A specialised money transfer company will offer more competitive exchange rates than a traditional bank, but which company is best for you depends on how much you’re sending and how quickly you need it to arrive.
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Comparison of services that allow transfers to China
How to send money to China
- Create an account with the transfer provider that has the rates and delivery speed you need. Provide your name, contact information and proof identity.
- Enter your recipients name, contact information and the amount of money you want to transfer.
- Complete the transaction and wait for the funds to be delivered.
- Monitor your transfer’s progress with the reference number the provider emails to you.
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What to know when transferring money to China
- Exchange rates. Nearly all providers skew exchange rates for a profit. Compare the rate you’re offered to the mid-market rate — the rate banks and transfer services use when they trade among themselves — and look for the smallest margin between them.
- Transfer fees. Find out whether the provider charges a flat fee or a percentage of your transfer. If you’re sending a large amount, ask whether you qualify for a fee-free transfer.
- Transfer speed. If it needs to be there fast, companies like Western Union and MoneyGram allow for quick cash pickups, often in minutes. If you’ve more time, you’ll get better rates and fees with an independent provider.
- Transfer limits. Your best option might depend on how much you want to send. For large transfers, weigh the best exchange rate — especially since providers encourage large transfers by offering low fees. For smaller amounts, consider the fees you’ll pay on top of the exchange rate.
- “Hedging” options. Ask whether you can schedule payments ahead of time or protect your transfer against market fluctuations with a limit order or forward contract.
- Customer service. Most companies offer customer service by Internet chat, phone, in person or by email. Make sure help will be available if you need it.
How do money transfers work?
An international money transfer allows you to send money to friends, family and businesses overseas. Generally, it involves you sending cash or money from your bank account to an intermediary transfer service or bank, which then exchanges and sends the money to your recipient in another country — in this case, China.
Depending on the provider, you can initiate a money transfer in person, online or by phone. Your cash or bank account transfer is then either deposited into your recipient’s bank account or made available as cash for pickup at a location in their country.
What are all the ways that I can send money to China?
- Bank transfers. Many banks will allow you to wire money to banks in China.
- Money transfer providers. It’s simple and convenient to send an online money transfer to China from the comfort of your home.
- Providers with cash pickup. Companies like Western Union and MoneyGram offer the option of sending funds that can be picked up from thousands of agent locations across China.
- PayPal. Electronic payment giant PayPal allows you to send money from the UK to China.
- International money orders. Another option is to get an international guaranteed cheque from your bank.
Banks vs. money transfer companies
China’s economy is experiencing a boom, and the Chinese yuan has become increasingly popular among traders on the global currency market. Many banks in the UK offer the option to send funds to China, but they typically charge high transfer fees and offer exchange rates that are significantly lower than the mid-market rate — or the rate banks and transfer providers use when trading among themselves.
A reputable money transfer specialist can offer better exchange rates and also charge lower fees, saving you money and putting more Chinese yuan into your recipient’s pocket.
Case Study: Henry sends money to China
Henry has waved good-bye to his parents in China to settle in the UK. To thank his family for their support for his education, he wants to send a £1,000 gift. Henry compares the fees, rates and options of two independent online money transfer providers to find the better deal.
|Money transfer company A||Money transfer company B|
|Exchange rate||1 GBP = 8.427 CNY||1 GBP = 8.663 CNY|
|Transfer fee||£7||£70 for cash within minutes at an agent location; £8 for bank account transfer|
|Transfer speed||1 business day||Cash pickup within minutes; 4–8 business days for account deposit|
|Transfer options||Bank account deposit||Bank account deposit, cash at agent location|
|Total yuan received for £1,000||8,427 CNY||8,663 CNY|
Henry learns that fees vary widely depending on how his transfer is delivered, and that a small shift in exchange rates can mean a big difference in what his family receives. By going with Money Transfer Service A, Henry will save on transfer fees, but he’d deposit 236 more yuan into his parents’ account by taking advantage of the rate offered by Money Transfer Service B. And if it’s speed he’s looking for, only Money Transfer Service B offers cash pickup in minutes.
Ultimately, Henry will need to weigh the importance of fees, rates and speed for his transfer to determine which provider best suits his needs.
Must read: Mobile top-ups
Many companies that we use for money transfers in the States offer “reload” services for prepaid credit cards and mobile plans that make it easy to convert cash into communication — often within minutes.
If you need to send minutes to a prepaid phone in China — whether for you or a loved one — consider online providers WorldRemit and Xoom. To add or gift minutes from an agent location, standbys Western Union, MoneyGram and Ria are an option.
Same-day cash transfers to China
You might need to send an emergency cash transfer to China — perhaps your relative or friend loses their wallet in Wuhan or their handbag in Heife. When you need to get funds to someone urgently, your fastest transfer will often be your most expensive option. Carefully review the exchange rate and transfer fee against your needs so that you understand exactly how much it will cost you.
Receiving cash in China
Western Union, MoneyGram and Ria provide the three largest money transfer networks in the world, with thousands of agent locations around the globe. You’ll need to pass your transaction reference number on to your recipient to allow them to pick up their funds. They’ll also need to bring along a photo ID.
Tips for picking up cash
Exercise caution when picking up cash from an agent location. Don’t advertise the fact that you have a wallet full of cash, and head to your bank as soon as possible to deposit the funds.
Cash pickup locations in China
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