Long gone are the days when the fastest way to send money abroad from Canada was through a bank transfer. Today, you can choose between a constellation of digital money transfer solutions, with PayPal and Wise being two of the most well-known examples. More recently, you can also engage in international transactions by exchanging cryptocurrencies.

This article gives you a list of ten of the best ways to send money abroad from Canada. You will learn how each of these money transfer solutions works, how expensive they are, and how to determine which one is the suitable payment method for you.

Wise transfers

Known as TransferWise until 2021, Wise is one of the world’s most popular money transfer solutions. Wise has its own payment network, which allows it to provide cheaper and faster international money transfers compared to the payment system used by traditional banks to send money abroad. With Wise, you can send money abroad from Canada to 80 countries directly to the recipient’s bank account. The platform supports ACH, Wire, and SWIFT transfers.

Transfer times on Wise vary by currency and country. In some situations, bank transfers can take longer because money is only moved during banking hours. For example, a bank transfer will likely last longer if the recipient is in a country where there’s a national holiday.

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A good thing about Wise is that it provides a simple and transparent fee structure. For example, when you enter the amount you want to send or the amount you wish the recipient to receive, Wise will show you the fees, exchange rates, and estimated arrival time.

Better yet, receiving money does not entail fees in most situations, except when receiving US dollars SWIFT or domestic wires, which cost $4.14 per transaction. The following table details Wise’s fee structure and transfer timeline. Learn more about Wise in our full review.

Fee typeFee valueTimeline
Sending transfer fee0.5% – 2.5%Card: Usually instant
Intermediary bank feeNoneBanks: 1-3 business days; sometimes more; 80% of transfers occur within 24h
Exchange rate markupReal exchange rate
Recipient transfer feeNone

SWIFT transfers

SWIFT is a messaging network of banks and financial institutions that allows communication via unique codes known as bank identifiers or BIC. Each financial institution participating in SWIFT has a unique code assigned following SWIFT’s standard procedure.

To send money abroad from Canada via a SWIFT transfer, you need to know the recipient’s bank SWIFT/BIC code, as well as the bank’s institution and transit numbers. In addition, you need to have the recipient’s full name, physical address, and bank account number.

If you are waiting for money from someone that wants to send a SWIFT transfer, you must provide them with the recipient’s details mentioned above. Most banks have the same SWIFT code across all branches, but it’s best practice to check the SWIFT code in your area, just in case.

The costs of a SWIFT transfer will include at least currency exchange charges, the bank’s transfer fee (often a % of the transaction value), and (sometimes) other unexpected fees. Transfer fees will vary from one bank to another. The table below shows SWIFT’s fee structure for various banks in Canada and their estimated transfer timeline.

Sending transfer feeVaries – often ranges from USD 10-USD 35
Intermediary bank feeVaries by the number of intermediary banks and the fee of each bank involved
Exchange rate markupYes
Recipient transfer feeTypically ranges from USD 0 to USD 9
Timeline1-5 business days; sometimes more

Cheques

In the past, payments by cheque were widely popular. While the widespread adoption of cards and digital payments has led to a decline in this payment method, many Canadians still write cheques.

When you deposit a cheque into an account, the bank will send the cheque to the bank of the person who wrote the cheque to ensure that the requested transaction is valid. In most cases, the bank makes the funds available immediately after you deposit a cheque.

If you have a chequing account and wonder whether writing cheques is still worth it, you should consider that cheques provide clear evidence (i.e., documentation) that a bill was paid, which is not always the case with digital payment methods and is less so with cash.

Cheques can also be used to send money abroad. When a cheque is sent abroad, the value is converted to the receiver’s currency. The fees you will have to pay for sending or receiving money internationally through a cheque will vary by bank. As an illustrative example, the table below shows Scotiabank’s fees for cheques processed in foreign currency on a Canadian dollar.

