Sending money to Africa
On a global scale, Africa is vastly diverse, covering 20% of the planet’s total land mass. It is the world’s second-largest and second-most-populous continent and, as of 2021, home to over 1.37 billion people. Due to its immense size and dense population, African countries such as Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya are high-ranking remittance-receiving destinations.
Many of our readers have reasons to transfer funds to countries in Africa, albeit for international business transfers, sending money to friends and family or buying property abroad. This guide will help our users secure cheap money transfers to Africa by outlining key cost factors such as transfer fees, exchange rate and delivery options. We will evaluate each factor to make it easy for our readers to compare different money transfer service providers. This will help reduce costs when sending money to Africa, whether it be for a small business transfer or to pay for student fees.
Cost factors to consider when sending money to Africa
This section outlines the top factors contributing to the cost of sending money to Africa. Understanding these factors will help you identify fees and reduce costs when arranging future transfers, saving money in the long run.
The type of transfer method opted for will play a significant role in the amount of fees charged. Furthermore, not all instances of a transfer method will incur the same charges; some have higher fees than others. Here are the most common transfer methods available with banks and remittance companies and the fees you can expect to pay.
Balance transfers: These refer to transfers made between two customers of the same digital service via e-wallet or online services. Companies such as Wise typically offer these transfers free of charge, making it a cheap method for sending money to a recipient in Africa. However, companies like PayPal charge the receiver a fee for balance transfers which increases with the size of the transfer.
Bank transfer: Money transfer via banks is one of the most convenient but more expensive methods of sending money. Banks will charge anything between $10-$50 for international wire transfers, and this fee will be even higher if the currency is less commonly traded or the destination country is deemed remote.
Cash transfer: It is possible to send cash to recipients in Africa, which is particularly helpful when sending money to someone without a bank account. The beneficiary simply needs to bring the relevant identification documents to the designated cash pick-up point to collect the money. Typically, cash transfers cost $15 per transfer or a percentage of the transfer amount. The overall cost can be shared if required, but the fee structure will depend on the service provider.
The cost of a money transfer tends to increase depending on the speed. For example, when sending money via their bank, account holders may be able to opt for an instant transfer, but this will cost a premium compared to the cheaper method, which may take between 3 - 5 days. This means customers will often need to decide whether a faster transfer method is worth paying the extra money.
Foreign currency transfers sometimes incur exchange rate markups, which is the difference between the mid-market rate and the rate offered to the customer. Think of it as a fee that is charged for converting one currency to another during an international transfer. The best leading money transfer services do not apply any exchange rate markup, while others will add profit margins of 1 - 3%, and some banks charge 4 - 6% higher than the true market value. When sending money to Africa, the exchange rate may differ based on the type of currencies converted and the amount you wish to send. Services such as Xe offer to match the mid-market rate, which means you pay the true rate without incurring a fee.
Things to consider when sending money to Africa
This section outlines key features all customers should look out for when sending money to Africa. Each factor will help you decide on the quality between different international money transfer services and the features you desire most.
Available countries: First and foremost, it is crucial the provider you are using serves the specific African country you need to send money to. This can be done by reviewing the company’s global coverage ahead of locking in a transfer.
Mobile app: We recommend considering a money transfer service that comes with a mobile app. It is essential to the overall user score of the mobile app to assess its suitability based on your financial needs. Most mobile money apps will list their features, which is the best way to determine if the company fits your requirements.
Payment methods: Opt for a money transfer service offering multiple payment methods as these are the most flexible service providers. Possible payment options include balance transfers, credit or debit cards, wire transfers and cash pick-up. More options increase the chances of finding a cheap money transfer to Africa.
Transfer limits: Ensuring the transfer limits fit your requirements is another crucial consideration. Before creating a new account, take note of any minimum or maximum limitations, as some providers impose daily, weekly and monthly limits.
Exchange rates: The most competitive money transfer companies will not charge an exchange rate markup percentage for international transactions. These are the best services to use when sending money to Africa for a low cost. However, you can justify paying a markup percentage if the service does not charge other fees; all costs must be evaluated to compare the overall value appropriately.
The cheapest ways to send money to Africa
If you are short on time and want to try the top African money transfer services, then this section is for you. Each option offers low-cost money transfers and has an excellent reputation.
Azimo: choose Azimo for sending money to Africa if you want low transfer fees and multi-lingual support. They also offer many pay-out options which provide the receiver flexibility. The options include home delivery, mobile wallet, bank transfer and cash pick up. It means the recipient does not need an African bank account to receive money.
Wise: Select Wise for money transfers to Africa because of transparent fees and no exchange rate markup percentage. Also, the transfer speed is fast because you can send a balance transfer. The recipient will receive funds in their Wise account within seconds. Also, Wise has a highly-rated mobile app that allows you to execute transfers from the convenience of your mobile phone.
WorldRemit: WorldRemit offers money transfer services to a wide range of African countries such as Egypt, Liberia, Niger, Uganda and Zimbabwe. They offer competitive transfer fees and flexible transfer options. WorldRemit has an excellent reputation based on their reviews, which means you can give the service a try with full confidence.
How to reduce costs when sending money to Africa?
You can save money when sending money to Africa by comparing money transfer services. First, compare features such as payment options, transfer fees and exchange rate markup. Then choose the service that is the best match for your use case. For example, if you do not need a currency conversion, then do not worry if there is an exchange rate markup. In fact, this might be an advantage because they may not charge transfer fees.
Consider increasing the transfer time to save money. For example, bank transfers are more expensive when you choose instant transfers over the standard processing time of 2-5 business days. Also, comparing money transfer methods is just as important as comparing money transfer companies. The same service may provide expensive transfer methods while others are free.
Sending money to Africa for a low cost is not only possible, but you have several options. Money transfer services such as Wise, Azimo and WorldRemit offer a reliable experience. Moreover, they allow for transfer to most African countries with low transfer fees. For more information on sending money to Africa, we encourage you to read our guides on sending money to countries like Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya. They will help you figure out how to choose the best money transfer service for your needs.