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How to get the best exchange rate on international money transfers

Save on the exchange rate when you send funds overseas.

Finding great exchange rates is essential so that more of your cash ends up in your recipient’s pocket, rather than in the hands of a money transfer provider.

Compare exchange rates of money transfer services

Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
USD 60 1 day ZAR 0.00 0.068 USD
3,409
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 0.068 USD
3,408
CurrenciesDirect makes transferring money abroad simple with bank-beating exchange rates. Go to site Show details
USD 1 Within an hour ZAR 2,500.00 0.068 USD
3,404
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 0.068 USD
3,397
Special offer: Zero fees on your first 10 transfers.
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 0.068 USD
3,408
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


The “Rate” and “Amount Received” displayed are indicative rates that have been supplied by each brand or gathered by Finder.

Exchange rates are volatile and change often. As a result, the exchange rate listed on Finder may vary to the actual exchange rate quoted for the brand. Please confirm the actual exchange rate and mention “Finder” before you commit to a brand.

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How important is an exchange rate?

An exchange rate shows the value of one currency for the purpose of converting it into another. Exchange rates fluctuate due to a wide range of factors that include interest rates, consumer confidence, inflation and political stability. For instance, when interest rates in a particular country rise, investors are able to achieve better returns in that country, increasing the demand for that country’s currency. This increase in demand then drives the value of that currency upward.

Exchange rates affect our everyday lives in two ways. The first way is in the cost of everyday goods you buy. If these goods were purchased from an overseas retailer, or constructed using foreign materials, then the exchange rate for those goods or materials will obviously affect how much they cost you.

The second way is much more direct: when you travel out of South Africa, send money overseas or purchase goods directly from other countries, exchange rates affect how much your South African rand is worth.

How can I get the best exchange rate?

For international money transfers, finding the best exchange rate is crucial.

Here are a few tips:

Know the mid-market rate for your currency
Also called the interbank rate, this rate is the midpoint between worldwide supply and demand for that currency — and the rate banks and transfer services use when they trade among themselves. They make money by skewing exchange rates to make a profit. Use the mid-market rate as a baseline to compare against the rates they’re offering to learn who’s offering the better deal.

Get quotes from many services
Compare the quotes from a range of money transfer companies to see which offers a better deal. Many offer a quick and easy way to get a quote online, and it should include transfer fees to give you a better idea of how much your total transaction will cost.

Don’t send a transfer through your bank
Banks can offer secure and convenient international transfers, but they don’t offer value for your money. In fact, they offer some of the weakest exchange rates you’ll find when comparing money transfer providers.

Peer-to-peer vs. bank

Lauren needs to send R1,000 to her mother in the UK. To find the best deal, she compares the services offered by her bank with a peer-to-peer money transfer service.

South African bankPeer-to-peer transfer service
Amount transferredR1,000R1,000
Exchange rate1 ZAR = 0.52 GBP1 ZAR = 0.57 GBP
Transfer fee
R25R2
Pounds received
520 GBP570 GBP

Considering the exchange rates and fees, Lauren’s mother would receive an extra £50 when transferred through a peer-to-peer service.

Consider your transfer options
If you’re sending recurring payments, look into setting up regular transfers to take advantage of fluctuating exchange rates and save more on fees over the long term. With a forward contract, you can lock in the current exchange rate for a transfer that will be placed days, weeks, or even months into the future. Another option is a limit order, which allows you to set up a transfer request that will only be executed when specified market conditions are met — such as the exchange rate reaching a certain level.

Think about a multi-currency bank account
If you need to send more regular transactions using commonly traded currencies, a multi-currency bank account could offer better exchange rates and lower fees. Also referred to as foreign currency accounts, these accounts allow you to hold funds in multiple currencies, meaning you can convert them into rand at a time when the rate suits you.

Send a larger amount
Some providers encourage larger transfers by offering better exchange rates and lower — or even R0 — transfer fees. With a stronger exchange rate on R10,000, you could save a lot.

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What are some companies that send international money transfers?

If you want the best exchange rates, you’ll typically get them from an online money transfer company. Some providers offer higher exchange rates than you’ll find elsewhere while others have other features to help you save money.

Western Union and MoneyGram offer money transfers that your recipient can collect as cash at hundreds of thousands of agent locations worldwide.

If you’re sending money to one of the countries on its long list, PayPal might be an option. But with transfer fees calculated based on the amount you send, it’s better for small transfers only.

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