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How to send money to Russia
Find low fees, fast transfer rates and a step-by-step guide.
Before you send money to loved ones or colleagues in Russia, it’s important to research all of your options. Though you may be most familiar with your bank, expanding your search to include online money transfer specialists may save you money and time.
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What's in this guide?
How to send money to Russia
- Sign up for a money transfer account. Pick your provider, then create an account using your name, contact details and proof of valid ID.
- Provide recipient information. The transfer requires your recipient’s name, address and contact details. Depending on the transfer method, you may also have to supply their Russian bank account information.
- Pick an amount. Enter the amount you want to transfer and complete your transaction. Pay attention to the tradeoff of paying a flat fee to get a better exchange rate of RUB to USD.
- Save your receipt. Receipts of your transaction are the primary way to monitor the progress of your transfer.
- Complete the transfer. Beware of scams and hidden rates while sending money to Russia, knowing what to watch out for can save you money and a headache.
Sending money to Russia video explanation
What are the main ways to send money to Russia?
There are three main options you can use, each with their own pros and cons:
Money transfer services
These offer some of the most cost-effective transfers, as they only trade in foreign currencies. You’ll also have a variety of options for your recipient to get the money — like to a mobile wallet or home delivery.
Services such as Western Union allow you to send cash transfers for immediate pickup by the recipient. While it’s a fast way to send money, it generally won’t match the rates or fees of dedicated money transfer services.
The Russian ruble is popular enough that your US bank will likely offer it, at least at major branches. But watch out for the higher fees and less competitive exchange rates banks offer compared to the other options.
Let’s crunch the numbers: Sending $2,000 to Russia
To put this into perspective, let’s see what a transfer with each of these options looks like. This table uses real fees and exchange rates current as of December 4, 2019.
|Bank transfer||Cash transfer||Money transfer service|
|Fee||$30 + additional correspondent bank fees||$3.99||$1.40|
|Exchange rate||1 USD = 59.403 RUB||1 USD = 63.512 RUB||1 USD = 63.896 RUB|
|Transfer speed||2-4 days+||Minutes||1-2 days|
The bank option ends up being both slow and getting the least amount of money to your recipient. If you go with the specialist money transfer service, your recipient ends up with RUB$10,679 more. However, if speed is what’s most important, the cash transfer can’t be beaten for instant transfers.
How long will will my transfer take?
It depends on what method you choose, but the fastest one is instant and the slowest can take up to a week. Since banks need to transfer your money through several correspondent banks, it takes the longest. Cash transfers are the fastest and normally arrive in minutes, but typically cost more.
Emergency cash transfer
There may be times when you need to send money to Russia as quickly as possible. When you find yourself in such a situation, remember to check the exchange rate and any fees that apply to your transaction, as urgent transfers will usually cost more. Read the details of your transaction to prevent any nasty surprises.
How to send money to Russia without a bank account
Cash transfer services can also help if either you or your recipient is unbanked. If you don’t have a bank account, look for transfer services that have agent locations so you can go in and pay in cash. These cash transfer services will also have agent locations in other countries where your recipient can pick up the cash without needing a bank account.
What to watch out for
Sending money to Russia is subject to standard taxes in the US, so be sure to file it accordingly when paying your taxes. However, specific dangers exist for Russian money transfers:
- Sending money to people you’ve never met. According to the US Embassy and Consulates in Russia, money transfer scams involving Russia are more prevalent than you’d think. Never send money to someone you’ve never met in person unless you have serious reasons to trust them. Use our guide on money transfer scams to help you decide if sending the money is safe or not.
- PayPal and similar services offer money transfers to Russia, but often hide their fees and conversion rates behind “free” services. Always check the exchange rate you’re getting against the mid-market rate and other transfer services to get the best deal.
While foreign gifts generally aren’t subject to income tax, you still need to file the form with your taxes or face penalties.
Documentation you’ll need to send money
Before initiating a transfer, have the following in place:
- Recipient’s full name. Your recipient will need to show photo identification if they’re picking up the money in Russia, so make sure the name on the order is the same as the name on their ID.
- Sender’s full name. As an additional security measure, the agent may ask for the full name of the sender. Be sure the recipient knows your complete name as listed on the ID you provided.
- Recipient’s contact information and bank details in Russia. Both the sender and the recipient must have each other’s address and contact details.
- Tracking number. Keep the tracking number given to you upon sending the transfer, as the recipient must provide this to the agent before the cash can be released.
Keep all of the paperwork associated with your transfer in case you need proof that the money was sent.
How do I compare my money transfer options?
When sending money to Russia, use the following list to compare banks, cash transfer and money transfer services to find the best deal:
- Exchange rates. What exchange rate does the company offer when converting US dollars to Russian rubles?
- Transfer fees. Compare how much each company will charge you for sending your money overseas.
- Transfer time. How long will it take from the moment you pay for your transfer to the moment your beneficiary gets the cash in their wallet or bank account?
- Transfer methods. Will you place your transfer online, over the phone, or will you need to visit a branch?
- Pickup methods. Does the company offer a cash pickup option or transfers directly to bank accounts? If they offer cash pickups, do they have locations convenient for you and your recipient to access?
- Flexible options. Can you lock in an ideal exchange rate now and transfer the money later, known as a forward contract? Does the institution offer limit orders, which allows you to take advantage of changing market conditions by executing the money transfer when a certain exchange rate is met? Can you schedule recurring payments?
- Minimum transfer limit. Does a minimum limit apply to all transfers?
- Customer service. Will you be able to access phone, email and online support if you ever need help with a transaction?
Foreign exchange rates explained
The exchange rate is how much one country’s currency is worth in another country’s currency. With the USD/RUB currency pairing, you’ll get more money when either the US dollar is strong or the Russian ruble is weak.
You’ll also see that the exchange rate you get quoted from money transfer companies differs. Compare what you get quoted with the mid-market rate below, which is what your money is actually worth.
The Russian ruble is popular enough that it should be carried by nearly all major money transfer companies, which is why have a lot of options when it comes to sending money to Russia. Be sure to compare the fees and exchange rates offered by many different money transfer providers to get the best deal.
Cash pickup locations in Russia
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