AmountFeeTimeline
Under $1,000$10.00Cheques from foreign banks typically take 15 to 45 business days to clear. 
$1,000 and over$15.00
Account and bank identification are not fully MICR-encoded$5.00
Cheque returned for insufficient funds$48.00
Non-government cheque cashed by a non-Scotiabank customer$5.00
Cheque deposited and subsequently returnedNo charge

PayPal transfers

PayPal is a digital payment service used to send and receive money, including internationally. Individuals typically use PayPal to send or receive money from people they know, while businesses use PayPal to receive money from national and international customers. PayPal allows sending and receiving money in over 100 currencies, holding balances in 25, and withdrawing funds in over 50.

You do not need to provide banking information to send or receive money on PayPal, as the company acts as an intermediary between two PayPal accounts. For recipients, this means it is unnecessary to provide financial information to senders; all they need to do is share the email address or phone number associated with their PayPal account.

Similarly, making a payment to a business that accepts PayPal does not require providing them with any financial information; they will only get to know the customer’s email address, phone number, and physical address.

PayPal’s fee structure is quite complex. For example, there are no fees for sending money to friends or families, but you will pay a 2.9% transaction fee plus a fixed currency-based fee if you pay with a credit card or Visa Debit. The following table illustrates some of the platform’s fees for international transfers.

Transaction typeRegionTimeline
Sending international personal transactionsEurope I, Europe II, Northern Europe, and the United States: CAD 2.99 for PayPal balance/bank account transactions or CAD 2.99 + 2.90% + fixed fee for card transactions Other markets: CAD 4.99 for PayPal balance/bank account transactions or CAD 4.99 + 2.90% + fixed fee for card transactions Instant in most circumstances
Receiving personal transactionsNo fee if no currency conversion is involved or fixed currency-based feeInstant in most circumstances
Withdrawing moneyStandard withdrawal: No fee when no currency conversion is involved Instant withdrawal:1.75% of the amount transferred 1-3 business days for standard withdrawal and around 30 minutes for instant withdrawal

Western Union transfers

Western Union is one of the most well-known international money transfer companies. This payment solution can be used for online transactions and in-cash transfers and allows sending money abroad to over 200 countries.

Transfers with Western Union are almost instant but can be expensive, as the fee for each transfer is at least $4.99. In addition, Western Union provides less competitive exchange rates, as it makes a profit on the margin between the rate it offers to its customer and the mid-market exchange rate.

Western Union is still one of the best options for international money transfers when sending money to someone who lives in a country not supported by alternatives such as Wise, does not have a bank account, and/or only wants to receive cash payments.

Western Union transfer fees vary by country, currency, payment method, and receiving method, among other factors. The table below provides some fee examples and transfer timelines by transfer method.

Payment methodReceiving methodTimeline
Online bank account paymentBank account: $0
Cash pickup: $7
0 – 4 business days
0-3 business days
In-store paymentBank account: Varies
Cash pickup: $7
1 business day
Minutes
Debit card paymentBank account: $0
Cash pickup: $15
1 business day
Minutes
Credit cardBank account: $0 + credit card fee
Cash pickup: $15 + credit card fee
1 business day
Minutes

MoneyGram transfers

MoneyGram is the second largest money-transfer provider in the world (after Western Union), covering over 200 countries. Its solutions for receiving and sending money include cash and, in some places, phone reloads.

If you want to use MoneyGram to send money abroad, you can do so through the platform’s website or mobile app in more than 20 countries. Money transfers can be paid directly from your bank or debit/credit card.

Depending on the location of the receiver, they may be able to receive money directly in their bank, prepaid card, or mobile wallet. Cash can be retrieved at any MoneyGram location.

MoneyGram is considered one of the most expensive international money transfer solutions, as it offers higher fees and a higher markup on the mid-market exchange rate. You can take a closer look at MoneyGram’s fees and transfer timeline in the table below.

