Accepting international payments for your goods and services if you’re an online seller or a small business can be costly, so looking at alternative payment options are essential. Also, sticking with one online payment option can put your cashflow at risk should anything unexpected happen to your funds coming in.

Even if you’re receiving money for personal reasons, extra charges for receiving international payments and hefty exchange rates can make transactions more expensive and means less money in your pocket.

If you haven’t already started looking around for a low-fee payment provider to help you with your incoming transactions, here is a guide showing you 5 of the best payment options:

 

1. PayPal

Paypal, Best Low-Fee Ways to Accept International Payments

Using PayPal is one of the most popular and easiest ways for your clients to pay you for your goods and services overseas, but it is not necessarily the best option.

Why, you ask?

  • PayPal is actually expensive. Although they have no set-up fees, they provide terrible exchange rates, a fixed fee and a $25 monthly fee for online payments for small business owners. Bad exchange rates and additional transaction fees can add to the overall cost of transferring money to you, meaning you’ll have less money in your pocket. Potentially these extra unknown costs can also create confusion over the final amount you should charge your client for your goods and services.
  • Not all clients will be willing or able to make PayPal payments. They might be located in an area that PayPal does not accepts payments from, or they might have unsupportive accounting systems. Or perhaps the client just wants a more suitable platform to make their payments from after having a negative experience.
  • PayPal is known to frequently freeze accounts and has notoriously poor customer service. This means you won’t be able to receive payments or access your funds until they unblock you. Uncertainty from a lack of cashflow can be risky for your business

 

The Currency Shop Says:

If you are receiving payment from someone for smaller amounts (under $1000) Paypal is generally cheaper than using a bank. This is because they don’t charge a bank transfer fee, which can range between $18 and $32. However, for big-ticket payments, the fees for PayPal can certainly chip away at your profits.
We think you can do better with some of the other international payment providers, especially on those larger transactions. If you want to stick with PayPal, read our PayPal Review for more information.

 

2. Online Payment Gateways (like PayPal)

Online Payment Gateways, Best Low-Fee Ways to Accept International Payments

PayPal has some serious competition. Other online payment gateways are just as transparent, easy to use and provide extremely quick access to funds. But more importantly these payment gateways can be less expensive than PayPal and certainly cheaper than banks for smaller transaction amounts. This is because  fees are commonly percentage-based plus a small transaction cost, combined with NO exchange rate or conversion fees.

Apart from fees, it’s important to check out their technology and other supported features. Most payment gateways allow integration with third-party services and apps, and provide multiple payment options. This includes credit or debit cards, various currencies and even Bitcoin. In addition, they feature subscription services, point of sale support and recurring billing services. These features are key to understand if you're deciding between online payment gateways.

For starters, here are the top 5 most popular online payment gateways and receiving fees:

  • Stripe. Flat fee of 2.9% for every transaction, plus 30c per transaction. Also accepts international cards with a 1% conversion fee applied.
  • Google Pay. A simple and free way to accept payments. No fees
  • Amazon Payments. Domestic: Flat fee of 2.9% plus 30c per transaction; International: Flat fee of 3.9% plus 30c per transaction; Authorization Fee: 30c
  • Shopify Payments. No transaction fees if you have Shopify Payments enabled. However, credit card rates apply depending on your Shopify plan (Basic, Premium and Advanced). Basic is 1.75% + 30c for Australian Cards and 2.9% plus 30c for International/AMEX per transaction
  • Payoneer. Free from another Payoneer customer; International, virtual bank accounts is free for many currencies and 1% fee for US dollars; Receiving payments via credit or debit card fee is 3%
  • Braintree (subsidiary of Paypal). 1.75% + 30c per transaction; 3.9% + 30c per transaction for currency other than AUD

 

The Currency Shop Says:

With fees usually percentage-based plus small additional transaction costs, using online payment gateways like Stripe are good for receiving payments from international clients for smaller amounts (under $1000). However, they may charge additional fees for the use of credit and debit cards or for international transactions, which can make pricing your product or service a bit tricky.

