The Best Ways to Send Money Abroad for Canadians

Sending money abroad from Canada has gotten much faster. Instead of dealing with lengthy processing times, Canadians can send money to an international recipient in a matter of minutes. But what are some of the options available? In this guide we will look at some of the best ways Canadians can send money abroad. We will list of the pros and cons of each method plus answer some frequently asked questions. So, let’s start by looking at some of the things you should know/do before you start.

Our picks

Things you should know before sending money abroad

Fees: Often times you will be charged a fee for transferring money abroad. The fee percentage will depend on the method you use and the organization you go with. Fees also depend on how much money you send. Some business or financial institutions offer lower fees when you transfer large amounts of money (more than $50,000). Some organizations will charge zero fees but other charges may apply. For example, CIBC Foreign Exchange has zero fees, but exchange rates still apply. The best thing to do is shop around and compare fees.

Exchange rate

An exchange rate is the rate that one currency is exchanged for another. Some organizations will make money off the exchange rate when they send your money abroad. Additionally, changes in the exchange rate can affect how much money your recipient receives. Therefore, you should factor this in before transferring money internationally. A good resource to use is a currency converter. This tool will show you conversion rates for a number of currencies, including cryptocurrency. Click here to see the exchange rates for various currencies.

Processing time

This can vary greatly. Some methods are faster than other. On method could take a few minutes, while another could take 1-5 business days. There are several factors that impact processing times. For example, banking hours can affect how quickly your money is sent. If you send the money during non-banking hours, then it will take longer to process. Also keep in mind that faster transfer methods can cost more money. Like with fees, your best solution is to compare different transfer methods to see their processing times.

Availability

While a transfer service may be available in Canada, that does not mean it is available in the country of you recipient. Double check to see if the method is available in your recipient’s country. We also recommend you use methods that are accepted worldwide.

The best transfer methods

Wise

Wise is arguably the best way for Canadians to send money abroad. The company’s goal is to make international money transfers quick and easy with a low cost. And you could say that Wise has achieved this goal.

There are two fees charged by Wise. The first is charged to your payment option. The second is the general fee charged by wise. The amount for each depends on the amount of money you are sending and the currency you are converting to. Generally speaking, the total amount of fees are low. For example, Sending $100 CAD to a person in the United Kingdom has $1.58 CAD in total fees. If you have any questions about Wise’s fees, the amounts are displayed when you go to make a transfer.

Wise has five payment options:

  • Direct debit
  • Debit Card
  • Credit Card
  • Domestic wire transfer
  • Bill payment

As mentioned earlier, each option has their own fees. Each payment option also affects the processing time for your transfer. Another factor that affects processing times is the currency that is being converted. Using the previous example, $100 CAD should arrive to the United Kingdom in 1 business day. Some transfers to developing countries can take 2 business days. As with their fees, Wise will display the amount the recipient gets along with the date the money should arrive.

A major positive about Wise is their transparency. The company lists all the important details about your transfer: fees, total amount send, and processing time. Wise also compares the pricing with its competitors. Sometimes, Wise will be in second or third place compared to other companies. This openness helps you find the best option for your global transfer. It will help you save money as well. The low fees are another positive to Wise. Lastly, the Wise website is easy to use; it simplifies the process of sending money abroad. One drawback to Wise is that processing times are not the greatest. Ideally you would want your money send in a few hours or minutes. But most Wise transfers take 1-2 business days. Another drawback is that Wise’s phone support has limited hours. You can only contact the support team on weekdays during regular business hours. This would not be ideal for someone who experiences and issue during the weekend. But even with these issues, Wise is still our pick for the best way for Canadians to send money abroad.

Pros
  • Low fees.
  • Transparent about prices, processing times, and how they compare to competitors.
  • Website is easy to use.
Cons
  • Processing times can be long.
  • Can only contact phone support Monday-Friday during business hours.

