LuLu Exchange Review: Exchange Rates, Transfer Fees & Alternatives
LuLu Exchange is an ISO 9001:2015 certified global foreign exchange and cheap money transfer services provider. It is part of the LuLu Group International and operates in 13 countries globally serving over 15 million customers including banking institutions, local and international corporations, business houses as well as individuals who regularly transfer funds to their recipients overseas.This review will take you through everything you need to know about using LuLu Exchange to transfer your money abroad as quickly as possible.
For the past 12 years, the provider has been recording fast-paced growth year on year starting from its humble beginnings with the launch of its first branch at Al Wahda Mall, Abu Dhabi, UAE in September 2009. Currently, the provider boasts of more than 250 branches, 89 of which are located in the UAE.
To access LuLu Exchange services, you need to visit a branch near you or transact online through the LuLu Money app. Unlike other money transfer providers, LuLu Exchange online services are not available on its website making the app the only avenue for international money transfers online.
LuLu Exchange transacts over $6.73 billion every year to more than 83 countries and territories, with a particularly large presence in India. As of 2017, half of its then 3.5 million customers were Pravasi Malayalees from Kerala, India. The company has a workforce as diverse as the countries it serves, with over 1500 employees drawn from more than 20 nationalities - making every customer feel at home while being served at any of its branches.
Across just the UAE, LuLu Exchange accounted for more than $1.5 billion of the total personal remittances sent in 2015 - making the company one of the key regional players.
LuLu Exchange rates and fees
Just like with most money transfer companies, when you send money using LuLu Exchange, you'll be charged an exchange rate margin for converting your host currency to your destination currency, and transaction fees to get your transfer to your recipient overseas. Here's what to expect when making your transfer.
It can be hard to discover exactly what margins are charged by LuLu Exchange, so we’ve done some research. To know the exchange rates and fees charged on the LuLu Exchange online platform, you have to sign up for an account on the LuLu Money app, which is available in 10 out of the 12 countries the provider operates in as listed below:
United Arab Emirates
Customers in Bangladesh and Malaysia can only transact through physical branches. That being said, you can also get the current exchange rates at any of the LuLu Exchange branches near you. They have a foreign exchange live board that displays the buy and sell rates for different global currencies. The exchange rates are the same whether you transact through the app or at the branch. Based on the rates updated by the provider on the app as of 17th March 2020, here are margins it charges.
Sending funds from UAE to India: The exchange rate on the app was 1.00 AED =20.1450 INR while the mid-market rate was 1 AED = 20.1770 INR. This translates to a margin of 0.16%
Sending funds from UAE to Egypt: The rate on the app was 1.00 AED =4.24176 EGP while the mid-market rate was 1 AED = 4.28805 EGP. Here, the margin is 1.08%
Sending funds from UAE to the Philippines: The LuLu Mobile app had a rate of 1.00 AED =13.95007 PHP while the interbank rate was 1 AED = 14.0870 PHP. This translates to a rate of 0.97%.
From the analysis above, the provider varies the margins charged depending on the transfer route. However, regardless of the route, LuLu Exchange offers competitive rates that usually fall between 0.1% and 1.2%.
When transferring money using LuLu Exchange, you’ll have to pay transaction fees and a Value added tax (VAT) of 5% charged on the fee amount. For instance, if the fee is 10.95AED, you’ll pay an additional 0.55 AED as tax. In total, you’ll be billed 11.50 AED.
The fees are the same whether you send from the branch or using the app, but do vary depending on the amount you are sending. When transferring funds up to AED 1,000, you will pay a transaction fee of AED 17 inclusive of tax. The transaction fee for sending any amount above AED 1,000 is AED 23. Irrespective of the transfer route, the fees remain the same.
Depending on how you pay for your transfer, you may incur some charges from your bank. For instance, some banks may charge you a nominal fee for using wire transfer or the Payment Gateway. The recipient may also be charged landing fees if the transfer is paid out through the bank. LuLu Exchange doesn’t have control over these external fees, so it’s important to check with your bank.