Before you go ahead with an online payment gateway, we think you might benefit from cheaper deals for bigger transactions with some of the other options listed below.

Related: PayPal, Stripe, Shopify, Pin Payments, Eway, and securePay Compared and Reviewed

 

3. A Borderless Account

Peer-2-Peer Transfers, Best Low-Fee Ways to Accept International Payments

Using an account like the TransferWise’s Borderless account, allows you to hold funds and make payments in multiple currencies without the need to open multiple bank accounts overseas. It’s basically an online bank account giving you the ability to receive local currencies and have a “local” presence in the US, UK, Eurozone and Australia – which means better exchange rates, faster transactions and generally more convenience.

The key advantages of using an account such as The Borderless Account are:

  • TransferWise is a regulated, reputable, and reliable money transfer and currency exchange provider.
  • They make opening an account with multiple currencies very quick and easy.
  • The Borderless Debit Card is available in the UK and Europe, and hopefully soon in Australia and the US.
  • TransferWise offers competitive exchange rates. TransferWise give you the interbank, or the “real” exchange rate for all conversions and transfers.
  • You can receive payments from clients from anywhere in the world and in different currencies.
  • There are no setup fees or monthly charges and no charges to receive payments.
  • You can receive payments into your bank account within 2-3 days of being paid.

However, there are still some disadvantages including:

  • TransferWise’s coverage for currencies and countries is limited when it comes to the Borderless Account. But this will most likely change as the product evolves.
  • In addition, there are some limits on the amount of money you can receive into your Borderless Account.
  • The Debit Card is not yet available in Australia or the USA.

 

 

The Currency Shop Says:

The Borderless Account is an excellent product if you want a fast, simple and low cost way to send and receive money. However, it is only really necessary if you’re making frequent payments in the US, UK, Eurozone or Australia, it’s not something you’ll need if you’re making a one off payment. This innovative tool will only improve as it is introduced to more countries and currencies. Read our full review for more information or you can go straight to the Borderless web.

 

4. A Bank Transfer Minus the Bank

Bank Transfer Minus the Bank, Best Low-Fee Ways to Accept International Payments

A bank transfer allows you to send money from your domestic account to another bank account overseas. There are international companies that specialise in doing exactly the same thing, except with much lower fees and better exchange rates and are commonly known as ‘non-banks’. Some examples include World First, TorFX , OFX and Western Union.

The advantages of using a non-bank for receiving your international money transfers include:

  • Very quick set-up backed up with excellent service over the phone
  • Better exchange rates than traditional banks
  • Low fees (often free when you transfer over large amounts)
  • 24-hour customer service

But there are still some disadvantages including:

  • Sometimes no transfers under prescribed minimum amounts
  • No credit cards, cheques or cash are accepted in a lot of cases
  • They do not offer foreign currency accounts

 

The Currency Shop Says:

If you are receiving more than $1000, ‘non-bank’ money transfer companies are cheaper because their fees are lower and their exchange rates are more competitive. Transfer fees vary between $10-$15 for small amounts. Most companies offer fee free transfers for amounts over $10,000.

 

5. Bitcoin

Bitcoin, Best Low-Fee Ways to Accept International Payments

You can use Bitcoin as a method to receive payments from customers, but be aware that it can be quite complicated to set up – particularly if you are not familiar with using digital currencies. You’ll have to create a Bitcoin wallet that you and your client agree on, like Coinjar. Only then will you be able to receive the Bitcoins, and be able to convert it into your local currency. Another critical problem with Bitcoin is timing – you’re likely to be at greater risk to exchange rate moves and may get less money at the end of the transaction.

 

The Currency Shop Says:

Bitcoin transactions costs are much lower, because you don’t have to go through any banks to send the funds. The exchange rates are better than a bank, but you add some exchange rate risk because you are converting currency twice overall instead of once.

