How to Send Money from Germany to the USA?

Apr 5, 2020Banking and Finance, Living in Germany

International money transfers can be complicated and one can spend hours while searching the best and cheapest way to do it (as I did). Germany and the USA are far apart from each other and also have very different banking systems. So how can you transfer your money from one part of the world to another in a most efficient way and without losing much on commission?

You can send money from Germany to the USA by using:

  • TransferWise
  • PayPal
  • Western Union
  • Money Gram
  • Bank wire

Since I have been living in Germany and Europe for over 4 years now, I have questioned it a lot and here my favorite solutions for this.

The best money transfer companies in Germany

I am confident to speak about this topic, due to my extensive experience in sending and receiving money from and in Germany. I have learned a lot since my first money transfer abroad and continue to learn.

First, you need to know this fact: the German banking system functions differently than the US banking system, so it’s never a good idea to do a classic bank wire. You need to be cautious about all money procedures between Europe and North America, and always get consult by your home bank first.

Overall, there are three main options to send money from Germany to the USA: remittance services (Western Union, PayPal), forex transfer companies – it’s a non-bank foreign exchange company also known or simply forex broker that offers currency exchange and international transactions to private individuals and companies, they deliver physical currency to a bank account.

The last option is a local bank (don’t use it), even if you do a transfer with a credit card it takes a percentage on commission in addition to the bad exchange rates.

The best way to transfer funds from Germany internationally depends on several factors. But certain options are suitable for all kinds of transfers.

For instance, if you need a rash transfer when the person in another hand need money immediately Western Union or Money Gram are the best options. Because even PayPal needs some days to remit money from PayPal account of the receiver to the bank account so they can actually spend this received money.

And if you have some days to complete the transaction you should choose a forex transfer company, they offer the most inexpensive and easy solutions.

Lastly, all options have its advantages and disadvantages.


By far the best option to send your money from Germany to the USA without a rash – Transferwise. Moreover, you can do transfers in the most countries in the world without losing on commission. Currently, their service available in 59 countries, and they add new currencies all the time.

People (including me) used to do money transfers via PayPal since it has a very convenient app and easy process.

However, I noticed that if you send or even receive money in the different currency they cut a lot on the exchange rate and sometimes charge a commission.

This way Transferwise is more inexpensive ($4 transfer fee) and fare. But if you send money and receive money in the same currency PayPal is easy and cheap.

You can also download the Transferwise app for an even easier money transfer.

Transferwise offers services not only for private clients but also for businesses and freelancers, all for the best exchange rates and a small commission.

The process of sending money via Transferwise is quite simple: you choose the currency/country, the amount, then add your data ( from where money should be deducted) such as debit/credit card or bank account, add finally bank account of the receiver. The amount will be transferred automatically from your bank.

Before transaction Transferwise informs you about the estimated date of arrival, usually it takes between 1 – 3 days to receive money in the USA, yet it depends on your and receiver bank, sometimes it takes just a few hours.

While processing the transaction you can also see what is the current and guaranteed exchange rate, in this way Transferwise predicts an exchange rate on the arrival date. You can be sure they provide the best rate on the market.

Services of Transferwise don’t have any hidden costs, they provide full transparency for customers. The company also guarantees that your bank or bank of the receiver don’t charge anything additionally.

Transferwise always shows costs upfront, no hidden fees, no bad exchange rates, no surprises. In fact, some companies in this industry do have a really bad exchange rate even when they don’t charge a commission.

For example, you can lose quite a lot while using the services of Western Union or Money Gram.

After the procedure, you can track transfer in your account, and they inform you when your recipient got money.

I think this is one of the bests services out there with respect to ease of use and conversion rates. Besides, the first transaction up to $600 is free.

Funny enough Transferwise was created in the UK by two Estonians expats, who wasn’t satisfied with the money transfer services out there. The pain of losing money on transferring money in different currencies was so big that they decided to make the life of all ex-pats and immigrants easier and came up with this concept.

Many foreigners experienced this problem as well until this moment when they found Transferwise. It is really a wise method of transferring money overseas as their exchange rate is the highest I found and their service is almost lightning fast.


