Posted by Allison on 4 April 2009, 10:27
There are plenty of ways to move money nowadays. In fact it's easier than ever before to make payments using any one of several different means. Whereas in the past we used to just rely on banknotes and coins to get by, we can send money around the world in just seconds now thanks to the whole concept of electronic money and payments. It's easy enough to log on in the UK, buy something in Japan and pay for it all within the space of a few minutes. We might need to wait a while for the postal service to get it to us, but the process of paying couldn't really be much quicker at all.
But while paying for goods in a foreign currency isn't much of a problem, we might sometimes need to send money to someone who doesn't run a business. Supposing we have a friend or relative in another country who uses a different currency than we do for example; in this case it wouldn't be so easy to ensure they got the money they needed in double quick time.
Or would it?
Let's look at the possibilities to see just how easy it can be to get our currency turned into another currency and sent abroad as quickly as possible.
The main point to remember is that most services will charge you a fee of some kind, and there will also be a time delay in most cases as well. The trick is to get the right balance and pick the cheapest service that gets the money there as quickly as possible. Just remember that if someone's birthday is involved, you will have to take that time delay into account if the money is going to get there on time.
The quickest way to get the money abroad is to use an online payment service such as PayPal. So long as the recipient has a PayPal account and they can give you the name of the email address attached to it, you can send them a payment via that. You can also transfer it into their currency before sending it if you wish, or leave it for them to do when they receive it. The only downside of this is that they will be charged for receiving the payment, so you might want to take that into account and build a little bit more into the payment if it's for a gift of some kind.
Another way to do it is to visit your local bank and ask them how much they would charge to make a payment into a foreign bank account. Again you will obviously need all the details of the account that will be receiving the payment, but it will take longer to do than following the online method would take. You will also need to pay a fee for using this service, which will depend on the bank you are using and the amount you wish to send abroad. Always make sure you know what this is before you agree to any transfer.
You might be thinking that it would be a lot cheaper and easier just to send a cheque in a card like you would for anyone in your own country, but while it wouldn't be entirely useless to the recipient the costs of cashing it may make it effectively worthless.
Normally it's not advisable to send cash through the post, but in this situation it can be worthwhile. In the UK you can send valuable items via Special Delivery, which will cost you more than standard postage abroad – but it usually works out a lot cheaper than what any bank would charge you for the same kind of service.
The beauty of this method is that you can do everything in one fell swoop at the Post Office. All you need to do is exchange your own currency for however much foreign currency you want to send, put it in an envelope together with your card or message or whatever else you need to send, and then post it by the Special Delivery service. Not only will it reach the recipient much faster than a bank would get it to them, it's also insured up to a certain value – normally enough to cover sending some cash over to a relative or friend who needs it.
You can also use a Moneygram if speed is of the essence. While there is obviously a fee for this service too, you can send some cash abroad and the recipient will receive it almost as quickly as they would if they were using a PayPal account or similar online service. You'll also see just how much you'll be charged before making the transaction, which means you'll know exactly what to expect.
Sending money abroad isn't always the easiest thing to do, but there are several ways to do it, as we've now seen. By taking a look at your needs and requirements before you decide on a course of action you can often minimise the fees to yourself and maximise the ease with which the other party will get their money.
As far as speed goes, PayPal is probably one of the fastest ways to do it, and while there is a charge for the service, compared to a lot of other options it is actually rather small. And so long as you already know the email address to send the money to you can still surprise someone on their birthday by sending the money on that day – complete with a message wishing them many happy returns.
Perhaps in the future banks will be a lot more competitive in their fees for sending currency abroad, but as we have seen they are one of the most expensive routes to take for this need. Unless you have a specific reason for wanting to use a bank, it's often better to try something else instead.