Xoom

A close second behind Wise is Xoom. The service is actually part of the company PayPal. While PayPal is mostly used to buy products, Xoom allows users to send or receive money internationally. The service supports over 130 countries, and the nice thing is that the recipient does not need their own PayPal/Xoom account to receive money. You can send money directly to the person’s bank account, to a cash pickup location, or have the money send to their home. You can use either your PayPal balance, bank account or debit/credit card for your money transfer. There are minimum and maximum amounts your allowed to make for your transfer. The figure will be displayed as you enter in your information. Fees depend on the payment option you use and the delivery method. The following photo shows the fees for sending $200 CAD to Germany.

The time it takes Xoom to send your money depends on four things:

  • Payment option used
  • Amount sent
  • Country money was sent to
  • Any reviews by regulatory bodies

Therefore, your transfer could take minutes or several days to complete.

Just like Wise, Xoom is easy to use. All the information about your transfer is easily accessible, and the entire process only takes a few minutes to complete. Another positive is the fact that the recipient does not need their own account to receive money. This adds greater flexibility for both parties, sender and receiver. The one drawback to Xoom is that fee can be for card payments. For example, sending $1000 CAD to Germany has a fee of $21.49 CAD for debit/credit card.

Pros
  • Recipient does not need an account to receive money.
  • Easy to use.
Cons
  • Fees for card payments can be high.

Western Union has been around for a long time. Founded in 1851, Western Union pioneered advancements in the telegraphy industry. Probably their most well known advancement was the money wire transfer. Money transfers has now become the main service provided by Western Union.

You can either send money abroad digitally using Western Union’s website or app, or you can go to one of the many Western Union locations. About 200 countries are supported by Western Union. You can send money using your credit/debit card, bank account, or with cash (this for in-person transfers only). The receiver can either have the money send to their bank account, or they can pick it up themselves at a cash-pickup location. The minimum amount for a transfer is $1.00 CAD. The maximum amount you can send in one transfer is $7,500. Several factors affect processing times, fees, and rates. The following photo shows the fees, rates, and processing times for sending 100 CAD to the U.S.

As you can see, credit/debit card and cash in-store are both completed in minutes, but they have fees of $6.00 and $7.00 CAD. Bank account transfers have a lower fee ($5.00 CAD), but it takes 7-10 business days to complete. These figures would change if you changed the amount of money being sent and the location it was going to.

If you want fast transaction times, Western Union is a good option for sending money abroad. However, bank account transactions take longer than the other payment methods. It would be nice if each method had similar transfer times. Since Western Union’s minimum deposit limit is low, you are able to send small amounts of money. This useful if you only need to send a small amount of cash to someone internationally. Western Union’s fees are also high. Sending $100 CAD to Hong Kong has a fee between $5.00-$7.00 CAD. Compared to the other services on our guide, this figure is much higher.

Pros
  • Credit/debit card and cash transfers completed in minutes.
  • Minimum deposit amount is low.
Cons
  • Bank account transfer usually take 7-10 business days.
  • Fees are high.

Canadian banks

The traditional way to send money abroad is through a bank account. Many Canadian banks have their own global money transfer service. All differ in terms of fees, minimum/maximum limits, processing times, and other details. Generally speaking, banks will offer attractive rates and competitive fees. These figures will depend on the account you use, the amount being sent, and the location the money is going to. Sometimes you will nee a premium account to send money abroad with your bank. Premium accounts can also give you lower fees. Some foreign banks operate in Canada. They will give you better rates, lower fees, and other benefits.

The following chart lists the details for international money transfers for the major Canadian banks:

Banks

Countries supported

Minimum/maximum amounts

Fees

Payment options

Processing times

BMO

Up to 50 countries

Min: $100 CAD

Max: depends on daily debit card limit

Flat fee of $5

Through personal chequing and saving accounts. For U.S. transfers, U.S. personal chequing or savings accounts

2-5 business days

CIBC

Over 50

Min:$100 CAD

Max:$30,000 CAD

$0. Foreign exchange rates apply

Chequing and savings account, eligible credit card, or personal line of credit.

