Here’s how to send a secure international money transfer to the Balkans without breaking the bank.
The Balkans, or the Balkan Peninsula as the region is more formally known, are found in southeastern Europe and cover more than 250,000 square miles. The area includes Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovenia and part of Turkey, and has a population of well over 50 million people.
If you ever need to send money to the Balkans from the USA, maybe to provide financial support to your family back home or just send some urgent cash to a travelling friend, there are many companies who can help. However, it’s vital that you shop around and find the company that offers the best value for money.
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Banks versus money transfer companies
The first piece of advice when sending an international money transfer is to stay away from your bank. Although banks can easily send secure wire transfers to the Balkans for you, they will only do so by attaching high fees and a low exchange rate to the transaction.
A much more affordable solution is to use a specialist money transfer company, for example WorldRemit or USForex. These companies offer much better exchange rates and lower fees than banks, while at the same time offering reliable transfers to your beneficiary in the Balkans. Other companies, such as Western Union, even offer a convenient cash pickup option for your recipient.
Ivan immigrated to the United States five years ago and is happily living in California with his young family. His parents still live back home in Croatia, however, and Ivan wants to send them $1,000 to provide financial support in their retirement. Instead of accepting the mediocre exchange rate offered by his bank, Ivan decides to compare two money transfer companies to see if he can save a bit of cash.
|Money transfer company 1||Money transfer company 2|
|Exchange rate||1 USD = 6.46 HRK||1 USD = 6.45 HRK|
|Transfer method||Bank account deposit||Cash pickup|
|Processing time||1-2 business days||10 minutes|
|Amount received (in HRK)||6,460 HRK||6,450 HRK|
As you can see, not only does the first company allow Ivan to send an extra 10 HRK but it also saves him $54 on transfer fees.
How to compare transfer companies when transferring money to the Balkans
- Exchange rates. The exchange rate determines how much money your beneficiary will receive, so the higher the exchange rate the better. Compare rates between providers to see which one offers the best deal.
- Fees. Check how much you will have to pay in order to send a transfer. Can you avoid fees if you send a large amount?
- Transfer methods. Some companies only offer online transfers while others also allow in-branch transfers, mobile app transfers, and over-the-phone transfers.
- Transfer options. Limit orders, forward contracts, and the ability to schedule recurring payments are some of the features companies may offer.
- Turnaround time. Transaction processing times can range from a few minutes to a few days or more, so make sure you know how long each company will take to get the funds to your recipient.
- Minimum transfer amount. Some companies impose minimum transfer limits — check to see if the limit is too high for your requirements.
- Pickup methods. Can the cash be collected in person from a transfer agent or will it be deposited into your beneficiary’s bank account?
- Customer service. Will phone and email customer support be available 24/7? Is there an online help centre as well?
How to send money to the Balkans from America
- Bank transfers. Bank-to-bank transfers are a safe way to send money to the Balkans but can be expensive.
- Online money transfer providers. Online money transfer companies like WorldRemit can help you send money to the Balkans.
- Money transfer companies with cash pickup options. Western Union and MoneyGram are the world’s two largest providers of this transfer service.
- PayPal. PayPal is not just for online shopping; it can also be used to send international money transfers.
- Checks. Ask your bank about the process and fees involved in sending an international check.
Emergency cash transfers in the Balkans
If you need to send an emergency cash transfer, just be wary of the fact that it will cost you more than a regular transaction. Higher fees and lower exchange rates are the norm for urgent transfers, and they can leave you significantly out of pocket if you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into. Read the fine print to make sure you know how much the transfer will cost before you can over your money.Back to top
Tips for picking up cash in the Balkans
- Only visit a transfer agent in locations where you feel safe
- Phone ahead to confirm an agent’s opening hours before visiting
- Take a friend with you for peace of mind
- Keep your cash hidden and don’t display it in public
- Don’t carry the money around with you for any longer than is absolutely essential
How to send money to the Balkans
You’ll need to provide a range of information in order for a money transfer company to process your transaction, including:
- Your name, address, and contact details
- A valid form of photo ID, for example your driver’s licence
- Your beneficiary’s name and contact information
- The amount of money you wish to send and the currency you wish to send
- The destination country for your transaction
In addition, it’s important that you remember to keep track of any reference number you receive after paying for your transaction. You can use this number to check up on the progress of your transaction and make sure the money is safely transferred to your beneficiary.