LuLu Exchange pros and cons
LuLu Exchange supports overseas money transfers through a robust infrastructure available online and at physical branches. This makes it simple and cheap for customers to send and receive money. Here is a look at their pros and cons to help you decide if they are the right choice for you.
What kind of payments can I make with LuLu Exchange?
When you are transferring money via the LuLu Exchange platform you can either pay in-app or at a branch. The beneficiary also has several options on how to receive the money sent. Here is a look at the options available in terms of payment and withdrawal options on LuLu Exchange.
Payment methods available
There are three ways you can pay for your transfer with LuLu Exchange:
Payment Gateway: This is an online payment platform linked to your bank. Once you enter the transfer details, simply choose Payment Gateway on the app and you'll be prompted to select your bank. When there, log in and pay for your transfer.
Wire transfer: When you initiate a transfer through the app and intend to pay using wire transfer, you should select the LuLu Exchange bank account you want to wire the money to. The system will then generate a reference code for you. When making the transfer, ensure you include the reference code in your payment description.
Cash payment: You can pay for your transfer at the branch using cash. It is important to note that you can begin your transfer on the app and complete it in-store. The app will generate a reference code which you will use when paying at the branch.
Withdrawal options available
Beneficiaries can receive money from LuLu Exchange in one of the following ways.
Direct to account: The provider deposits money directly to the recipient's bank using the details provided by the client.
Cash Pickup: Recipients can collect the funds transferred in cash from any of the provider's cash pickup locations near them.
LuLu Now: This is the latest offering by the provider and allows instant credit transfers to banks in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Philippines, Egypt, and Indonesia.
Door to door cash delivery: LuLu Money, the Hong Kong subsidiary of LuLu International Exchange L.L.C, supports door to door delivery to the Philippines. Funds take only 48 hours to be delivered.
Additional payment services offered by LuLu Exchange
LuLu Exchange is more than a money transfer company; in addition to its money transfer and currency exchange services, the company offers a variety of other mainstream financial services including:
Import and export of banknotes: The provider has established a banknotes department that imports and exports foreign currencies to cater to the needs of both high-volume foreign exchange traders and small and medium traders.
Wage and salary administration- LuLu Exchange’s salary and wages administration service, complies with the Wages Protection System (WPS). The provider’s business clients are issued with ‘My Pay My Card,’ a Mastercard branded debit card which they can use to pay their workers. In turn, the workers can access the funds using their Ratibi Prepaid Cards issued by the First Abu Dhabi Bank. The advantage with this service is that employees do not need to open a bank account; As long as they earn AED 5,000 and below per month, employers can use MyCard to deposit salaries directly into the employee cards.
Mobile, bill, and ticket-paying services: In addition to this, LuLu Exchange offers a range of payment services offering extra value. These include mobile top-ups, utility bill payments, credit card payments, and ticket payments for Air Arabia and Cebu Pacific airlines.
How to send and receive money with LuLu Exchange
LuLu Exchange has a simple and straightforward way to send and receive money. The steps are easy to follow starting from the moment you sign up for an account to the time you make a transfer.
How to send money with LuLu Exchange
Transferring funds using LuLu Exchange is a simple process: sign up for an account, initiate the transfer, and pay for it. Here are the steps involved.
1.Step 1 Account signup
2.Step 2 Making a transfer
3.Step 3 Paying for your transfer
How to receive money with LuLu Exchange
If you choose 'Direct to Account' or 'LuLu Now' as the payout methods, the funds will be deposited directly into the recipient's bank account.
For cash pickup, the beneficiary will receive a notification when the transfer is complete. To claim the money, they must visit their nearest pickup location with their ID and the transaction code for verification purposes.
For door to door deliveries, the LuLu Money representative takes the cash to the recipient’s doorstep. All that the beneficiary needs to do is to produce their identity document and transfer notification or code for verification and receipt of the funds.
Does LuLu Exchange have a mobile app?
