Best ways of sending money to your home country

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Need to send money back home? The good news is that you now have plenty of options that are low-cost, safe, and quick. Facilitated mainly via electronic means, many banks and remittance centres offer faster service at cheaper rates. You can even choose online money transfer services that specialize in international transfers. These companies offer cheaper rates (depending on your needs) and can reach more service locations.

To choose the best service for you, it is important to balance out these considerations:

  • the amount of money you’ll be sending
  • the speed of remittance (or how fast the money reaches your recipient)
  • cost of the service
  • safety of the transaction
  • exchange rate the company uses
  • currency conversion fee
  • how the recipient will receive the money

As these vary, it would be good to compare and ask around (if you have time). Doing research and learning about the experience of others who have availed of the same service will not only help you get the most value out of your hard earned money, but can also protect you from scams out there.

Bank remittance

Bank remittance is still considered the safest way of sending money abroad. Most major banks have international bank transfers that will allow you to send money to a bank in your country, as long as you have an account with them. If you need to send money fast, one of your best choices is through wire transfer. However, it often charges high fees. Wire transfers can be cost-effective when sending large amounts. Other ways could be bank to bank, through Interac e-transfers, or through a third party. Your friends or family can receive money in various ways: deposited to their bank account, credit card, or use of a prepaid card. Cost varies from no fee (CIBC) to amounts ranging from $13.50 to $80 or more depending on the currency and the amount.

Online Money Transfer Services

This is the most convenient way to send money. All you need is a computer (or a mobile device) and an internet connection and you can do it at home. Online money transfers like Paypal, World Remit or Western Union, however, are ideal for sending smaller amounts (below USD500). Most charge a percentage of the amount sent. Depending on which online service you choose (and sometimes the country you are sending the money to), transferring money can be instantaneous, especially if your recipient has an account with the same service. Bank to bank transfers may take one to three days.

Money Transfer Operators

Western Union and MoneyGram are examples of money transfer operators. They usually have many branches all over the world where they conduct business (but they have online services as well). This is ideal if you need to send money right away and you or your recipient do not have access to a computer (or mobile phone). Getting the money is also convenient since they have many branches in most countries. Your recipient can just pick up the money in person. However, services tend to be more expensive than online money transfers. They also require more information from the recipient. The sender and recipient also have to be careful about the Money Transfer Control Number (MTCN). Anybody who knows the MTCN can claim the money from the branch. So be careful when relaying the number to your recipient.

Some important things to remember when sending money

  1. Never send money to people you don’t know.
  2. Check for hidden fees (these are usually in the fine print). Ask how much your recipient will receive in total, after all the charges are deducted. If possible, ask for a breakdown of fees.
  3. Be careful with your personal information. Give them out only when necessary.
  4. Keep receipts or any form of confirmation of the transaction. You may need to refer to it or show it as proof to the company if your recipient doesn’t receive the money.
  5. Check with your recipient immediately if he/she has received the money at the expected time.

Sources: 7 of the best ways to send money abroad, e-check.org.; Send Money Online, Justin Pritchard, About Money; The best ways to send money abroad, Consumer Reports.

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Community Resources

If you are not sure about the remittance centre you wish to transact with, check with the Better Business Bureau.

Do you need to report a remittance scam? You can:

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