Expat Life: Moving Money From One Place to Another

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Alright, let’s talk about money. (No, nothing too personal!) I’d like to just discuss logistics, and give you a huge tip on moving money from here to there. (Or from there to here.)

There are so many things about expat life that you just don’t know until you’re in the middle of it, trying to work it all out. There are a lot of logistical pieces, and I can’t tell you how many emails I’ve received asking how do you make a move, practically speaking? Money is one of those tricky things about moving overseas and travel  in general– getting money from one place to another. This could be as big as transferring funds from a bank account in one country into another in your new country, or it could be as simple as having Grandma send a little birthday money over in time to go shopping.

To be honest, this logistical issue has been a big headache for Jeff and me. Our situation is made both more complicated (and sometimes easier) by the fact that we have to have American bank accounts that we open through the base where he works. We get paid in USD, but all of our daily expenses (except for purchases made on base) are in euros! Plus, we still pay monthly insurance premiums, student loans, etc. with dollars. We have always had to have American bank accounts and local bank accounts, with multiple functions for our various needs. Each time we have moved, we have had to close those accounts and open new ones, then move our money from the old to the knew. Add to that the complication of making transfers from US banks to European banks (or GBP to euro!) and losing money with each exchange, and you will understand why it all makes me feel a bit ill at times.We always try to do as little shifting of funds as possible, because we lose money every single time. I’m not sure how they get away with it, but the exchange rate going through the bank is always a bad deal. I don’t even like to think about the amounts we have lost just by changing money over the last five years living in Europe. Sigh.IMG_5759 Well, cheer up! Things are about to change.

Recently, a company approached me, asking if I would be interested in sharing their concept with my readers. Honestly, I get quite a few requests like this, and turn nearly all of them down. I am committed to only sharing about companies and services I personally love and believe that you will be glad to hear about. And these are rare. But the more I looked into this one, the more excited I got about using their services myself and sharing them with you.

I think you need to know about TransferWise. I love what this company is doing. They are taking banks out of the equation, and saving people tons of money. They will save our family a lot, too.

OK, here are the basics:

The Concept

The founding principle of their company is fairness– allowing money to move where it needs to without taking advantage of anyone. The goal is to make getting money from here to there quick, easy, and cheap. I see this as the money version of people-friendly service concepts like Skype, Airbnb and Uber.

They are always completely transparent about the total charge and make it as low as possible. TransferWise is the cheapest and fairest way of transferring money internationally. Customers benefit instead of the banking system. When a bank does the transfer, the typical fee is 5%. That is a lot of money lost. TransferWise charges .5% for its services– a huge difference.

How it Works: Here’s a quick rundown on exactly what happens when you use their service.

  1. You visit their site or use their mobile app and enter the currency and amount you want to send and convert, and then they will tell you how much money it will convert to.
  2. You sign in and they will tell you the total fee for the transaction (.5% of the amount being transferred) along with the real mid-market exchange rate.
  3. Fill in your personal details (address, country, etc.) and then choose who you want to send money to. You can send via email or to a bank account.
  4. You can upload money to TransferWise via a debit card or by making a bank transfer (they will give you complete, easy to follow instructions for the bank transfer.)
  5. You’re done. TransferWise will then let you know when the money will be available in the new account, and you will get email notifications about the progress of your transfer. You can also always log in and see where your money is.IMG_3715

Pretty cool, right? I spent a lot of time this week watching interviews with the founder and learning all about them. Here’s a super-short video that explains their concept in a nutshell, and there are a lot of other videos offered afterwards, if you want to keep exploring.

So, what do you think? Personally, I am excited about this company. I love all of the new business concepts emerging right now that are so people-friendly and empowering.

I hope you will find this information really helpful– I wish I had known about TransferWise sooner!

This is a sponsored post. I’m pleased to partner with this company, and everything I have written is my honest experience and opinion. And I have some nice news– TransferWise would like to offer you a free transfer– the first 100 readers who sign up will get their first transfer (up to $1000) free! Just use this link.


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5 Responses to Expat Life: Moving Money From One Place to Another

  1. Christina Thomas August 5, 2015 at 6:48 am #

    Hi Ariana,
    Okay, I’m kind of confused. I am headed to Scotland in 41-days on vacation. I don’t have a bank account in Scotland, how do I get the actual pounds in cash? Make sense? Thanks, Christina.

    • ariana August 5, 2015 at 3:00 pm #

      Hi Christina!
      As far as I understand it, this service is more for moving money between accounts that change the currency– i.e. sending a payment to an account in Scotland instead of using your debit or card. You could take advantage and get cash this way if you have a Scottish friend and want to change money, and sent her a payment and she gave you the cash. But I think you would probably just look for the best exchange rate you can find locally and change cash that way. Does that make sense? It’s not for changing cash as much as it’s for sending money between countries or accounts with different currencies.

  2. Christina Thomas August 5, 2015 at 3:11 pm #

    Thank you Ariana..
    This is awesome information! I do have friends in Scotland. I will be looking into this. I already signed up for it (but didn’t have the bank ‘over there’ to finalize it, so I hope you still get your credit(!). I am also considering moving to Scotland for about 6 months to a year and tour Europe, using Scotland (because I love that country so much) as my base…then I will have my own bank account. Thank you again. 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • ariana August 5, 2015 at 3:29 pm #

      Ooh, I love your plan Christina! That is so fantastic!! And I am so glad you can use this information!

  3. Heidi August 8, 2015 at 9:53 pm #

    Very useful! Look forward to trying it!

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