The Key Tactics the Pros Use for Sending Money to Guatemala

Information verified correct on December 5th, 2016

GuatemalaThis guide simplifies picking the right method in sending money from the UK to Guatemala.

Migration from Latin American nations to the UK began in the early 19th century. It was only after the 1970s that the flow of people became significant, which was mainly because of the political and civil unrest in Latin American nations such as Bolivia, Colombia, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Venezuela. Every year since the turn of the last century a number of Guatemalans apply for and acquire citizenship of the UK.

Guatemala’s long standing claim over portions of Belize led to problems with the UK in the past. In 1986, these two regions re-established commercial and consular relations. There’s a British Embassy in Guatemala City. Guatemala has an embassy in London.

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While fund transfers from the UK to Guatemala are limited, you can find different ways to do the needful. Go through the rest of this guide to find out how to choose the right method.

Banks versus money transfer companies

Francisco Alarcon moved to the UK because of work. While he’s not sure how long he will stay here, his wife and daughter continue living in Guatemala. He plans to send them some money every month, because his wife’s earnings are not adequate for them to get by comfortably. Given his earnings, he feels he should be able to send around GBP1,000 every month.

The bank that Francisco has an account with would let him transfer the money into his wife’s account. However, he compares his options to check if he can get a better deal. This is what he finds.

UK bankMoney transfer service
Exchange rateGBP1 = GTQ10.3083GBP1 = GTQ10.8186
Transfer fee£35£0
Amount received for £1,000GTQ9,947.54GTQ10,818.60
Transfer timeOne to 12 daysOne day
Transfer optionsBank accountBank account
Difference ofGTQ871.06

Francisco chose to go with the money transfer company for obvious reasons. It resulted in his wife getting more money. He could also be sure that his wife would get the money within one day, whereas his bank could take up to 12 days.

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How do I compare transfer companies when transferring and receiving money via Guatemala?

You should pay attention to various aspects when comparing money transfer companies. Here’s what you need to look at:

  • The monetary aspect. Exchange rates vary from one money transfer company to the next, as does the fees you may have to pay. While some businesses may offer fee-free services, they may make up for the same by offering unfavourable exchange rates. The money the recipient stands to receive should give you a clear indication of which deal is better.
  • Methods of sending money. If you’re sending money through a bank you can do so in-person, online or over the phone, depending on the bank you choose. Some money transfer companies have physical locations, from where you can send money in person. Some operate only in the online world. With some others, you can initiate transfers over the phone.
  • Methods of receiving money. The person you’re sending the money to can receive it directly in a bank account. In the absence of a bank account, he or she can collect cash by visiting a physical location.
  • Time taken. The time it takes for the transfer to go through depends on the method you choose as well as the service provider. If the recipient has to collect money at a physical location the transfer can go through almost immediately. With fund transfers to bank accounts, the process can take one to several business days, depending on the service provider and the recipient’s bank.
  • Using the same bank. Using a bank’s services can work in your favour if you and the recipient have accounts with the same institution. In this case the transfer can happen quickly. You may have to pay no or minimal fees.
  • Minimum transfer amounts. You would have limited options if you don’t plan to send much money. This is because some money transfer companies have minimum limits in place, which can be £500 or even £1,000.
  • Customer service. You may have to contact a customer service representative of the business you deal with from time to time. Support via email is a norm. However, being able to contact someone over the phone or via chat is better.

How do I send money to Guatemala from the UK?

You can use the services of a bank or a non banking institution. Here are details of your options:

  • Banks. Your bank may let you transfer funds to a Guatemalan bank account. Depending on the bank you may be able to do this online, over the phone or in person. If your bank provides a chequebook with your account, you can write a cheque and send it over by mail. You can also mail a money order that you can purchase from a bank.
  • Non banks. Businesses such as Western Union and MoneyGram let you send money to Guatemala. You can use their services to transfer funds to a bank account or send money to a cash pickup location. Another option is turning to PayPal. To use its services you and the recipient should have PayPal accounts. Opening a new account is free and takes little time.

How do I receive money from Guatemala in the UK?

Here’s how you can receive money from Guatemala:

    • Banks. If you have an existing bank account you can get the sender to transfer money directly into your account. The sender can do this using the services of a money transfer company or a bank. If you get a cheque or a money order via mail, you can deposit it into your bank account.
    • Non banks. Money transfer companies such as Western Union and MoneyGram have a number of cash pickup locations in the UK. You can get the sender to transfer funds to a desired location. If you and the sender have PayPal accounts you can use its services to receive money from Guatemala. In this case, once the transfer is complete you can withdraw the money into your UK bank account.