Fee type Fee value Timeline
Transfer fee Varies by amount and location. For example, sending CAD 900 bank transfer will cost CAD 5 while sending the same amount at an agent location could cost over CAD 40.

Cash pickups and mobile wallet transfers: Within minutes

Direct to bank account transfers: A few hours 

Online bank account transfers: 3-4 days

Fees levied by the provider of the selected payment method Varies by the bank/credit card company
Exchange Rate markup Varies

Remitly transfers

Remitly is a good option for sending money abroad fast at a relatively low cost. With Remitly, you can send money from Canada and several other countries to over 50 countries worldwide.

You can send money only with Remitly via bank transfer, credit card, or debit card. You can send up to $999 per day without financial verification or over $6,000 per day if you justify the source of the funds. The recipients can retrieve from their bank account, a digital wallet, or in-person pick-up.

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When sending money with Remitly, one needs to pay special attention to the recipient’s currency. For example, Remitly may charge additional fees if you send money to a recipient in a country that does not have USD as the national currency, but the recipient’s account is USD.

In addition, those sending money from Canada need to be aware that they will be charged a processing fee if the transfer is funded with a credit card or a bank account. These fees depend on the credit card company or the bank, not Remitly.

Transfer fees vary by the amount of money being sent, the recipient’s location, payment method, transfer method, and currency. The following table provides more information about fees and transfer times. Because the fees vary by country, we will use one example: sending money from Canada to the Philippines.

AmountFeeTimeline
$0 – $499.99Express fee: $4.99Economy Fee: 2.994 banking hours3 to 5 business days
$500 or moreExpress Fee: 4.99Economy Fee: $0.004 banking hours3 to 5 business days
Exchange rate markupVaries. About 35% of the total fee comes from the exchange rate margin

WorldRemit transfers

WorldRemit is yet another relatively popular solution for sending money abroad. The company provides a global network of cash pickup locations in over 130 countries and multiple options for sending and receiving money. Like in the case of Remitly, the platform’s fees are hidden mainly in the exchange rates.

When you send money from Canada with WorldRemit, you can choose several payout methods, including bank deposit, cash pickup, mobile money, and airtime top-up – which allows the recipient to make calls or send SMS text messages.

WorldRemit does not have the most transparent transfer fees. How much you will pay will depend on where you are sending money, how much you are sending, and the chosen payout method. For example, when sending an airtime top-up, some countries apply taxes that will lower the amount of money the recipient will get. When this is the case, WorldRemit will let you know before completing the transfer.

The company does not disclose its exchange rate margin. The average transfer duration is a few minutes for cash pickup and airtime top-up and 1 business day for bank transfers. The following table provides an example of how much you pay if you send CAD 100 from Canada to Botswana

Receive methodFeeTimeline
Cash pickup$7.99 + hidden exchange rate feesLess than 3 minutes
Airtime top up$0 + hidden exchange rate feesLess than 10 minutes

Paysend transfers 

Paysend is a payment provider which allows you to send money from Canada to over 170 countries for only CAD 3. Like much of its competition, Paysend allows you to fund your international transfer with debit/credit cards. In addition, Paysend provides a digital wallet service. Payout methods include Paysend link, debit/credit card, and bank account.

One inconvenience to many users is that Paysend only allows sending a relatively small amount of money every six months, and you can only increase this limit by verifying your information, which can take some time. Without verifying your identity, you can send up to a maximum of CAD 1,000 every six months.

To confirm your personal details and increase your spending limit to $5,000, you must provide your passport, national identity card, or driving license. To increase your transfer limits to $10,000, you will also need to give the company with proof of address, such as a utility bill or bank account statement. Finally, to increase your limit above $10,000, you will need to provide information on the source of your funds, such as an employer payslip.

The Paysend link is the best option to send money when you are unsure how the recipient will like to receive the money. Once you send a money transfer with this option, the recipient will see the transfer on their phone and be asked to select how they want to receive the money (e.g., bank account, card).

