Remittances: Who sends money overseas?

Christien PhebyContent Manager
January 28, 2021, 12:07 PM UTC

YouGov data takes a look at British and American remittance payments

Data from YouGov Profiles reveals that 12% of Britons and Americans send money overseas. But how often do they make these payments – and why do they make them?

Our research shows that a fifth of Britons (20%) and a quarter of Americans (25%) who send remittance payments do so at least once a month – with 21% and 27% respectively sending this money abroad at least once every two to three months. Another fifth of those in Britain (18%) and the US (21%) who transfer money overseas do so once every four to six months, while 12% and 10% respectively do so every seven to 12 months.

How much money are people sending abroad – and why are they sending it?

In terms of quantity, over half (54%) of Brits who send remittance payments send less than £500 whenever they transfer money overseas – with over a quarter (28%) transferring between £100 – £499.99. A further 15% send £500-£999.99, while 18% send £1,000 or more.

It’s a broadly similar picture in the US, where over half (52%) of whose who send these payments send less than $500, and a quarter (26%) send between $100 – $500. Americans, are slightly more likely to send greater amounts of money overseas, with a fifth (20%) sending $1,000 or more and 10% sending over $5,000.  

As for why these payments are sent overseas, 43% of both Brits and Americans who send remittances say they are doing so to help their families. This may align with general perceptions of remittance payments, which are commonly associated with migrants in more prosperous countries sending funds back home to help their families and communities in less prosperous countries of origin.

This tendency may be reflected in other answers given – for example, almost a fifth in both the US (18%) and Britain (17%) say they’re sending money overseas to pay for bills. This group skews younger than the general public in both markets: in Britain, two in five (39%) are aged 18-34 next to 28% of the public, while just 14% are over 55. In the US, well over half (56%) are aged 18-34 compared to 32% of the wider public – and a mere 9% are over 55.

There are some key differences between those who send remittance payments in the US and Great Britain: 29% of Americans who transfer funds abroad, for example, are doing so to save money; in Britain, this amounts to just 18% of this group overall. Americans who send remittances are twice as likely to do so in order to pay an overseas credit card (14% vs 7%) or buy an overseas property (15% vs. 7%). International school fees are also a consideration for a minority of this group: 13% of Americans and 8% of Brits say they send money abroad for education.

In terms of preferred payment methods, Paypal is the most commonly used service for both Britons and Americans – though the latter (39%) are far more likely to use it than the former (27%). British consumers who send money overseas are also more likely to use their bank (26%) than Americans (20%), while Americans are more likely to use Western Union (22% vs. 15%). Further down the list, there is evidence that London-based Transferwise enjoys a home advantage among Brits – who are twice as likely (20% vs. 10%) to use it as Americans. The same is true for Dallas-based Moneygram: used by 7% of British and 16% of American consumers who send money abroad.

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