03 Aug

How to Buy a Vacation Home Using a Money Transfer Service

If you are considering buying a vacation home overseas, there are many things to take care of, including how to pay for it.  Purchasing a property can be a great investment but you do need to ensure that you only used safe and secure methods when transferring money.  No matter what type of vacation home you are purchasing or how much the value, do it the right way and you will not suffer due to problems later on.

All money transfer services are not the same

Some purchasers make the mistake of thinking that all money transfer service providers are the same and that no matter which one they use, they will pay the same.  But this is not the case and before you make a huge error when it comes to sending your cash, it pays to look into the matter in as much details as you can.

Do your research

We are going to take a look at what you should do in order to purchase your vacation home the right way. By carrying out a little research in advance, you should find that many money transfer services can offer reduced transfer fees and preferential exchange rates, often providing a better deal than most banks.  When researching several services to compare, look for things like transparency with no hidden charges.  By choosing the best service provider you can save a great deal and will have full peace of mind, knowing that your money has been transferred securely, safely and cost effectively.

Exchange rates

Do shop around in order to find the best exchange rates as they will not all be the same. Even a tiny amount percentage-wise can add up to a fair amount of money, depending upon how much you are transferring.  Once you get into the thousands-of-dollars figures then every penny counts; don’t make the mistake that many people do which is failing to secure the best rate and then kicking themselves afterwards when they see how much money they have lost.

You can also often choose between two types of exchange rates; ‘Locked in’ or ‘Indicative’.  The locked in deal is great for high-value transactions as this way you will know exactly how much money will be received by the property seller i.e. the person you are purchasing from.

Send the money all in one go

If you are having to send a variety of amounts to cover a mix of things, wait until you have the final overall total and send the money all in one go.  It is much more cost effective to send just one larger amount as the higher the sum, the more beneficial the exchange rate will be.  Sometimes, if the sum of money is over a certain value, you may even find the transfer fees being removed.

Be aware of all likely charges

Don’t just assume that you know how much this transaction is going to cost you.  Ask your chosen money transfer provider to advise you of any other possible fees that you may incur.  Here are just a few extra costs that you might find yourself paying unexpectedly:

  • Transfer charges or fees from the bank receiving the money overseas
  • Taxes in the U.S. may apply so do check this out although it is normally the receiver that pays as the money received by them may be classed as income

Mortgage payments

If you are going to be making ongoing mortgage payments once the purchase is made, you can set up a recurring amount service which will tie you into an exchange rate for the whole term.  If exchange rates look as if they are going to rise, this can be a great way of guaranteeing how much you will send each time, making your budgeting easier.  You will also not have to worry about rising exchange rates eating into your cash.  Again, before tying yourself into this type of deal, always do your research as exchange rates always vary according to provider.  There are even some online sites that will compare exchange rates for you between companies and then recommend the best one, thus allowing you to make a fully informed decision.

Buying a vacation home overseas can be incredibly exciting and represent a large investment for you so don’t rush it and do allow sufficient time to do your research.  Before you commit to the purchase, check out the market and look at all of your money transfer service options.  By getting to understand how the system works and securing the best value, the Dollars that you send will work a lot harder for you and you will be sure of making a much wiser investment with a good return on your money.

03 Aug

Paying For Your Wedding Overseas

If you’ve always dreamed of getting married next to the ocean or saying your vows in an iconic location around the globe, the good news is that it’s never been easier to arrange a wedding overseas.

More and more couples are now opting for a wedding outside the US, but the one tricky area is payment. If you need to settle the bill in another currency, it’s not as simple as just sending a check in the mail. There’s lots of factors to take into account including charges, exchange rates and of course security too.

For many people, their usual bank might be the obvious place to send money overseas. However, although it’s a familiar name you know and trust, you might not get the best deal. A more economical option could be a money transfer service. If you’ve never had cause to send money to another country before, you might not have heard of these types of company. They don’t specialize in a wide range of financial services like a bank, instead they purely focus on trading foreign currency and sending international payments. This means that they are the industry experts when it comes to anything relating to exchange rates and foreign currency.

