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A Guide to Sending Money Home

With so many people nowadays living outside their country for work, there is a lot of money that people send back home to their families and friends. While your bank may seem like a convenient and reliable money transfer option, it may not always be the best one and can often be surprisingly expensive. By doing some research you can find alternatives that will save you money and offer the same (or better) levels of convenience, transfer speeds and reliability. This guide will give you the answers to all the most common questions about sending money home.

Updated: 03/06/2021
Read time: 10 minutes
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What factors should I consider when sending money home? 

When choosing a money transfer service for sending money home, there are a variety of factors to consider to help you find the best deal. Here’s a quick summary of what to bear in mind.

  • The amount you’re sending: Most money transfer services have a limit on the amount you can send in a day/single transfer. Also, some transfer services prove cheaper if you are sending larger amounts and may cost more for smaller amounts. 
  • The speed the money needs to arrive: Today, instant money transfers are available for most countries. However, the actual transfer speed may depend on various factors such as the service you choose, the currencies involved, and the payment/payout method. Some transfer options may cost higher but may offer instant transactions, others may be cheaper but may take a little longer. 
  • The currencies involved:  Banks and most large money transfer companies have a wide geographic reach and cover most currency routes. However, it is important, before you choose a money transfer provider, that you check whether they support the currency you intend to send. If the currencies you wish to transact in aren’t listed, you’ll have to find another provider.
  • Whether you’ll be making regular payments: For one-off payments, finding the best option is usually quick and easy (especially if using our money transfer comparison tool), but for sending regular payments it pays to do more thorough research. Choose a provider that offers the best rates and lowest fees, lets you set up recurring payments and is convenient to use. 
  • The payment and delivery method: This is an important consideration when you are sending money from one country to another. You may want some flexibility in the payment and delivery options. With banks, you can usually make only transfers from your bank account to other bank accounts across the world. While with money transfer companies you can make payments using bank transfer, credit/debit card, cash, and even e-wallets (depending on the provider). They also offer a host of delivery options including bank transfer, cash-pickup, or home delivery. Not all money transfer companies support all payment and delivery options, so choose the one that supports your preferred modes of payment and delivery. 

The different ways to send money internationally

You have a lot of options when you have to send money back home. In fact, there are so many options available that you may find it difficult to make a choice. Here is what you need to know about the various money transfer options. 

Bank transfers

Bank transfers are the go-to option for most people who are unaware of the other money transfer options available. You can send money online via your bank, or by visiting a branch. They will send money to the recipient’s bank account via the SWIFT network, which stands for the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication. This is a secure network that allows over 10,000 financial institutions in more than 200 different countries to send and receive information about financial transactions to each other. 

Using a bank transfer, your money will reach the recipient in 1-5 days depending on where the money is coming from and going. The downside with bank transfers is that they tend to be expensive and you can make only bank to bank transfers, so it is always a good idea to look at other options before making your transfer.

Money transfer companies

There are many specialised money transfer companies that are able to offer the same level of convenience, security, and reliability as banks – but with lower costs. These providers have modern technology and money transfer systems in place that help them reduce their costs and transfer times for users. Some even come with money transfer apps that make the process even easier.

Money transfer companies typically offer a variety of payment and delivery options, meaning you have more flexibility in terms of how you pay for your transaction and how it reaches your recipient. Again, there are so many money transfer companies operating in the market that you may find it difficult to choose the right one for your needs. Our comparison tool and a roundup of best money transfer companies may help you make a choice. 

Cash

Cash is the most traditional way of sending money, and is still widely used by many people across the world. You may send money via someone who is travelling to your home country or you may mail it. The recipient can then get the currency converted into local currency. Needless to say, this is not the best way to transfer money overseas, as it comes with security risks of your letter being stolen. 

As cash can get damaged or stolen, and you may not be able to send larger amounts. If you wish to send cash abroad, the best option is to use a money transfer company that offers cash as a payout method, such as Western Union or MoneyGram.

International money orders

International money orders give you a secure way of sending money abroad, by prepaying for a transfer and then posting the order to your intended recipient. The beneficiary can then deposit the money order in their bank account or have it cashed. This is a convenient option for some people, but most prefer the convenience that comes with online money transfers these days, especially as international money orders have quite restrictive transfer limits and high fees.

How much does it cost to send money home?

The actual cost of sending money home will depend on a variety of factors, the primary one being the money transfer provider you choose. Different banks and money transfer companies have different fee structures based on the amount you send, where you send it, how you send it and the currencies involved. In general you’ll want to consider the following factors when working out the cost of transferring money home.

