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Send Money To South Korea

There are many ways to send money to South Korea, and finding the best deal can be time-consuming. In this guide, we share the best ways of sending to South Korea. It will allow you to save money, reduce transfer time and get the best FX rates. Also, we share the top methods for receiving money in South Korea. Throughout the guide, we provide the top money transfer services that are an excellent alternative to banks. 

Updated: 25/03/2022
Read time: 17 minutes
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Understanding the economy of South Korea

South Korea is a beautiful country with a flourishing mixed economy and the 4th highest GDP in Asia. Over the last few decades, South Korea has developed from a nation dealing with immense poverty to a high-performing G-20 country with booming financial and technology sectors. The fast-growing development of South Korea has meant the nation’s international remittance market has increased rapidly, and this guide endeavors to provide information about the most competitive ways to send money to the country.

The national currency is the South Korean won, and at the time of writing, 1 KRW is equal to 0.00081 USD. The national GDP is $1.80 trillion, and the export economy is $645 billion in size. The primary industries in South Korea include Electronics, Telecommunications, automobile production, chemicals, shipbuilding, and steel. 

Overall, the economy of South Korea has a good economic relationship with many countries. This means most money transfer companies include South Korea in their global coverage.

How To Send Money To Korea

Sending money to Korea is simple and easy. Follow these steps to get started.

Step 1

Find a Trusted Provider

Our comparison table for sending money to internationally looks at your specific transfer needs to and from any country in the world. Use this to find a provider that provides the best all-round service for you.
Step 2

Register with your chosen provider

Most providers will be completely free to sign up to, simply requiring your name, address and contact information. In most cases, you’ll also need to upload a picture of a valid photo ID to verify your identity.
Step 3

Transfer Money

As soon as you're ready, you can start sending money online.

Ways To Send And Receive Money In Korea

There are multiple ways to easily send and receive money in Korea, but these will largely depend on the provider you decide to use. Below you will find everything you need to know about the best ways to send money to South Korea.

Sending Money To Korea
Receiving Money In Korea

Ways to Send Money to South Korea

There are three main remittance channels to South Korea. You can use banks, online money transfer providers, or in-person cash transfer services. The choice of the channel depends on the cost, accessibility, reliability, and transparency.

Bank to Bank transfers

If you are making your transfer from the United States, it may be worth it to consider Korean American banks. These banks, which include Bank of Hope, CBB Bank, Hanmi Bank, Metro City Bank, Open Bank, and Pacific City Bank, are dedicated to the needs of Koreans living abroad.

The cost of wire transfers averages 30-$40 per transfer, even when sending large amounts. The effectiveness of wire transfer services to Korea depends on the extensiveness of the foreign correspondent bank network of the financial institution you choose. Some banks, such as Wells Fargo, cover a handful of countries; hence may not be appropriate when sending money to Korea.

Generally, banks are not suitable for smaller and urgent transfers. For that, you’ll have to explore other options, such as online money transfer providers.

Online Money Transfer Services

Many Koreans abroad use internet-based money transfer services such as OFXAzimo, Xoom, Wise, and SodaTransfer to send money home. Online money transfer providers charge low fees, deliver transfers fast, give you the ability to track your transfer, and offer relatively higher exchange rates.

Transfer providers such as Wise and SodaTransfer do not charge any markup fee on the exchange rate. The transfers are done at mid-market rates. Even for those that charge markup fees, their margins are between 0.5-3.5%. These margins are way lower compared to the 5-8% that banks charge.

You can send money directly to bank accounts or cash pickup locations in Korea through online money transfers services. The good news is that you do not need to have a bank account in the host country to use the service. All you need is to set up an account, have it verified, fill in the transfer details, pay for your transfer and send.

Paying for your transfer is simple; you can do bank transfers or pay using your credit or debit card.

In-Person Cash Transfer Services

Western Union and MoneyGram are the two biggest brands in the agent-based cash transfer channel. They also allow for internet-based money transfers. These two money transfer operators have agents located in different parts of the world, including banks, independent stores, and self-service counters.

The fees you’ll pay when using this channel comprise the transfer payment method fee and the exchange rate margin. For instance, when transferring money from the UK to South Korea, Western Union allows up to a maximum of 5,208.18 GBP at a fee of 85 GBP. MoneyGram charges a fee of 3.99 GBP. While both operators transfer in USD, MoneyGram has a better exchange rate than Western Union. The available payout option is a cash pickup.

What is Needed to Send Money to South Korea

The information and documents you require when sending money to South Korea include:

  • A government-issued photo ID
  • The name of the recipient, their address, and phone number
  • The recipient’s bank details if the transfer is to a bank account
  • The reason for sending

Once you make your first transfer, you may not need some of this information on your subsequent transfers.

Common Reasons for Sending Money to South Korea

Different needs drive the inflows to South Korea. As a result, the amounts sent vary in size, frequency, and the source country. Below are some of the common reasons remittances keep on flowing to South Korea.

House Purchase

In highly speculative zones such as the capital Seoul, Gwacheon, and Sejong City, real estate assets attract a mixture of diaspora and local South Koreans. For example, the median cost of buying a home in Seoul is USD 95,000.

