Best ways to receive money internationally 2023
If you’re expecting a payment from overseas you’re probably wondering about the best ways to receive money internationally in Singapore.
Moving money using a regular international bank transfer can come with high fees for the sender, and a recipient fee of around 10 SGD from your own bank. If the bank offers a poor exchange rate, or the payment is processed with SWIFT you could also end up with less than you expect in the end, due to high, hidden, or unexpected fees.
The good news is that there are alternative accounts, such as Wise or OFX (businesses only). International money transfer specialists could offer lower fees and a better exchange rate - which means your sender pays less, and you get more in the end, too.
Best ways to receive money internationally
Online multi-currency account
International money transfer specialist
Bank-to-bank international transfer
How do I receive money from overseas?
Before your payment is sent to you it’s worth weighing up the different transfer options to make sure both you and the sender get the best available deal.
This full guide to the best ways to receive money internationally in Singapore covers all the different options you might consider, looking at costs, delivery times and more.
Each option has its own benefits and drawbacks - we’ll walk through key features around cost, convenience, speed and safety so you can talk to the sender about which method they prefer.
Information to give the sender
The exact information you need to give the sender will depend on the transfer method you agree on. However, it’s important to make sure you give all the details required to process the transfer, to avoid unnecessary delays or problems. Here are the key details you’re likely to need for different transfer types:
1. Online multi-currency account
If you open an online multi-currency account you’ll be able to give the sender the bank details for your account in the currency of your choice. You’ll always have to give your full name and account number - but some of the other details vary based on currency, for example if you’re getting a GBP payment you’ll need a sort code, while an AUD transfer needs a BSB number. Your multi-currency account will come with everything you need to receive your payment safely
2. International money transfer specialist
If your sender is using an international money transfer specialist you’ll usually need to have the payment deposited into your SGD bank account - that means giving your Singapore bank account number, branch information, SWIFT code and your name as shown on your account
3. Bank-to-bank international transfer
When your sender arranges a bank-to-bank international transfer they’ll be asked to give your Singapore bank account number, branch information, SWIFT code and your name as shown on your account. The sender’s bank will then convert the payment to SGD and deposit it to your account - usually via the SWIFT network
4. Cash pick-up
When collecting a payment in cash your sender usually only needs to give your name. When the payment is processed they’ll be given a reference number - you’ll need to take this and your government issued photo ID to get your cash
5. Home delivery
If you’re being sent money for home delivery you’ll need to give the sender your full name and address. You’ll then usually need to provide a government issued ID and a reference number to be handed the cash on your doorstep
6. Mobile wallets
Payments can be sent to popular mobile wallets domestically and internationally - this would usually only need your mobile number, making it a very fast and simple way to receive money from abroad
1. An online multi-currency account
One easy - and cheap - way to get paid from overseas is to open an online multi-currency account with a specialist provider. Depending on the account you select you may be able to access local bank details for a range of currencies which your sender can use to pay you by local transfer. This is often free for them - and you.
Once funds are in your account you’ll be able to convert them to whichever currency you need, to withdraw, send or spend how you like. Here are some top providers to consider.
Best for: Individuals and businesses looking to get paid for free in 10 currencies, into an account which can hold and exchange 50+ currencies
How to receive money with Wise: Open your Wise account online or in the Wise app, and get local bank details for 10 currencies to get paid by local transfer from 30+ countries
Fees: Personal accounts are free to open; business customers pay a one time fee of 54 SGD. No monthly fees or minimum balance, and low, transparent fees for transactions
Exchange rate: Real mid-market rate with no markup
Speed: 45% of transfers made with Wise arrive instantly; local transfers into Wise accounts are usually far faster than a regular bank international money transfer
Best for: Personal customers looking for a way to manage their money, budget, save, and exchange 28 currencies all online and in the Revolut app
How to receive money with Revolut: Revolut accounts can be opened for free - or you can trade up to a higher account tier to unlock more features for a monthly fee. Accounts come with local SGD bank account details and SWIFT details to get paid by SWIFT transfer from overseas. You can also receive money from other Revolut accounts for free
Fees: Up to 19.99 SGD/month for higher tier accounts; different account tiers have different levels of free transactions, with fair usage service fees after that
Exchange rate: All accounts come with some currency exchange using the mid-market rate; higher account tiers have unlimited free exchange. If account plans include a limited level of free exchange a 0.5% fair usage fee may apply; out of hours and exotic currency fees may also apply
Speed: Transfers between Revolut accounts can be instant; SWIFT payments to your account can take 3 days or so
OFX for businesses
Best for: Online sellers and business owners who need to get paid from 7 profitable international markets
How to receive money with OFX: Open your OFX Global Currency Account online and activate local bank details for 7 currencies. Use these details to get paid by clients and make withdrawals through PSPs like Stripe and marketplaces like Amazon
Fees: No set up fee, no monthly fee, no fee to access local account details
Exchange rate: Exchange rates may include a markup which will be disclosed prior to confirming your transaction
Speed: Fast payments, OFX transfers may arrive in just a day or 2
2. International money transfer specialists
If you want to receive money from overseas and have it deposited into your local SGD account you can also do this through an international money transfer specialist. In this case you’ll just give the sender your SGD bank details and they’ll arrange the payment via the specialist service you select. Specialist services can typically be faster than direct bank transfers, and often offer better exchange rates too. That makes them cheaper for the sender, and can mean you see more of your money in the end.
