What is the best way to send money to international students?

When your kid goes abroad to study, how can you transfer money whenever they need it? Check your options below, with their pros and cons, and choose the best one among them.

Xe Consumer

October 15, 2020 7 min read

Young student abroad in Barcelona, Spain

Studying abroad can be exciting for your child. As a parent, though, you’ve got other things on your mind, like sending money to your kid so he/she can pay overseas tuition fees on time. Or what if the student needs to pay his/her rent quickly, and is pressed for cash?

While thinking of how to transfer money to your child overseas, it’s easy to snap under pressure.

And what with the cost of living abroad, the tuition fees, the money transfer fees, and the currency exchange rates, among other things, we wouldn’t be surprised if you stressed out. When your kid goes abroad to study, how can you transfer money whenever he/she needs it?

But you don’t need to panic!, Even if you don’t know how to send money to international students, we’ve got you covered with the top 3 options—and their pros and cons—so you can choose the best one among them. Take your pick!

Option #3: International wire transfer using banks

The plus point: Wiring money to international students speedily and securely.

The minus point: You may have to pay a big fee, depending on who you bank with, and so may your kid studying overseas.

One of the most reliable ways of sending money to international students is using your bank account for a wire transfer. Most banks will let you make international wire transfers to many countries in several currencies.

First, contact your bank and ask them, “How to transfer money to my child’s bank account?” The bank will guide you through the entire wire transfer process. You’ll likely need to go to the bank in person to initiate the transfer, even if you’ve done so before.

Basically, you’ll need the Bank Identifying Code (BIC) or the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) code and the International Bank Account Number (IBAN) of your account as well as your kid’s. The overseas student will receive the money within 1-5 business days.

But there’s a snag – even if you want to wire a small amount of money to your child abroad, you may have to pay a hefty amount to your bank as a fee. And the foreign bank may charge the student as well, for receiving the wired money.

Different banks’ fees for this service can vary greatly, so always make sure to ask your bank about their wire transfer fees before signing up for the process.

Option #2: Global cash transfer companies

The plus point: Quick international cash delivery to college students, but…

The minus point: Only available if you’re willing to pay well for it.

Western Union

The biggest money transfer provider globally, Western Union allows you to wire money to your kid studying overseas, or send money to his/her mobile wallet, or for cash pick-up.

Another option is downloading the Western Union mobile app and transferring money to the student from your bank account or using your credit or debit card (issued by a bank in the US).

Once you’ve sent the money to your child, you’ll get a confirmation email from Western Union, along with a reference code called a Money Tracking Control Number (MTCN), which you need to share with your kid, who’s abroad, and no one else.

You can even use the MTCN to track your money transfer.

The whole process will take 0-8 business days (typically 4) if you transfer money to your child’s bank account. But if he/she wants to pick up cash at an agent location overseas, it usually takes from a few minutes to 4 business days.

Coming to the international money transfer fees, these vary widely. You can’t be too sure about the cost, since it depends on a (seemingly endless) list of factors, including how you pay the money, the money transfer speed, where you’ve sent it from, and where the international student is based.


You can transfer money online to international students either directly from your bank account, or with your debit or credit card. Also, mention where you want to send the money – to your child’s bank account, debit card, mobile wallet, or at an in-store kiosk.

Before sending money at a MoneyGram kiosk, though, make sure your kid can get to that place on time for picking up the cash.

To receive the money, the college student will need his/her ID and the transaction’s reference number (the one you’ve got). When you give this number to someone else (like a stranger), you’re giving the person the key to unlock your cash, so always keep the number a secret between you and the student.

However, for all these features, MoneyGram charges – there’s no other way to say it – a lot. Their money transfer fee depends on the amount you’re sending to the international student, as well as the currency you want to send it in.

Option #1: Online overseas money transfer (with Xe)

The plus point: Cheap costs, fast delivery, and smooth web experience for international students and for you.

The minus point: Limited availability of apps offering overseas online money transfer services.

Unfortunately, most online money transfer apps work only domestically (within the US), like the Send Money to School app. There are a few that work internationally, though, with our personal favorite being:

Sending money with Xe

Online money transfers to your kid at an overseas college are generally fast, affordable, secure, and easy with Xe.

Our straightforward app and web experiences allow you to transfer money to college students in more than 220 countries and territories, and in over 130 currencies. Our rates are quite competitive compared to the exchange rates that banks and other money transfer companies offer.

Thankfully, Xe comes with a free currency converter, making it easier for you to check live foreign exchange rates that keep pace with market fluctuations. When you find a rate you’re comfortable with, you can confirm the transfer. And this is how you do all of it:-

  1. Sign up on Xe for free.

  2. Choose the foreign currency your kid will receive your money transfer in.

  3. Check the live exchange rate for that currency.

  4. Confirm the amount you want to send, the currency, and the details of the international student to whom you’re sending the money.

  5. Enjoy being done! If you’re curious about the status of your payments, you can track the status of your transfer anytime.

There aren’t any hidden fees, so you’ll have no doubt about what you’ll be paying.

Your child may get the money overseas on the same day you send it, so you can trust that your international student will be well-taken care of even across the ocean.

Depending on where you're located, you may also be able to take advantage of our Regular Payments Abroad (RPA) service. Rather than manually making a transfer every time you need to send tuition or spending money, you can set up an automated series of regular transfers, and you can rest easy knowing that your student will get their money on time.

The bottom line

Taking the international money transfer fees, the transfer speed, and the overall experience into account, we think online money transfer is the best way to send money to college students abroad.

Sure, the other options we’ve stated above aren’t without flavor, but when it comes to a fast, hassle-free, AND cheap way of paying your kid’s overseas college fees, nothing can beat online money transfers. Gear up and get started right now!