1-3 business days

HSBC

Over 30

Unable to find

Unable to find

HSBC Premier and HSBC Advance customers through online banking

Unable to find

National Bank

21 countries

Min:$10 CAD

Max:$10000 CAD per day

$70,000 per week

$125,000 per month

$5.95 CAD per transaction. Exchange rate calculated at time of transaction

Online banking account via Mastercard and Interac e-Transfer.

24-48 hours. Maximum of up to 5 business days

RBC

More than 200

Min: Not stated on webpage

Max: $2,500 CAD

$6 for transfer $1,000 or less. $10 for transfer over $1,000

RBC chequing or savings account

2-5 business days

Scotiabank

Around 20

Min: $100

Max: Not stated on webpage

$1.99. Fees can vary depending on country.

Exchange rates apply

Scotiabank online bank account

1-5 business days

TD

Over 200

Depends on sending method you use.  Has daily, weekly, and monthly limits. Select “What are my sending limits” for more information.

$0. Fees charged by Western Union Money Transfer

TD Global Transfer

Uses Western Union money Transfer, Visa Direct, TD International Bank Transfer

Fasted time= 2-4 hours. Longest time= 1-5 business days.

Sending money abroad with a bank is seen as being more secure than other methods. And it is true that banks have security measures in place to protect your funds. For example, you and your recipient will have to provide information like name, address, bank account number, and a government ID to complete the transfer. You can also get lower fees and rates based on the account you use to send money abroad. The downside to this method is that processing times can take long. On average, your bank will send the money in 1-5 business days.

Pros
  • Has several security measures to protect your funds.
  • Depending on your account, you can pay lower fees and rates
Cons
  • Transfer times tend to take longer, usually several business days.

Our methodology

For this guide, we spent over eight hours researching different ways people can send money internationally. We tried to select methods that had a balance of low fees/rates and fast transaction times. Our team also selected options that were easy to use. We also consulted various sources for more information about sending money abroad.

Frequently asked questions about sending money abroad

What is the fastest way to send money abroad?

Based on our research, Western Union is the fastest way to send money abroad. Most of their transaction are delivered within minutes. However, their bank account option will take several business days to deliver.

What is the safest way to send money internationally?

Each method listed in this guide has safety measures in place to protect your international money transfer. All require you to provide your name (as well as your recipient’s), address, bank account number, a government ID, and other personal information. The reason why your payment provider asks for this information is to reduce instances of fraud or theft. Sending money abroad with your bank is often regarded as the safest method. But in reality, each method should keep your transfer secure.

What is the cheapest way to send money abroad?

The cheapest method of sending money internationally is money transfer services like PayPal, Wise, and WorldRemit. With these services, you will find lower rates and fees for your international money transfer.

Do you get taxed for sending money abroad?

As long as you declare the money you send abroad to the CRA or FINTRAC, you will not be taxed on it. If you do not declare the money, your service provider will report the amount to the CRA. You will then face either a tax bill, financial penalty, or legal proceedings.

Still, this question is complex, and the answer can vary depending on an individual’s situation. We recommend you contact the CRA to see what the rules are regarding taxes and international money transfers.

How much money can you transfer without being reported?

Any amount that is $10,000 or more must be reported to the CRA. Your payment provider will make the necessary reports for you. Any amount under $10,000 does not need to be reported. That is why most payment providers have maximum limits under $10,000 for international money transfers.

Sources Used

Government of Canada: Sending money to someone in another country.

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Updated date

July 8th, 2022

About the author

Nicholas Mah

Nick Mah is a writer who enjoys writing about music, movies, sports, and cooking related topics. He also enjoys reading and writing about history. In his spare time, he enjoys watching movies, reading a good book, going for long bike rides, listening to music, or playing his guitar.
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