Yes, LuLu Exchange has an app available on both Play Store and App Store as a free download. Since you cannot make an online transfer on the website, the app is the only platform you can use. On the app, you can do the following:
Make transfers to supported countries and currencies
Check real-time exchange rates to help you plan your transfers
Add new or update your existing recipients.
Track the status of your transfer
Set rate alerts to get notified when your target rate becomes available
Locate LuLu Exchange branches near you
View transfer history up to the last 20 transactions
The provider aims to move 30% of all its remittance transactions onto the online platform by 2020. This will ensure more convenience for its millions of customers.
How fast are LuLu Exchange's transfer speeds?
Most transfers are delivered the next business day. However, some may take up to 3 working days to be completed. This depends on the intermediary banks involved and your specific transfer route. For instance, transfers from Hong Kong to the Philippines take only 48 hours for door to door deliveries.
Are there maximum and minimum transfer amounts?
There are no transfer limits. You can send as little as 1 AED with no maximum.
Can I trust LuLu Exchange?
LuLu Exchange is a reputed ISO 9001:2015 certified international money transfer and foreign exchange brand. It serves both businesses and private clients looking to move funds across borders. The transfer platforms both branch-based and online are flexible, reliable and secure. Below is a summary of the trust factors that make the provider a reliable brand in the industry.
LuLu Exchange was established in 2008 by Yusuff Ali Musaliam Veettil Abdul Kader (Mr Yusuff Ali M.A), an Indian billionaire businessman based in the UAE. In 2009, it opened its first branch in the UAE and quickly extended its operations across the GCC countries such as Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, and Bahrain. To organise and consolidate its expansion, LuLu Exchange Holdings Limited was incorporated in 2018 and registered at the Abu Dhabi Global Market.
Today, LuLu Exchange boasts an annual turnover of more than $10.353 billion and vibrant operations in 12 countries under the following names:
LuLu Exchange LLC: This provider was incorporated as a private limited company in the United Arab Emirates in 2008. To date, it has 73 branches across the UAE
Asia Express Exchange Company LLC: This is a foreign company incorporated in Oman on January 30, 2013, under company number F04506. In April 2019, the provider was re-branded to LuLu Exchange in all its 34 branches across the Sultanate.
LuLu Exchange Co. WLL: This company was incorporated in Kuwait and currently has a total of 24 branches.
LuLu Exchange WLL: Registered in Qatar in 2013, LuLu Exchange WLL has now grown to 4 branches.
LuLu Exchange B.S.C (C): This company was registered in the Kingdom of Bahrain and has to date grown to 13 branches.
LuLu-Phils International Exchange, Inc: This is a wholly-owned subsidiary of LuLu Exchange established in the Philippines. Previously, the Philippines was only a liaison office but now the provider has a fully-fledged subsidiary with a total of 6 branches.
LuLu Exchange Limited: This company was set up in Seychelles in July 2019 and operates a single branch in Victoria, the capital and largest city in Seychelles.
LuLu Forex Private Limited: Incorporated in India on October 08, 2010, under company number 26850 and company identification number (CIN) U74900KL2010PTC026850, this subsidiary has 28 branches.
NS Cashpoint Sdn Bhd: In Malaysia, LuLu Money entered into a partnership with NS Cashpoint Sdn Bhd, a reputed money services business incorporated in August 1993, to offer remittance, currency exchange, and other value-added services. Currently, there are 24 branches in the country.
LuLu Money Ireland: This is the only subsidiary of LuLu Exchange in Europe and runs 5 branches in the country.
LuLu Money Hong Kong: This is a key subsidiary of LuLu Exchange in the Far East region. LuLu Exchange acquired a local financial services provider in the country in April 2018, rebranded all its 5 branches to LuLu Money and commenced operations beginning May 2018. The company has its head office at Hankow Centre in Kowloon
Lulu International Exchange Bangladesh: This is the only liaison office left after India and the Philippines became full subsidiaries. Its address is Akram Tower, Level-10, Suite-05 15, 5 Shahid Syed Nazrul Islam Sharani, Dhaka 1000.
As part of its future expansion plans, the provider is considering building more of a presence in markets in Europe, Australia and Indonesia. The first two are mainly sending markets, but Indonesia is a net recipient of remittances having recorded $11.2 billion in 2018.