Wise operates in many global markets and offers payments to 80+ countries, online and through the Wise app. It’s known as a reliable and fast service with 12+ million customers, and a high 45% instant transfer rate.
Your sender can pay Wise using a local transfer in their home currency, and the funds will be converted using the real mid-market exchange rate. Fees are low and transparent, and your sender can instantly see how much the transfer will cost, what rate will apply, and how much you’ll receive in SGD.
TorFX is a specialist currency broker which offers international payments through dedicated account managers. TorFX can be a good choice if your sender wants to talk through their payment prior to arranging it, as you can get phone service from your broker.
TorFX offers fast secure transfers with no transfer fee - instead there will be an exchange rate markup applied, which can be lower than the equivalent markup used by a traditional bank.
If the person sending you money has a Revolut account they’ll be able to send you money in a range of currencies either to a Revolut account or to your regular bank account. If you’re getting paid to your normal bank account you won’t need to set up with Revolut yourself.
Revolut international transfers may incur fees depending on the account type the sender has, but all account tiers come with some fee free currency conversion which can cut the overall costs significantly.
3. Making a bank-to-bank international transfer
Sending money through a regular bank might seem like an easy and familiar option. However it’s worth talking through the pros and cons with your sender to balance out if it’s worth it for your international transfer.
Bank-to-bank international transfers are reliable and can often be arranged online. The exact options available depend on the sender’s own bank - but it’s worth noting that the fees for sending a payment with a traditional bank can be high and unpredictable.
Exchange rates are likely to include a markup, and third party fees may also apply if your money is transferred through the SWIFT network. Finally you may also pay a receiving fee to have the money deposited in your local SGD account. This pushes up prices overall for both you and the sender.
To give a flavour of the costs of sending a bank-to-bank international payment let’s look at the send and receive fees for a couple of big banks in Singapore - starting with DBS:
DBS personal account cost
|Send international payments|
DBS Remit payments - available in select market - have no transfer fee (but an exchange rate markup may still apply)
Regular online transfers: Commission of 5 SGD - 35 SGD + Agent Fee if applicable + Cable Charge (likely to be around 20 SGD) + exchange rate markup
Transfers made in branch: 1/8% commission + Agent Fee + Cable Charge (likely to be around 20 SGD) + exchange rate markup
|Receive international payments||10 SGD per payment|
Here are the fees if you hold an OCBC account in Singapore - both for sending and receiving a payment internationally.
OCBC personal account cost
|Send international payments||1/8% commission + Agent Fee + Cable Charge (likely to be around 20 SGD) + exchange rate markup|
|Receive international payments||10 SGD per payment|
4. Cash pick-up
If you’re looking for a super quick and convenient way to receive money internationally in Singapore, having your sender choose a provider which offers cash pick-up might work. In this case, your sender can arrange the payment online, in person, by phone or using an app - depending on the specific provider selected. They’ll be able to find an agent location close to home in Singapore, and then you can go collect your money in cash - often instantly.
There are quite a few options for cash collection in Singapore - however, it’s worth noting that the fees for the sender can be high, and the exchange rates offered aren’t usually the best. Compare a few to pick the right one - here are a couple of market leaders to consider.
Western Union has a huge agent network of over 550,000 locations globally, with dozens available throughout Singapore. Your sender will be able to set up a payment online, in person or through the Western Union app, paying by cash, card or bank transfer. Once they’ve arranged the payment they’ll need to give you a reference number which you take - along with your government issued ID - to a local agent, to collect your money. Western Union has several different service options, including Money in Minutes - which allows for instant cash collection around the world.
Fees for cash collection services with Western Union can be high - and it’s also worth knowing that the exchange rate will vary according to the specifics of the payment, and will include a markup on the mid-market rate.
Learn more about Western Union fees.
With 310,000 global locations - and plenty of choice in popular spots around Singapore - MoneyGram is another convenient pick for cash collection services. The sender can set up their payment in a variety of ways depending on their home country, and cash can be made instantly available if they’re paying by card.
As with Western Union, fees and exchange rates for MoneyGram may not be the best on the market - but this can still be a popular option if you’re looking for convenience and speed.
5. Home delivery
Many of the same providers which offer cash pick-up options for international payments can also offer home delivery of cash. This service is typically available in more isolated or rural areas where the provider doesn’t have such a strong agent network. Because Singapore is so compact with plenty of agent locations throughout the country, home delivery is seldom offered here. The key providers outlined above for example - MoneyGram and Western Union - do not provide this service for Singapore.
If your sender is able to find a provider which will arrange home delivery to Singapore, getting your money is super simple. All you’ll need to do is wait at home for a courier to arrive, and show your government issued photo ID to take delivery of your payment.