Here’s a run-through of what you need to consider when making payments overseas and why using a money transfer service could be your best option.

Transparency over fees

Sending money overseas is a service, and like any kind of service, there’s a fee for its provision. However, to get the best deal you first need to understand how much you’re being charged; surprisingly that’s not always as easy as it sounds.

Some providers may claim to offer this service for “free” but generally this just means that the fee has been built in invisibly elsewhere. Typically the charges will be added onto the exchange rate that you’re quoted so the more money you need to send, the more it will cost. Other providers such as banks may be more transparent, usually charging a percentage of the money being sent. While this is preferable as you can see the actual cost, once again it means that the more money you send, the more charges you will have to fork out.

If you’re paying for a wedding overseas, the chances are that you’ll be sending a substantial amount of cash so these kinds of charges can really add up. Therefore, it’s far preferable to  pay a flat rate fee instead. A money transfer service usually operates on this basis, and the flat rate fee is often extremely low. This is due to the sheer volume of money transfer services performed by these specialist companies on a daily basis. The economies of scale can be passed on to their customers making it a far cheaper way to send money, and you won’t be paying steadily increasing charges if you need to send large amounts.

Getting the best exchange rate

When you budget for your wedding and check the price of overseas services, it can be difficult to factor in what could happen if the exchange rates move against you. If the dollar weakens and drops in value, it means you won’t get as much foreign currency. You’ll then have to hand over more of your US dollars to settle the same bill.

Some money transfer companies offer forward contracts; this is a way of locking in a good exchange rate for use in the future and provides protection against fluctuations in the market. When you’re planning a wedding, every cent counts and knowing exactly how much you’ll have to pay can provide real peace of mind.

Whether you choose to use a forward contract or not, you’ll want  to make sure that you get the very best exchange rates available. To do this, you’ll need to look outside the bureau d’exchange in your local bank.

The Interbank rate is the exchange that the banks and big brokers have access to, and represents the very best available. Unfortunately, as a retail customer, you won’t be able to exchange your dollars at the same rate. Banks add on charges and set their own rates, which can be as much as 5% more than the Interbank rate leaving them with a fat profit and you seriously out of pocket. Ouch.

Money transfer services typically offer a far more competitive exchange rate, giving you lots more bang for your buck than you’d get from your bank. This is because money transfer companies specialize in sending money overseas which gives them more power to secure the best rates possible which are passed on to the customer.

 Be sure about staying secure

Weddings cost plenty of money wherever they take place, and sending money overseas can be a very real risk, leaving you exposed to the possibility of fraud. No matter how good the exchange rate is, being sure that you’re using a legitimate provider is the main priority.

Luckily there’s an easy way to do this because in the US, every money transfer service provider is required to hold a license. Referred to in law as a “Money Service Business” (MSB), every company must register and permit to their operation being regulated, monitored and overseen by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), one of the departments in the US Treasury.

To get reassurance that the money transfer service you are using is legitimate, secure and safe, all you need do is check whether the company holds a license. You can do this on the FinCEN website for free. If the company isn’t registered with FinCEN you shouldn’t even begin to consider using their services as they are almost certainly operating illegally.

Using a licensed money transfer service is much safer than paying cash on arrival as you’ll have proof of what you paid and who to. In the unfortunate event of a problem arising, this can provide you with some much needed protection.

Get more for your money

Getting married overseas can be a fantasy come true but if you don’t manage to organize the payments properly it can turn into a nightmare. Using a money transfer service to pay for your costs can make the whole process much easier, leaving you free to relax and enjoy the big day!

03 Aug

Paying For Tuition Overseas

An education is far more than just what’s learned in the classroom, and opting to study overseas provides a wealth of opportunities – not just see the world, but to discover different cultures too. If your son or daughter has decided to go to college in another country, they’ll have the chance to choose from some of the best educational facilities available and experience a different lifestyle too.

However, there’s practical challenges with going to college overseas – not least – paying for tuition. In addition to organizing how to get your money to the right place, there are more costs involved than if your child were simply paying a US college.

