Send Money to Southeast Asia Cheaply

Information verified correct on January 20th, 2017

Sending money to Southeast Asia is easy, affordable and Southeast asiaconvenient when you find the right money transfer company.

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 Southeast Asia doesn’t have to be expensive. Compare the transfer fees and exchange rates of the many options available to you to get the best deal.

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, Southeast Asia. This can be done in person or oftentimes online. You can use cash or transfer funds from your bank account, which will then either be deposited into your recipient’s bank account are made available as cash for them to pick up at a location in their country.

Banks versus money transfer companies

Banks will happily handle an international wire transfer to Southeast Asia for you. The problem is that they won’t do it cheaply. Banks offer disappointingly low exchange rates and frustratingly high fees on international transfers.

There’s a much more affordable solution, however, in the form of money transfer companies. From WorldRemit and OFX to Western Union and MoneyGram, these companies offer better exchange rates and lower fees (for online transactions) than banks. They also offer secure transfers and some even allow you to make your money available for collection within minutes.

Case Study: Matt Sends Money to Thailand

Matt’s brother John is traveling through Thailand for a week-long bachelor party adventure. But when John wakes up in Bangkok after a big night with no wallet, no luggage and no shoes, he realizes he only has $100 back in his hotel room safe and he needs some cash urgently. He phones Matt and asks his brother to send him $1,000, so Matt compares two money transfer companies to see which one can provide the best transfer deal.

Money transfer company 1Money transfer company 2
Exchange rate$1 USD = $35.37 THB$1 USD = $34.74 THB
Transfer fee$5$16
Transfer methodBank account depositCash pickup
Processing time1-3 business days10 minutes
Amount received (in THB)$35,370 THB$34,740 THB

As you can see, although the second transfer company provides much faster transfers, Matt can send an extra $630 THB by using the services of the first company.

How to compare transfer companies when transferring money to Southeast Asia

  • Exchange rates. How do the exchange rates offered by each company stack up against the competition?
  • Fees. How much will it cost you to send a transfer? Will you avoid any fees if you transfer a large amount?
  • Transfer methods. What methods are available for placing transfers? Can you only place them online, or are there other options offered?
  • Transfer options. Can you schedule recurring transfers in advance in order to save time? Can you lock in a great exchange rate for a future transaction with a forward contract?
  • Turnaround time. How long will it take for the funds you transfer to be made available to your recipient?
  • Minimum amount. Is there a minimum limit per transfer? Will this be manageable for you?
  • Pickup methods. Can you pick up the funds from an agent location, or will they be sent straight to a bank account?
  • Customer service. Will phone, email and/or live chat support be available when you need it? Is there an online help center and FAQ section?
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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.

How to send money to Southeast Asia from America

  • Bank transfers. Bank-to-bank transfers are reliable but can be quite expensive.
  • Online money transfer providers. Companies such as OFX and WorldRemit offer secure and affordable online transfers.
  • Money transfer companies with cash pickup options. MoneyGram, Western Union and Ria offer this service to customers.
  • PayPal. Check with PayPal to see if it offers international transfers to your chosen Southeast Asian destination.
  • Checks. Ask your bank if you want to use this slow but reliable transfer method.
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Emergency cash transfers in Southeast Asia

If you ever need to send an emergency transfer to Southeast Asia, just be aware of the fact that you will need to pay extra for the transfer. High fees and low exchange rates typically apply to instant (allow 10 minutes) transfers, so it pays to check the full details of your transaction before you hand over your cash. Otherwise, you could end up paying a whole lot more than you need to in order to send your money overseas ASAP.

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Tips for picking up cash in Southeast Asia

  • Make sure to only visit a transfer agent in a safe location.
  • Take a friend along for assistance and security.
  • Don’t flash your cash around in public.
  • Don’t carry large sums of money on your person.
  • Deposit the money into your bank account as soon as possible.
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How to send money to Southeast Asia

When sending funds to Southeast Asia, you’ll be asked to provide the following information:

  • Your name, address, contact information and valid photo ID.
  • Your beneficiary’s name, address and information, along with their bank account info if the funds will be deposited in their bank account.
  • How much money you’re sending, in what currency and which country you’re sending it to.
  • If you are not using cash for this transaction, you will need to provide your banking info in order to have funds drafted from your account.

Once you have completed your transaction, you will be given a tracking number. Make a note of this number so you can monitor the progress of your money transfer.

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US International Money Transfers Offers

Learn about our information service
WorldRemit International Money Transfers

An online money transfer service with cash pickup, bank account to bank account and airtime transfers available.

OFX International Money Transfers

Exclusive offer: Special exchange rates and $0 transfer fee
OFX is currently offering exclusive exchange rates and $0 transfer fee on all transfers.

World First Foreign Exchange

Exclusive offer: $0 transfer fee
Transfer money into a range of currencies online and over the phone.

Transferwise International Money Transfers

Make online transfers in a range of currencies and enjoy high maximum transfer amounts.