Sending money internationally during the coronavirus pandemic

Learn what you need to know about getting money abroad to loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Updated

Self-quarantining and social distancing are changing the way we send money across borders. Here’s everything you need to know about what impacts the coronavirus might have on getting money to your loved ones.

The impact of the coronavirus on Hong Kong

The government might close banks as well as money exchange branches and more to try and stem the spread of the coronavirus. To learn more about how to deal with these closures, how to self-quarantine yourself and more, read our comprehensive guide on the coronavirus.

How is the coronavirus affecting money transfers?

As Hong Kong reacts to the coronavirus pandemic, the remittance industry is being affected by the following:

  • Closures. Some banks are closed or have alternative opening hours. Although banks and money transfer agent locations may remain open, using online transfer options will help you maintain your self-imposed quarantine.
  • Exchange rate volatility. We haven’t seen this kind of volatility in decades. Fluctuating exchange rates could make a difference of several hundred dollars to what arrives in your receiver’s pockets, so it’s important to pay close attention to the live rate – things could change quickly. To keep on top of the two global currencies you’re comparing, check out our guide on currency pairs.
  • Customer service availability. Many companies will be reducing the availability of their customer service agents, both online and in call centers. PayPal, for instance, recently alerted customers that “Due to coronavirus (COVID-19) safety precautions, we currently have limited customer service staffing so wait times may be longer.” So if you happen to make a mistake in your online transaction and need to reach someone on the phone to fix it immediately, or need a human voice to help you through the online steps, don’t expect the same support you’d normally receive.

Sending $4,800 from the Hong Kong to Europe during the coronavirus pandemic

Let’s say you need to send $4,800 to friends or family members that are stuck quarantined abroad. Here is what you might face in fees and physical contact risks as of March 22, 2020.

Online money transfer serviceCash transferBank transfer
Physical contactNoYesMaybe
Fee25.07 HKD150.00 HKD$65 (online) + additional correspondent bank fees
Exchange rate1.00 EUR = 8.30006 HKD1.00 EUR = 9.04977 HKD1 EUR = 8.41306 HKD
Transfer speedWithin minutes, or 1-2 daysMinutes2-5 days
Amount receivedEUR€575.29EUR€530.52EUR€562.8
Verdict
  • Best value – no physical contact
  • Fastest, most expensive – physical contact
  • Slowest – maybe physical contact

The bank is the slowest but you may be able to send it entirely online. If you go with the digital money transfer service, your recipient ends up with EUR€12.49 more than the bank offers. If speed is crucial, a cash transfer can typically have your transfer to Europe in as little as 15 minutes; just be aware of the need to pick it up in person and the exchange rate is the worst among all the options.

Be sure to look at the margin on the exchange rate as well as the fees to figure out if you’re getting a good deal. We’ve gone into more detail on this in our full guide on sending money internationally.

Online money transfer services

The table below shows a round-up of some of the most popular online services that can help you send money to where it needs to go.

Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
USD 10 1 - 2 days HKD 70.00 0.129 USD
636
以透明的匯率,低收費及低最低金額的網上服務作匯款。 Make online transfers with transparent exchange rates, low fees and low minimum amounts. Go to site Show details
USD 5 1 - 2 days HKD 25.00 0.128 USD
636
新客戶可享有首三個月無限次免手續費匯款。New customers get 3 months of unlimited free transfers.
可用15+種貨幣匯款,享有超越銀行的匯率以及快速轉賬時間。 Get bank-beating exchange rates and fast transfer times on 15+ popular currencies.
Go to site Show details
SGD 1 1 day HKD 21.00 0.129 USD
642
你首兩次港幣$15,000或以下的匯款,手續費全免。Pay no fees on your first two transfers, up to HK$15,000.
象徵式收費以及中間價匯率,可匯款至高達30多個國家。 Transfer money to over 30 countries with nominal fees and the mid-market exchange rate.
Go to site Show details
USD 50 1 day HKD 17.50 0.129 USD
643
快捷又簡單的國際匯款服務,大部分匯款收取固定的0.5%手續費。部分貨幣更不設保證金率。 Quick and simple international money transfers with a flat 0.5% transfer fee for most transfers. Zero-margin rates on some currencies. Go to site Show details
USD 1 1 day HKD 0.00 0.127 USD
635
非Finder客戶將獲得較昂貴的匯率。 Better exchange rates for Finder customers.
可用超過130種貨幣匯款。 Send money in more than 130 currencies.
Go to site Show details
USD 1 Within an hour HKD 10.00 0.129 USD
641
提供現金提取、銀行戶口之間轉賬與及Airtime匯款選擇的網上匯款服務,。 An online money transfer service with cash pickup, bank account to bank account and airtime transfers available. Go to site Show details
USD 100 1 day HKD 15.00 0.127 USD
634
非Finder客戶將獲得較昂貴的匯率。 Better exchange rates for Finder customers.
可用45種貨幣匯款。 Send money in 45 currencies.
Go to site Show details
GBP 5,000 1 - 2 days HKD 0.00 0.127 USD
635
可匯款至20+個國家,無手續費。 Transfer money to 20+ countries with no transaction fees. Go to site Show details
USD 2,000 1 day HKD 0.00 0.127 USD
635
TorFX保證提供最佳的匯率。需受條款約束。TorFX guarantees to match any competitor's exchange rate.
以30種貨幣匯款到全球。登記後,將會有一個客戶經理提供支持和引導。Send money overseas in 30+ currencies with competitive rates for transfer amounts over $2,000.
Go to site Show details

