How To Make the Most of Money You Send Abroad

Often, the reasons for going abroad to work have a lot to do with the differences in markets between countries. Sometimes, it is because there’s a higher demand in one location than another. Sometimes, it’s because one country’s wages for a particular role have grown quickly. And, sometimes, it’s just as simple as the exchange rate being so favorable that it’s possible to make the life you want in a new country while sending home the money your loved ones depend on. No matter the reason you went abroad or the reason you’re sending money home, the key to making sure the recipient gets the most out of the cash is by optimizing the costs and conversion rates.

Making the Most of Transfer Fees

The fees you pay to spend money are a big part of optimizing a transfer. Sometimes, services are opaque about how their fee pricing works or they change fees regularly enough that predicting your bottom line is difficult. The key is to not only shop for what looks like the best rate, but the best rate you can easily calculate. That way, if there’s a certain amount of cash you need to make sure the recipient gets, you are sure that it makes it through. If you’re sending cash regularly, consider where the price breaks are at and change the pace of your cash transfers so you’re optimizing the rate without making people at home wait too long. Be sure to be responsive to changes in pricing because of promotions or holidays, too. It takes a little time, but eventually, you’ll see the pattern to sending without paying more in fees than you absolutely must.

How To Work With Conversion Rates

Conversion rates and transfer fees both have a big impact on the amount of buying power your money has after it’s transferred into a new currency. On top of that, the relationship between currencies is complex, depending on equal parts on consumer confidence, diplomatic and trade relations, and the strength of each currency in global investment markets. Often, these rates cycle, as demand and small events affect them. Following the history of exchange rates between countries can tell you what times of year are usually best to plan a big transfer to get the most out of it. Similarly, tracking your exchange rate daily or weekly can help you identify trends so you know when to send money right away to avoid a rate change that doesn’t favor you.

It’s also worthwhile to look at options for the receiving currency. If there is more than one usable currency in the destination country, it might be worthwhile to transfer into it. For example, transferring Euro instead of a member country’s home currency, if they maintain one yet. Another option is to send money without converting the currency and to let the recipient time conversions to get the most out of them. Which choice is the right one will depend on the circumstances of any given transfer, so take the time to figure out all the details before you hit send.

Where Rates and Fees Interact

Sometimes, rates and fees interact in complex ways that can make your out-the-door price harder to predict. To make sure you’ve chosen wisely when timing a transfer, check out the transfer agreement and make sure you understand these details.

  • Are fees charged in the starting currency or the receiving one?
  • Are all fees transparent?
  • Is the agreed-upon exchange rate clear?
  • How long until the money is available to the recipient?

Last but definitely not least, make sure you’ve shopped around. The posted official conversion rate is usually not quite what you get when you convert money, because there are fees for the conversion itself and because different conversion resources update their rates from the source at different times. Use that to your advantage whenever you’re getting ready to send cash abroad.


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