To and From – UK, Europe, US, Canada, and Australia
International money transfers to South Africa or from South Africa can be a tricky prospect especially if you consider the Single Discretionary Allowance (SDA).
Let’s make it simple.
The key is to choose the right service to match your needs.
For example, a very important thing often missed is that for relatively smaller amounts (below R100,000 ZAR) there are some service which are clear leaders.
However for larger amounts (especially above R100,000 ZAR), we found the country you are transacting with makes a big difference in who you should use.
Cost, speed and especially service all need to be taken into account.
Last but not least, we cover safety and security!
Let’s dive in.
Below is Domestic Money Transfers
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links which often saves you money too! 🙂 For more information, see my disclosures here.
A decade or so ago, you’d be limited to services like Western Union (review) or MoneyGram to send and receive cash from South Africa. While Western Union does have incredible coverage world wide, it’s not the most affordable option.
So what are your alternatives for cash?
In both instances those in South Africa can collect their remittance from any Mukuru network outlet, which are integrated into the post office, banks, convenience stories, shopping malls, or stand-alone collection branches.
If you’re sending slightly larger amounts and cash transfers aren’t a priority, TransferWise (review) is our top pick due to its combination of competitive fees, extremely transparent fee structure, great service and smooth online experience.
However as we said at the outset, this may not suit everyone.
For example, as with small transfers, WorldRemit can still provide low fees for your transfers in this category but it is hard to beat CurrencyFair (review) if lowest costs are your main priority.
Based on our in depth analysis and first hand experiences over many years in multiple countries, we recommend OFX (review) for your large and extra large transfers to South Africa.
Unfortunately, at this time OFX does not offer transfers from South Africa, but WorldRemit, TransferWise, and CurrencyFair do.
CurrencyFair is likely to be the least expensive, with WorldRemit our top choice into North America and TransferWise our top pick into Australasia and Europe simply because of their relative strengths (like physical offices) in those areas.
Of course R1 million per year under you’re able to transfer R1 million per year from South Africa under your Single Discretionary Allowance (SDA).
For a quick overview and to save money, don’t miss the snapshot table below.
From UK to South Africa
For cash transfers “in minutes” to South Africa from the UK, WorldRemit is a very competitive option. Remitly comes a close second, but the free transfers you can get from WorldRemit (see table below) make them an easy recommendation.
For smaller transfers below £5000 GBP / R100,000 ZAR, CurrencyFair is most likely the lowest cost option but TransferWise is our overall top choice due to combination of excellent platform, fantastic transparency of fees and just genuinely going out of their way to make life better when it comes to money transfers.
For your large and extra large transfers (above £5000 GBP / R100,000 ZAR) its is hard to beat OFX especially with its customer support people in London and 24/7 telephone service.
From South Africa to the UK
Unfortunately services out of South Africa are somewhat limited. However WorldRemit offers excellent exchange rates and they are generally excellent. The offer of free transfers also makes it easy to recommend them (see table below).
From Europe to South Africa
For smaller amounts our top pick to send Euros to South Africa is via WorldRemit with both cash and bank transfers. They have a low fixed fee (see 3 free table below) plus they offer improving exchange rates as the amounts increase.
Remitly offers “same day” transfers, but their fees are higher than WorldRemit and they only support bank-to-bank and card-to-bank transfers from Europe.
For sending €1000-€5000 EUR, TransferGo (review) and TransferWise are excellent service providers, with fees averaging around €12 EUR for sending €1000 EUR (bank-to-bank and card-to-bank transfers only).
For your larger EUR-ZAR transfers, XE has low rates and service and great service.
From South Africa to Europe
For sending money to Europe from South Africa, TransferWise is our top pick for bank to bank or card to bank transactions.
From the US to South Africa
WorldRemit offers the best of speed, convenience, and affordable fees. You’ll pay as low as $5-$10 USD for sending $300-$1000 USD for sending cash in minutes to your recipient’s bank account in 2 days.
TransferWise is a close second, with fees ranging between $18-$25 USD for sending $1000-$3000 USD to your recipient’s bank account (next day transfers).
For your larger transfers, OFX offers great rates and exceptional customer support.
From South Africa to the US
XendPay offers the most affordable rates for sending micro amounts from South Africa to the US (fees are R250 ZAR/$14 USD for sending R5000 ZAR/$300 USD).
For amounts over $1000 USD, CurrencyFair offers big savings with an excellent deal on exchange rates.
From Canada to South Africa
The cheapest way to transfer money from Canada to South Africa (micro amounts) is via WorldRemit. They offer instant cash transfers (in minutes) and fast bank transfers (2 days) with fees averaging around $7 CAD for sending $300 CAD.
