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Send money to the USA
Here's how to send a quick, affordable and secure money transfer to the USA.
For a cost-effective way to send money to the United States, it’s best to keep an eye out for services offering the following:
- Zero transfer fees. You can’t get lower than that.
- The best rates. Investigate brands that guarantee to beat any competitor’s exchange rate.
We’ve assembled a list of these services so you can compare the cheapest method to transfer money from South Africa to the USA.
Compare your options for transferring funds to the USA
How to transfer money to the USA from South Africa
There are generally three different transfer methods:
- Money transfer services. These offer some of the most cost-effective transfers as they only trade in foreign currencies.
- South African banks. The US dollar is one of the most popular currencies, so it’s safe to assume that any major bank will offer it. But watch out for higher fees.
- Cash transfers. Services such as Western Union allow you to send cash transfers for immediate pickup by the recipient. While it’s a fast way to send money, it generally won’t match the rates or fees of dedicated money transfer services.
How do I compare money transfer services when transferring money to the US?
Comparing money transfer companies and banks could save you money, when you consider the following:
- Competitive exchange rates. Small differences in the exchange rate can have a big impact when transferring large amounts of money.
- Minimal fees. Fees may vary depending on the institution and the currency involved.
- A range of transfer methods. Both banks and transfer companies offer online transfers using a bank account or credit card. However, some may advise you to visit an agent and start the transfer in person.
- Convenient pickup methods. Whether it’s a personal or business transfer, it’s important to consider the circumstance of your primary recipient.
- Reliable customer service. The accessibility of a customer service representative is also worth considering in the event that something goes wrong.
Banks vs money transfer servicesMichael travels to South Africa for work purposes while his family remains in the USA. He needs to send money to his wife but discovers bank transfer fees are high and the exchange rates aren’t competitive. As Michael wants to send R10,000 to the USA, he compares the deal from the bank to a deal from a money transfer company.
|Bank||Money transfer service|
|Exchange rate||1 ZAR = 0.054 USD||1 ZAR = 0.071|
|Transfer fee||R22 to the sender. There is also R11 charged to the receiver||R0|
|Transfer speed||2-4 business days||2 business days|
|Transfer options||Bank to bank||Bank to bank|
|Amount received in USD for 10,000 ZAR||450 USD||710 USD|
|Difference in funds received||+260 USD|
What’s the difference?
By using a money transfer service, he saves on the transfer fee and can send his wife an extra $US260.
Need an emergency cash transfer in the USA?
If you misplace your wallet or cash while travelling in the USA, there are several ways to receive more money and finish your vacation:
- Transfer service company. A friend or relative in South Africa can send you emergency money through a transfer company, but you must provide photo identification.
- Bank transfers. Your South African bank may be able to do an internal transfer to a US bank account, but fees will apply for this emergency service.
- Credit card. Some credit card companies offer complimentary travel insurance as a card feature. Contact your provider if your insurance policy has been activated and use that insurance to replace your lost cash.
- Travel Insurance. Depending on the extent of your coverage, the lost or stolen money could be replaced.
Tips for picking up cash in the US
You should take care whenever you pick up cash from a transfer agent. This means staying aware of your personal safety at all times and taking a few steps to prevent yourself from becoming a target for thieves.
- Call ahead. Learn the company’s business hours and choose a safe time to pick up your cash. Daylight hours are best.
- Bring a friend. Carrying money when alone can be dangerous. Ask a friend to come along.
- Deposit your money immediately. The likelihood of losing your money to theft or simple carelessness grows the longer you have it with you. Go straight to a bank and deposit your cash as soon as possible.
- Keep your cash hidden. Place your money in your purse or wallet before leaving the company’s office or bank. Carrying cash out in the open could make you a target.
What documentation do I need?
A bank-to-bank transfer is ideal if you’re regularly sending money to the US to cover bills and investments. However, if you need to send money quickly, it’s worth considering a cash transfer agency and making note of the following:
- The recipient’s full name. The beneficiary of a cash transfer will need to show photo identification, so make sure the name on the order is the same as the name on the ID.
- Your full name. As an additional security measure, the agent may ask for the full name of the sender. Be sure that the recipient knows your complete name.
- Your recipient’s contact information and bank details. Both the sender and the recipient must have each other’s address and contact details.
- The tracking number. Keep the tracking number given to you upon sending the transfer as the recipient must provide this to the agent before the cash can be released.
Save all paperwork in case there’s a problem with the transfer. This serves as proof that the money was sent and will make it easier to recover.
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