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Paying for a Luxury Holiday

People planning to go for a holiday in South Korea send money in advance to booking companies or direct to hotels in the country. These payments are captured as inflows.

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Business Investment

Some of the investments are in new businesses, while others are cash flow injections into existing businesses.

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Cross-border Transactions

Overseas companies make payments to Korean-based suppliers, contractors, and employees.

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Contributions for Religious Festivals

During festivals and national holidays such as Seollal, Chuseok, and Buddha’s Birthday, inflows to South Korea increase. The contributions could be for family-based celebrations or made directly to religious organizations or to the needy.

Why Send Money with a Money Transfer Service?

Money transfer services are the most preferred channels for sending money to South Korea because of the unique advantages they offer. Some of the top reasons for using money transfer service providers include:

Easy to Set Up

Signing up for an account, paying up for your transfer and sending money through online money providers is simple and fast. The procedures are fewer and the information needed is minimal. Within a couple of hours, your account for money transfer.

Faster Transfers

Compared to banks and informal money transfer methods, online money transfer services take a much shorter time to deliver transfers. For instance, cash pickups take minutes to get to the recipient while bank transfers can take hours to 3 days to be completed.

Higher Exchange Rates

The markup fee on exchange rates online money transfer providers charge is lower compared to banks. On average, providers charge 0.5-3.5% while banks charge upwards of 5%.

Low Transfer Fees

Online money transfer services are offered at low overhead costs. This cost advantage enables providers to extend the benefits to customers in the form of low transfer fees. Transfering 1000 GBP to South Korea costs 9.37 GBP on TransferWise. Banks may charge up to $40 USD for the same transfer.

Multicurrency Support

Online money transfer operators support money transfers from different countries. Bearing in mind that inflows to South Korea come from countries as far as Afghanistan and Cambodia, having a platform that supports all these countries is hugely important. That being said, most transfers to South Korea originate from the United States Dollars (USD).

Security and Reliability

Money transfer service providers are regulated by the respective authorities in the countries they operate. The organisations which include  FinCEN, FCA, and FINTRAC, ensure that operations are streamlined, fair and trustworthy. Money transfer service providers have also invested in security solutions such as SSL and two-factor authentication (2FA) to help fight cybercrime.

Things to consider when sending money to South Korea

Those sending money to South Korea could arrange an international transfer for all manner of reasons. We recommend considering the following before initiating a cross-border payment to this Asian country: 

  • Strict taxation may apply to larger transfers: South Korea implements extensive tax regulations, particularly regarding inheritance and monetary gifts. Therefore, recipients of large remittances should report these as gifted, as per the South Korean tax laws. If you are unsure about the status of an international payment, we encourage you to seek the advice of a tax professional who specializes in South Korean taxation. 
  • Emergency remittances: If you find yourself in a position whereby funds need to be urgently transferred to a contact in South Korea, we encourage you to make this clear to the service provider ahead of sending. Although slightly more expensive, the financial service industry can now offer instant payments, but it is crucial you make this request known before you pay for it to bypass any untimely obstacles or issues with transferring funds.
  • Currency clarification: As the South Korean won (KRW) is not as readily available as other countries’ currencies, certain service providers or banks may offer to send money to South Korea, but they do not necessarily provide this service in KRW. For example, if you use your US-based bank to transfer funds to South Korea without reading the small print, you may discover the transfer is made quickly, but your payee ends up receiving USD instead of KRW. This is likely to inconvenience your payee in the long run as they will need to convert the funds into their local currency at their expense.

Top 3 companies for sending money to South Korea

It can be time-consuming to select a top-tier company to send money to South Korea. However, the three companies below are good choices and come with several advantages. 

1. OFX

Sending money to South Korea with OFX is fast and safe. Their security measures are modern and easy to set up. Also, the low fees and competitive FX rates are way better than what most banks can offer. Because OFX has lower overheads, the savings can be passed down to the customer.

OFX provides a diverse range of payment options, which offers flexibility. Having access to different payment methods gives users a choice and provides backup options. Also, you can compare the fees between them to discover the one that offers the best deal. 

2. Wise

Wise is an industry-leading money transfer service that has excellent transparency. They inform users of the fees and FX rates before transactions take place. Also, multiple confirmation screens guide customers through the process of sending money in a way that minimizes mistakes. Wise regularly matches the mid-market rate for many currency pairs, which most banks do not offer. 

Balance transfer with Wise, in most cases, takes just a few seconds. They also do a great job of sending notification emails to keep both parties informed about the transaction. 

3. Instarem

Instarem is a well-respected specialist transfer provider in South Korea. You can check the exchange rate for many currency pairs on the homepage. This gives you a chance to discover if Instarem provides a good deal before registering for an account. 

The 24/7 customer service department of Instarem is a good source of help. They respond fast with live agents via chat. Also, an InstaPoints reward program offers customers an extra incentive to send money with Instarem. 

Your Questions Answered

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Looking to Send Money Somewhere Else? 

Sending money anywhere else in the world is as easy as sending money to Korea. So if you’re looking to send money to another country, here is the list of the most popular destinations.

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