Send Money to South Africa Cheaply

Information verified correct on February 21st, 2017

Find a fast and affordable way to send money to South Africa South Africa-2by comparing the services of money transfer providers.

When you need to get money to a loved one overseas, the last thing you want to have to deal with is navigating a potentially complicated and expensive process. Sending money from the United States to South Africa doesn’t have to be expensive. Compare the transfer fees and exchange rates of the many options available to you to get the most South African rands for your dollar.

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Rates last updated February 21st, 2017

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Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Services Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received
WorldRemit International Money Transfers
Fast... Fast, low-cost transfers to 110 countries for bank-to-bank deposit, cash pickup or mobile top-up.
USD 1 Within an hour
OnlineCash Transfer
Rates are always
changing, click to check
your price today
Go to site More
OFX International Money Transfers
Send safe... Send safe, no-limit transfers with no fees and competitive exchange rates.
USD 150 1 day
Online
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changing, click to check
your price today
Go to site More

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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 another country — in this case, 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 versus 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 1Money transfer company 2
Exchange rate$1 USD = $13.03 ZAR$1 USD = $12.62 ZAR
Transfer fee$3.99$16
Transfer methodBank account depositCash pickup
Processing time1-3 business days10 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.

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?
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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. For example, in December 2016, the U.S dollar was worth approximately 19 Mexican pesos. However, most countries’ exchange rates are flexible, which means it can change from moment to moment. Factors that influence the exchange rate include interest rates, economic stability and inflation.

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.
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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.


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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.
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How to send money to South Africa

With so many transfer options to choose from, the process for sending a transfer varies depending on the money transfer provider. Having said that, you’ll usually need to set up an account before you can transfer your funds. You can usually do this by providing:

  • Your name and address
  • Your email address and phone number
  • Proof of ID
  • Your bank account details

Once you’ve placed a transfer request, you will most likely be given a reference or receipt number. You and your recipient can use this to track the progress of your transfer.

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