  • Transfer fees: Most money transfer providers charge a fixed fee that can range from $2-$30 or more. Normally, the money transfer companies have lower fees than banks – especially for international transfers. As explained earlier, banks use the SWIFT network for sending money overseas, and each bank that participates in the transaction charges its own fee. This can quickly add up and you can end up paying a lot of money in fees. Check our guide on how to save on money transfer fees.
  • Exchange rate margins: Another way that money transfer providers make money and cover their costs is through exchange rate margins. When you plan to make a transfer overseas, you would normally check the current exchange rates on Google. The rate you’ll see when doing this is the interbank rate and not the rate that you will necessarily get when you make a transfer. Your provider will likely charge a margin on top of this rate. This margin or mark-up can be as low as 1% and as high as 6% or more depending on the provider you choose. Again, money transfer companies tend to be much more reasonable than banks in this regard.
  • Additional costs: There could be other costs involved when sending your money home, but exactly what charges you’ll face will depend on the precise details of your transfer. If you choose to fund the transaction using your credit card, you may have to pay an additional cash advance fee with some providers. The recipient may also have to pay a fee for receiving an international transfer. Also, if you choose a particular delivery method such as cash pickup or home delivery, you may have to pay an additional fee charged by the provider. Some money transfer companies charge only a fixed fee, some charge only exchange rate margins and some may charge both, so it is always important to check the fees that could apply to your transfer before sending money home.

Is it safe to send money over the internet?

It is totally safe to send money over the internet, but only if you take the necessary precautions to ensure you don’t fall victim to a scam. There are numerous safety measures in place to ensure that your money reaches the intended recipient safely. Money transfer providers use multiple layers of encryption on their websites and platforms to send online money transfers. There are other levels of protections also in place including identity verification, confirmation calls and instant notifications. So, you can safely send your money online via a bank or a regulated money transfer company. We have reviewed all the best and most reputable platforms on this site to help you choose a trustworthy service. To learn more about the safety of money transfers, check our guide on the safest ways to send money abroad.

What documents do I need to provide in order to send money overseas?

When you register with a money transfer company, you need to fill in an online form providing your personal details. You also need to provide a proof of identification such as passport, driver’s license or any other government issued ID. The money transfer company would use this to verify your identity and once it is done, you can start sending money. Thereafter, normally no documents are required. However, in certain cases, the company may seek additional documents to meet specific regulatory requirements; for example it is common to have to provide proof of income if sending a large amount of money abroad.

Are there money transfer providers that specialize in remittance payments?

Yes, there are many money transfer providers that specialize in remittance payments. These companies offer a wide variety of payout options, including cash. This means you can pay in cash at an agent location or fund your transfer using bank transfer/credit card/debit card and the recipient can collect cash from an agent location in their vicinity. This works best in cases where the recipient does not have a bank account but you still need to send them funds. Companies such as Western Union and MoneyGram specialize in remittance payments. The downside to using these companies is that they tend to be quite expensive, so be sure to shop around before choosing a remittance provider – especially if you’ll be sending regular payments.

Is there a limit to the amount I can send?

Most money transfer companies have a limit on the amount you can send in a single transaction/day/week. Some companies (particularly remittance companies) have low upper limits and some allow you to send large amounts. So, choose your provider based on the amounts you would generally need to send. 

It’s not possible to give an indication of what the limits you’ll typically see are, because they vary so much from provider to provider. You can send any amount of money you wish via online platforms, however, once you know your budget you’ll be able to find a transfer solution by researching and looking around.

Summary

The best way to send money home is online and there are many ways to do it. You can send money online via your bank or a money transfer company. You can choose your money transfer provider based on the amount you are sending, how soon you want it to reach the recipient, currencies involved, preferred payment and delivery method, and whether it is a one-off payment or recurring one. 

If you’d prefer not to use online platforms when sending money home, then you can use other options such as international money orders or visiting a branch of your bank. These methods will help you send your money safely to your family and friends, but will usually end up being considerably more expensive than online alternatives.

For sending money overseas, you will have to pay a fixed transfer fee, a margin on the exchange rate, and sometimes also a number of additional fees. The exact cost would depend on the provider you choose, the amount and currencies involved, and other factors such as the speed of the transfer. Generally, bank fees are high compared to money transfer companies. You can use our comparison tool to find out the best transfer option for your needs. 

Rest assured it is safe and secure to transfer money online. All you need to do is register with a reputable money transfer company, fill up a form, provide a valid ID and you can start transacting right away.

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Jonathan Merry

Jonathan is the founder and editor of MoneyTransfers.com. Jonathan is highly experienced in the currency transfer market, having previously worked in the FX trading industry, alongside being an avid traveller. Using his knowledge he identified a need for transparency and further education to help people save money on their money transfers, leading to the creation of MoneyTransfers.com

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