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International payments for businesses: Save money with our guide

For businesses making international payments, currency fluctuations and uncertain administrative costs can create major risks. Fail to mitigate these risks, and the resulting costs can have a serious impact on operations and profit margins.

However, companies that find the right solution for transferring money abroad save a significant amount of time and money. That’s why it’s worth reading our comprehensive guide for businesses conducting international payments.

Here, we provide detailed information on how to find the best international payments solutions for your business, as well as specific industry guidance for managing international payments and currency risk.

We also present the specialist currency providers that have solutions for each business need, many of whom can offer significantly better service rates than a bank.

What is an international money transfer?

International payments involve moving money from one country to another country. They can be conducted in a number of ways, including via a bank account, debit or credit card or mobile wallet.

There are a number of reasons you might want to transfer money abroad, including:

  • Paying employees who live and work abroad
  • Paying businesses abroad
  • Investing in overseas businesses
  • Paying for upkeep of overseas offices

There are numerous ways to send money internationally. You could set up an international money transfer through your bank, but to send money faster and with fewer hidden costs, you can transfer your money with an international money transfer company, which exists to facilitate movement of money from one country to another.

How much does an international business transfer cost?

International money transfers come with a cost, and most of the time it’s hidden away behind a markup on exchange rates. Businesses may end up losing money if they aren’t comparing money transfer companies and their place in the market.

When comparing international money transfer companies, there are two main things that are affecting the price of the transaction.

The exchange rate: FX companies make their money by adding a markup to the actual exchange rate – often the full cost of international payments isn’t visible until you’ve made the transaction.

Transfer fees: Depending on the amount being transferred and the destination country, some money transfer operators will provide a fee to use their services.

Remember: In some cases, paying a fee to achieve a better exchange rate may end up costing less than going with a ‘no-fee’ provider with a worse exchange rate.

This is where FXcompared’s free comparison tool becomes really useful. With it, you can easily compare the costs of sending money abroad via the best international money transfer companies.

What should business owners consider when sending money abroad?

Whether you are looking to send one international payment or many over a continuous period, there’s a few things to think about when sending money abroad. Here’s our list below:

Changing exchange rates

Currencies can often fluctuate in value, meaning that the amount companies receive or the amount they pay can vary wildly from one day, week or month to the next.

Companies that make international payments are therefore exposed to currency risk – the possibility of losing (or gaining) money due to changes in the exchange rate.

If you want to pay regular payments to another country this will have an impact, whether you are a smaller business that depends on consistent cash flow to survive, or a larger business sending frequent sums of money to international partners.

The good news is that businesses can reduce their exposure to risk through a number of currency hedging options provided by many (but not all) international money transfer companies. These include forward contracts, limit orders and stop losses, and they are discussed in more detail below.

Speed of transfer

International money transfers vary based on a number of factors, including the country you are sending money to and international money transfer service you are working with.

For businesses, slow international money transfers can create major operational issues – particularly if items they are trying to purchase are only delivered when payment is received. In turn, this can mean a lack of available stock when you most need it and have a negative affect on your business’ reputation.


Businesses may well wish to send larger amounts of money abroad, particularly for things like acquiring new office space or paying contractors for services. But doing this can be daunting, and you want to know the money you are sending is in safe hands.

For this reason, it’s important to work with international money transfer operators that are fully complying with regulations and authorised by regulatory bodies. For example, all UK-based money transfer firms compared by us are authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Where are you sending your money?

Lots of money transfer companies say they offer the best deals – but they might not be able to send money to or receive money from your chosen destination.

While it’s easy to Google ‘Send money internationally to x’, it takes much longer to compare the different companies that offer services to that specific country. That’s where a comparison tool like FXcompared comes in handy.

How much money are you sending?

Some international money transfer providers and banks have daily and annual limits on the amounts they are able to send, or may charge additional fees based on the amount to be exchanged.

The exchange rate being offered becomes increasingly important when you are sending larger amounts of money, as some companies calculate their exchange rate based on a percentage of the money being transferred.

How to make international payments

Making a one-off international money transfer (also known as a spot transfer) through an international money transfer provider typically involves the following steps:

  • Sign up for an online account
  • Enter the amount you wish to transfer and the destination country
  • Receive a quote showing how much money will be received in the recipient’s account
  • If you agree to the exchange, make the transfer
  • Wait the allotted time for money to be dispensed in the recipient’s account

However, as we discuss below, there are a number of different ways that you can hedge your currency exchange risk when making regular international payments. This is to protect against major losses that could happen when currency exchange rates fluctuate.

Currency hedging options for businesses

Because currencies change in value, it’s really important to understand that there is more than one way to make an international money transfer. We’ve outlined the different options below.

