Sending money from Australia to the Balkans can be expensive, so here’s how to get the best deal when transferring money overseas.
There are multiple options available for anyone looking to send money to the Balkans. In order to save yourself some money, it’s important to compare your options before deciding which money transfer service to use.There are plenty of reasons why you may need to transfer funds from Australia to the Balkans. Perhaps you’ll need to transfer some emergency cash to a friend who is travelling through the region, or maybe you have family in the Balkans to whom you want to offer financial support.
The area referred to as the Balkans is made up of the following countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Greece, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and Turkey.
The table below can be used to sort through options for sending money to the Balkans. Use the table headings to sort through products bases on fees or minimum transfer amounts. You can read more about a product by clicking ‘More’ or be taken securely to the provider’s website by clicking ‘Go to Site’.
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Banks vs money transfer companies
The ease with which you can transfer money to the Balkans depends on which country you are actually sending money to. For example, Greece is a member of the Eurozone, and therefore, the Euro is the most accepted currency. It’s also easy to transfer Euros from banks and money transfer services.
After that, however, things get a little more complicated. In Turkey, both the Turkish lira and Euros are accepted. Both Kosovo and Montenegro use the Euro but they do so without authorisation from the European Union. Bulgaria (lev) and Romania (leu) use their own currencies and are candidates for the Eurozone, while Albania (lek), Bosnia and Herzegovina (convertible mark), Macedonia (denar) and Serbia (dinar) all use their own national currencies.
As these currencies are more exotic, many Australian banks won’t have these currencies available. Instead, you might have to send another currency which can then be exchanged for the local currency by your recipient’s bank.
Alternatively, you could use a dedicated money transfer service to send your funds. Such services aim to offer better exchange rates and lower fees than offered by banks, and they typically exchange a large range of currencies. For example, OFX will allow you to exchange the Australian dollar for the Bulgarian lev.
Case study: Vesna sends money to Greece
Although she’s working in Australia, Vesna wants to send money back home to Greece to support her family. She has an account with one of the ‘big four’ banks in Australia, so she decides to compare how much it will cost to transfer through her bank with the expense of using a dedicated money transfer service. See the table below for a full comparison.
|Bank||Online money transfer service|
|Amount received for $1,000 AUD (in Euros)||€635.70||€685.17|
|Transfer time||2-5 days||2 days|
|Transfer options||Internet, phone, in branch||Internet, phone|
How do I compare transfer companies when transferring money to Balkans?
As Vesna’s example illustrates, comparing your money transfer options can end up saving you a significant amount of money. Look at the following features when weighing up your options.
- Exchange rates. Look for the best rate you can find to get the best possible deal. However, remember to keep an eye out for any high fees that may come attached to the offer of a ‘great rate’.
- Fees. You’ll often have to pay a transfer fee to send money to the Balkans. Look for the lowest fee available, plus keep in mind that some companies will waive this fee when you send more than a certain amount.
- Transfer methods. Do you need to send funds online or can you visit a branch? Do different fees apply for using different services?
- Transfer options. Consider the transfer options on offer and how they will help you get a better deal. Will your provider allow you to set up regular payments in advance?
- Minimum transfer amounts. Check the minimum transfer amount each company requires to ensure that you can meet that limit.
- Pick-up methods. Consider whether it’s possible for the recipient to pick up cash from an outlet in the Balkans, or whether everything is conducted online.
- Turnaround time. How quickly can your recipient get hold of the cash? Turnaround times can vary significantly between providers so shop around.
- Customer service. Look for a trusted company that provides excellent customer service. The option of both phone and live chat support can be extremely helpful.
How do I send money to Balkans from Australia?
As mentioned above, the sheer number of currencies used in the Balkans can make matters a little complex. While it is still possible to send money through your bank, especially if you’re sending Euros, you will most likely save money by using a money transfer company.
Companies you can use include:
- OFX. Transfers to Bulgaria with OFX are conducted electronically.
- Western Union. Use Western Union and your funds can be picked up at any Balkans country at a Western Union branch.
- MoneyGram. MoneyGram has hundreds of branches across the Balkans where your money can be picked up.
- WorldRemit. This company allows you to send money to selected Balkans countries, such as Bulgaria and Romania.
- Travelex. Travelex allows you to send funds to Turkey.
Emergency cash transfers in Balkans
If you have a friend or relative travelling through the Balkans and they have their wallet stolen, you may have to transfer them funds as quickly as possible.
It’s entirely possible to make an emergency transfer, but remember to make sure you’re fully aware of the exchange rate and fees that will apply to your transfer. Fees and poor exchange rates can quickly eat into the amount you are sending, so choose your money transfer service wisely.
It also makes sense to find a money transfer provider that offers rapid transfers so the money can arrive urgently, as well as plenty of store locations where your recipient can pick up their cash in person.
Finally, if you are travelling around the Balkans and your wallet is stolen, your travel insurance or credit card provider may be able to supply emergency funds. In order to receive them, however, you’ll need to report the theft to the police and obtain supporting documentation.
Cash pickup locations in Balkans
Both Western Union and MoneyGram offer an easy way to transfer money to the Balkans, so look below for details of some of each company’s most popular cash pick-up locations. For large transfers, notify the branch in advance of your pick-up so that they will have enough cash on hand. You may have to supply a reference number and some form of identification in order to pick up funds.
Central Post Office of Athens
100 Eolou Str
Athens, Attica 10200
Open Monday to Friday 7:30am to 8:30pm, Saturday 7:30am to 2:30pm
Elta Hellenic Post
Post Office Of Souda
Kon Poleos 17 Attica
Athens, Attica 10110
Open Monday to Friday 7:30am to 2:30pm
1001 Omv Rojen
Rojen Blvd No 22
1001 Omv Rojen
Open 7 days 7:30am to 7:30pm
1002 Omv Sofia Ring Road
1002 Omv Sofia Ring Road
Open 7 days 7:30am to 7:30pm
Omonia Square, Omonia 12
Athens, 104 31
Open Monday to Saturday 8:30am to 8:30pm, Sunday 1pm to 8pm
George 4 Plateia Kanigos
Athens, 106 77
Open Monday to Friday 8am to 2pm
Unicredit Bulbank, Sofia
100 Cherni Vrah Blvd
Open Monday to Friday 8:30am to 5pm, Saturday 8am to 7pm
Piraeus Bank Bulgaria
Lulin Vi Bl 601 Entr 3
Open Monday to Friday 8:45am to 4:30pm
Tips for picking up cash in Balkans
Although the Balkans are a relatively safe region of the world, The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade recommends ‘exercising a high degree of caution’ in countries like Kosovo and Turkey.
No matter where you are in the region, it’s always important to be cautious and safe when picking up cash from an agent location. Take a friend with you for security, and don’t go waving big wads of cash around. Avoid dodgy parts of town, especially at night, and deposit the funds with your bank as quickly as you can.
How to send money to Balkans
There are lots of options to choose from when sending money to the Balkans, especially if you’re transferring to a country that accepts Euros. You’ll need to provide your contact details, address, date of birth and driver’s licence number to be allowed to send funds internationally. You’ll then be given a receipt or tracking number so you can monitor the progress of your money.
It’s easy and quick to transfer funds from Australia to the Balkans, though it’s best to compare your options before choosing which money transfer provider to use. This will ensure that you get the best possible deal available.