Ben Burrell-Squires, Content writer   06 April 2020

Photo of high rise buildings banks

Have you ever wondered which is a better way to send money online – traditional banks or online money transfer services? Are banks really more secure and trustworthy? Could you find a better deal elsewhere?

Well, today we’re going to answer those questions and more by looking at banks vs money transfer apps – which one is better for sending money abroad?

line of dots next to each other on a white background“A

International transfers with a bank

How does it work?

Your bank will offer to send money abroad from your bank account to someone else’s. This is done using a series of intermediary banks and can take days to reach the person you want to receive the transfer.

International transfers via a bank are expensive, with banks offering a lower exchange rate and charging higher fees for you to send money abroad. Some even charge a fee to receive a wire transfer, meaning you could lose over 10% of your money in an international bank transfer!

a turquoise dot“A

 Read more: How to send money to someone without a bank account

What do you need to send money abroad with a bank?

Making an international wire transfer via a traditional bank normally requires you to visit the bank yourself to arrange the transfer with no facility to do it via online banking.

You may need to bring your debit card or credit cards as ID, and you’ll also need the bank account details of the person you’re sending money to. This is a long and complex process, but fortunately, it’s not the only option for international money transfer.

a woman dressed in black standing by the window holding a tablet“A

International transfers with an online money transfer service

How does it work?

Online money transfer services offer a cheaper and faster alternative to traditional banks. In fact, it’s the cheapest way to transfer money internationally, beating even Western Union on price and convenience.

Using a web-based platform or international money transfer app, you can send money online instantly. There are many ways to send money online, from a simple online money transfer between bank accounts to using an online money transfer app to send directly to another person’s wallet.

What do you need to send money abroad with an online money transfer service?

Getting set up to make an international money transfer online is quick and easy. At WorldRemit all we need is a few basic details, and your account is ready to use in minutes.

a turquoise dot“A

 Read more: 8 things you should do before using a money transfer app

Banks vs online money transfer services: features


The fees payable can be a deciding factor in what is your best international money transfer option. Fees from banks average out at 10%, but online money transfer services charge much lower fees.

This is because online money transfer services don’t have all the costs that banks do. We use technology to do all the work and pass the savings to our lovely customers (that’s you by the way).

It’s rare to find a free online money transfer service, but there are ways to do it as you’ll find out below!

Exchange Rates

Exchange rates are always a concern when you want to transfer money internationally. Your bank will offer you rates in line with currency exchanges – not the best rates, unfortunately.

Banks treat exchange rates like interest rates – just another way to make money from their customers.

Online money transfer services generally offer better rates. There’s an example a bit further down that shows you exactly what we mean.

 a turquoise dot“ARead more: How do exchange rates work and how to get the best one?


Because your bank uses a bunch of intermediary banks to send money abroad, the process can be a long one. We’re talking days, or even up to a week and beyond.

With companies like us, you can request an instant money transfer online, and the money will reach the other person’s account within minutes, but sometimes it can take a little longer.


Both bank and online money transfer services offer very secure ways to send money online using bank account details. Both transactions are done the same way – electronically.

If anything, online money transfer services have the edge because we’re the only ones handling your money. You never really know which banks are routing your money to the other person, or where your money is during the transfer period!

 a turquoise dot“ARead more: Is WorldRemit secure?


Another important thing to consider when choosing the best way to send money abroad – how much hassle is it going to be?

The financial institution has not made it easy, asking you to fill in forms and dig up details like someone’s address or a banks routing number.

The convenience of online money transfer services is hard to beat, though. Doing something in 5 minutes from the comfort of your couch vs spending hours going to and from your local bank? We know which one we’d choose!

high rise buildings from a bird eye view“A

Banks vs online money transfer services: statistics

Let’s look at a side-by-side comparison for an example where someone transfers £100 from their UK bank account to your savings account in the Philippines.


Your Bank



5 Business Days

Within Minutes

Transfer Fee

Around 10%


Transfer Options

Direct to Bank Account

  • Direct to Bank Account
  • Cash Pickup
  • Mobile Money Transfer
  • WorldRemit Wallet
  • Airtime Topup

Total Received (based on average exchange rate offered)

£90 (5,229 PHP)

£100 (6,243 PHP)


Expensive and slow

Instant and cheap 

Compared to your bank and other traditional banks, we offer the cheapest way to send money abroad from the UK – by quite a margin, it turns out!

How to send money abroad with WorldRemit

If you’re wondering how to send money abroad with WorldRemit then we’re about to break down our five options for you so that you can choose the best online money transfer method for you and your loved ones.

Bank transfer

A straightforward way to transfer money from bank to bank online, just much faster and more cost-effective for you than using your bank.

Cash pickup

Do you need to send money online to someone who doesn’t have a bank account? Simple – use our cash pickup feature to allow them to collect the money from somewhere on our global network.

Mobile money

Available in over 80 countries and growing – mobile money is a great alternative to bank accounts for many. It’s an instant and low-cost way to send money online.

WorldRemit wallet

WorldRemit Wallet lets you manage accounts in different currencies and receive money online for free between Wallets.

Airtime top up

If you want to top up a loved one’s phone, there’s no need to pay a fee to send them money. You can effectively send money online for free with our airtime top up service.

Whichever way you choose to send money abroad we’d like to offer you the opportunity to start sending money online free today with no fee on your first three transactions when you create an account. Click here for more details! 

Sign up and send money with WorldRemit