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How to send money to India

Compare fees and exchange rates to get the best deal on your next money transfer from South Africa to India.

Whether you’re helping out family in Chennai or opening an office in Mumbai, when you need to send money from South Africa to India fatafat (quickly), you don’t want to deal with a stressful and expensive process.

By comparing the transfer fees and exchange rates of several providers at once, you can be confident that you’re finding the best deal with the least amount of hassle.

Best ways to send money to India

Use our comparison calculator to assess transfer fees, exchange rates and other details for sending funds to India with an online money transfer provider.

Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
USD 60 1 day ZAR 0.00 4.909 INR
Skrill offers easy transfers to many popular destinations, but keep an eye out for added fees. Go to site Show details
USD 1 Within an hour ZAR 250.00 4.903 INR
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 4.893 INR
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

Compare up to 4 providers

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

How to send money to India in a few simple steps

  1. Choose your service. Make sure the money transfer service you choose sends money to India from South Africa.
  2. Create an account. This usually involves providing forms of identification, like your driver’s licence or passport and proof of address.
  3. Pick your payment method. You can typically choose to pay from your bank account, credit card or debit card.
  4. Choose your delivery method. Do you want to send money directly to your recipient’s bank account, to their mobile phone, or arrange a cash pickup in New Delhi, Mumbai or Bangalore?
  5. Enter your transaction details. This includes the transfer amount, currency you’re sending and the recipient’s information.
  6. Review your transfer. Make sure the receiver’s details are correct. You can also review the final exchange rate and any other fees. Keep in mind that if you’re not an Indian resident, a 12.36% government service tax will be added on top of your transfer.
  7. Send your funds. The money will be deposited into your recipient’s account in India.
  8. Receive email/SMS confirmation. This will include your tracking number along with confirmation of your transfer. If the recipient is picking up cash, they’ll need to present this at collection.

What to know when transferring money to India

  • 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.
  • Bank partners. Many providers list their Indian bank partners online. See if your recipient’s bank is affiliated with your provider before initiating a transfer.
  • Transfer speed. If it needs to be there fast, companies like Western Union and MoneyGram allow for quick cash pickups, often in minutes.
  • Transfer limits. For large transfers, compare and find 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.
  • Payment scheduling. 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 online chat, phone, in person or by email. Make sure help will be available if you need it.

Foreign exchange rates explained

An exchange rate determines how much one country’s currency is worth in another currency. When a currency is strong, it yields more money when exchanging it for a weaker currency. India’s exchange rate is flexible, which means it can change from moment to moment due to factors such as interest rates, economic stability and inflation.

ZAR to INR: Historical rate chart

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What are all the ways I can send money to India?

There are lots of options for sending money to India beyond a normal bank transfer. What’s best for you will depend on how you want the transfer delivered, how fast you need it to arrive and the fees you’re willing to pay. A few of the most common transfer methods include:

  • Bank transfers. Many South African banks allow you to transfer money to banks in India. However, this option generally doesn’t offer the best exchange rates or lowest fees.
  • Money transfer services. These providers often have competitive exchange rates closer to the mid-market rate and can transfer money to bank accounts or mobile.
  • Providers with cash pickup. This can often be the fastest method of transferring money to India, where there are locations in New Dehli, Mumbai and Bangalore. While good for emergency transfers, you may sacrifice a better exchange rate.
  • PayPal. You’ll need to link a bank account or credit card to your PayPal account to pay for your transfer, while the fee that applies is calculated as a percentage of your transaction amount. The fee also varies depending on where you send money and you can only use PayPal in South Africa through a linked FNB account, so review all charges before deciding whether to choose this option to send funds between South Africa and India.

Banks vs money transfer companies

Many major South African banks offer the option to send funds to India, but they typically charge high transfer fees and offer exchange rates that are significantly lower than the mid-market rate.

A reputable money transfer specialist can often offer better exchange rates and also charge lower fees, saving you money and putting more rupees into your recipient’s pocket.

Aryan sends money to India

Aryan lives and works in South Africa and wants to send R1,000 of his salary to his parents in Mumbai. He approaches his bank for an international transfer but is shocked when he sees its weak exchange rate and high fees. He compares his bank’s services with those of an independent money transfer specialist to see who offers the better deal.

