As the world looks towards recovery, following the past few months spent in lockdown, COVID-19 continues to have a huge impact on many of our lives. And, with travel restrictions still in place, it is difficult to travel for people to visit loved ones, both at home and overseas.
If you're one of the 114,000 Ghanaians living in the UK* or the thousands of others living outside of Ghana who often send money back home to support friends and family, the recent lockdown may have made this more difficult.
There are many ways to send money overseas – bank transfers, physical money kiosks and online money transfer websites – but it's important for you to consider additional charges such as exchange rates and fees. And, with a wide range of possible fees and exchange rates, it can be tricky to work out what extra payments you may be making as part of your transaction, and how to ensure as much money as possible makes it back to those who need it.
Just as bank fees are front of mind when travelling abroad, they are as important to consider when transferring money overseas. If you're planning to send money to a friend or family member at home this year, first make sure you find out how much money they'll receive after deducting all costs. The costs you need to consider include:
- Exchange rates – exchange rates can fluctuate all the time, meaning that your money could be worth more or less in your home currency throughout the year. It's important to compare different options and act quickly, to ensure you're getting the best rate possible.
- Sending fees – this simply means how much the online money transfer service will charge you for sending the money via their service(s).
- Receiving fees – in some cases, the receiver may have to cover the cost of receiving the money. However, this can also be covered by the sender on their end.
To learn how you can avoid getting stung by these additional costs, read these top tips from Jago McKenzie, Remittance Expert at Remitly. He shares how you can get the best deal and avoid losing money on extra hidden charges:
- Know your exchange rate and fees: Exchange rates fluctuate and can vary significantly from provider to provider. If you're sending a large amount of money home, definitely check the current rate as this can make a big difference to how much money makes it home. And whilst it is often tempting to use the service which offers the best exchange rate, it is equally important to scrutinise the fees you will be charged for using the service. If you don't check what the fee is, you could be left out of pocket by losing large amounts of money in hidden transfer fees which will impact the amount the receiver actually gets.
- Send in your own time: Not in a rush? With Remitly, customers are able to select the 'Economy' transfer option, meaning you can still send money quickly (within two business days), but pay a much lower fee. For quick and easy transactions, customers can also use Remitly's 'Express' option for a small fee. So, consider how quickly you need to send money against the extra costs. If you're happy to wait a couple of extra days you might save money by choosing a slightly slower option.
- Watch out for any hidden charges: Whether you want to send money on a regular basis, or just a one-time transaction, make sure you find a provider who is upfront about these fees and can offer a range of options for sending and receiving your money. Once you have factored in the exchange rate and the transfer cost, the fees for sending money home can sometimes surpass 5%. Some providers will even charge your recipient a fee to receive the money. Take all of these into account when deciding whether you want to send lots of smaller amounts or a larger amount in one go.
As we move towards a “new normal” and everyone cautiously gets back to working, travelling beyond our doorstep and safely meeting up with friends and family again, it will be a while until life as we knew it returns. It's likely that many of you are wondering when it will be safe to visit your family and friends in Ghana again. Whilst we don't know the answer to that question, continuing to send money home to your loved ones in Ghana can make a huge difference to their lives. Whether the money is for personal or more practical reasons, make sure that your money is delivered securely, quickly and conveniently by using a trusted provider such as Remitly.