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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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 WorldFirst specialise 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 (ZAR) isn’t a popular currency, so your local bank probably won’t be able to exchange SGD 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 SGD to ZAR, to family in South Africa. Here’s what you might face as far as fees and exchange rates as of 25 September 2020.
Digital money transfer service
$25 + additional correspondent bank fees
1 SGD = 12.273 ZAR
1 SGD = 12.021 ZAR
1 SGD = 12.092 ZAR
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 digital money transfer service, your recipient ends up with ZAR 484 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 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.
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 SGD 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 Singapore 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 to South Africa
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 don’t have a bank account. 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 Singapore 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 Singapore dollar in our historical rate chart.
Updated: 11 May 2021 16:23:30 UTC
Documents needed for sending to and receiving money in South Africa
To send money to South Africa from Singapore, 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 Singapore
To send money from Singapore to South Africa, you’ll need documentation and details that include:
Identification. Most services require your NRIC, a driver’s license, passport or other government-issued ID.
Payment method. Your service may accept credit or debit cards, cash, bank accounts or personal cheques.
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.
Sending your hard-earned money to South Africa shouldn’t cost a fortune. Compare transfer companies that specialise 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.
Zak Killermann is a writer at Finder. He’s ghostwritten hundreds of articles on fintech, finding his love for publication at St. Cloud State University. Traveling internationally for nearly half his life — and getting burned once by an OTC money exchange — Zak's vowed not to settle for anything short of the mid-market rate again.
We put MoneyGram and Western Union side by side to help you make a decision for your next local or international payment.
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