In the UAE, the provider is licensed by the Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates (CBUAE) to offer foreign currency exchange, payment of wages, and remittance operations.
Its Philippines subsidiary is licensed by Bangko Sentral Ng Pilipinas (BSP) as an Electronic Money Institution (EMI) and TYPE A Remittance Transfer Company. This gives it the authority to operate as a foreign exchange, money changer, and remittance business.
The provider also fully complies with the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (CFT) legal standards.
Encryption and customer data
Customer data in the custody of the provider is protected by a solid cloud-based security system. Some of the technologies the company has deployed include SSL by Default, Comodo SSL, Sectigo SSL, and Sectigo Domain SSL.
Investors and Awards
LuLu Exchange is privately owned by M A Yusuff Ali and falls under the LuLu Financial Group. In the 12 years in operation, the provider has won several awards recognising its exemplary work in currency exchange and remittance. Here are some of the notable ones:
Global Financial Market Review (GFM) Awards 2013: LuLu Exchange won the Best Remittance Operation Middle East in recognition of its exceptional customer service.
2019 World Branding Awards: The provider won the Brand of the Year Award for being a trusted name in the non-banking financial sector.
Key industry partnerships
The provider has partnered with the following money transfer companies to expand its global reach. Whenever you visit any LuLu Exchange branch, you’ll see their logos displayed. This means you can receive money sent through them right at the branches:
LuLu Exchange has no reviews yet on Trustpilot, but there are a few on sites such as Sitejabber, App Store and Play Store. Overall, the reviews bring out mixed experiences. Here is a summary of what customers had to say.
Can I cancel my transfer?
Transfers can only be cancelled by visiting a branch. However, on both the app and the website, there is a live chat with a dedicated stream known as 'Transaction Error/Complaints' where you can raise an issue about any of your transactions for quick assistance.
Top destinations for using LuLu Exchange
According to SimilarWeb, a traffic analytics and intelligence firm, most visits to the LuLu Exchange website come from the United Arab Emirates (13%) and Qatar (5%). The following countries are among the top destinations for the provider:
If you want to make a general enquiry, transaction enquiry, report a transaction error or complaint, or any other issue, you can reach customer support through any of the below channels:
Live chat: There is a built-in 24/7 live chat function in the mobile app and on the website. You can chat and wait for a few minutes to get a response.
Email: You can either send your message through the embedded web form on the website or email the support team via email@example.com.
Phone: There is phone support available 24/7 on a toll line (+971561772755). In addition, each of the countries where LuLu Exchange operates, there are local support lines as follows:
UAE: +971 44 504 900
Bahrain: +973 17 641 290
Bangladesh: +880 29 341 435
Hong Kong: +852 27 793 900
India: +91 484 418 7786
Kuwait: +965 22 022 185
Oman: +968 24 709 777
Philippines: +63 25 111 835
Qatar: +974 44 217 862
Seychelles: +248 461 0812
LuLu Exchange has made a name for itself in the 12 years it has been in the industry. Its focus on the GCC region and markets in Asia has seen it grow its operations very fast. Currently, it has over 200 branches including 73 in the UAE. The provider serves both private and corporate clients with the latter benefiting from salary and wage administration services. However, online transfers can only be done from the LuLu Money app since the website doesn't have a money transfer functionality.
When paying for your transfer you can choose Payment Gateway, wire transfer, or pay@branch. Once you make the payment, LuLu Exchange will process your transfer and deposit it directly into your recipient's bank account, send it for cash pick up or use the ‘LuLu Now’ service for instant credit into the recipient's bank account.
The provider has a strong history and is part of a family of brands under the LuLu Financial group. However, it is yet to get reviews on Trustpilot. If you want to find more about user experiences, head to the app reviews on Play Store or App Store.
Alternatively, you can use our money transfer comparison tool to quickly find out where it stands in our recommended list of providers. This will help you decide whether it is the right provider for you or not and get the best deal for your transfer.