International money transfers can be complicated, and one can spend hours searching for the best and cheapest way. Germany and the US have very different banking systems. Hence, you need to weigh out various transfer options to find the best solution.
You can send money from Germany to the USA by using:
- Western Union
- Wire transfer
Sending money from one part of the world to another isn’t an easy task. There are plenty of options for international transfers, so it’s easy to get lost. In this article, we show you the best ways to send money from Germany to the US, which are available on the market. Besides the options mentioned above, you can make an international transfer at a cheap rate on World Remit.
The best way to transfer money from Germany to the US
The German banking system functions differently than banks in the United States. International money transfers between those countries are more complex. Besides, sending cash with a traditional bank wire is never a good idea.
Generally, there are three main ways to send money from Germany to the US that include remittance services like Western Union, PayPal, and forex transfer companies. The latter are non-bank foreign exchange companies, also known as forex brokers.
They offer currency exchange and international transactions to private individuals and companies.
The last option is your home bank. Even if you do a transfer with a credit card, banks take a percentage in commission and offer bad exchange rates.
The best way to transfer funds from Germany to the US depends on several factors. But certain options are suitable for most types of transfers.
For instance, if you need to make the transfer in a short period of time, Western Union or MoneyGram are the best options. The receiver will get money in a matter of seconds.
PayPal might take several days to remit money from the PayPal account of the receiver to the bank account (if you choose this option).
And if you allow a few days to complete the transaction, you should choose a forex transfer company. They offer the most inexpensive way to send money overseas.
Yet, with Wise, you can send money in a short period of time and with the lowest fees.
Lastly, all options have their advantages and disadvantages.
The best option to send your money from Germany to the US is by using the company Wise (former Transferwise). You can do transfers to most countries in the world without losing on commission.
Currently, the service is available in 59 countries, and they always add new currencies.
It’s one of the best services regarding ease of use and conversion rates. Besides, the first transaction, up to $600, is free.
This way, Wise is by far the less expensive and fair transfer company. Fees can be as low as $4 per transfer. However, if you send and receive money in the same currency, PayPal is also easy and affordable.
Wise offers services for private clients, businesses, and freelancers – all for the best exchange rates and a small commission.
The process of sending money via Wise is quite simple: you choose the currency/country, the amount, then add your data (from where money should be deducted) such as debit/credit card or bank account, add finally, the bank account of the receiver. The amount will be transferred automatically from your bank.
Before the transaction, Wise shows the estimated date when the money arrives. Usually, it takes between 1 – 3 days to receive money in the US. But it depends on your and the receiver’s bank; sometimes, the process takes only a few hours.
While processing the transaction, you can also see the current and guaranteed exchange rate.
This way, Wise predicts an exchange rate on the arrival date. You can be sure they provide the best rate on the market.
Services of Wise don’t have any hidden costs. They provide complete transparency for customers. The company also guarantees that your bank or the receiver’s bank doesn’t charge an additional commission.
Wise always shows costs upfront, no hidden fees, no bad exchange rates, and no surprises.
In fact, some companies in this industry have terrible exchange rates even when they don’t charge a commission. For example, you can lose quite a lot of money while using the services of Western Union or MoneyGram.
PayPal has been around for about 20 years. It’s the largest international remittance company in the world.
While living in Germany, you probably have used PayPal at least once. They allow customers to transfer money from a PayPal account or a preferable credit card/bank account.
People across the world use it to transfer money to their friends and family. PayPal also has a version for businesses. However, if you send or receive money in a different currency, you will lose on the exchange rate. Plus, they often charge a commission on top of that.
To send money, you need either your friend’s email address, phone number, or PayPal username. Recipients will receive money on their PayPal account almost immediately.
For international transfers, PayPal’s fees depend on the transaction type, the amount, and whether the transfer requires currency conversion.
Furthermore, PayPal’s exchange rate for transfers includes a 2,5% to 4,5% margin subtracted from the interbank rate, depending on the receiving currency.
If you send money in the same currency, it’s the best option out there. It’s free to transfer money to friends or family through PayPal accounts, as long as no currency conversion is required.
PayPal is a good choice if:
- You send money in the same country (not across international borders).
- It’s not a cross-currency transfer.
- Both you and the recipient have a PayPal account.
- You can fund your account via direct debit from your bank account.
PayPal is not a good choice if:
- You transfer money internationally.
- You are sending money in a different currency than the receiver’s account.
- In these cases, the costs can add up very quickly and will often be between 3% and 7% of the amount you transfer.
Western Union is the biggest provider of remittance services. They have over 550,000 offices across 200 countries.
Today, almost every country in the world has at least one Western Union office where you can send and receive cash.
For their services, you don’t need to have a bank account. A transfer is made in cash and requires only your passport and the receiver’s name.
In general, the transaction can be done in two ways: the first is offline in the Western Union office. Almost every town in Germany has one, and some banks accept WU payments as well.
To send money, you only need to give cash to the agent together with the name of the recipient.
After the transaction, you will receive a unique number, which will need to be shared with the person in the destination country.
The recipient can pick up cash at the nearest Western Union department. Usually, it takes just a few minutes for the money to be sent and can be collected.
The second transfer option is online. In the last years, Western Union started to operate more online, allowing you to transfer money from your bank account to another country.
However, for this method only, you must have a bank account. For the receiver, it’s optional. They can get the amount in cash and transfer it to their bank.
Money will be automatically converted to the local currency. It’s a good option when you need to send money within short notice.
Nevertheless, remittance services such as Western Union or MoneyGram have unfavorable exchange rates and transaction fees. You will pay a significant amount for their convenience and speed.
Let’s calculate how much it will cost to send money from Germany to the US via Western Union. Sending 500 EUR will cost you 515 EUR (15 EUR or $16,21 is commission), and the receiver gets only $511.
The exchange rate says that 500 EUR must be at least $540,25. Therefore, you pay around $45 for their bad exchange rate and commission. As you can see, Western Union can be quite expensive and unfair.
This type of transaction is only suitable when the receiver doesn’t have a bank account and if you send less than $1,000.
MoneyGram is the second-largest money transfer company after Western Union. It enables customers to send and receive cash at over 350,000 agent locations across 200 countries and territories.
This company works in the same way that Western Union. Money can be transferred in cash or through the bank.
In general, MoneyGram’s user experience is worse than with Western Union’s. However, I have received and sent money with both of these services and haven’t noticed the difference.
So, what will it cost you? When sending 500 EUR from Germany to the US via MoneyGram, you will pay $28 in transfer fees, and the receiver will get $516. Today’s average exchange rate must be at least $540,25.
Therefore, you pay $52 to MoneyGram in commissions and exchange rate. Consequently, MoneyGram is more expensive than Western Union.
Last but not least, you should not use a direct bank-to-bank transfer (bank wire) for international transfers in Germany.
From personal experience, the rates are poor, and you won’t get anywhere close to what remittance companies provide. Wise is truly the best money transfer service between countries with differences in currency.