Panama plays a key trade role in Central America due to its links to both South and North America, as well as the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. In 2009, Canada and Panama signed a bilateral free trade agreement which has led to increased trade between the countries. This, coupled with the fact that thousands of Canadian tourists flock to Panama each year, makes the country 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 Panama in the near future, to find the most competitive exchange rates and lowest fees.
Send money to Panama with WorldRemit
An online money transfer service with cash pick-up, bank account to bank account and airtime transfers available.
Choose how you want to send your money - via bank transfer, cash pickup or mobile money
The process to send money to Panama doesn’t have to be painful, provided you know where to start. Two notable ways to send money overseas include your bank or an online money transfer company. Banks tend to overcharge on exchange rates and fees, typically adding an additional $20 to $100 on top of international transfers. If you’re looking for a more affordable option, you might like to consider the services of an online money transfer provider like TorFX or World First. 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: Rachel sends money to Panama
Rachel has been living and working in Toronto for a couple of years and she tries to send money home to her sister in Panama every month. Rachel has always used her bank to facilitate wire transfers, but is fed up with their sub-par exchange rates and a steep $35 fee per transfer. She decides to compare two online money transfer providers to see if she can find a better deal. The comparison below is based on exchange rates in the fall of 2018, so check current rates before making your choice.
Money Transfer Service 1
Money Transfer Service 2
CAD$1 = USD 0.765
CAD$1 = USD 0.763
Amount received (for $1,000)
2 – 5 days
1 – 2 days
Bank-to-bank tranfer or cash pick-up
Rachel realizes that she can save USD 20 (approximately $26) in the exchange rate with the first money transfer option, with an additional $15 in fees. If Rachel sends money every month, this amounts to almost $492 over the course of one year.
How to compare money transfer companies when transferring money to Panama
Competitive exchange rates.Exchange rates are often the most important thing to consider when trying to figure out how much money you can save on an international transfer. Search for a rate similar to the one that appears when you search “CAD to USD exchange rates” on Google.
Minimal fees. Fees can range from around $4 to over $50 depending on the money transfer service you choose, with cash transfer services typically charging more for transfers than bank-to-bank transfer services.
Various transfer methods.Transfer methods includecash pickups, bank-to-bank transfers and even mobile wallet top-ups. Look for a service that will work for both you and your recipient.
Fast transfer times. Banks can take up to 5 business days to process transfers while cash transfer services can process in a matter of minutes. Choose a provider that works well for both your budget and your timeline.
Reliable customer service. Look for a company that offers 24/7 customer service to make sure you don’t get left high and dry if you run into a problem with your next money transfer.
How will you send money to Panama from Canada?
Some Canadian banks will allow you to send money to Panama, however you will likely face sub-par exchange rates and high transfer fees. Other services that offer money transfers to Panama include:
Money transfer companies. Send US dollars to Panama using services like OFX orWorldRemit.
Cash pickup transfers. Western Union and MoneyGram offer easy and fast cash transfers to Panama, but the fees and exchange rates are higher than a bank-to-bank money transfer option.
PayPal. You can often send money from Canada to Panama with PayPal, provided both you and your recipient have an account with this peer-to-peer service.
International cheques. Order an international cheque or draft from your bank and send overseas using snail mail.
HSBC Bank. Visit your nearest HSBCbranch to see whether you can do a bank-to-bank transfer to a branch in Panama.
Emergency cash transfer options to Panama
MoneyGram, Western Union and WorldRemit are all companies that can send a cash transfer to Panama within minutes, making for a great emergency cash option. Just be aware that these companies will send money in USD, which will then need to be converted into PAB in Panama. Major credit cards can also sometimes offer emergency cash to travelers (which is typically extended as a loan) or you may also be able to purchase a travel insurance policy to cover loss and theft while on vacation.
Tips for picking up cash
The Government of Canada recommends that Canadian travellers take normal security precautions in Panama (as of 15 September 2018) but avoid all travel to Yaviza. Petty crime which includes pickpocketing, bag-snatching and robbery takes place frequently in rural and urban areas throughout the country. In Panama City, high-crime areas include bus stations and shopping areas on Avenida Central. If you do need to collect cash at an agent location, be sure to do so in a safe neighborhood before dark and in the company of a trusted friend. Avoid displaying signs of affluence or carrying large sums of cash and be cautious when withdrawing money from ATMs.
What are the steps to send money to Panama?
HSBC Bank. Visit an HSBC branch to find out if you can open an account and send money to Panama from Canada. Input your recipient’s banking details like SWIFT/BIC codes and account number. Confirm your transaction to receive a tracking number.
Money or cash transfer service. Register for an account and verify your details by uploading a piece of identification. input recipient’s banking and personal details. Double-check amounts and currency you want to send and then hit submit. Use the confirmation number to track the progress of your funds.
Claire Horwood is a writer at Finder, specializing in credit cards, loans and other financial products. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Gender Studies from the University of Victoria, along with an Associate's Degree in Science from Camosun College. Much of Claire's coursework has focused on writing and statistics, with a healthy dose of social and cultural analysis mixed in for good measure. She has also worked extensively in the field of "Blended Finance" with the Canadian government. In her spare time, Claire loves rock climbing, travelling and drinking inordinate amounts of coffee.
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