Compare up to 4 providers

Disclaimer: Exchange rates change often. Confirm the total cost with the provider before transferring money.

What if my recipient doesn’t have a bank account?

Depending on the provider, you can still make an online transfer to a recipient who doesn’t have a bank account.

Emergency cash transfers

If you need to get money abroad now instead of later, there are ways to speed it up. Many online money transfer services offer delivery in as fast as a few minutes. Learn more about the limits and fees for emergency transfers.

Many emergency transfer options require your recipient to pick the money up in person, as delivering to a bank account often takes more time. Double-check how the transfer will be received, especially if you are sending to a country that is recommending self-quarantine or social distancing practices during the coronavirus pandemic.

According to a recent report in Reuters, handling banknotes doesn’t pose any added risk of contracting the coronavirus. Your recipient shouldn’t fear collecting cash so long as they take the usual precautions and wash their hands frequently.

How to send money to someone without a bank account

Unfortunately, options without physical contact are limited when it comes to sending money to someone without a bank account.

If you or your recipient doesn’t have a bank account, look for a local company that supports storefronts for cash payments. These services include agent locations in other countries that allow your recipient to pick up cash without a bank account.

Call the agent location before sending your transfer, if possible, to make sure they will be open when your recipient goes to pick up cash.

How do fluctuating exchange rates affect my international transfer?

No one has a crystal ball here, so it’s important to keep an eye on exchange rates regularly. That will help you gauge when it’s a good time for you to send money abroad. Online transfers can often lock in a rate for you, which, with roller-coaster markets, could potentially help you get more bang for your buck.

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Updated: 10 Aug 2020 08:46:14 UTC

What other ways can I send money around the world?

Aside from traditional money transfers and bank transfers, there are other alternatives you can use to help move money during the coronavirus pandemic.

  • International digital banking. Although it may take some time to set up, creating an international digital bank account can help reduce the costs of moving money to loved ones abroad. Read our short guide on international bank accounts to get started.
  • E-wallets. Electronic wallets are a great way to manage your funds digitally. PayPal is one example, but so are services like Google Pay, PayMe, WeChat Pay and Apple Pay. By relying entirely on digital services, you won’t have to touch cash or interact physically with anyone. Some stores even accept e-wallets for payment, making your transaction entirely contactless.
  • Cryptocurrencies. If you and the recipient are both computer savvy, cryptocurrency can be a very fast and cheap way of sending money internationally, in a way that doesn’t require either of you to have a bank account or leave your homes. If you’re interested, our comprehensive guide over at Crypto Finder can get you started.

Bottom line

Sending money internationally may be more important for you now than ever, especially if you have loved ones quarantined abroad. Although it’s become trickier to send money overseas, there are still plenty of online options that can help you get your money where it needs to go.

Pay extra attention to movements in the exchange rate, and consider locking in a forward contract if you’re concerned about further drops in the HKD’s value. It pays to compare a number of money transfer services to make sure they meet your needs and can give you the best deal.

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