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What is the best way, and when is the finest moment to send money from the US to Europe?

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Do you work in the US and want to send money to your relatives? Perhaps you live there permanently and intend to surprise your loved ones by sending some dollars? How to approach this to pay as little as possible? When is the best time to send money, and what else should we look for?

Traditional bank transfers from the USA to Europe

A traditional bank transfer is the first thing that springs to mind for those wishing to send funds from the US to Europe. After all, it can be ordered at any time at your bank or once logged into online banking simply by entering the account number and recipient details.

Of course, the funds sent will eventually reach the recipient, but this way of transferring money can be subject to several variables. First of all, it is not known precisely how long such a transfer will take, and the processing time depends on the banks. It usually ranges from 3 to even 14 days. So if time is of the essence, this will not be the best choice unless you opt for an express transfer. However, you have to pay a lot for it – often several times more.

Another issue is fees. Bank transfers from the US to Europe are carried out using the SWIFT system, an international telecommunications network including the world’s largest banks. 

When ordering a SWIFT transfer, we may not know exactly how much it will cost. It is because it depends on many factors, such as:

  • the bank fees from which you order the transfer, the end bank and even the intermediary banks in the transaction;
  • currency conversion fees;
  • the exchange rate (which can sometimes be several dozen pennies less favourable than the market rate or the rate offered by online exchange offices).

In extreme cases, the cost of a SWIFT transfer can be over 10% of the value of the entire transaction. Another issue is currency conversion at an unfavourable exchange rate.

Money transfers from the USA – traditional and online

Money transfers are another common way to send money from the US to Europe, although not necessarily the cheapest. Ordering them is not complicated and is often done simply by logging on to the service provider’s website and entering the recipient’s details or by going to a land-based branch.

In turn, the person receiving the money can collect it at one of the points of choice upon providing pre-generated documents. This way is particularly convenient when sending money to older people who do not necessarily want to use online banking.

“However, it also has its flaws. Although the execution is efficient, high commissions of up to several per cent of the amount sent may discourage those who want to keep costs to a minimum. Another issue is the exchange rates, which are not necessarily favourable as with a bank transfer” – says Bartosz Sawicki, Conotoxia Market Analyst.

The most established way to send funds is to order a remittance service at a post office. In this case, the money is collected at the post office, which is convenient, especially for older people or recipients who do not use a bank account. However, the disadvantage is the waiting time. It is comparable to the time it takes to send an ordinary letter. The post office may also charge additional fees, resulting, for example, from the currency conversion. 

The best way to send money from the USA to Europe – a fast and convenient online transfer

A much easier way is to use online money transfers, provided, among others, by fintechs. With this service, we can order a transfer of funds without leaving our home and have them in the recipient’s bank account in no time.

The advantages of such a solution are the fast processing time and the full transparency of fees. All fees that we will incur are displayed already when ordering the transfer. We know in advance how much we will pay for the service and what amount will be credited to the recipient’s account.

By using the offer, we also can save on exchange rates. These are much more attractive than in the case of traditional bank transfers or ordinary money transfers. In extreme cases, for the amount of 1,000 USD sent for example to the UK, the savings can reach even tens of the British pound. Furthermore, the exchange rate for one of the available currencies on offer is displayed at the stage of ordering the transaction” – adds Bartosz Sawicki, Conotoxia Market Analyst.

An additional plus is the availability of convenient payment methods. We can quickly pay for the transfer with a payment card or using online banking.

When is the best time to send money from the US to Europe?

There is no better or worse time to send money from the US to Europe. However, when ordering a transfer with currency conversion, it is worth checking the current exchange rates and knowing what they depend on.

“Many factors influence currency quotations. These include inflation, central bank announcements, energy commodity prices, the trade balance, expert expectations and many others. Nevertheless, by knowing how currency market quotations are shaped, we can try to project their changes, limiting possible losses resulting from currency conversions at the wrong time” – sums up Bartosz Sawicki, Conotoxia Market Analyst.

Looking at the development of exchange rates over the past few years, it appears that the second quarter tends to be the most favourable for exchangers, but the foreign exchange market is, however, so sensitive to internal and external factors that it is not worth making the observed rule into a tool to make a profit, but above all to limit the risk of loss.

Planning your currency purchases can sometimes save you a lot of money. However, lows hunting, i.e. waiting for the best possible exchange rate, is a very tricky play and is rarely successful. Instead, a safer approach is to buy currencies systematically. It will allow us to take advantage of the seasonality of the currency market, and if we make a mistake, we will average out the costs and reduce the risk of overpaying.

These rules can be very easily translated into sending money from the US to Europe. If possible, it is wise to rely on a few regular transfers that average out the costs associated with currency exchange and allow the impact of the periodic phenomenon of unfavourable exchange rates to be somewhat mitigated.

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