|Best Option for Sending Money Internationally|
|Remitly for one-time transfer, EQ Bank for many transfers|
On another page, we extensively discussed sending money between accounts in Canada. On this page, we consider sending money abroad. Large Canadian banks are all international, meaning they have subsidiaries in other countries. Suppose you are sending money to a country where a Canadian bank has an operation. In that case, the easiest way to transfer money is likely the bank with operations both in Canada and the destination of your money.
But this picture is complicated by the issue of exchange rates. The first issue that arises for sending money abroad is that people in other countries use different currencies. Thus sending money abroad often involves a foreign exchange transaction.
Many businesses, including banks and online digital wallets, offer to exchange your money for other currencies. They often make money in this business by offering different rates to buy and sell each currency. The prices on currency converters like WOWA’s currency converter are often the midpoint between bid and ask. That is, the prices you see are an average between the price you can buy and the price you can sell. In reality, the price would be higher for you to buy, and the price would be lower to sell.
On this page, we will note the high cost of converting currency through major banks and see how digital innovators are the best options for transferring money internationally.
Canada’s most important trading partner and closest neighbor is the US. Therefore, let us concentrate on the US dollar (USD) being traded against the Canadian dollar (CAD) for the moment. For example, the largest banks in Canada, TD, RBC, BMO, and CIBC, all have retail banking operations in the United States. Canadians can open US-domiciled bank accounts in these banks.
After opening a US domiciled account in one of these banks, you can use online banking for your chequing account, or savings account with the Canadian bank to transfer money to your US bank account. From there, you can use US banking infrastructure to send money to your American partner or supplier.
When writing, major Canadian banks offered the following prices for buying and selling USD.
|USD prices offered by major Canadian banks|
The midpoint is the actual price each bank is using for USD/CAD. This price is largely determined by the supply and demand of CAD vs USD in a very large and liquid market. As expected, each bank sells USD at a higher price and buys it at a lower price. The relative spread shows the amount of money the bank would make if they bought and sold $100. The half relative spread shows how much the bank charges you for every $100 foreign currency transaction. Dealing in cash entails paying large fees of 3.3 or 3.4%. But even changing your money electronically entails very sizable fees of 2.7 or 2.8%.
Big banks are great options for sending money but rather bad options for exchanging money. At least in the case of USD, you might be able to exchange your money with another business while using large banks for your USD transactions.
Considering exchange and transfer, digital wallets always seem to offer the best value in international transfers. Among them, we tested four known to provide the best value to their customers and compared them to destinations popular among Canadians for transferring money. For sending money to the US, Wise looks to be our best option, with XE being very close.
|Digital wallet comparison table for sending $1000 from Canada to US*|
|Digital Wallet||Amount received (USD)||Expected time||Transfer Limit|
|WISE||764.91||Next working day||USD 1 M (USD 1.6 M by SWIFT transfer)|
|XE||764.20||1-4 days||CAD 535,000|
|WorldRemit||738.74||Next working day||CAD 40,000|
ICICI is an Indian bank with retail banking operations in Canada. It offers fast and convenient online money transfers to India. But electronic wallet providers beat ICICI in terms of price. Remitly.com and XE.com compete for the best option for sending money to India.
|Digital wallet comparison table for sending $1000 from Canada to India*|
|Digital Wallet||Amount received (INR)||Expected time||Transfer Limit|
|Remitly||61,610 (promotional) 60,660 (Express) 61,3000 (Economy)||< 1 hour < 1 hour 3-6 days||T1: $999 T2: $6000 T3: $9,999|
|XE||61,157.00||1-4 days||CAD 535,000|
|Wise||60,898.36||< 1 hour||CAD 1.5 M|
|WorldRemit||60,102.00||< 1 hour||CAD 40,000|
For sending money to Pakistan, WorldRemit, Remitly, Wise and XE are in close competition. The best option would depend on the amount of money you send and might change because these providers have different speeds in adjusting their rates. XE does not charge a fee for sending money to Pakistan and instead uses a bid-ask spread to make money. This would allow it to be the best option for transferring small amounts of money. If you needed to make frequent transfers, you would be best served with EQ Bank. EQ Bank offers international money transfers using Wise.