Your regular bank is the obvious choice to send international payments. But before you make the arrangements to pay the fees, it’s worth investigating other options.

Money transfer services specialize in foreign currencies and sending money overseas. In addition to being safe and secure, they can often work out much cheaper with lower fees and better exchange rates.

Here’s a closer look at using a money transfer service to pay for tuition overseas, and the reasons why it’s the best option.

Accessing the Experts

 Money transfer services don’t offer a whole range of financial services; they’re completely different to a bank. Rather than dabbling in a bit of everything, their products and services are entirely focused on currency exchange and sending international payments. This means that money transfer providers are the experts in this type of transaction and can provide very specialized advice and support.

There’s lots of different options for sending money overseas, including how to get the best when you change your dollars into a foreign currency. A good money transfer provider will be able to offer different options to suit your circumstances and explain the relative advantages of each.

Inspect the Exchange Rate

 If your son or daughter is going overseas to study, there’s a very good chance that you’ll need to convert your money into a foreign currency to pay the tuition fees. Although banks often have branches in other countries, unless both accounts are held in the same currency there’s no advantage to using this method to send money. If you’re paying tuition fees directly into the overseas bank account for the college, it’s unlikely the currencies in your bank account and theirs will match. This means you’ll need to use an exchange rate.

Although it may seem easy to use a bank, the exchange rates are typically poor compared to money transfer services.

The Markup

The Interbank rate is the price at which banks and big brokers are able to access foreign currency transfers, and represents the cheapest way to transfer money from one currency to another. Interbank rates are not available to the general public, and there’s a big mark-up added to these rates by banks before they’re quoted to customers.

The Cost Saving

Money transfer companies send a large volume of foreign currency payments every day and this offers more flexibility. These savings can be passed on to the customer; just like buying in bulk, it’s much cheaper than sending payments on an ad hoc basis. This is just one of the reasons why exchange rates are normally much more competitive with a money transfer service.

The other factor is the frequency of the updates; banks will normally only update their currency exchange rates once a day. As money transfer services are much more closely linked to the foreign currency market, the rates are constantly updated throughout the day allowing customers to take advantage if there’s a move in their favor.

More Than Just Currency Exchange

When you’re looking to make every cent count, there’s more than just the exchange rate to consider. Banks typically charge a substantial fee for sending international payments, and added to the inflated exchange rate this can mean you’re left seriously out of pocket. In fact, using a bank to send an international payment could cost up to 5% more; for tuition fees of $10,000 this will cost you as much as $500 extra.

That’s $500 you could put in the pocket of your son or daughter. Or keep for their inevitable emergency fund.

One of the problems with banking payment fees is that they’re often calculated as a proportion of the money being transferred. The more money you send, the higher the fee will be. For tuition fees, this means the costs can really start to mount.

By contrast, money transfer services typically charge a flat fee. This means that you can see the cost from the outset and at a fixed price, it works out much cheaper than a percentage rate.

Even when this isn’t the case – the percentage they charge will be much lower.

There may be times when you want to send the money overseas quickly, so speed may be of the essence. This could be for tuition fees or – as already mentioned – the inevitable, yet last-minute rush – to get cash to your son or daughter while they’re in a foreign country.

Transfers from banks could take 4-6 days to reach Europe, and even longer for the rest of the world. It may be possible to get a speedier payment, but you’ll have to pay a hefty premium for the service. Even then, it’s not usually the quickest option.

Once again, money transfer providers outperform the banks; in some cases you may even be able to send a same day payment without having to pay more for the privilege. Some countries take longer to process payments because of restrictions by their governments. Even so – a money transfer service can slash the amount of time it takes for the funds to reach the account.

Peace of Mind

 No matter how quickly a payment can reach a bank account, security should always be a priority. The good news is that it’s simple to make sure you’re protected when using a money transfer service.

In the US, all money transfer providers must be registered and hold a current license to trade. The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCen) – a US Treasury department – are responsible for registering, monitoring and regulating money transfer providers. There’s a public register where you can check to see if the company you are thinking of using holds a current license.