Unlike many competitors, Paysend provides fixed fees, meaning that you don’t pay more or less in fees depending on the amount of money you send. Nevertheless, Paysend is not transparent about its exchange rates, meaning your final payment value will still be influenced by how much you send.

When sending money to a recipient’s card, payments are processed instantly, and the money is available within minutes. Like always, bank transfers may take up to several business days. The table below provides additional details on transfer methods and timelines.

Funding methodPayout methodTimelineFee
Credit/debit cardWallet Paysend linkDepends on the payout method selected by the recipientCAD 3
WalletInstant
CardsInstant
Bank account1 or more business days

Cryptocurrency exchange 

A newer solution for sending money abroad is through a cryptocurrency exchange. As you might already know, cryptocurrencies are digital assets that, like traditional fiat currencies, can be exchanged for goods and services. Besides being sometimes cheaper than conventional money transfer solutions, cryptocurrency transfers are typically instant, and, in many cases, there are no limits to how much money you can send.

One of the reasons cryptocurrency transfers can be cheap is that there are no intermediaries fees. In addition, transferring the same cryptocurrency from one wallet to another means you don’t have to pay foreign exchange rates. Some crypto platforms will allow you to transfer cryptocurrencies for free, while others will charge a (usually) small fee.

If you want to send cryptocurrency abroad and you don’t yet have a crypto wallet, you will need to find a platform that will allow you to exchange fiat (e.g., CAD) for a cryptocurrency. Once you have crypto, you can transfer it to, for example, a crypto wallet.

While transferring cryptocurrencies can often be fee-free, you will usually pay fees for deposits and withdrawals. For example, the withdrawal rates might be determined by the blockchain network and can fluctuate due to factors such as network congestion.

Generally, cryptocurrency exchanges charge between 0% and 1.5% per trade. The costs depend, among other factors, on whether you’re a buyer (maker) or a seller (taker).

Whether sending money abroad in the form of cryptocurrency will help you save money or not will depend, to a large extent, on the fees you will pay. The table below presents the transaction fees from some of the best crypto exchange platforms in Canada.

NameTransaction Fees
BitbuyFee rates range between 0% to 1.5% for both makers and takers
NewtonThere are no direct trading fees; you pay a price spread that is up to 0.70%
NDAX0.2% fee for both makers and takers
CoinSmart0.20% for both makers and takers; 0.30% for double trades
NetcoinsFlat fee of 0.5%

Bottom line: Sending money abroad from Canada has never been easier

With so many payment solutions available, to send money abroad from Canada has never been easier. On the other hand, the existence of so many options can make selecting a payment system overwhelming.

When deciding how to send money, you may want to use the following criteria:

1) Find a payment solution that you can use to send money and that the recipient can use to receive money.

2) Once you have a few compatible payment solutions in mind, select the one that offers the best fees and/or speed, depending on your needs.

FAQs About Sending Money Abroad

Can I send money abroad with PayPal?

Yes, PayPal can be used to send money to any other PayPal account, regardless of whether it is a Canadian account or not.

How much money can I send abroad legally?

There is no limited amount of money you can send from Canada legally. However, if you transfer more than CAD 10,000, your payment provider must declare it to the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) and the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

How to send money abroad from Canada?

There are many ways to send money abroad from Canada. Popular payment solutions include SWIFT transfers, Wise, PayPal, and Western Union, among many others.

How to send money abroad with Western Union?

You can send money abroad with Western Union in person or online. Payment methods include online bank, in-store, and debit/credit card.

What is the best way to send money abroad?

The best way to send money abroad is by finding a payment solution that you can use to send money and that the recipient can use to receive money. Another important consideration is finding a payment solution with lower costs than the competition and a good transfer speed.

Can I send money abroad from my bank account?

Yes, it is possible to send money internationally by transferring funds directly from your bank account to a recipient’s bank account.


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