Send funds to Japan and save money in the process by shopping around for a better deal.
According to the 2010 Census, more than 1.3 million Americans have Japanese ancestry. With the largest Japanese-American communities located in California (more than 270,000) and Hawaii (185,000), there are plenty of cultural, business and political ties between the two nations.
This large population of Japanese-Americans, not to mention the fact that Japan is a popular tourist destination for US visitors, means that you may be looking for an affordable and easy way to send money to Japan from the United States. Here’s how to find a cheap and convenient solution to your money transfer problem.
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Sending money to Japan
Before you can send an international money transfer to Japan you will need to provide a range of information to your transfer company. You will need to supply:
- Personal information. Your name, contact details, address and date of birth will all usually be required, as will a valid form of photo ID.
- Recipient details. Provide your recipient’s name, address and contact details, plus their bank account information if you’re sending a bank transfer.
- Transfer details. The money transfer company will obviously need to know how much money you’re sending, in what currency and where to.
When your transaction is lodged and paid for you will be given a reference number; keep this handy so you can track the progress of your funds.
Whether you’re sending a one-off transfer or looking to set up an ongoing international payment to Japan, it pays to compare your options before committing to a money transfer company.
Banks versus money transfer services
If you want to send an international money transfer you could certainly approach your bank; converting US Dollars to Japanese Yen and then sending the funds overseas will be no problem for any major bank.
Unfortunately, banks will usually charge a premium fee for offering you their international money transfer services, while the exchange rates they offer are actually quite poor. In comparison, there’s an ever-increasing crop of specialist money transfer companies that can give you better exchange rates, lower fees and an abundance of transfer methods.
From flexible transfer options to giving you a choice in the way your recipient can access the funds you send, these companies often represent a much better and more affordable option when you need to send money to Japan.
While Yoshio is living and working in New York City, he wants to send $1,000 he has saved back to his parents in Kyoto. Rather than ask his bank to handle the transfer – he knows their fees are exorbitant – Yoshio decides to see if he can find a better deal from a dedicated money transfer company. He compares two companies to see what sort of deal they can offer.
|Money transfer company 1||Money transfer company 2|
|Exchange rate||1 USD = 117.61 JPY||1 USD = 119.13|
|Transfer method||Cash pickup||Bank account deposit|
|Processing time||10 minutes||1-3 business days|
|Amount received (in JPY)||117,610 JPY||119,130 JPY|
As you can see, although the first company offers much quicker transfers, the second company allows Yoshio to send more than 1,500 Yen extra to his parents by spending the same amount of money. It can also save him USD $11 in fees.
How to compare transfer companies when transferring money to Japan
- Exchange rates. Higher exchange rates mean more money for your recipient, so shop around for a company that consistently offers competitive rates.
- Fees. You will usually need to pay a fee for your transfers so examine how much the fees will be and whether the company offers a fee-free threshold. Also, keep in mind that companies that offer the best rates may also offer higher fees.
- Transfer methods. Can you send your transfers online or over the phone? Does the company have a branch that you can visit to lodge a transfer request? What about an app for your smartphone?
- Transfer options. Some companies just allow you to place one-off transfers; others will allow you to schedule recurring payments. Some allow spot orders only; others offer limit orders and forward contracts.
- Turnaround time. Some companies process transfers within 10 minutes and make the cash available for pickup. Depending on the transfer method, other companies will require several working days to deliver the funds to your recipient.
- Minimum transfer. If a company has a minimum transfer limit of $500, this may not be suitable for customers who only want to transfer a small amount.
- Pickup methods. Bank account deposit and cash pickup from an agent are the two most common options available.
- Customer service. What customer support options are available and during what hours are they offered? Some companies will offer phone, email and online support.
How to send money to Japan from America
- Bank transfers. Bank-to-bank transfers are a reliable transfer method when you want to send money to Japan.
- Online money transfer providers. Companies like OFX offer quick and secure transfers to Japanese bank accounts.
- Money transfer companies with cash pickup options. Western Union and MoneyGram are two companies that offer this option.
- PayPal. PayPal can send international transfers to just about anywhere.
- Checks. Obtain an international guaranteed check from your US bank and send it to your recipient.
Emergency cash transfers in Japan
When you find yourself in an emergency situation where you need to transfer funds to Japan as quickly as possible, make sure that you check the exchange rate and any fees that will apply to your transfer. Most money transfer companies charge extra for sending your money as quickly as possible, so just take a minute or two to make sure you’re fully aware of the full cost of your transaction – it could save you from a big financial headache in the future.Back to top
Although Japan is an extremely safe country for international visitors, that doesn’t mean you should throw all safety precautions to the wind when picking up cash from a money transfer agent. All you have to do is use a little bit of common sense to ensure your safety.
Stay aware of your personal safety and make sure you know where your wallet and bag are at all times. Keep your cash concealed from strangers and deposit it in a safe place (preferably your bank account) as soon as you can – carrying around a large sum of money can often be a recipe for disaster.
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