For amounts over $1000 CAD but below $9000 CAD/$7000 USD, WorldFirst offers affordable bank transfers (completed in 3-5 days). Remitly also offers cash payouts, but their fees are 2x higher than WorldRemit and WorldFirst.
For your large and extra large CAD-ZAR transfers, you can’t go wrong with OFX.
From South Africa to Canada
XendPay lets you move money in 2 days, while CurrencyFair offers better rates and slightly slower transfers (3-5 days).
From Australia to South Africa
For your instant micro transfers to South Africa from Australia, WorldRemit and Remitly are your best bets. WorldRemit sends your cash in minutes while Remitly offers instant bank transfers, with their fees ranging between $5-$7 AUD for sending $300 AUD.
Both WorldRemit and Remitly are great for your instant transfers above $1000 AUD but below $9000 AUD/$7000 USD too.
If instant transfers or cash payouts aren’t high on your list, you can save big with CurrencyFair (bank transfers completed in 2 days).
Looking to send a large amount? OFX’s rates and phone support are unmatched from Australia.
From South Africa to Australia
Skrill offers fast bank transfers for your micro amounts from South Africa to Australia (next day transfers) with very low fees.
For your slightly larger amounts (below $9000 AUD/R100,000 ZAR/ $7000 USD), CurrencyFair offers a great ZAR-AUD rate and affordable fees.
Regulated (see Safety below)
Size of amount ideal for
|See exactly what you pay here and compare|
|3 free transactions, use code ‘3FREE”|
fee + %
|Get your first 10 transfers fee free|
|In UK? click here|
In Australia or another country? Click here
can pay a
or no fee
|XE charges no transfer fee|
|OFX may charge a fixed fee of $15, however if you click here you can avoid these fees all together.|
You can save big on your international transfers to South Africa if you go with dedicated money transfer companies instead of relying on your bank (who tend to charge exorbitant fees).
But which currency transfer company can pass on the most savings to you?
First, you need to understand how remittance companies structure their fees. Essentially, their transfer fees vary based on the target currency, amount, payout method, transfer speed as well as the funding method.
So based on your specific needs, you need to shop around for a service that gives you the most savings based on your priorities for a transfer.
Typically, instant transfers and cash payouts are more expensive than simple bank-to-bank transfers.
Another aspect to note is whether a particular service favours one currency corridor over another. For example, while TransferWise is usually the cheapest for bank-to-bank transfers from pretty much anywhere, but we noted WorldRemit offers better rates for your transfers to South Africa.
Scope and quality of service are other important factors for zeroing in on a money transfer company of your choice.
For example, if frequent micro cash transfers are a priority for you, you need to go with a service whose strength lies in this area (so they can pass on the savings to you).
But, let’s say, on an off-chance you need to send a larger amount (above $7000 USD), you need to opt for a service whose systems and rates are geared to handle such transfers.
Essentially, avoid keeping all your eggs in one basket and take advantage of the strengths of all the currency transfer options available to you.
Your choice of remittance company may change based on how fast you need your money to arrive.
If you need to send funds instantly due to an emergency, go with a service that offers that bundles in savings based on cost and speed. But typically, faster transfers are more expensive.
If urgent transfers aren’t a priority, go with a service that combines relatively faster bank transfers (next day or two-day transfers) with affordable fees.
Currency transfer companies are registered financial institutions who are required to adhere to the same regulations as banks. So rest assured, your money is absolutely safe with them.
Other than that, they also employ state-of-the-art digital encryption protocols to keep your money and personal data safe when you transact online or on their mobile app. Money transfer companies also conduct regular audits to make sure a transfer meets their scope of service as well as to prevent financial crime (fraud, theft, or money laundering).
New to South Africa and looking for the best options to move money within the country?
Here are the top three ways:
- Sign up for a challenger bank account (for example, with TymeBank – you can open a bank account online in 5 minutes, get a Visa debit card, and set up a savings pool) and move money fee-free or at a very low cost (great for small transfers)
- Eventually, you’ll need a high street bank account since most digital/challenger bank have daily/monthly money transfer limits. Most major banks in South Africa allow account holders to send money to your recipient’s phone number linked to a bank account. They can either spend this money from their account or withdraw it from an ATM with a transaction-specific pin. (great for both small and large transfers)
- Domestic postal orders are another way to transfer funds within the country. You need to address the postal order to a person or a company and your remittance can be redeemed at either a bank or a post office (great for both small and large transfers)