Rather than spending time and hard-earned money on expensive fees and a long processing period, here are a few ways you can save on fees and get a better exchange rate when you want to send money to Japan.
Send money to Japan with Currencies Direct
CurrenciesDirect makes transferring money abroad simple with bank-beating exchange rates.
Currencies Direct make moving money abroad simple, swift and secure.
Great rates, no fees and expert support whether you transfer online, over the phone or by app.
Available in more than 200 countries and 40 currencies
Online money transfer providers typically offer the strongest exchange rates and lowest fees on money transfers to Japan. Some offer cash pickup in as little as a few minutes, while others seamlessly transfer to bank accounts. Sending money through PayPal or your bank is also an option, but you’ll typically face higher fees and weaker exchange rates when going that route.
Digital money transfer services
Companies like XE specialise in foreign currencies, making them some of the most cost-effective transfers. Most offer transfers directly to your recipient’s Japanese bank account, often in as little as a day or two.
Services like MoneyGram and Western Union allow you to transfer cash for pickup at a local branch in Japan – 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.
Japanese yen are a popular currency, so your local bank may be able to exchange them. If your bank supports Japanse yen, beware of high fees and wide margins on the exchange rate compared to digital and other options when sending a wire transfer to Japan.
Let’s crunch the numbers: Sending £1,000 to Japan
Let’s say you need to send £1,000 to family in Japan. Here’s what you might face as far as fees and exchange rates as of 5 October 2020.
Digital money transfer service
£20 + additional correspondent bank fees
1 GBP = 136.07 JPY
1 GBP = 129.68 JPY
1 GBP = 125.73 JPY
Slowest and most expensive
The bank option ends up being both the slowest and gets the smallest amount of money to your recipient in Japan. If you go with the digital money transfer service, your recipient ends up with JPY 10,347 more than the bank offers. If speed is crucial, or your recipient wants to pick up cash, a cash transfer can typically have your transfer to Japan in as little as an hour. First confirm there is a cash pickup location near your recipient before sending, though.
How to send money to Japan 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 Japanese bank account information.
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 Japan. Some money transfer providers send a text or email when your transfer is complete.
What are the ways that I can send money to Japan
Bank transfers. Many major UK banks will allow you to send money to Japan.
Money transfer providers. Providers like XE and Wise can help you quickly and easily transfer your money online.
Providers with cash pickup. Western Union and MoneyGram allow you to send funds for cash pickup at agent locations.
PayPal. Electronic payment giant PayPal allows you to send money from the UK to Japan.
How to get the most out of your money transfer to Japan
Weigh costs and fees against convenience to learn how to compare money transfer providers that send to Japan to best meet your needs:
Exchange rates. The GBP-JPY relationship fluctuates often, so using a service that allows you to lock in exchange prices may help you save money down the line if the Japanese yen rises against the pound sterling.
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 GBP-JPY 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 yen you’re sending to Japan.
Turnaround. Transferring money through a local bank can take a business week or longer. If you need the funds delivered quickly, look for a digital specialist that offers instant transfers to Japan.
Sending limits. Comparing prices for one large transfer instead of many small transfers is typically easier, so picking the service you use based on how much you’re sending is a valid strategy for saving money.
Transfer methods. Whether you want money sent to a Japanese bank account or picked up as cash at a local agent, narrow down a company that matches your preferred delivery method.
How to send an emergency cash transfer to Japan
When urgency trumps cost to get your money to Japan 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.
If you don’t have a bank account, you can still use cash transfer services to send money to Japan. Similarly, a recipient can get the money with a cash transfer if they don’t have a bank account. These services are widely available around the world and although they’ll typically not be the cheapest available, they can be fast and convenient.
Japan’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. Japan’s exchange rate is flexible compared to the pound sterling, but the GBP-JPY relationship typically doesn’t make sharp, drastic movements. Factors that influence the exchange rate include interest rates, economic stability and inflation.
It shouldn’t cost a fortune to send money to Japan. Compare money transfer companies that specialise in foreign transactions 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.
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