Spot transfers

The simplest money transfer method, a spot transfer occurs when you contact a company and agree to make an exchange rate based on the quote you are provided with that same day. Think of it as a transfer ‘on the spot’.

When would you want to make a spot transfer?

If you need to send money fast for a one-off or infrequent payment, this is the easiest way to go about it. Generally, international money transfer companies will offer better rates for spot payments than those offered by a bank.

Things to consider when making a spot transfer

Currency exchange rates fluctuate: that means that if you are making more frequent payments, it may be better to opt for a forward contract, which will allow you to fix an exchange rate for regular payments.

Companies shouldn’t enter spot contracts unless they are ready, willing and able to deliver funds within an agreed period (usually two days).

For more information on spot payments, read our explainer article here.

Forward contracts

Forward contracts allow you to fix the exchange rate you are offered and agree to make the transfer at a future date or over a series of dates. That means if the current exchange rate is particularly strong, you can lock it in for future payments, meaning you’ll pay the same rate in the future even if it changes.

When would you want to use a forward contract?

Forward contracts are useful for currency hedging: protecting against unseen or unexpected fluctuations in exchange rates so that you aren’t suffering substantial losses every time you make an overseas payment.

This is incredibly useful for businesses of different sizes. It means that small businesses, for whom cash flow is incredibly important, are able to better plan international payments in line with their budgets. Meanwhile, larger enterprises paying for offices and services abroad won’t see massive changes to cost due to currency volatility, as they will be paying a fixed rate.

Things to consider when using a forward contract

Currency volatility works both ways: if the exchange rate moves in your favour, you could end up getting more for your money.

If you have flexibility in when you can send money, you may wish to hold off for a better rate.

Some businesses may choose to only use a forward contract on some of their liabilities so that they aren’t entirely beholden to the same exchange rate, or look to reassess forward contracts.

For more information on forward contracts, read our guide here.

Limit order

You choose the exchange rate you want, and if it is met the company will transfer your money.

When would you want to use a limit order?

You might consider using a limit order if:

  • You don’t need to make your international transfer straightaway
  • You can see that the current exchange rate is expected to move in your favour (i.e. you will be able to buy more foreign currency for your current spend)
  • You don’t want to monitor the market yourself

When you have a sizable sum of money to transfer, the impact of exchange rate changes on a much larger amount of money would be much greater. That’s why if your payment isn’t urgent, it might be worth getting your chosen provider to monitor the rate and send the payment when it reaches a certain level.

Things to consider when using a limit order

There’s no guarantee the exchange rate condition will be met – in some cases limit orders may expire after a certain period, meaning they won’t be fulfilled. This means a limit order might not be suitable if you have a liability that needs to be paid ASAP.

Limit orders may have to be capped at a certain level (e.g. 10% above market rate). Of course, you may be limiting the amount you receive if the exchange rate continues to climb.

For more information on limit orders, read our guide here.

Stop losses

Stop losses essentially do the opposite of limit orders. They allow you to arrange your payment for a future date, but if the exchange rate falls to a certain value that you establish, you agree for them to send you money earlier.

When would you want to use a stop loss?

In a situation where the local economy is seeing a downward movement in currency value (i.e. meaning you will have to buy currency at a worse value than the current exchange rate), this would allow a business owner to ensure that they would guarantee an exchange rate so that they won’t end up paying more than a certain value to exchange funds.

Businesses can have a combo of limit order and stop loss orders – this would mean that they are effectively protecting themselves against unfavourable moves in the exchange rates while also benefitting from increasing rates.

Things to consider

A short-term fluctuation might activate the stop-loss order price. If you are setting a stop loss and then for a day or two the exchange rate drops to that level before moving back up, you’ve effectively lost money on that transfer.

For more information on stop losses, read our guide here.

International money transfer solutions for businesses

Below we’ve rounded up some more specialised international money transfer cases for businesses. This section will be helpful if you are looking to:

For more information on our solutions for business leaders, here's a video from FXcompared Founder and CEO Daniel Webber.

Foreign currency invoicing

For companies making regular overseas payments, mismatched currency revenues and exposure to volatile currency markets can negatively impact profit margins and lead to higher admin costs.

Foreign currency invoicing – offering foreign customers the option to pay in their local currency – can improve competitiveness while working to maintain margins, and can help companies retain overseas customers.

To find out how to manage your foreign currency client invoicing, take a look at our guide.

International payroll

Managing international payrolls can be costly and time-consuming for companies with overseas staff, especially if the company does not generate revenue in the international location where employees live.

