Best Ways to Receive Money Internationally
If you’re expecting a payment from overseas you’re probably wondering about the best ways to receive money internationally in India.
Moving money using a regular international bank transfer can come with high fees for the sender, and a recipient fee 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 international money transfer specialists like Wise or Western Union 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
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 India 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. 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 INR bank account - that means giving your Indian bank account number, branch information, SWIFT code and your name as shown on your account
2. Bank-to-bank international transfer
When your sender arranges a bank-to-bank international transfer they’ll be asked to give your Indian 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 INR and deposit it to your account - usually via the SWIFT network
3. 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
4. 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
5. 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. International money transfer specialists
If you want to receive money from overseas and have it deposited into your local INR account you can also do this through an international money transfer specialist. In this case you’ll just give the sender your INR 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. Read our full Wise review to learn more.
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. Wise 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 INR.
OFX is a specialist currency broker which offers international payments through dedicated account managers. OFX 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.
OFX offers fast secure transfers, and depending on where your payment is coming from there may be a low, or even 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 to your regular bank account.
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.
2. 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 INR 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 India - starting with HDFC:
|Fee type||HDFC personal account cost|
|Send international payments|
Online payments up to 500 USD or equivalent: 500 INR
Online payments over 500 USD or equivalent: 1,000 INR
Additional correspondent bank fees apply which vary by currency and can usually be paid by either the sender or the recipient
|Receive international payments||Fees vary based on the account|
Read HDFC International Transfers article to learn more.
Here are the fees if you hold an ICICI account - both for sending and receiving a payment internationally.
|Fee type||ICICI personal account cost|
|Send international payments|
Online payments - 750 INR
Branch payments - 1,000 INR
NRI account payments are 500 INR
Additional correspondent bank fees apply which vary by currency
|Receive international payments||Fees may vary by account|
You can check out our ICICI International Transfers article to learn more.
4. Cash pick-up
If you’re looking for a super quick and convenient way to receive money internationally in India, 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 India, and then you can go collect your money in cash - often instantly.
There are quite a few options for cash collection in India - 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 many available throughout India.
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.
With 310,000 global locations - and plenty of choice in popular spots around India - 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.
If your sender arranges home delivery, 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 Indian residents already use a broad range of mobile wallets for everything from paying for food to splitting bills with friends, and more.
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.
Let’s look at a couple of options for cross border use of a mobile wallet here in India - Paytm and Google Pay.
In 2021, Paytm announced a partnership with global currency service Ria, which would allow people to send money from overseas to a Paytm wallet through Ria’s payment structure.
From the point of view of the sender it’s simple - they’ll just need to select Mobile Wallet as the receive method when they set up their payment, and then add your Paytm details. The money is then delivered right into your Paytm account in INR.
If you’re expecting a payment from someone in the US, the simplest way may be to have them send it through Google Pay. Google Pay transfers are suitable for receiving payments from friends and family only - they’re not intended for business transactions.
Google Pay transfers are operated by either Wise or Western Union, depending on how the sender arranges them. Your money may be deposited into your bank account, or collected in cash depending on how the payment is structured. The sender will be able to track the payment through Google Pay once it’s on the move.
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 3,000 INR charge on a payment of 100,000 INR - 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 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 the authorities 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.
Often receiving money from overseas from a family member is not taxable, up to preset limits - however, other types of transfer could attract taxes, so it’s worth taking professional advice if you’re unsure.
Is there a limit to receiving money from abroad?
The limits applied on international payments can be set by both the RBI and the providers processing the transfer. The exact limits will depend on how your payments are structured and who is sending you money. For example, payments made through the Money Transfer Service Scheme (MTSS) are capped per payment, with a fixed maximum number of payments any individual can receive in a year.
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 India. Whether you’re looking for a low cost transfer right into your INR 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 Indian bank account you’ll often pay a receiving fee. Check the terms and conditions of your account to confirm - or pick an alternative way to get your money to cut out this extra cost.
Whether or not you need to declare your payment will depend on its value, who is sending it, and the reason for the transfer. Check with a professional tax adviser if you’re unsure.