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What is the best way of transferring money as an international student?

Finding a reliable company to transfer money through can be tough. Here’s our guide to the best services for sending and receiving money as an international student

    Joy Hunter's avatar

    Joy Hunter

    Student content curator
    October 6 2021
    Choosing a money transfer service


    Figuring out how to transfer or exchange money between currencies as an international student is no easy feat.

    While you may think that traditional banks are the best and safest way to transfer money between currencies, they can have hidden fees and complex processes.

    Luckily, there are an increasing number of alternative options for sending and receiving money while studying abroad, including money transfer specialists and non-bank providers.

    See below for a guide to the fees involved when transferring money abroad, and which services might be best for you.

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    How much does it cost to transfer money abroad?

    The cost of transferring money abroad depends on the currency you’re using, where you’re sending money and who sends it. All banks and providers will have different fee structures and each take different fees on top of the daily exchange rate.

    There are three main fees to be aware of:

    The fee to send money – traditional banks will usually charge you just to complete the transaction of sending money abroad at a fee of about £30 or higher.

    The fee to exchange money – traditional banks often charge a margin of up to 5 per cent above the daily exchange rate, known as a hidden fee, which can add up easily if you’re an international student who needs to transfer money regularly or in large sums.

    The fee to receive the payment – some banks may charge your recipient a fee to receive money from overseas, which varies from bank to bank.

    Due to all these different factors, you can save a lot of money in fees if you shop around before moving any money abroad.

    What’s the cheapest way to transfer money abroad or in different currencies?

    Usually, the cheapest way to transfer money abroad is to go through a money transfer specialist or non-bank payment service provider (PSP).

    Money transfer specialists and PSPs are third-party platforms that allow you to store and transfer money into different currencies. Examples include Wise (formerly TransferWise) OFX, and CurrencyFair.

    These platforms tend to have far lower rates than traditional banks when it comes to transferring your money, meaning they are well worth exploring for international students who will have to do this regularly.

    How are money transfer specialists and non-bank payment service providers different to banks?

    It’s important to understand that money transfer specialists and PSPs are not banks – you cannot get an overdraft, loan or earn any interest on savings through these services.

    They are not designed as a place to store or save money long-term, but rather a product to use alongside a traditional bank account.

    The advantage of these services is that they allow you to transfer, receive and spend in different currencies with either zero or much lower fees than traditional banks.

    Which money transfer option is the best for international students?

    Use the below table as a starting point to help you find a transfer service that might work for you. This is by no means a comprehensive list, so be sure to do your own research depending on your needs. You can also use to help narrow down your search.


    Which currencies do they support?

    How do I set up an account?

    What are the perks? 

    Wise multi-currency account



     Register and provide photo ID

    Receive money in EUR, GBP, AUD, NZD, RON, HUF and SGD at no cost and spend in any supported currency for free. You can get a card for this account, a UK account number, Euro IBAN and US routing number.



    Register and provide photo ID

    Send and receive money to and from more than 150 countries. Same-day transfers for most transactions.


    Register and provide photo ID

    Often has a fixed fee for transfers, for example $15 AUD for any transfer up to $10,000. Commonly used by international students in Australia.

    Western Union

    Register with photo ID and a valid email address

    Commonly used by students in the UK - there are more than  in the UK where you can transfer money in person. Regular refer-a-friend deals.


    Register with photo ID and a valid email address

    You can send money to over 130 countries. for transfers under £10,000.


    Register with photo ID and a valid email address

    You can send money to over 130 countries. Money usually available within minutes.


    Can be used by students to pay university fees in their home currency and offers a to help students with tuition payments


    Register with a valid phone number and email address

    Commonly used for sending money to and from the UK

    Important things to consider when choosing how to transfer your money:

    The amount you will be transferring and how often – if you’re planning on transferring often, you’ll want to look for the transfer service that will offer you the best deal over several transactions. If you’re planning on making a one-off transaction or a particularly large transaction, you may wish to look for any current deals that might best accommodate your needs.

    Do they support the currencies you’re using? while most transfer services will support most major currencies, be sure to check that the platform you are using supports the currencies in which you need to move money around. Equally, if you’re sending money abroad, you’ll need to check that the platform covers the destination you’re planning on sending money to or receiving money from.

    What protection will your money have?  be sure to check the credentials of any service you use before handing over any money, and only do so once you are confident of how your money will be protected. Various bodies in each country regulate financial services, such as the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in the United States, the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada and the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority. Also be sure to read lots of reviews and ask your university, friends and family for recommendations before choosing a service. 

    How long will it take to transfer your money? Most transfer services will take a couple of days to process your money, but the time will vary depending on the transaction, location and service you choose, so make sure you’re aware of the processing times when managing your finances.

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