Since y’all are reading this here personal finance blog, I can deduce from SCIENCE! that you’re more likely to have the kind of disposable income needed to take a trip. And not just a trip down to the local 7-11 for a slurpee and smokes, either. An international trip.
(Aside: My favorite thing ever are Canada/U.S. border towns that claim they have international airports. Yeah, I’m real impressed by your one non-stop flight per week to Lethbridge, Great Falls. Way to keep your only TSA agent employed)
Some of you take this whole trip thing another step further, choosing to work in a different country. I
sort of worked illegally squatted in my (then) girlfriend’s apartment while she was making bank in Korea. Sure, it only had one room and I’ve stayed in hotel rooms bigger, but it was FREE, baby. That’s my favorite word. Well, at least next to cheeseburgers.
When we were there, Vanessa would periodically transfer money back to her Canadian bank account. We would get around this somewhat by taking both my and her spending money out of her Korean bank account, but that still left her with ample cash that had to eventually end up back in Canada.
She ended up taking the easy way out and paying for a wire transfer from her Korean bank to her Canadian one. But there were a few problems with that. It cost a fortune, with the amount going up or down depending on many factors, including the mood of whatever teller she dealt with. The money would take days to end up in Canada, And trying to tell Koreans not used to dealing with foreigners what she wanted to do proved difficult. Does anyone know Korean for “wire transfer”? It’s probably too late now anyway.
There are other solutions, primarily using a third party foreign exchange company. What you do is wire the money to the intermediary, who converts it to the currency you want. They then take the money and transfer it to your domestic bank account.
There are plenty of reasons to do it this way. These transfer companies take smaller fees to do the transaction than banks, especially if you’re dealing with larger amounts of currency. And they take less on the foreign exchange spread. A difference of 1% isn’t much when you’re talking about dollars. It really adds up when you’re talking tens of thousands of dollars.
There’s also the speed issue. Vanessa had to wait up to a week for her transfers to get from South Korea to Canada, and that was from developed banking system to developed banking system. Imagine if she were sending money from some backwards country like America. Or Belgium.
These FX companies will transfer the money much quicker, with the cash generally ending up in your account between 24 and 48 hours after you send the money out. Much quicker than the traditional system.
Look at it this way. A bank views sending money to Canada as a way to really make bank (tee hee I’m punny) on fees. They get a fee to either send or receive the cash, as well as taking the spread in exchanging currencies. A money transfer company only transfers money. They’ve built systems that ensure the customer pays less and they can still make money on the transaction.
Capitalism is the best, y’all.
There are a million options out there for someone looking to transfer cash. You can use Western Union, Paypal, wire transfers, or a money transfer company. Each has pros and cons, but when looking at it from a pure cost perspective, it’s hard to beat some of these money transfer companies.