If the company isn’t registered, you should not use their services under any circumstances. However, if they’re listed as being currently registered you can proceed knowing that you’re using a legitimate provider.

 

Take the Pain out of Tuition Fees

 

Organizing payment of tuition fees for an overseas college may seem complicated but a money transfer service can make it simple. Safe, secure, fast and cheap, you can now pay tuition fees overseas with no hassle and real peace of mind. You’ll also find that the representatives employed by these foreign exchange specialists are there to help you, and their job is to save you money – not to extort it from you!

03 Aug

How to Move Your Money Securely

With so many new online banks, mobile payment apps and other tech-enabled ways of sending and receiving money today, how can you be sure the method you choose is safe and secure?

Most money transfer services try to appeal to users by emphasising how quick, easy and low-cost they are. But none of these benefits matter if their services aren’t also secure from start to finish.

To determine whether the services you’re considering keep your money and accounts safe and secure, you need to ask a few more questions.

For example, do they use encryption? Encryption protects data like personal information, payment card numbers and passwords by encoding it before sending over a network. Information sent that way is decoded only after it arrives safely at the intended recipient. Any money transfer service worth considering should provide strong encryption… but should also use a few other methods to protect financial transactions.

PIN numbers and passwords, for example, can help to verify users’ identity. However, money transfer services can and should add a second layer of security by backing those up with two-factor authentication. Also known as 2FA, this typically involves asking users to input a code sent to a device known to belong to them. By using this, a company has greater confidence that users are who they claim to be.

Any money transfer service you use should also notify you when anything important changes in your account. For instance, if you’ve changed your password, you should receive a message asking you to verify that change.

There’s more to secure money transfers than just protecting sensitive information, though. What about your money itself? Whichever service you use should be registered with the proper financial regulators in the countries where they do business, and should keep your funds separate from any of its own finances. That helps to protect your money even if the service provider goes out of business.

Beyond these considerations, there are also precautions that you yourself should take. With so many ways of sending and receiving money online, or via smartphones, wearables and other devices, scammers are always looking for new ways to trick you out of your money. This means you need to be alert to social engineering threats.

At least one money transfer app, Venmo, has in the past been used repeatedly by scammers looking for expensive items they saw advertised online. The would-be buyer would contact the seller and ask to pay for the item using the app; after receiving a notification via the app that a payment had been initiated, the seller would then meet with the buyer to hand over the item… only to discover later that the payment was never completed. In other cases, the buyer initiated a series of smaller payments, possibly using stolen payment cards, to cover the whole cost of the item; when the theft was discovered, the seller’s account was frozen and the “buyer” had gotten away with the item.

To avoid scams like these, the online security advisor Get Safe Online recommends that you avoid using money transfer apps for transactions with strangers. While such apps are quick and convenient for sending relatively small sums to friends, relatives or co-workers, online business transactions should be handled through payment processing services approved for use by major retailers.

Another option is to consider using your own bank’s money transfer service. Most big banks today offer their own online services for transferring funds to others, and these are usually also available as mobile apps.

There’s also the question, which is better: an online transfer or a mobile app? The answer depends upon several factors.

 

“Browsers are risky because there are trojans designed to collect banking information,” The Guardian said recently in an answer to a reader’s question about transaction security. “Apps are risky because most banking apps probably have security flaws, and because fake/malware apps sometimes appear in app stores.”

With a secure and up-to-date home PC, online transfers using a browser should usually proceed trouble-free, the article noted. For on-the-go transfers, however, a banking app will be the better option, as long as you are using a 3G or LTE connection, not Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.

Finally, be aware that new money transfer options are always emerging, which can mean both new opportunities for both you and for would-be scammers. Banks, for instance, are beginning to offer mobile services that let you send money using just a passcode and smartphone number.

 

Get Safe Online said services like Barclays Bank’s Pingit are “as secure as any other online banking transaction, and is protected by a user-specified five-digit passcode on the app itself.” However, it added, users should be careful to keep their passcodes secret – and not stored on their mobile device – and should double-check the recipient’s phone number before transferring money.”