• Transfer Money: By Wire or By Web?

    Transfer Money: By Wire or By Web?

    Wire transfers and online foreign exchange services offer two of the most efficient ways to transfer money electronically to anywhere in the world. But each brings a unique value to the foreign transaction process.

    Here is some key information that can help individuals decide how to wire money - whether it's best to use a wire transfer or online foreign exchange service to send money online.

    Wire Transfers

    Wire transfers are among the safest and most efficient means of conducting financial transactions, according to Annie Wang, a strategy analyst at TravelNerd, the travel division of NerdWallet, a financial planning website based in San Francisco.

    “With an online [foreign exchange] system, you have the ability to go online and execute a transaction in many currencies.”

    — Victor Hinojosa, director of North American partnerships at Western Union Business

    In the case of bank-to-bank, online wire transfers, a transaction can be completed almost instantly, and the balances in the sender and recipient's accounts are adjusted accordingly so no actual cash must be exchanged. "This is handy when traveling abroad if you need to pay the bills," Wang says.

    Online Foreign Exchange

    Online foreign exchange services are used to exchange currency and have it sent abroad via laptops, tablets or smartphones. "With an online [foreign exchange] system, you have the ability to go online and execute a transaction in many currencies," says Victor Hinojosa, director of North American partnerships, Western Union Business Solutions.

    "Online currency exchanges are helpful if you are in a foreign country with access to an electronic bank account and need more [of your money in the] foreign currency," Wang says. "You can take money from your electronic bank account and send it directly through the online currency exchange and request the exchanged money to be delivered to a specific location. You can also use an online currency exchange before you leave to exchange money for your destination," Wang says. This enables travelers to have emergency cash in the local currency before landing in a foreign country.

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    Online FX services may also offer more transparency around exchange rate information and transaction fees, says David Kuenzi, founder of Thun Financial, a financial advisory firm in Madison, Wis. "If it's a reputable exchange service they usually offer the best rates, and all the information should be right there for you to review," he says.

    Two Ways to Send Foreign Exchange Payments

    While traditional wire transfers don't typically include a conversion of funds to another currency, Western Union Business Solutions Online FX offers its clients the option to send money online via wire transfer or direct debit. When an Online FX transaction is booked and the wire transfer option is selected, it takes about one day to process the international payment and another one to two days to deliver the funds to the recipient's bank account.

    If an electronic funds transfer (EFT) option is selected, the initial process time is about three days and then funds are deposited into the recipient's bank account in about three to five days. While foreign exchange wire transfers are faster, an EFT is an excellent lower-cost option.

    Whether using wire transfer or online currency exchange, choose a provider carefully, Kuenzi says. "You want to be sure you are working with a reputable organization that will be honest about their rates and the services they provide."