There are a number of challenges that can arise when paying employees in multiple locations, from the difficulty of sending payments to regions that do not have wire transfer capabilities or reliable banking systems, to ensuring your company is compliant with all relevant international regulations and legal frameworks.

It can also be challenging to accurately analyse payments and make informed decisions when payroll is spread across multiple locations.

A specialist currency broker can help you and your company navigate all of these scenarios, creating efficiencies and saving money along the way. Want help managing payroll across your international employees? Give our free guide a read here.

Online marketplaces

Online marketplaces offer professionals, small businesses and corporations a secure solution for sending or receiving funds for products sold over the internet.

Specialist providers can help to significantly reduce the cost and time it takes to repatriate foreign currency sales through managed local currency accounts, and can offer more customised solutions, making it fast and secure for the seller to accept overseas payments from customers, and then quickly convert it into their local currency.

Online marketplaces offer fast, convenient and cost-effective solutions for managing overseas currency transfers for retail transactions, no matter how big or small.

Want help managing your online marketplaces accounts as an e-tailer? Take a look at our guide here.

Mass payout

Businesses operating internationally can gain a significant advantage by implementing customised mass payout solutions, which help to simplify and streamline cross-border payments to multiple suppliers in different locations using different currencies.

Specifically aimed at marketplace platforms, mass payout service providers give businesses the ability to send money overseas or domestically to freelance workers, salespeople, suppliers, and distributors, without having to maintain accounts in multiple countries and different currencies. Payments can be made in various forms, such as bank transfers, prepaid cards, e-wallets, or checks.

Using a tailored mass payout program can help businesses to significantly reduce the costs associated with making a large volume of instant payments to multiple international recipients, and vastly improve the efficiency of the payments process.

To find out how you can effectively make large numbers of international payments, head to our guide here.

Managing travel expenses abroad

Managing overseas travel expenses can be stressful – however, currency specialists offer a number of tailored solutions to help keep costs low and manage foreign exchange risk.

Preloaded currency cards help keep the cost of overseas travel expenses in line and reduce the amount of administrative effort required. These cards can be pre-loaded with multiple currencies and used like a credit or debit card, without the added cost of foreign transaction fees.

Companies have the ability to set spending limits, and the cards can be used directly to make payments or to withdraw cash. Safe and effective, pre-loaded currency cards simplify overseas business travel and reduce costs.

Need more info? Here’s our complete guide to managing your overseas and travel expenses.

Missed the guide you need? Here’s our full list of guides to business payment solutions.

Business Issue Product
How to make a one-time international payment now (best rates and service) Spot Payments
How to manage future international payments and receipts
How to manage currency risk
Limit orders, stop loss, forward contracts, options
How to manage your foreign currency client invoicing Variety of products
How to deal with international employee payroll International payroll products
How to effectively make large numbers of international payments Mass payout
How to manage your online marketplaces accounts as E-tailer E-tailer payment solutions
How to manage overseas and corporate travel expenses Corporate FX cards

How can I compare money transfer services?

Whether you are looking to pay employees and foreign suppliers, accept payments in foreign currencies or manage travel expenses, FXcompared’s comparison tool allows you to compare international money transfer providers and currency hedging products and choose the best deal that works for you.

Use our Business Payments Tool to receive a free currency audit and find the right international money transfer option for your business today.

For a more specific guide to international payments for your sector, read one of our industry guides below:


How long does an international money transfer take?

Depending on the method used to make an international money transfer, your transfer can take anywhere from a few hours to several days. A number of factors can slow down international transfers, such as opening times, bank holidays and security practices. With some operators, you may be able to pay a small fee to speed up the transfer process.

FXcompared’s tool will give you an estimate of the time taken for money to be transferred with each provider.

What’s the cheapest way for businesses to send money abroad?

This depends on a number of factors, including the amount you are sending and where you are sending it too.

Who do we include in our comparison?

We compare authorised and registered money transfer operators from around the world, highlighting the best options for sending and receiving money from your chosen destination.

FXcompared’s tool will give you an estimate of the time taken for money to be transferred with each provider. is an fx money comparison site for international money transfer and to compare rates from currency brokers for sending money abroad. The website and the information provided is for informational purposes only and does not constitute an offer, solicitation or advice on any financial service or transaction. None of the information presented is intended to form the basis for any investment decision, and no specific recommendations are intended.  FXC Group Ltd and FX Compared Ltd does not provide any guarantees of any data from third parties listed on this website. FX compared Ltd expressly disclaims any and all responsibility for any direct or consequential loss or damage of any kind whatsoever arising directly or indirectly from (i) any error, omission or inaccuracy in any such information or (ii) any action resulting therefrom.