Online money transfer providers typically offer the strongest exchange rates and lowest fees on money transfers to South Korea. ACH transfers through banks, account-to-account transfers through PayPal and other options are available but come with high fees, weak rates and long turnaround.
Digital money transfer specialists
Companies like OFX and Wise specialize in foreign currencies, making them some of the most cost-effective transfers. Most offer a variety of options for your recipient to receive their money, including to bank accounts as well as in person.
Services like MoneyGram allow you to transfer cash for pickup at a local branch in South Korea — often in 15 minutes. While it’s a fast way to send money, you’ll pay for the convenience in weak rates and high fees. Compare MoneyGram to digital services like WorldRemit or Remitly to get the best deal.
South Korean won aren’t a popular currency, which means banks may not offer them. If your local bank does support won, beware of high fees and wide margins on the exchange rate compared to digital and other options.
Crunching the numbers: Sending $2,000 to South Korea
Let’s say you need to send $2,000 to family in South Korea. Here’s what you might face as far as fees and exchange rates as of March 9, 2020.
Digital money transfer service
$25 + additional correspondent bank fees
1 USD = 1188.743 KRW
1 USD = 1195.707 KRW
1 USD = 1119.645 KRW
Better than a bank
Fastest and cheapest
Slowest and most expensive
The bank option ends up being both the slowest and gets the smallest amount of money to your recipient. If you go with the cash transfer service, your recipient ends up with KRW 166,187 more than the bank offers and your transfer to South Korea may arrive in as little as 15 minutes.
How to send money to South Korea 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 Korean 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 Korea. Some money transfer providers send a text or email when your transfer is complete.
How to get the most out of your money transfer to South Korea
Weigh costs and fees against convenience, and learn how to compare money transfer providers that send to South Korea to meet your needs:
Exchange rates. The USD-KRW relationship fluctuates, but for the last few years it has remained relatively stable. Still, locking in an exchange rate when possible may save you money in the future if the rates shift quickly.
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 number of South Korean won 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 Korea.
Maximum limits. When exchange rates are favorable, sending more money can save you money in the future. If you plan to send large amounts of money to South Korea, be sure to pick a provider that won’t limit you.
Transfer methods. Whether you want money sent to a South Korean bank account or picked up as cash at a local agent, narrow down a company that matches your preferred delivery method.
Emergency cash transfer to South Korea
When it’s more important to get your money to South Korea 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 Korea 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 Korea’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. The South Korean won often fluctuates when compared to the US dollar, so expect exchange rates today to be different than those you’ll see tomorrow. Factors that influence the exchange rate include interest rates, economic stability and inflation.
Documents needed for sending to and receiving money in South Korea
To send money to South Korea from the US, you’ll need government-issued ID and other documents, while documents needed to pick up money in South Korea may be different by company.
Documents to send money from the US
To send money from the US to South Korea, 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 Korean bank account and routing number if sending to their bank.
Documents to receive money in South Korea
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 Korean Resident ID, a South Korean Passport or any other government-issued ID that has your photo in addition to your address can typically be used to pick up money in South Korea.
Amount sent. You may need to know how much was sent, usually within 10% of the total.
Sender’s information. Take along your sender’s full name, the sending country and their address, if known.
What to watch out for
When sending money to South Korea, any amount over $10,000 will be reported to the Financial Supervisory Service, similar to how large amounts in the US are tracked by the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts. Additionally, any individual sending or receiving more than $50,000 in one year will need to provide evidence of income and proof for the purpose of sending.
Sending your hard-earned money to South Korea 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.
Zero fees on your first THREE money transfers
Send money with WorldRemit using the code '3FREE' and pay no fees on your first three money transfers
Zak Killermann is a writer at Finder who’s been specializing in cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology for four years — covering everything from ICO booms, crypto winters, memecoins and more. He’s mined and minted cryptocurrencies, and remembers the days when DOGE was just for fun. Zak’s focus is in breaking down technical concepts (like yellow papers) for the average folk to digest on their morning commute. Before diving into all things crypto, Zak contributed to Finder’s money transfers vertical.
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