Major South African bankMoney transfer specialist
Transfer amountZAR R1,000ZAR R1,000
Exchange rateZAR R1 = INR5.12ZAR R1 = INR5.64
Transfer feeZAR R18 per transactionZAR R0 per transaction
Amount received (in Indian rupees)INR5,120INR5,640
Transfer time1-2 business days1 business day
Difference of+INR2,903

Aryan discovers that his family could receive 520 more Indian rupees if he sends his money through a money transfer specialist. And, he’ll save himself a further R18 in transfer fees.

Regulations on sending large amounts of money to India

While you won’t have to do anything extra to send a large amount of money out of South Africa, your receiver may have to. If your recipient is a “blood relative” (including spouses, children, grandchildren, siblings and in-laws), they won’t have to pay tax on any transfer, no matter the size. Money transfers that are part of a wedding gift or inheritance are also exempt from regulation.

All other large money transfers, though, come under the umbrella of the gift tax, regulated by the Indian Income Tax Act. This means any amount over 50,000 rupees (about ZAR R12,500, depending on the exchange rate) is taxable and should be declared by the recipient as income.

You may also need to provide extra documentation if you’re sending a large amount, depending on the money transfer service.

What do I need to know about taxes?

Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) sending money to India are required to pay a 12.36% government service tax on any commission or fee paid to an agent to facilitate the exchange. Some banks and providers conveniently factor this service tax into your totals, but ask if you don’t see it listed.

Same-day cash transfers in India

You might need to send an emergency cash transfer to India, for example, if a friend travelling through the country loses their wallet. When a fund transfer is urgent, the fastest option will often be the most expensive one. Be sure to carefully review the exchange rate and transfer fee against your needs so that you understand exactly how much it will cost you.

Some options for emergency cash transfers between South Africa and India include:

  • Cash transfer companies. MoneyGram and Western Union offer international transfers between South Africa and India within minutes. Your recipient can then pick up the cash you send from their nearest MoneyGram or Western Union location. All they’ll need is photo ID and a transaction reference number.
  • Travel insurance. If your trip is covered by travel insurance, many comprehensive policies can provide an emergency cash allowance if you lose your wallet or it is stolen while you’re overseas. Check the fine print for more information.
  • Credit card provider. If you lose your credit card or it’s stolen while you’re overseas, you may be able to contact your card provider to be sent a replacement card and also access emergency cash.

Tips for picking up cash in India

If you need to go to an agent to pick up cash, make sure you don’t travel alone and that you ride with a reputable cab company. Don’t display the cash in public and deposit it somewhere safe as soon as possible.

If you’re collecting a cash transfer in India or South Africa, remember these few simple tips:

  • Identification. You’ll need to provide a form of photo ID, for example a driver’s licence or passport, when picking up the money.
  • Reference number. Ask the person transferring funds to you to send you the transaction ID or reference number, as you’ll need to quote this number when you go to collect the funds.
  • Phone ahead. When collecting money overseas and in unfamiliar surrounds, it may be worth phoning ahead to confirm an agent’s address and opening hours.
  • Large transfers. If you’re collecting a large sum of cash, you may need to call ahead to check whether the agent has sufficient funds to complete the transaction.

Your complete guide to international money transfers.

Cash pickup locations in India

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Which 10 countries are sending the most money to India?

India receives more money transfers than any other country, according to World Bank data, with an estimated US$69 billion in remittances in 2017. There are over 1.2 million Indians and persons of Indian descent living in South Africa, so let’s see how other countries stack up when it comes to sending money to India.

RankCountryRemittances in 2017
1United Arab Emirates$13,822,589,675
2United States$11,714,633,011
3Saudi Arabia$11,238,826,124
6United Kingdom$3,940,789,728

South Africa and India

South Africa and India have longstanding bilateral relations going back as far as the 1860s. However, these strong ties were rocked throughout South Africa’s apartheid government. 2018 marked the 25th anniversary of South Africa and India’s renewed relations following apartheid, with bilateral trade totalling US$9.84 billion in 2017.

With such a large population of Indian-born people now calling South Africa home, there are plenty of reasons why you might be looking for an affordable way to send money between South Africa and India.

Frequently asked questions

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