If you need to send money to South Africa back home to family, to make a foreign purchase, or for business purposes, there are a number of options available to you. This guide takes an in-depth look into how to send money to South Africa, including the best, cheapest, and fastest options available to you plus everything you may need to know about your international transfer.
Follow these steps to start the process of sending money to South Africa:
Step 1: Compare providers to find the best service for you
The overall cost, speed, and efficiency of your international money transfer can vary significantly depending on which provider you use. Find the service best suited to your transfer needs by using our comparison engine, which provides an unbiased and real-time analysis of providers that support transfers between your chosen currency pair based on cost, speed, payment options, and more.
Step 2: Create your free account and register your details
An account with your chosen money transfer operator should be free to sign up to, and most are easy to set up via an online app within a matter of minutes. Note, you might need to upload a photo of your ID (such as a passport or driving license) to verify your account so it’s a good idea to get your account set up and ready to go before you need to make a transfer urgently.
Step 3: Start your transfer
Once your account is set up, you can start sending money to South Africa. You’ll need to enter your recipient’s details (more information provided below), and your payment details, as well as the amount you are sending and where you are sending from. Your provider should provide a clear breakdown of the fees you should expect before initiating your transfer, as well as a prediction of how long the transfer will take.
There are multiple ways to easily send and receive money in South Africa, and it can easily be overwhelming trying to find the ‘best’ option for you. We’ve outlined the most popular ways to send and receive money below:
The following are some of the reliable and safe ways you can use to send money to South Africa from around the world:
South Africa has over 22 registered banks comprising locally-controlled, foreign-controlled, mutual, and cooperative banks. The banking system boasts over 50 branches of foreign banks, which means moving money via wire transfer from other countries to South Africa is relatively safe and convenient.
Notwithstanding their extensive network, banks are still grappling with unattractive exchange rates, longer wait times, and intense screening operations. Time zone differences and operating hours can lengthen the time bank transfers take to reach target beneficiaries back home.
Fortunately, there are other options.
There are now a number of major players in the international money transfer market catering to South Africa and more of the African continent as a whole. Companies like TransferWise, Xoom, MoneyGram, Western Union, Currencies Direct, First Rand, Mukuru, and WorldRemit have all positioned themselves to take advantage of the various transfer corridors. We’ve put together a list of top 10 money transfer companies to get you started.
These companies tend to provide more favourable exchange rates, lower fees, and faster transfer times than traditional banks, and have the major advantage of offering more payout options beyond a simple bank transfer.
The following are the main sending options:
Bank Transfer – If the person you are sending the money has a bank account or prefers to receive money using this option, bank transfers can be convenient. Apart from safety, bank transfers can handle large amounts with no pressure to withdraw it all at once.
You can transact with the money however you like without necessarily having it in cash.
Cash Pickup– Depending on how close the recipient is to an agent location of your chosen provider, you can send cash for pick up. The advantage of this method is that it is fast and very much convenient for small amounts. The recipient gets a voucher number with collection details.
Western Union has partnered with select ABSA branches while TranferWise leverages the Mukuru network for cash pickups. You can access MoneyGram services from FNB ATMs and cellphone banking.
Mobile Wallet– You can choose to send money directly to the recipient’s mobile wallet. This method is convenient both for the unbanked in rural South Africa and for recipients in urban areas as well. The money is literally in your hands the moment the transfer is complete. MoneyGram offers this service through Standard Bank, while WorldRemit offers airtime top-ups with MTN, Virgin, or Cell.
The South African Postal Service established under the Postal Services Act of 1998 is in charge of both domestic and international money orders. International acceptability and sending limits vary from country to country.
The beauty with money orders is that neither the sender nor the recipient needs an account. Also, money orders are paid for well in advance thus guaranteeing the recipient will get their money. Only senders from participating countries can transfer money using this method.
Whether you are sending to the Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West, Northern Cape, or Western Cape, your provider and the method of transfer will determine the details needed to send money. That said, the following is a list of what is typically required when sending.
On a case by case basis, senders may be asked to give more details on the purpose of the funds.
Through the bank – If the sender does a bank transfer to your account, the money can show up in your account in a matter of minutes, or sometimes a couple of working days. Senders who fund their accounts using debit or credit cards experience the fastest send times. Other factors include the choice of provider, the amount involved, the day of the week, and the time of day the transaction is done – bank holidays and weekends are likely to cause longer delays.
Cash collection – You can collect your cash from the respective agents depending on the provider used. Ensure you choose a safe agent location and do not share your collection details with anyone. If possible, ask a family member or a trusted friend to accompany you.
Mobile Wallet – It is estimated that 23.5% of the adult population of South Africa are unbanked, amounting to millions of people without access to a bank account to receive funds from abroad. Instead, you can choose to have the sender deposit the money right into the mobile wallet in your phone.
Most – if not all – providers send you a notification on the mobile number provided by the sender telling you that your money is ready for collection. Much like the sender, you will need to provide information that will help to identify you and complete the transaction. Here’s the information to provide.
Other providers will require that you explain the source of the funds or sign a declaration form that the funds are not proceeds of illegal business. You don’t need any identification to access money deposited in your mobile wallet or bank account.
With almost a quarter of the adult population in South Africa estimated to be unbanked and without access to financial services, the best way to send money to South Africa is ultimately the way that allows you to get your funds to your recipient easily, quickly, and for as low a cost as possible.
Money transfer operators are almost always going to offer the best solution. They alone can provide you with the choice of sending money to a bank account, in cash, or to a mobile wallet, so you can decide what suits you and your recipient best. Important details that will affect the overall quality of your international money transfer include:
The cheapest way to send money to South Africa will almost always be with a money transfer operator. Not all money transfer companies will support transfer to South Africa from your sending country, so it’s important to compare providers based on the currencies you need to convert between.
The two main costs you need to be aware of are transfer fees and the exchange rate you are offered. A reputable transfer service should show you upfront the fees you should expect to be charged before you start your transfer, but it’s a good idea to compare your options to determine how good a deal you are getting.
The fastest way to send funds to South Africa is through the faster services offered by money transfer providers. Most of these services can get your money to your recipient within a couple of hours, or even within minutes in some cases.
If you’re looking for the fastest way to get your money to your recipient, you should know that this will rarely be the cheapest option. You will often pay for the convenience of getting your transfer processed faster, so you may want to weigh up what is a higher priority for you. To find out more, check out our simple guide about the fastest ways to send money abroad.
Before sending to South Africa, you may want to consider a few wider circumstances:
Sending money to your family, relatives, and friends in South Africa is faster, simpler and cost-effective now than ever before. However, you need to have the right information on the different ways of sending, what to provide when sending and receiving, cross-comparisons of the various benefits providers give, and the factors to consider back home before sending.
Sending money anywhere else in the world is as easy as sending money to South Africa. If you’re looking to send money to another country, here is the list of the most popular destinations.