Absa international money transfers review

Send money all around the world and take advantage of multiple transfer options.

  • Good for mobile app transfers in over 25 foreign currencies, plus cash transfers.
  • Not so great for high fees on larger transactions.
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Absa is one of South Africa’s leading banks and has a wide range of banking services – one of which is international money transfers. It allows users to send money in over 25 currencies, straight from its NovoFX app, as well as offering multiple transfer options including cash transfers with Western Union. However, when dealing with large transfer amounts, expect its fees to add up.

Why should I consider Absa?

  • Multiple transfer options. Absa lets you send online, mobile and in-branch transfers from your bank account, as well as cash transfers with Western Union.
  • Fast transfers. Transfers sent via Western Union can be available to collect within minutes, while the NovoFX app makes it quick and easy to send SWIFT transfers.
  • Send over 25 currencies. You can transfer funds in 25 currencies straight from the NovoFX app.

What to be aware of

  • Large fees. The larger your transfer amount, the more you can expect to pay in fees (NB: there is a maximum fee limit on SWIFT transfers).
  • High exchange rate. Absa charges a relatively high exchange rate margin for most foreign currencies.

How much are Absa’s international transfer fees?

Absa tends to be on the higher end of service fees, especially when you are looking at larger transfers. However, the fee you pay will vary depending on the transfer method you select and how much money you’re sending. You can use our comparison table to see how Absa’s international transfer fees stack up next to other money transfer providers.

You’ll find that the fee on SWIFT transfers is calculated as a percentage of your transaction amount, but that there are no minimum or maximum limits to this fee.

How are Absa’s exchange rates?

As with any money transfer provider, Absa applies a markup to its exchange rates. Compare the rate you’re quoted with the current mid-market rate to determine the size of the margin Absa applies.

Compared to other providers, Absa’s exchange rate margins are relatively high, but it depends on the foreign currency in question.

Available currencies

Absa supports international money transfers in a wide range of currencies, including:

  • AUD Australian dollar
  • BWP Botswanan pula
  • GBP British pound
  • EUR Euro
  • INR Indian rupee
  • KES Kenyan shilling
  • UGX Ugandan shilling
  • USD US dollar

What are the ways I can send money abroad with Absa?

One of Absa’s strengths is that it offers multiple transfer options:

  • Electronic transfer. You can send an electronic transfer via the SWIFT network by logging into your Absa online banking account.
  • Mobile transfer. You can also send a SWIFT transfer from your smartphone using the NovoFX foreign exchange app. Transfers are available in more than 25 currencies.
  • Western Union transfers. Absa customers can also send transfers via the Western Union network through online or mobile banking, or in selected Absa branches. The money you send can be collected from over 500,000 Western Union locations in more than 200 countries and territories.
  • Bank drafts. You also have the option of sending a bank draft to your beneficiary overseas. However, this option is much slower than electronic transfer methods.

What payment methods does Absa accept?

If you’re sending a SWIFT transfer, you’ll need to fund the transaction from your bank account. However, cash is accepted as payment for Western Union transfers.

How long does a transfer with Absa take?

Transfers typically take one day, but transfer processing times vary depending on the transfer method and where you are sending your funds.

SWIFT transfers generally take 2-5 business days, while transfers sent via the Western Union network are available for collection within minutes.

Transfers typically takeClock icon for transfer speed

1 day

How to make your first international transfer with Absa

You’ll need to open an account with Absa if you want to send an international transfer.

Registering an account

To register an account with Absa, complete the following steps:

      Making an international money transfer with Absa

      If you are sending a transfer online, you’ll need to:

      1. Log in to your Absa online banking account.
      2. Provide your recipient’s bank account details, name and address.
      3. Enter the amount you’d like to transfer.
      4. Provide a reason for your payment.
      5. Review the full details of your transaction and then finalise the transfer.

      If you’ve downloaded the NovoFX app and signed up for an account, you can send the transfer from your smartphone by following similar steps to the ones outlined above.

      Is Absa safe to use?

      • Security and regulation: Government regulated.
      • Established: 1991.
      • International presence: 12 countries.
      *According to Absa on 20 February 2020.

      Absa is one of South Africa’s largest banks and was established in 1991. It has a presence in 12 countries throughout Africa and complies with the Financial Intelligence Centre Act. As a result, you’ll need to provide proof of ID and verify your address before you can open an account.

      How does Absa compare to other services?

      Type your transaction details into the table below to find out how Absa’s exchange rates and fees compare to those offered by other money transfer services.

      Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
      USD 60 1 day ZAR 0.00 0.056 USD
      Skrill offers easy transfers to many popular destinations, but keep an eye out for added fees. Go to site Show details
      AUD 2,000 2 days ZAR 0.00 0.056 USD
      CurrenciesDirect makes transferring money abroad simple with bank-beating exchange rates. Go to site Show details
      USD 1 Within an hour ZAR 250.00 0.056 USD
      Use promo code FREE to send your first transfer with no fee. T&Cs apply.
      WorldRemit sends money to 110+ countries for bank-to-bank deposits, cash pick-ups or mobile top-ups.
      Go to site Show details
      EUR 8 3 - 5 days EUR 3.00 0.056 USD
      Special offer: New customers get unlimited fee-free transfers for their first 3 months. T&Cs apply.
      CurrencyFair has bank-beating exchange rates and fast transfer times on 15+ popular currencies.
      Go to site Show details
      USD 2,000 1 day ZAR 0.00 0.056 USD
      TorFX guarantees to match any competitor's exchange rate. Conditions apply.
      TorFX sends money overseas in 30+ currencies, with competitive rates for transfer amounts over $2,000.
      Go to site Show details

      Compare up to 4 providers

      Disclaimer: Exchange rates change often. Confirm the total cost with the provider before transferring money.

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