How to save on international money transfers

Discover the best ways to transfer money abroad in foreign currencies — without any hidden fees.
6 min read
Summary:
  • Use the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) for euro transfers: SEPA is an initiative that standardizes international money transfers across the eurozone, reducing transfer time and costs.
  • Check the real exchange rate: Understand the relationship between currencies and compare rates to ensure you get the best value for your money.
  • Consider using N26: N26 offers fast and transparent international transfers with minimal fees, providing a cost-effective alternative to traditional banks.
Our friends and loved ones are a gift and we want to stay in touch with them. But say you have a friend in London and want to send them money for an upcoming celebration—how do you figure out the best way to go about it? Wherever you are in the world, it’s easy to feel stumped by the small text and hidden commission fees when transferring money abroad, especially if it involves switching from one currency to another. Stress no more—here’s a handy guide to help you save money when making international money transfers.

How can you send euros abroad?

Launched in 2008, the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) is an initiative led by a group of European countries to standardize international money transfers across the Eurozone. It aims to reduce the time it takes for a transfer to come through, and keep the costs as low as possible. Sound good? Here’s the lowdown on the various types of SEPA transfers, and how to find the cheapest or fastest transfer option that suits you best. 

How to find the best SEPA transfer 

SEPA transfers are a popular way to send money within the European Union (EU) and other European countries. There are different types of SEPA transfers, each with its own characteristics. Here's an overview:
  • SEPA Credit Transfer (SCT): This is the standard SEPA transfer option for sending money from one bank account to another. It’s typically used for non-urgent payments, such as paying recurring bills or receiving your salary. SCT transfers are usually processed within one business day.
  • SEPA Instant Credit Transfer (SCT Inst): This is an enhanced version of the SCT transfer, offering near-instantaneous money transfers. It usually takes a maximum of 10 seconds to process SCT Inst transfers. However, not all banks support this option, so it's important to check with your bank.
  • SEPA Direct Debit (SDD): This option allows businesses or organizations to collect payments directly from customers' bank accounts. SDD transfers are often used for recurring payments, such as utility bills or subscriptions. The processing time for SDD transfers can vary, but it usually takes a few business days.
To find the cheapest or fastest SEPA transfer option that suits you best, consider the following:
  • Fees: Different banks and payment service providers may charge varying fees for SEPA transfers. Compare each option’s fees to find the most cost-effective one.
  • Processing time: If speed is your top priority, consider using SCT Inst transfers, which are processed almost instantly. Just keep in mind that not all banks support this option, so check with your bank beforehand.
  • Reliability: Look for a reputable bank or payment service provider that has a reliable track record for processing SEPA transfers efficiently and securely.
  • Online platforms: Some online platforms specialize in comparing transfer fees and processing times across different banks and payment service providers. These platforms can help you find the best option for your specific needs.

Is it better to make international transfers in euros or a foreign currency?

When it comes to international transfers, you have the option to send money in euros or in a foreign currency. The choice between the two depends on various factors, such as the recipient's location, the purpose of the transfer, and any specific requirements you may have. Here's some information to help you decide:
  • Euros: If the recipient is located within the eurozone or if they prefer to receive funds in euros, you can choose to send the money in euros. This is a great option for transfers within the EU or countries that have adopted the euro as their currency. Because the currency doesn’t need to be converted, processing times may be faster.
  • Foreign currency: If the recipient is located outside the eurozone or if they prefer to receive funds in a specific foreign currency, you can choose to send the money in that currency. This option works well when the recipient's local currency is different from the euro. However, keep in mind that currency conversion fees may apply. The processing time may also be slightly longer, as funds need to be converted from one currency to another.
To make an international transfer in euros or a foreign currency, you can typically use the services provided by your bank or a specialized money transfer service. It's important to compare the exchange rates and fees offered by different providers to ensure you get the best deal.

What happens if you’re transferring money into a different currency?

Two elements come into play here—the real exchange rate on the market, and the commission that your bank wants to charge you. But first, what do we mean by the “real exchange rate”? Simply put, it’s the relationship between two currencies. For example, say you’re comparing the euro to the British pound. When you compare the two currencies, you’ll see how much one Euro is worth in British pounds, depending on the currencies’ market value. This rate is what we call the real exchange rate.International transfers should be made at the real exchange rate. Unfortunately, some banks charge commissions on these transfers. What commissions do they charge? There are all kinds of commissions, which vary depending on which country you’re sending the money from, and whether you requested the transfer in person at a branch, or online. At N26, we’re committed to avoiding any hidden fees.

Send money abroad

International transfers with your N26 account are easy, fast and reliable.

International Money Transfer with N26
Wise.

Transfers at the real exchange rate in 38 currencies

N26 customers can make secure international money transfers at the real exchange rate in over 38 currencies—from any country and without hidden fees, as it always should be. All you have to do is log in to your N26 app, then tap on “Send Money”, followed by “Foreign Currency Transfer.” Simply select your recipient, the currency, and the amount that you wish to transfer. For complete transparency, you’ll also be able to view a complete breakdown of the current exchange rate, your transfer fee, and the date that your transfer is expected to arrive, all before you confirm your international money transfer. No hidden fees, no hassle, no worries. Banks that try to profit from commissions on foreign transfers have been warned—the new era of fair, transparent and efficient banking starts here.

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