Emergency cash transfers in Guatemala

In the slight probability that you end up losing your wallet when in Guatemala, the first thing you should do is report your credit and debits cards as lost or stolen. Next, you can consider getting some emergency money in these ways:

  • Cash pickup. An easy way to get some money is go ask someone you know to transfer some funds using the services of a money transfer company. Locate a nearby cash pickup centre and pass this information to the sender.
  • Cash advance through credit card. If you have an existing American Express, MasterCard or Visa credit card you can get some emergency money even if you’ve lost your card. To get the money you’ll have to visit a local participating bank.
  • Travel insurance. If you get suitable travel insurance you can get emergency money to deal with situations such as medical contingencies, lost or misplaced baggage as well as flight delays and cancellations.

Cash pickup locations in Guatemala/ Western Union / MoneyGram branches in Guatemala

Western Union and MoneyGram have a number of cash pickup centres across Guatemala. To collect money from any of their locations you’ll need to provide a valid form of ID such as your passport or driver’s license along with a reference number. Calling ahead of time if you plan to collect a large sum is a good idea. Here are some cash pickup locations in Guatemala.

Western Union

Guatemala City

  • Agromercantil
    0 Calle 1 10 Zona 10 Cortijo
    San Miguel Petapa
    Guatemala City
    Open 8:00am to 5:00pm Monday to Friday
    9:00am to 1:00pm Saturday, closed on Sunday
    +502-66318151
  • Agromercantil
    6 Avenida 3 22 Zona 10 2 Nivel Edif
    Centro Medico 2
    Guatemala City
    Open 10:00am to 6:00pm Monday to Friday
    10:00am to 1:00pm Saturday, closed on Sunday
    +502-23386565

Mixco

  • Agromercantil
    Blvd El Caminero 14 32 San Francisco
    Zona 6 Mixco Cc San Francisco
    Mixco
    Open 8:00am to 5:00pm Monday to Friday
    9:00am to 1:00pm Saturday, closed on Sunday
    +502-24375772
  • Agromercantil
    Calzada San Juan 12 85 Zona 4 Mixco
    Mixco
    Open 9:00am to 7:00pm Monday to Friday
    9:00am to 1:00pm Saturday, closed on Sunday
    +502-2-24311516

MoneyGram

Guatemala City

  • Banrural -#661
    Interior Central De Mayoreo Centro Comercial Plaza Central S
    Calle 1-55 23 Z 12
    Guatemala City
    Open 8:00am to 5:00pm Monday to Sunday
    +502-23398500
  • Banrural – #622
    Zona 17 Boulevard Acatan
    Avenida 10a 31-43
    Guatemala City
    Open 7:00am to 4:00 pm Monday to Friday
    7:00am to 3:00pm Saturday, 9:00am to 1:00pm Sunday
    +502-23398500

Mixco

    • Banco Ficohsa – La Torre San Cristobal
      Lote 7
      Manzana A S B-6
      Mixco, 1057
      Open 11:00am to 8:00pm Monday to Sunday
      +502-23178400
    • Banco Ficohsa – La Torre El Encinal
      Calle Los Pinos C. C. Plaza San Carlos El Encinal
      Zona 7
      Mixco, 1057
      Open 11:00am to 8:00pm Monday to Sunday
      +502-23178400

Tips for picking up cash in Guatemala

Know that you cannot exchange pound sterling in Guatemala. It is ideal that you don’t withdraw too much money in one go. You should also avoid collecting cash at night. Exchanging money is safer at foreign exchange offices, banks and hotels as opposed to anywhere else.

While Guatemala has amongst the highest violent crime rates in Latin America, most visits by foreign nationals tend to remain trouble-free. However, it is best that you exercise due caution. Carry little money with you. Don’t display expensive items such as jewellery, cameras and mobile phones. Avoid travelling alone at night.

All parts of Guatemala City have some levels of crime, which includes Zone 10 that is a tourist hotspot. Take necessary precautions in zone 1, where you’ll find several cheap hotels.

What are the steps to send money to Guatemala?

Sending money to Guatemala requires that you provide different kinds of information. This can vary in accordance to the method you choose:

  • Transferring to a bank account. In this case you’ll have to provide the recipient’s name and account number along with the name of the bank and its SWIFT code. If you’re sending money through a money transfer company you’ll also have to submit details of your bank account, debit card or credit card.
  • Cash pickup. If the recipient wishes to collect money from a physical location you’ll have to choose a desired cash pickup centre at the time of initiating the transfer. You’ll have to provide the recipient’s complete name as well. If you’re sending cash in-person you’ll have to provide valid ID. When sending money online, you’ll have to furnish your bank account, debit card or credit card details.
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