For money transfers from the US to Europe (PT, ES and IT so far) we use Wise. We’ve used Xoom before, but prefer wise.
You can see the current market spot/intraday rate, and what the fee will be before you initiate the transfer, no surprises, no guessing. I also try to hedge and transfer USD to EUR when the rate is good, and use when the rate is bad. The rate has been horrible lately (1.20), and we’ve also made some larger purchases recently at this horrible rate, sadly it could not be avoided.
Usually the transfer completes in seconds, at least that’s been our experience, going from our Wise account to either our IT conto corrente, or to our landlords ES or PT account, or anywhere really. Also note that your Euros are not in a foreign bank, but in the US if you’ve opened the account in the US, so no FINCEN 114 or FBAR required, which is also nice.
As for sums larger than 15k euros, you can send as much as you’d like, you just can’t HOLD in your wise account 15k+ euros for more than 3 days. If you do, you pay the interest since it’s a negative rate for euros currently. Wise is up front about it, and once your euro account has more than 15k in it, they’ll email you, with the notice and what that interest rate is. Here’s what they sent me just this month when we bought our second car in cash.
You’ve gone over your 15,000 EUR free allowance.
We charge an annual fee of 0.4% on any EUR you hold above this amount.
We’ll wait 3 days before we start charging the fee — this means we’ll start charging you on April 18.
The fee is calculated daily based on the amount of EUR you hold above your free allowance. We’ll take the fee from your account at the end of each month.
As an example — this means that for every 1000 EUR you hold above your free allowance, you’ll pay about 0.33 EUR a month.
When I check the rate at wise, it’s the intraday rate, so it’s really current, and if you have a terminal and watch rates, you’ll know. Other services “clear” and use the close that’s posted in the WSJ, like what schwab uses for their no foreign transaction fee ATM withdrawals, it’s that close rate, not the intraday rate.
If you don’t want to pay the interest, don’t hold more than 15k in euros. We have a Euro balance in Wise, to pay for items like rent, or anything that requires a transfer SEP and not SWIFT for payment. SWIFT is expense, old, slow, and happy to never use that again.
Setting up bank accounts in Europe really depend on residency, but you can still get non resident accounts (although some banks don’t want the hassle of an American customer and the reporting requirements), and most countries don’t know the difference between them cross borders. FWIW.
What service did you use?
At what rate were you able to transfer funds (as compared to the official EUR-USD rate that day)?
Did you do your transfer all in one lump sum?
Lump sum for this instance.
Did you encounter any problems in making your international transfer?
Zero - went from Wise to a car dealers SEP account instantly, they confirmed receipt in minutes.
What potential problems (GV-related or otherwise) should I look out for?
The important things are the rate and the fees.
Good luck with your purchase!