6. Mobile wallets
Many Singapore residents already use a broad range of mobile wallets for everything from paying in a Hawker Centre to riding the MRT. You’ll likely be familiar with some mobile wallets like DBS Paylah! or OCBC’s Pay Anyone already, and you may well use a non-bank mobile wallet like Apple Pay or Google Pay, too.
Sending payments with a mobile wallet is very straightforward, with most only needing a phone number to make an instant funds transfer. However, when it comes to receiving money internationally you’ll need to make sure that your preferred wallet is available overseas, and can handle cross-currency payments. DBS Paylah! and OCBC Pay Anyone - as examples - are designed for use in Singapore only, and so aren’t suited to overseas payments. However, some mobile wallets do have international functionality - here are a couple to consider.
Chances are you’ll already have a Grab account for transport and food deliveries - if you do, you could also have your sender use Grab Pay for a funds transfer. Grab’s footprint stretches through most of Southeast Asia, so if your selder already has an account with them, they’ll be able to send you money instantly right from their mobile phone. All the sender will need is your phone number to get things moving.
YouTrip offers a range of functions and features - including the ability to send and receive payments using just a phone number. Because YouTrip was created with travel in mind it has the advantage of being able to handle a bunch of different currencies, which makes it a good solution to receive a payment from overseas hassle free.
Fees for receiving money internationally
The total cost paid to receive money internationally does vary by the method and provider used to process the payment. Who pays the costs - sender or recipient - can also vary. It’s useful to know that the fees involved in international payments are likely to cover 2 or 3 different types of charge:
Upfront transfer fees
- usually shown to the sender before confirming the payment
Exchange rate costs
- which can be the highest fee of all - more on this below
Third party fees - including bank intermediary fees and charges from your own bank to receive a payment
Third party fees are a particular problem if you’re having money sent to your bank account. In this case there are often extra costs which are associated with the SWIFT network - the network used to process most international bank payments. Under the SWIFT system, the sender’s bank will work with up to 3 different intermediary banks to process the payment - and each intermediary can deduct a fee when they process the transfer. The full costs are not always known upfront which can make it tricky to predict how much you’ll get in the end.
Often when your sender sets up a bank to bank transfer they’ll be able to choose how to distribute the costs of the payment:
If they select a BEN payment, the beneficiary will pay all third party fees
In an OUR payment the sender covers all costs
And if they choose SHA the costs are split between sender and recipient
Talk to your sender about who will cover these third party costs to make sure there are no surprises when the payment arrives.
What exchange rate will I get?
The exchange rate used to process your international payment will make a big difference to the overall cost of the transfer, and how much you receive in the end.
Most providers add a markup or margin to the rate you’ll find on Google. That’s an extra fee which can push up the costs of the payment.
Banks in particular could add an extra 3% or so charge onto the exchange rate passed on to customers. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but it would be an extra 300 SGD charge on a payment of 10,000 SGD - probably more than the upfront transfer fee initially paid.
Before your payment is sent, talk to the sender about the exchange rate that’ll be used. Many specialist providers such as Wise or OFX (businesses only) can offer a better rate than the bank - which means your sender can cut their costs dramatically.
Do I pay taxes when receiving money from abroad?
If you’re receiving a payment from overseas you’ll need to check with IRAS whether or not you need to report or pay tax on it. The tax position will depend on the value of the payment, and what it relates to.
As a guide, income earned overseas is often not taxable in Singapore, and small cash gifts of up to 200 SGD are also usually treated as non-substantial - and therefore not subject to tax. However, tax is complex and so it’s important to seek professional advice if you’re unsure about your duties when receiving money from overseas.
Is there a limit to receiving money from abroad?
The limits applied on international payments are usually set by the providers processing the transfer, and can vary substantially. If you’re expecting to receive a high value international transfer, have your sender check the rules set by their preferred bank or provider before you get started.
These days it’s increasingly common to need to move money across borders - and so, you’ll have a broad range of options to choose from if you need to receive money internationally in Singapore. Whether you’re looking for a low cost transfer right into your SGD bank account, a fast payment for cash collection, or a transfer to your favourite mobile wallet you’ll be able to get your money fast and without any hassle.
Before your sender processes your international payment it’s well worth talking through the pros and cons of the different payment options outlined in this guide. Picking a provider with a great exchange rate, low fees and no sneaky hidden costs could mean your sender pays less - and you end up with more in the end, too.
Overseas bank-to-bank transfers typically take 3 - 5 business days to arrive. However, if you send your payment with a specialist provider you could get your money faster - many specialists offer instant transfers which could also cost less than a regular bank.
If you’re having a payment sent to your local SGD bank account you’ll often pay a receiving fee of around 10 SGD. Check the terms and conditions of your account to confirm - or pick an alternative way to get your money, like an online multi-currency account, to cut out this extra cost.
Whether or not you need to declare your payment to IRAS will depend on its value and the reason for the transfer. Check with a professional tax adviser if you’re unsure.