I am going to tell you a story of a group of friends that are expatriates (meaning they do not live in their country of origin) who were used to waste money each month because they did not know anything about international money transfers. This is actually the true story of my friends.
Let me give you some context first: I am a young professional living in the USA. I moved to San Francisco exactly one year ago for my job. Some of my friends were already living here and obviously I got to make new ones. When you arrive in a foreign country you first get to meet expatriates from your home country. Even if I wanted to avoid that, there is a reassuring side to this that is undeniable: it is easier to start a conversation in your mother language, make jokes etc.
After a couple of weeks I started to wonder about international money transfers, indeed, I had to send money back to France to pay for my student loan each month. Instinctively, I asked my friends who had been living abroad for a long time if they had to do the same and how they were dealing with this. For some reason, I knew it would be harder than I thought.
The first answers I got from my friends were: “Simply use your bank!”, “Why do you even ask the question, just make a wire transfer between your US and French bank account”, “I’ve been doing this for years, it’s the most secure way to send money home” etc.
As I just said, I was somehow doubtful that this process would be so easy. Therefore, I started to do some research about international money transfers. I quickly found out how wrong my friends were about sending money internationally. I realised they actually never questioned the status quo. They went for the easiest solution: their banks (which turns out to be the most expensive one as well).
I quickly learned more about exchange rates and ways to optimise international money transfers by doing it at a good moment (when they are in your favour). I also found out about online money transfer services that are extremely cheap compared to banks!
So next time you have to make an international money transfer, make sure you do not listen to your friends who recommend to use your bank! And make sure to compare all the available solutions, just as you would do with airplane companies or hotels.