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How to send money to Colombia
Safe, secure and cost-effective transfer options when you need to send money to Colombia.
Sitting at the northern tip of South America, Colombia is a culturally diverse nation known for its lush rainforests, craggy mountain peaks and world-famous coffee. Since thousands of Canadian tourists visit Colombia each year, it’s a bit of a hot spot for international money transfers. Check out our handy money transfer guide if you’re looking to send money to Colombia in the near future, to find the most competitive exchange rates and lowest fees.
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If you want to send money from Canada to Colombia, you have a couple of options at your disposal. Two notable ways to send money to Colombia include your bank or an online money transfer company.
- Bank. Banks are notorious for offering mediocre exchange rates and charging high fees (typically between $20 and $100) on international transfers, so even a small transfer can end up costing an arm and a leg.
- Money transfer company. If you’re looking for a more affordable option, consider the services provided by a wide range of online money transfer providers like TorFX and WorldRemit. These companies offer quick and affordable transactions to thousands of destinations around the globe, with low fees (typically between $0 and $20) and competitive exchange rates.
Case study: Carlos sends money to Colombia
Carlos has been living and working in Vancouver for a couple of years and he intermittently sends money home to his parents, who run a small market stall in Bogotá. Carlos has always used his bank to facilitate wire transfers, but is fed up with their sub-par exchange rates and a steep $45 fee per transfer. He decides to compare two online money transfer providers to see if he can track down a better deal. The comparison below is based on exchange rates in the spring of 2018, so check current rates before making your choice.
|Money Transfer Service 1||Money Transfer Service 2|
CAD$1 = COP 2,000
CAD$1 = COP 2,150
Amount received (for $1,000)
2 – 5 days
1 – 2 days
or cash pick-up
Carlos realizes that he can save COP 150,000 (around $65) in the exchange rate with the second money transfer option, with an additional $15 in fees. If Carlos sends money every month, this amounts to almost $960 over the course of one year.
- Exchange rates. Compare the exchange rates offered by a number of transfer companies before you settle on a service. Some companies will offer less competitive exchange rates but charge lower fees while others may offer more competitive exchange rates alongside higher fees.
- Transaction fees. Many transfer companies charge lower fees than the bank, and a select few even provide zero-fee services. The best way to be sure you’re getting the best deal is to compare 3-4 services.
- Transfer methods. Ask about transfer methods, which can include cash pickups, bank-to-bank transfers and even mobile wallet top-ups, before you settle on a service.
- Bonus features. Some companies specialize in providing one-off transfers only, but others can offer flexible features such as forward contracts and limit orders which allow you to book a lower exchange rate in advance of your transfer.
- Transfer limits. Check to see whether the company imposes any minimum or maximum transaction limits, and be aware that monthly and daily limits may also apply.
- Turnaround time. Search for a fast service if you’re on a tight timeline – cash pick-ups can process in a matter of minutes – but aim for a dedicated money transfer service like TransferWise or World First if you want to save money on exchange rates and fees.
- Customer service. Make sure you can easily access a 24/7 customer support team if you have questions about your transfer.
- Bank transfers. Canadian banks can easily organize wire transfers to Colombia but be forewarned that this will typically the most expensive option.
- Money transfer companies. Money transfer providers like OFX and TransferWise can offer convenient and affordable international transfers to Colombia.
- Cash pickup transfers. Western Union and MoneyGram offer easy and fast cash transfers to Colombia, although they typically charge higher fees than money transfer companies.
- PayPal. Send money from Canada to Colombia with PayPal, provided both you and your recipient are account holders.
- International cheques. Order an international cheque or draft from your bank and send overseas using snail mail.
In the event of an emergency, cash pick-up options like MoneyGram and Western Union are designed to send your money to one of their hundreds of thousands of agent locations across the world in as little as 10 minutes. Just beware that while these companies can be a lifesaver when you’re in a tight spot, they’re often more expensive than a bank-to-bank transfer. If you have a flexible timeline, it can pay to look at companies like TransferWise or TorFX to complete your transaction.
The Government of Canada recommends that Canadian visitors to Colombia exercise a high degree of caution (as of 21 August 2018) due to an increase in violent crime. Street crime which includes pickpocketing, bag-snatching and robbery is common, particularly in larger cities such as Bogotá, Cali, Medellín and Santa Marta. If you do need to collect cash, look for an agent location in a safe neighborhood and call ahead to make sure they’ll have cash on hand. Visit during daylight hours in the company of a good friend and return to your hotel to stow your cash in a safe place as quickly as possible.
The basic steps you’ll need to follow when sending money to Colombia are as follows:
- Sign up for an account. Once you’ve chosen a transfer company, you can usually register for a free online account using your name, contact details and proof of ID.
- Enter your transaction information. Specify the amount of money you want to send and the currency, and fill in your recipient’s banking and personal details.
- Complete your transfer. Review your payment details as well as the full cost of your transaction and then submit your transfer. You will most likely receive a reference number you can use to monitor the progress of your funds. Keep this reference number in case you have any problems.
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