 


 

How to Find the Best Way to Receive Money From Overseas

The total cost of the transfer comes down to 2 things:

Money transfer fees

1. Transfer Fees

Every Australian bank and money transfer company will charge you a different fee to send money overseas. Usually it’s between $10 and $32.

Exchange rate margin fees

2. Exchange Rate Margin

There is no “standard” exchange rate. Each bank will offer you a different exchange rate based on the currency you want to send overseas and the amount you need to send.

Provider Exchange
Rate
Transfer
Fee
Transfer
Time
Total (AUD) Rates last updated August 15 2018
XERead Review 0.7188 $0.00 2-3 Days $13,911.63Lowest Cost Option Go to site Read Review
So, sending USD 10,000 to United States at an exchange rate of 0.7188 will cost you $13,911.63 with no fees.

About XE

XE is a well known and trusted name in the money transfer industry. With over twenty years experience, they now help 33,000 people and 2,000 businesses make transfers each year. Over 60 currencies can be transferred with XE and they pride themselves on the free tools and transparent rates they offer. Click here to read the full review

Pros

  • Well known and trusted brand.
  • Very informative website. Extensive information on currency and money transfers.
  • XE App is available on both iOS and Android. It allows you to see the interbank rate for over 100 currencies.
  • XE themselves charge no fees for international money transfers.
  • Offers support for both individuals and businesses when it comes to international money transfers.

Cons

  • Cannot pay via cash or cheque. Must pay via bank transfer, BPay is also accepted in Australia.
  • Maximum transfer amount is $500,000USD.
  • While XE compares more than 100 currencies, there are only 60 that are available for money transfers.

TransferwiseRead Review 0.7220 $63.83 1-2 Days $13,914.25$2.62 more expensive Go to site Read Review
So, sending USD 10,000 to United States at an exchange rate of 0.7220 will cost you $13,914.25 which includes a fee of $63.83

About TransferWise

Transparency and an easy online experience are the 2 things that set TransferWise apart from the banks and other money transfer companies. If you prefer to bank online, you'll like TransferWise. Setting up an account and making a transfer is very easy. They are also very clear on the exchange rate and fees you'll pay before you make a transfer. Click here for the full review

Pros

  • Clear and transparent exchange rates fees
  • The online experience is first class
  • Like the banks, they are regulated by ASIC and registered with AFSL
  • Constantly bringing out new innovative products

Cons

  • There are currently a number of global currencies they do not currently support
  • Limited support based in Australia
  • Percentage based fee can add up on very large transfers

WorldFirstRead Review 0.7177 $0.00 2-3 Days $13,934.02$22.39 more expensive Go to site Read Review
So, sending USD 10,000 to United States at an exchange rate of 0.7177 will cost you $13,934.02 with no fees.

About World First

World First was founded in 2004 in the UK and has grown rapidly with offices now in the U.S., Canada and throughout Asia. They consistently receive strong customer reviews and in a recent study, 98% of their clients said they would use them again.World First have a strong online offering, particular for businesses selling online. They do provide local support as well with offices in Sydney. Click here to read the full review

Pros

  • Low fees and great exchange rates
  • Safe and secure transfers
  • Regulated by ASIC and registered with AFSL
  • Great for personal and business payments

Cons

  • Does not accept BPAY, credit card, cheque or cash
  • Limited currencies available

TorFXRead Review 0.7177 $0.00 2-3 Days $13,934.02$22.39 more expensive Go to site Read Review
So, sending USD 10,000 to United States at an exchange rate of 0.7177 will cost you $13,934.02 with no fees.

About TorFX

TorFX are particularly good taking care of customers over the phone but using their website isn't the easiest to use. They don't charge a flat fee which is great but it's important to consider their exchange rates. While, they don't offer fantastic rates for small amounts under $2000 , TorFX offer exceptionally good exchange rates for larger transfers to the UK, New Zealand, South Africa and Europe.