PayPal was around already for 20 years, noways its the largest international remittance services in the world. I will be surprised if you don’t use it yet. PayPal allows clients to transfer money from a PayPal account or a preferable card/bank account.

If you want to send money from the account be sure you have enough on the balance if not you need to transfer money from bank account to your PayPal.

Sending money to a friend or family member is free. All you need is your friend’s email address, phone number, or PayPal username, and a connected bank account or credit or debit card. Recipients will always receive money on their Paypal account almost immediately.

However, sometimes PayPal isn’t a free service. The amount of PayPal charges depends on the nature of the transaction, the amount of money PayPal processes for you each month, and whether the transaction crosses international borders or requires currency conversion.

For example, if you send money through PayPal that you’re drawing from a debit or credit card, then PayPal charges 2.9% of the amount you send. PayPal also charges an additional 30 cents for each transfer from debit or credit cards.

PayPal’s exchange rate for personal payments includes a 2.5% to 4.5% margin subtracted from the interbank rate and depending on the receiving currency. What is the biggest drawback.

If you send money in the same currency I would say it is the best option out there. It is absolutely free to transfer money to friends or family through PayPal accounts, as long as there is no currency conversion required.

PayPal is a good choice if:

  • You are sending money in the same country (not across international borders)
  • Both you and the recipient have a PayPal account
  • You can fund your account via direct debit from your bank account

PayPal is not a good choice if:

  • You need to fund your account via a debit or credit card (commission)
  • You are transferring money internationally
  • In these cases, the costs can add up very quickly and will often be between 3% and 7% of the amount you transfer

Western Union

Western Union is the biggest provider of remittance services. They have over 550,000 agent locations across 200 countries and territories globally. Today there is almost every country in the world has at least one Western Union office where you can send and receive cash.

For their services you don’t need to have a bank account, a transfer made in cash and required only your passport and name of the receiver.

In general, the transaction can be done in two ways: first is offline in Western Union office, almost every town in Germany has them and also some banks accept payments for them.

To send money you only need to give cash to the agent together with the name of the recipient. After the transaction is done you will get a special number, which will need to be shared with the person in the country of the destination.

So he/she can pick up cash in the nearest Western Union office, usually, it takes just a moment till the money is sent and can be collected.

Second is online: in the last years, the Western Union started to operate more online, where you can transfer money from your bank account to another country.

However, for this method only you need to have a bank account, for the receiver it’s optional, they can get the amount in cash as well as get it transferred to their bank.

Money will be automatically converted to the local currency. It’s a good option when you are traveling and need to send or receive money after you lose your card or it gets blocked.

Normally, you can request your bank to send you money via Western Union.

Nevertheless, remittance services such as Western Union or Money Gram have very unfavorable exchange rates and transaction fees. You will be paying a lot for their convenience and speed.

Let’s calculate how much it will be cost to send money from Germany to the USA via Western Union. To send 500 EUR will cost you 515 EUR (15 EUR or $16,21 is commission) and the receiver gets only $511.

The real exchange rate says that 500 EUR must be at least $540,25. Therefore you pay around $45 for their bad exchange rate and commission.

As you can see Western Union can be quite expensive and unfair.

This kind of transaction is only good when the receiver doesn’t have a bank account and you send less than up to $1,000.


MoneyGram is the second-largest money transfer company (Western Union has the number one spot). It enables customers to send and receive cash at over 350,000 agent locations across over 200 countries and territories.

This company works in the same way that Western Union. Money can be transferred in cash or through the bank.

In general, MoneyGram’s user experience has a lower ranking than Western Union. Although I received and send money with both these services haven’t felt the difference. Both companies stress me out by making a misspelling in my name.

Western Union and MoneyGram are two very similar companies, what about costs?

When sending 500 EUR from Germany to the USA via MoneyGram you will be paying $28 on transfer fee and the receiver will get $516. Again with today’s normal exchange rate, it must be at least $540,25. Therefore you pay $52 to the Money Gram for commission and their exchange rate.

Consequently, Money Gram is more expensive than Western Union.

Last but not least, never use a direct bank to bank transfer (bank wire) for international transfers in Germany. I am telling from personal experience that the rates will be very bad and you won’t get anywhere close to what these companies above are providing.

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