Recently, I sent some cash to a colleague in India as part of a Which? Money investigation. But what shocked me was the trouble he had getting hold of the ‘reddies’. So what is the best way to transfer money abroad?
Chances are, a fair proportion of us will want to send money abroad at some stage in our lives. There are a few ways to get this done – you can use your bank, a wire service or a specialist transfer service.
Our research found big discrepancies between what providers charge for sending money abroad, such as an £87 difference between the cheapest and most expensive when sending $1,000 to the US.
And if you need to get cash to someone in foreign climes post-haste, our research found that using a wire service, like Western Union or MoneyGram, was your best bet. We found they’re usually the fastest, completing transfers in minutes (providing there aren’t any problems). This is great, considering that other transaction suppliers can takes days. But, unfortunately, life’s not that simple.
Secure but slow
When I tried wiring cash to a colleague in Mumbai, it really did take minutes. However, my colleague couldn’t access the cash because the wire service had placed a block on the transfer. And why was that? Apparently, it was due to money laundering safety measures and concern over potential scams.
To be fair, I appreciate the need for financial providers to be vigilant and help in the fight against financial crime. But, if my colleague was in desperate need of cash, this hitch could have proven awkward.
What makes it worse is that I received no indication that there was a problem. It was only when the recipient couldn’t access the funds that the issue came to light. Surely a little warning might have been appropriate?
A balancing act
I might sound like I have a downer on money transfer operators – but I don’t. They’re just being prudent. But it’s still an issue, and one that doesn’t get currency transfer providers off the hook. After all, banks are everywhere. Most UK banks have an international presence, and even if they don’t, banks still talk to one another. So why does it take days to transfer money anywhere outside of Europe?
I think it’s about time that the money transfer sector caught up with the rest of the e-commerce world and enabled fast transfers, rather than including caveats detailing ‘typical’ timings. This way we could all rest assured that our cash would reach its destination in time. I think emails to the currency sender, asking for security clearance if there proved to be a problem, would also be a good idea.
Have you come across any problems when transferring money abroad? What are the fastest and slowest transfer times you’ve achieved?