How to send money aboard and why I recommend WORLDREMIT and how YOU can save money.
Many people wonder what is a quick, cheap and easy way to send cash to or within Asia. Either they're sending an gift to their newest online romantic connection, supporting friends, paying a deposit for a vacation home or just transferring funds to their Asian bank account.
After over 5 years as a Digital Nomad, moving between Scandinavia, Philippines and Thailand, I have used a few different money transfer services on many occasions. BANK TRANSFERS Of course the easiest way is to log on the internet banking system. Do an international transfer from account to account, and "job done". However this is usually not the quickest, nor the cheapest way. The transfer fees in f.ex. Norway's largest bank is NOK 60 (about €6.30) and normally takes 2-4 working days for the transfer to go through. For "rush" service they charge another NOK 150 (about €15.70). Now that not too much, but it's usually on the currency exchange rate you are the biggest loser. Especially if you send the cash in your local currency. Here is where the banks uses their own fantasy currency exchange rate and makes a "killing". Maybe not each time but over time they take home a good chunk of change. God bless'em, the banks have to make money too.
As mention earlier I have tested a few of the other money transfer services over the past years, and my biggest concern isn't the money I lose by using my bank. It's more how quick I can get support to my friends and how they will be able to get hold of the cash. We're not talking a big lump of cash, just some small relief or paying my "out of town" landlord. Another challenge is that many in the Philippines and Thailand do not have access to a bank account, or they just prefer "cash in hand'.
WESTERN UNION & PAYPAL
So, the first and natural choice is Western Union. Ruling out PayPal for being to expensive with it's 2,5-4% transfer fee, poor exchange rate, plus more fees for recipient to transfer to account for pay out. And, again, the recipient still don't have access to a bank account. Western Union has a fast online solution, even tho their website can be somewhat confusing at times. But in with your debit or credit card and job done. It is quick. (Now I see even WU has started with a "rush service" fee too. Pay extra or wait up to 7 hours). WU has agents all over the world, and in larger cities and tourist areas even offices open 27/7. Their currency exchange rate might not be as bad as the banks, but nothing to write home about. And their initial transfer fee is fairly low. 25 NOK (about €2.60) for smaller amounts. No, there is another issue with WU. After sending online NOK 8000 (about €850) or more, you have to prove your identity. This means sending in a copy of your passport or drivers license. It might be an easier way, but I think I got discouraged when I read somewhere that WU wanted the copy sent by telefax or snail mail. And it would take 4-7 days for the whole process. (There is no NOK 8000 limit when paying directly to an agent, tho). Anyways, I almost reached my limit so now WU is out of the question.
WU does have a mobile app they promote alot, but for some strange I have not been able to download it to any of my devices.
When I first stayed over a longer period in Manila in 2013, I got a tip from a friend to try an online service called Worldremit. Now this is not a company like Western Union, with its own branch offices and agents. This is strictly a online company making agreements with banks and transfer offices all over the world. And from day 1 Worldremit has been an reliable connection. (And works perfect on desktop, and app in smartphone and tablet).
GET STARTED WITH WORLDREMIT
You set up an account with minimum of information. Register a recipient with name and phone number, email or both. Have your debit/credit card ready and start sending. No low limits, no ID check or other nonsense. The cash is ready for pick up within 15-20 minutes and the recipient gets an SMS and email with reference number and pick up instructions. When sending cash to the Philippines I usually choose the pawnshop Cebuana or Palawan as pick up points. Those pawnshops are all over the Philippines, so easy access for my friends. In Thailand I choose Government Savings Bank. GSB has branches all over Thailand, and usually open till 5pm 7 days a week. (Longer opening hours in shopping centers). The recipient brings their ID card, cash out and job done. The sender gets an email when the cash is ready for pick up and when it's picked up. Beautiful. You can also transfer money directly to accounts, but like the banks, it takes 2-3 days. The transfer fee is about the same as WU, NOK 25 (about €2.60) and the exchange rate is slightly better. Over the course of 5 years and countless of transactions, I have only needed to contact their Support twice. And only because I spelled the recipient's name wrong. Only the phone the issue got resolved quick and easy, with email it took a day or two.
HERE IS HOW YOU CAN SAVE
I have recommended Worldremit to many friends over the years, but now they have an incentive to do it again. If you use my code you'll save NOK 400 (about €42) when you have sent NOK 2000 (about €209) or more (I will get the same). It does not have to be in one single transaction, and you get an electronic voucher to use on future transactions when you hit the NOK 2000 mark. So please use my code, start sending cash, and make someone out there HAPPY!
Contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.