checks, sell things and pay with QR codes – PayPal can even buy, sell and pay with cryptocurrencies.
Like PayPal, MoneyGram is available in more than 200 countries.
Like PayPal, it has a well-established history in the industry – but in this category, the two aren’t even in the same ballpark. PayPal was founded in the Wild West days of the early Internet in the late 1990s. By contrast, MoneyGram has a history of more than 80 years, dating back to the days of Travelers Express around World War II.
The app is available on iOS and Android, and online money transfers, person-to-person transfers, or both are available outside of the many countries where the app is supported.
Like all the services on this list, OFX can beat the interest rate your bank is likely to offer you for international transfers. The app supports over 50 currencies in over 190 countries and OFX offers unparalleled security. Listed on the Australian Stock Exchange, it is overseen by more than 50 regulatory bodies worldwide.
The app lets you check exchange rates before you send money and monitor transfers while they’re in progress. OFX also offers advanced features such as fixing foreign exchange rates 12 months in advance for future transfers. You can sign up in less than five minutes, and OFX gets high marks for customer service. You can speak to a real, live person 24 hours a day, unlike many other services that require you to navigate time zone differences to get a representative on the phone.
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