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How to send money to South Africa
Compare transfer companies to get the most rand for your dollar.
Our pick: WorldRemit International Money Transfers
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Your first transfer is free with the code FINDER.
- Low upfront fees and exchange rates.
- Easy to use with round-the-clock help.
- Get cash to family and friends in minutes.
Compare international money transfer services to South Africa
How do international money transfers work?
An international money transfer allows you to send money to a recipient overseas. Generally, a transfer involves you providing funds to a bank or an independent transfer provider, which then sends the money to your recipient in South Africa. This can be done in person, over the phone, through a mobile app or online. You can use cash, a credit or debit card, or transfer funds from your bank account, which will then either be deposited into your recipient’s bank account or mobile wallet, or made available as cash for them to pick up at a location in their country.
Banks vs. money transfer providers
The first place many people go when they need to send an international money transfer is to their bank. While banks can certainly send money overseas for you, their fees are often higher compared to companies that specialize in international money transfers. These money transfer companies focus on international transactions and can offer much better exchange rates than most major banks.
Case Study: Hansie sends money to South Africa
While Hansie lives and works in the U.S. he wants to send $1,000 home to his parents in South Africa as a gift for their wedding anniversary. He has an account with a large American bank and approaches them about sending his transfer, but when they offer him a poor exchange rate and a high fee, he decides to look elsewhere. He compares the services of two money transfer companies to find the best deal.
|Money transfer company 1||Money transfer company 2|
|Exchange rate||$1 USD = $13.03 ZAR||$1 USD = $12.62 ZAR|
|Transfer method||Bank account deposit||Cash pickup|
|Processing time||1-3 business days||10 minutes|
|Amount received (in ZAR)||$13,030 ZAR||$12,620 ZAR|
As you can see, Hansie can get a much better deal by using the first money transfer company, saving $12 in fees and sending more than $410 ZAR extra to his parents. However, if he needs to send an urgent transfer he might use the second provider.
Steps to send money to South Africa
- Choose a transfer provider that sends money to South Africa.
- Provide your contact information, email address and phone number.
- Supply your recipient’s contact information.
- Choose the amount of your transfer and complete the transaction. Save any reference or receipt number to track the progress of your transfer.
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How to compare transfer companies when transferring money to South Africa
- Exchange rates. The better the exchange rate, the more of your money will make it to your recipient in the form of South African rands. Compare rates between companies but remember that some companies that offer higher exchange rates will also charge higher fees.
- Fees. Fees apply to many international money transfers, so examine the fee structure of each provider. You can also keep an eye out for providers that waive their fees when you transfer more than a certain minimum amount.
- Transfer methods. How can you make your transfer request: online, in person, on a mobile app and/or over the phone?
- Transfer options. While some companies simply offer one-time transfers, others offer features such as forward contracts, which allow you to take advantage of favorable market conditions.
- Turnaround time. The processing time can be important when you need to send funds urgently, and transfer times can range from minutes to several business days.
- Minimum amount. Some providers impose a minimum transfer limit, which can often be restrictive if you don’t want to send a large amount of cash.
- Pickup methods. From bank account deposit to collection from an agent location and even home delivery of the cash, there are several options available from money transfer providers.
- Customer service. If something goes wrong with a transaction will phone, email and/or live chat support be available?
Foreign exchange rates explained
The exchange rate determines how much one country’s currency is worth in another currency. When a country’s currency is strong, it will yield more money when exchanging it in a country with a weak currency. Like most countries, South Africa has a flexible exchange rate, which means it can change from moment to moment based on interest rates, economic stability and other factors.
Currency exchange rate for South Africa
Options for sending money to South Africa from America
- Bank transfers. Many U.S. banks allow you to send an international wire transfer to a South African bank account.
- Online money transfer providers. Companies like WorldRemit offer fast transfers and competitive exchange rates.
- Money transfer companies with cash pickup options. Western Union, MoneyGram and other providers offer this option.
- PayPal. Digital payments giant PayPal allows you to send money online from the U.S. to South Africa.
- Checks. International guaranteed checks can also be sent between the U.S. and South Africa.
Emergency cash transfers in South Africa
If you need to send an urgent money transfer to South Africa, keep in mind that you will usually have to settle for higher fees and lower exchange rates to get your money there as quickly as possible. Even if you’re in a hurry, make sure to check the fees and the exchange rate that will apply to your transaction to ensure that you know exactly how much your transaction will cost.
Tips for picking up cash in South Africa
Some areas of South Africa, such as Johannesburg, have high crime rates. You should exercise caution when you pick up cash in certain areas.
- Remain aware of your personal security at all times.
- Keep cash in a safe place.
- Avoid any high crime areas.
- Deposit the cash into a bank account as soon as possible.
Cash pickup locations in South Africa
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