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How to send money to South Africa
Compare transfer companies to get the most rand for your dollar.
Updated . What changed?
Online money transfer companies usually offer the lowest fees and the most competitive exchange rates, often beating your local bank by a long shot. If you’re sending money by phone, online or through a mobile app to South Africa, compare fees, rates and speed to get the best deal.
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Compare international money transfer services to South Africa
What's in this guide?
- Compare international money transfer services to South Africa
- How to send money to South Africa online
- What's the best way to send money to South Africa?
- How to get the most out of your money transfer to South Africa
- South Africa's exchange rates explained
- Documents needed for sending to and receiving money in South Africa
- What to watch out for
- Bottom line
How to send money to South Africa online
Sign up and send money with a digital money transfer specialist in four steps:
- Sign up for a free account. Pick a provider and sign up for a free online account using your contact information, proof of ID and preferred payment method.
- Provide transfer details. Submit your recipient’s contact information and pick a delivery method. If transferring to a bank, you’ll need their South African bank account details.
- Confirm transfer details. Double-check your payment method, expected fees and destination.
- Save your receipt. Record your receipt’s confirmation number to track the progress of your transfer to South Africa. Some money transfer providers send a text or email when your transfer is complete.
What’s the best way to send money to South Africa?
Online money transfer providers typically offer the strongest exchange rates and lowest fees on money transfers to South Africa. Some offer cash pickup in as little as a few minutes, while others seamlessly transfer to bank accounts. Banks, PayPal and other options are available but come with high fees, weak rates and longer turnaround times.
Digital money transfer services
Companies like OFX and CurrencyTransfer specialize in foreign currencies, making them some of the most cost-effective transfers. Most offer transfers directly to your recipient’s South African bank account, often in as little as a day or two.
Services like MoneyGram allow you to transfer cash for pickup at a local branch in South Africa— often in 15 minutes. While it’s a fast way to send money, you’ll pay for the convenience in weak exchange rates and high fees. If a cash pickup is necessary, look to digital services like WorldRemit or Remitly when possible.
The South African rand isn’t a popular currency, so your local bank probably won’t be able to exchange USD for ZAR. If your bank does support the South African rand, beware of high fees and wide margins on the exchange rate compared to digital and other options.
Let’s crunch the numbers: Sending $1,000 to South Africa
Let’s say you need to send $1,000 USD to ZAR, to family in South Africa. Here’s what you might face as far as fees and exchange rates as of April 27, 2020.
|Digital money transfer service||Cash transfer||Bank transfer|
|Fee||$0||$3.99||$25 + additional correspondent bank fees|
|Exchange rate||1 USD = 18.709 ZAR||1 USD = 18.765 ZAR||1 USD = 17.649 ZAR|
|Transfer speed||1-2 day||Minutes||2-5 days|
|Amount received||ZAR 18,709||ZAR 18,691||ZAR 17,208|
The bank option ends up being both the slowest and gets the smallest amount of money to your recipient. If you go with the digital money transfer service, your recipient ends up with ZAR 1,501 more than the bank offers. If speed is crucial, a cash transfer can typically have your transfer to South Africa in as little as 15 minutes.
How to get the most out of your money transfer to South Africa
Weigh costs and fees against convenience, and learn how to compare money transfer providers that send to South Africa to meet your needs:
- Exchange rates. The USD to ZAR relationship fluctuates often, so using a service that allows you to lock-in exchange prices may help you save money down the line.
- Transfer fees. Transferring money overseas nearly always requires fees, but they might be hidden in the exchange rate. When sending large amounts, it may be cheaper to pay a flat fee to secure a stronger exchange rate.
- Transfer limits. How much you can send varies by company, and different amounts can attract higher or lower fees. Shop around for the best deal on the amount of South African rand you’re sending.
- Turnaround. Transferring money through a local bank can take a business week or longer. If you need the funds delivered quickly, seek out a digital specialist that offers instant transfers to South Africa.
- Minimum limits. Average incomes vary widely between the US and South Africa, which means companies with high minimums transfers may not be your best choice.
- Transfer methods. Whether you want money sent to a South African bank account or picked up as cash at a local agent, narrow down a company that matches your preferred delivery method.
Emergency cash transfer
When it’s more important to get your money to South Africa quickly, look for money transfer companies that support cash pickup in minutes. You can pay with a credit or debit card for fast pickup, but fees are higher than other methods.
How to send money to South Africa without a bank account
Cash transfer services can help you if you’re unbanked or marginally banked. If you don’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.
South Africa’s exchange rates explained
The exchange rate determines how much one country’s currency is worth in another country’s currency. When a country’s currency is strong, it yields more money when exchanging it in a country with a weaker currency. South Africa’s exchange rate is flexible compared to the US dollar, which means it sometimes shifts a few rand a month, if not more. Factors that influence the exchange rate include interest rates, economic stability and inflation.
Track how the South African rand trades against the US dollar in our historical rate chart.
Documents needed for sending to and receiving money in South Africa
To send money to South Africa from the US, you’ll need government-issued ID and other documents, while documents needed to pick up money in South Africa may be different by company.
Documents to send money from the US
To send money from the US to South Africa, you’ll need documentation and details that include:
- Identification. Most services require a driver’s license, passport or other government-issued ID. Some services allow you to send transfers without ID, but they may require your SSN.
- Payment method. Your service may accept credit or debit cards, cash, bank accounts or personal checks.
- Recipient information. Submit your recipient’s name as it appears on their ID, along with their phone number, South African bank account and routing number.
Documents to receive money in South Africa
To pick up money in person, documentation can include:
- Transfer number. The person sending you money can forward the transfer’s confirmation details — called a PIN, a MTCN, a reference number or a tracking number, depending on the company.
- Government-issued ID. A South African passport, a South African National ID card, a South African driver’s license, a foreign passport with visa or refugee card or similar government-issued ID.
- Proof of address. South African residents may have to prove their address using a utility bill or something similar.
- Sender’s information. Take along your sender’s full name, the sending country and their address, if known.
What to watch out for
Sending cash to South Africa may subject you to both taxes in the US and taxes in South Africa, depending on your sending and receiving situation. The primary tax to pay attention to is the Donations Tax, which is regulated by the South African Revenue Service.
- Read our guide on large transfers to South Africa for more information.
Sending your hard-earned money to South Africa shouldn’t cost a fortune. Compare transfer companies that specialize in foreign for the strongest rates, lowest fees and flexible delivery. For transfers to other countries, rely on our country specific guides the next time you need to make a transfer.
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