Pros

  • No transfer fees
  • Highly competitive exchange rates
  • Secure transfers with authorised
  • Assigned account manager
  • 24 / 7 Assistance
  • Available range of transfer options

Cons

  • Limited exotic currencies available
  • Exchange rates on small transfers aren't great
  • Website experience could be better

HIFXRead Review 0.7177 $0.00 2-3 Days $13,934.02$22.39 more expensive Go to site Read Review
So, sending USD 10,000 to United States at an exchange rate of 0.7177 will cost you $13,934.02 with no fees.

About HiFX

HiFX are one of the biggest money transfer companies in the world. Their parent company Euronet is listed on the NASDAQ and recently acquired Xe.com. They are particularly useful for individuals doing regular transfers overseas. HiFX provide competitive exchange rates no matter how much is being transacted. Their $50 minimum transaction size and flat fee makes them a great option for any international payment. Locally, HiFX have Australian offices in Sydney, Melbourne and are expanding to the remaining capital cities. Click here to read the full review

Pros

  • Fantastic bank - beating exchange rates
  • Low fees for transactions less than $10, 000
  • No fees for transactions of $10, 000 or more
  • High security transfers regulated by ASIC and FMA
  • Fast and easy for personal or business accounts

Cons

  • Only electronic bank transfers accepted
  • Limited exotic currencies
OFXRead Review 0.7122 $0.00 1-3 Days $14,041.00$129.37 more expensive Go to site Read Review
So, sending USD 10,000 to United States at an exchange rate of 0.7122 will cost you $14,041.00 with no fees.

About OFX

OFX (formally known as Ozforex) is the largest Australian owned money transfer company. It launched in 1998 and grew rapidly until finally listing on the Australian Stock Exchange in 2013. OFX excels in 2 areas – Online experience and customer service. The company was born online and continues to develop easy, intuitive products. While OFX customers do most of their transactions online, they are backed up with exceptional customer service.

Pros

  • Better exchange rates compared to banks
  • Highly safe and secure transfers
  • 1 - 2 days delivery times for most countries
  • Quick response time
  • Fantastic customer service

Cons

  • Credit cards, cheques and cash are not accepted
  • Transfers to Thailand can take up to 4 days
  • Fees for transfers smaller transfers

ANZRead Review 0.7108 $0.00 1-2 Days $14,068.66$157.03 more expensive Go to site Read Review
So, sending USD 10,000 to United States at an exchange rate of 0.7108 will cost you $14,068.66 with no fees.
ANZ International Money Transfer is a secure and fast way to transfer money overseas.

Pros:

  • Fast transfers
  • Safe and secure
  • No fee for transfers under $10 000 via Internet banking

Cons

  • $12 fee for transfers under $10 000 via Internet banking
  • Poor exchange rates
  • 24 hour hotline not available

Commonwealth BankRead Review 0.6977 $12.00 1-2 Days $14,344.81$433.18 more expensive Go to site Read Review
So, sending USD 10,000 to United States at an exchange rate of 0.6977 will cost you $14,344.81 which includes a fee of $12.00
Commonwealth Bank provides secure and easy transfers to over 200 countries and more than 30 currencies.

Pros:

  • Fast transfers+ Easy transfers
  • Security guarantee covers any losses from unauthorised transactions

Cons

  • $6 fee for transfers under $1000 via Internet banking
  • $12 fee for transfers under $1000 via Internet banking
  • Poor exchange rates

WestpacRead Review 0.6972 $10.00 1-2 Days $14,353.09$441.46 more expensive Go to site Read Review
So, sending USD 10,000 to United States at an exchange rate of 0.6972 will cost you $14,353.09 which includes a fee of $10.00
Westpac is one of the big four banks in Australia offers speedy and secure transfers.

Pros:

  • Fast payment processing times
  • Secure transfers

Cons

  • Must be Westpac account holder
  • $20 fee for transfers via Internet or phone banking
  • $32 fee for transfers at an ANZ branch
  • Poor exchange rates

 

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