At WeTravel we process tens of thousands of international wire transfers monthly on behalf of our clients. Wire transfers are still the primary way our customers pay their partners and vendors.
Say you’re organizing a trip to the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal. You’ll need to pay for Hotels in Kathmandu, the Sherpas, the bus driver who’ll take you to base camp, the equipment rental, and so on. This could cost upwards of 8% per transfer and they take ages to arrive. Not to mention how annoying it is to fill in a bunch of information for each new partner every single time.
So, we thought we could do better. Read on to find out how we came up with a free and lightning-fast way to pay your partners and vendors.
Summary of international transfer methods:
International Transfers Take Ages
We all know how unpredictably long international wire transfers can take, but why? The trouble starts with the bank you initiate the transfer from. You need to gather the necessary information, then submit it to the bank in whatever way is acceptable and most convenient for you. If your bank offers international wire transfers online, this could be done in minutes. If it requires that you request the transfer in-person at a branch, well, that’s going to take a little longer.
How long it takes the bank to process and send out your transfer again depends on the bank and its specific policies. Generally, wire transfers will only be processed on business days if they are requested before the bank’s cut off time. Those cut off times vary but in general, they are sometime around 4 and 5 pm EST. If you missed this, then your request will only be processed the next day. Oh, and it better not be a weekend or a bank holiday. And this was the fastest part of the whole process.
But just because your bank processes an international wire doesn’t mean it will arrive at your international recipient’s bank account that same day. Many sites quote that an international wire should normally arrive within 1-5 business days. But there are many factors that can add time to your transfer.
One of these factors is fraud detection that any recipient bank is obliged to carry out. If there was a fraudulent transfer, there’s little hope that the funds can be recovered once a transfer is completed. That’s why wire transfers – both domestic and international – are done in a series of steps that are often purposefully slowed down. And that’s why, in part, once you send an international wire transfer, it can take up to 5 business days, or in some cases even longer, for the funds to be available in the recipient’s account.
After the funds arrive at the recipient’s bank, there can still be processing time that holds things up. This means it can take even longer for the transfer amount to actually appear as usable funds in the recipient’s bank account – even though the money’s already there.
When it comes to Western Union, PayPal and Transferwise, they are mostly faster than traditional banks. Western Union can take up to 8 business days to go through in some instances though. TransferWise is impressive at a maximum of 2 business days. And while PayPal takes only 30 minutes to transfer the money, this is only for transfers between two PayPal accounts.
International Transfers Are So Expensive
When it comes to sending money internationally, there are a couple of established options:
Probably the most expensive and on top of it the slowest process you can choose. Here is a list of international wire fees of top US banks. $50+ fees are not the exception but the norm. And this is just to initiate the transfer. Don’t forget about the cost the recipient is being charged by their bank. Imagine the annoyance a substantial fee on the part of the recipient’s bank puts on a blossoming new partnership.
The fees Western Union advertise vary depending on where you’re actually sending money. When you wire money from a credit or debit card to someone’s bank account, Western Union charges up to $10. And, unfortunately, some major banks in other countries aren’t actually supported – so keep that in mind. However, when you wire money from a credit or debit card to a Western Union branch location or mobile wallet, Western Union charges a stated fee of $5.
If speed is an issue for you, too, then you’ll probably want to skip sending transfers to a bank account with Western Union. Those transfers can take anywhere from 4-8 business days. On the flip side, when you make a transfer with a credit or debit card for cash pickup at a local branch, the transfer takes mere minutes.
The international transfer fees you’ll be charged by PayPal depend on where you’re sending money to – and how you fund the transfer. It’s free to send money within the US and Canada to friends and family, but if you want to send cash to another country using either your PayPal balance or a linked bank account, it’ll cost you between 0.3%-2%¹ of the transaction amount.
If you choose to fund your transfer using a credit card, debit card, or PayPal credit, then you’ll pay even more. The fees in this case range from 3.4%-3.9%¹ of the total transaction amount, plus a small fixed fee which depends on the currency involved. And PayPal gives you a far worse currency exchange rate than the one you find on Google. At the end of the whole process, it is not unusual to end up with 4-6% less than how much you sent.
TransferWise came on the scene in 2011 to disrupt this messy situation by offering faster transfers with more transparency and most importantly with lower prices. And while it’s probably the best of these 3 options, it is still not ideal.
While a EUR to EUR transfer costs as little as €0.7, a more typical USD to foreign currency international transfer with TransferWise can cost up to 5% of the amount you’re sending. And while much faster than using your bank to transfer money, in some cases even they can take up to 2 business days to transfer the money.
Introducing WeTravel Vendor Transfers
To give our customers a better way we created Vendor Transfers. With Vendor Transfers you can transfer funds in all our supported currencies securely to another WeTravel user for free and within seconds.
How Can We Do This?
Since the money stays within WeTravel, we can make the transfer within a couple of seconds. Vendor Transfers can be sent to WeTravel accounts that are fully verified, which means our Verifications Team already conducted the necessary security checks, thus we don’t need to perform checks that would slow down your transfer. Since our system is the one carrying out the transfer without manual effort, we can perform transfers at any time of the year. Be it Christmas, Chinese New Year, or a simple weekend, our system is at your service and processing your transfers without delay.
As of now, we allow Vendor Transfers to and from the currency of the originating balance. So if you’re sending USD, your partner will also get USD. Once they pay the money out to their own account, they have the option to convert it using the rates of their chosen bank.
What If My Partners Are Not Using WeTravel?
You can easily invite your partners to sign up to WeTravel. It is free and only takes a couple of minutes. Once they have been verified by our Verifications Team, they can send and receive Vendor Transfers using WeTravel.
So that’s Vendor Transfers in WeTravel. No hidden fees, no artificial delays, no holidays. Just free and secure money transfer within seconds to your partner’s WeTravel account.