Thus, EQ bank would be your best bet for repeat transfers to Pakistan.
|Digital wallet comparison table for sending $1000 from Canada to Pakistan*|
|Digital Wallet||Amount received (PKR)||Expected time||Transfer Limit|
|Remitly||169,709 (promotional) 165,223 (Express)||Same day (card payment) 4 days (bank transfer)||T1: $999 T2: $6000 T3: $9,999|
|XE||166,262.80||1-4 days||CAD 535,000|
|Wise||165,771.20||< 1 hour||CAD 1.5 M (no business payment)|
|WorldRemit||161,446.18||< 1 hour||CAD 40,000|
At the time of writing, Remitly is your best option for transferring money to the Philippines once. The amount you can transfer with Remitly is limited, and you can use XE for large or repeated transfers.
|Digital wallet comparison table for sending $1000 from Canada to Philippines*|
|Digital Wallet||Amount received (PHP)||Expected time||Transfer Limit|
|Remitly||43,758 (promotional) 42,230 (Normal)||Same day (card payment) 4 days (bank transfer)||T1: $999 T2: $6000 T3: $9,999|
|XE||42,846.70||< 1 hour||CAD 535,000|
|Wise||42,649.37||Next working||CAD 1.5 M|
|WorldRemit||42,278.62||< 1 hour||CAD 40,000|
For transferring money to the UK and depending on the amount of money you are moving, XE and Wise offer the best rates. In Canada, XE accepts payments as wire transfers, electronic funds transfers, debit cards, credit cards, Interac and bill payments.
|Digital wallet comparison table for sending $1000 from Canada to UK*|
|Digital Wallet||Amount received (GBP)||Expected time||Transfer Limit|
|Wise||647.19||< 1 hour||CAD 1.5 M|
|XE||646.60||1-2 days||CAD 535,000|
|WorldRemit||636.72||Next working day||CAD 40,000|
*Information gathered in tables of this page are extracted from the website of the mentioned bank or digital wallet only for comparing them together. It is our reader's responsibility to verify such information before using them.
Wise allows you to convert, hold and transfer 55 currencies with no account fees and one of the lowest exchange fees.
Wise does not have a bid/ask spread. Instead, it charges a small percentage for converting your money into USD. This percentage reduces as the money you are transferring increases. If you are moving $500 Canadian, the Wise fee is less than 0.8%, and for $100, it is less than 1.7%.
In addition to the exchange fee, you would also need to pay a transfer fee which depends on the method you use to transfer money to Wise. Low-cost options are bill payment and domestic wire transfer, each of which costs $2.30, and EFT, whose cost depends on the amount of money transferred but is very competitive. The cost of paying with a debit or a credit card also depends on the amount of funds transferred, but these options become costly as the amount you transfer increases. Credit and debit card transfers are much faster in exchange for being expensive.
It is very straightforward to register an account with Wise. You can simplify the process by providing access to your Google or Facebook account so that Wise can read some basic information from there.
You can ask Wise to contact the recipient for their account information through email, or you can provide their name, address and bank account number together with ACH or wire routing number for Wise to send the money directly into the recipient's checking account or savings account. Note that sending USD to someone outside the US would incur an extra cost of 2.9 USD. Wise would complete the transfer at most in two business days.
Remitly allows you to send money to 170 countries with low cost and favourable exchange rates.
Remitly pride itself in helping more funds from migrant workers reach their families. It offers a promotional exchange rate for your first transaction, making it an absolute winner for your first transaction. Remitly would charge 2 CAD for sending under $500. For transfers over $500, Remitly does not charge any fee. It offers express delivery and an economy option.
Remitly economy option would take 3 to 6 days; instead, it would get a slightly better exchange rate. Remitly would offer you the option to deposit the money into the beneficiary’s bank account or to have them pick up the cash at one of many designated locations.
For limiting the amount of money you can send, Remitly defines three tiers based on the amount of information you supply. Tier 1 requires the sender's name, address and date of birth. Tier 2 requires a reason for sending money and the source of funds in addition to tier 1 information. Tier 3 requires proof of funding source and the information needed in tier 2.
XE allows people from 22 countries to send money to 113 countries with low cost and favourable exchange rates.
XE is a Canada-based company headquartered in Newmarket, Ontario. It offers various currency-related services and is a subsidiary of Euronet Worldwide. XE registration starts by entering your email, but it uses your cell phone as a second authentication method each time you log into your XE money transfer account.
When you register, XE asks you to estimate your forex transfer needs. It might ask you to provide a bank statement, government-issued ID and utility bill based on how much you need to transfer. People from 22 countries, including Canada, the US, the UK, Germany, France and Spain, can use XE’s service for sending money internationally. XE can send money to 113 countries.
To fund your XE transfer, you can add HiFX Canada Inc as a payee in your online banking portal. Alternatively, you can permit XE to debit your bank account. This is called direct debit and uses electronic funds transfer (EFT). For sending money to the US, XE would require the recipient's name, account number, routing number, bank name and bank address.
With EQ Bank, you can get the Wise rate, which is the mid-market rate reported by Reuters, without paying the fee for the initial transfer from your bank account to Wise and without taking any time for this transfer.