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How to save on international money transfers

by Dayne Jans | May 13, 2016
  • If you’re living abroad, it’s likely that you will want to transfer money to your home country from time to time. International money transfer agents offer better exchange rates and lower fees than traditional banks. Despite this, most South Africans still use banks as their first port of call when sending money home.

    South Africans abroad

    From Hong Kong to California, a vast network of South Africans live and work across the globe. These expats transfer money around the world, whether it’s to pay off a bond, settle personal accounts or invest in overseas business opportunities.

    For many South Africans traditional banks are the first port of call for these transfers. Ten years ago, this would have been understandable, and even acceptable. However, in the last few years, there has been an increase in the number of money transfer agents charging lower fees and offering better rates than the banks.

    Perhaps the reason why many people are still using banks for their international remittance is because they have built relationships with their bank and are wary of online services. Compounding this is the genuine belief that banks are the cheapest way to transfer money, even when this is simply not the case. Banks often build in a myriad of hidden fees, from transfer charges and commissions, to receiving fees at the destination bank.

    Revealing the hidden costs when transferring with banks

    It’s not uncommon for banks to charge large fees to transfer your funds, and on top of this in South African banks charge a receiving fee! On the other hand, international money transfer agents do not charge these exorbitant fees, and often give clients even better deals when large amounts are transferred.

    In addition to this, forex agencies are willing to negotiate rates and are more flexible in their approach. High-street banks usually set their exchange rates once or twice a day in order to ensure maximum profitability. They also hike their spreads to allow for volatility throughout the day. 

    Be aware: Interbank rates

    Some banks also advertise an interbank exchange rate – the rate at which they trade with one another. Advertising this rate is incredibly misleading as it is, at best, a representative rate that’s in constant flux and impossible to predict. When transferring money, always make sure the rate you see is locked in, competitive and representative of the actual rate you will receive when you click “transfer”.

    For transparent fees, competitive rates and unsurpassed customer service
    register with Sable International. If you have any questions about international money transfers or our service, get in touch with us on or +44 (0) 20 7759 7554

    We are a professional services company that specialises in cross-border financial and immigration advice and solutions.

    Our teams in the UK, South Africa and Australia can ensure that when you decide to move overseas, invest offshore or expand your business internationally, you’ll do so with the backing of experienced local experts.

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