If you want to send money to Africa right now, you will find out that there are so many ways to do so. This was not the case before the 21st century. Prior to the boom of the financial sector, sending money to Africa was a hassle.
Some of the earliest methods were Western Union and Moneygram. Although we have these companies to thank for leading the way, they had some flaws.
- High sending fees – anything between 10 to 50 percent of the total money being sent will be charged as fees.
- Long procedures – like providing a reason for sending the money and a means of identification before the money is given to the recipient.
- Low exchange rate – usually below the actual market value and;
- Delayed payment – which usually takes between 2 – 5 business days.
All this makes it difficult to send money needed for an emergency or for the recipient to get the money without a means of identification (which might have been lost or expired).
In time, the financial sector in Africa has improved and many remittance companies now operate on the continent. The challenge now isn’t finding a method to send money across to loved ones, but finding the best method of doing so.
Our selection will be based on four criteria, speed, reliability, reasonable exchange rate, and of course affordability. So, what are we looking for in each criterion?
5 factors to consider when deciding on the best way to send money to Africa
Depending on the method you are using, funds can take between a few minutes to several days. Bank-to-bank transfers are notorious for being slow usually taking between 2 to 5 working days (or longer) depending on the day and time the transfer was initiated, differences in time zones between the sender and receiver banks, bank holidays, and weekends.
But don’t let this alarm you. For our picks, we will focus on ways you can use to send money to Africa within 24 hours.
Amongst the many inconveniences faced by those who want to send money to Africa, one of the most dreadful is having your money stuck midway. You become anxious and start engaging in an email war with customer care.
If customer care is responsive and can assist you, then you are among the lucky ones. But if they are non-responsive, then you have no other choice but to wait anxiously until the situation is resolved.
This shouldn’t be your fate. A reliable way to send money to Africa should have good customer care support to handle unforeseen situations, provide explanations and put your mind at ease. After all, money is involved.
High exchange rates
The third criterion for our selection is based on the exchange rates. Depending on the method you choose, the money being sent could be converted to the recipient’s local currency or retained in foreign denominations.
Of course, those that are retained in foreign denominations offer the best advantage when it comes to exchange rates. The reason is that the recipient can retrieve the money and exchange it at parallel market rates which are often higher than those provided by financial institutions. So you send less and they receive more, win-win for everybody.
How much are you charged per transaction? Again, this depends on which method you choose. Some charge a percentage of the total money being sent. What this means is that the higher the amount you send, the more you will be charged.
On the other hand, some methods have a flat rate that is charged once. This method is common with fintech companies spawning across Africa where transfer fees can be as low as $1.
Flexibility refers to the number of withdrawal options available to the recipient. Bank withdrawal option is very common, but there are other avenues such as mobile money, and cash pickup (via agents).
To take things further, some of these methods provide a means to conveniently swap between currencies at an attractive rate. Although this feature is only available in apps, it is very convenient to use.
The 5 most affordable ways to send money to Africa
1| Direct transfer to a domiciliary account
One of the most convenient ways of sending money to Africa is by paying directly into a domiciliary account.
This is a type of account located in the recipient’s country but legally capable of receiving remittances in foreign currency.
Most African countries like Nigeria, Ghana, and Kenya permit their citizens to own and operate a domiciliary account.
All that is required is going to a bank of your choice and applying for one. However, there are some countries like Cameroon where citizens may not own a domiciliary account.
The main advantage of a domiciliary account is a good exchange rate since the recipient can withdraw the money and exchange it in a parallel market at a high rate.
Serving over 130 countries, Worldremit is easily one of the best ways to send money to Africa. In more than two decades since it was founded, Worldremit has garnered more than 5.7 million users around the world.
The company is known for its speedy transfers, and flexible withdrawal options including bank withdrawal, mobile money, cash pickups (depending on the recipient’s country), and airtime top-ups.
In addition to all this, the company offers very competitive transfer fees. Using a flat-fee structure, WorldRemit is said to be 48% cheaper than most banks and about 22% cheaper than other remittance companies.
Its customer service is rated 4.1 out of 5 stars according to a review by Trustpilot which is very good. Transfers are generally completed in minutes (but could take longer) and recipients can receive inflows directly into their domiciliary accounts.
The first thing you should know about Sendwave is that you can send money for free. That is, you will not be charged any transfer fee. This makes Sendwave the first and perhaps the only remittance company on this list to do so.
However, the company still has to make money in a way. To do so, Sendwave applies a markup to their exchange rates.
So if you were to send money that had to be converted to the recipient’s local currency at the point of pickup, Sendwave will add or subtract a small amount (about 1% difference from the market rate) during the conversion.
This difference in the exchange rates is known as a markup and for comparison, this could be as high as 7% when using Western Union. Sendwave is equally known for quick transactions, good customer care support, and flexibility.
London-based company Wise is among the most affordable remittance companies you can use to send money to Africa.
Founded in 2010, Wise was formerly known as Transferwise until 2021 when the company rebranded a move that reflected the company’s goal to go beyond being a mere remittance company.
Today, you can send money to over 10 African countries and easily convert between 52 different currencies. There are also many options to choose from such as bank transfer, debit or credit card, Swift, Google pay, and Apple pay.
Wise has a very competitive rate despite having a flat fee and a variable. To cut down even further on the fees, you should transfer the funds using either a debit or credit card or the Wise account transfer option.
Additionally, you can find out how much your transfer will cost using the Wise fee calculator. According to the company, there are no hidden fees. So, what you see is what you will be charged.
The US-based company offers one of the lowest fees as far as international money transfer is concerned. With Remitly, you can send money to over 30 African countries using its unique fee option.
You can either choose to go with the Express option which guarantees a very fast transfer usually in minutes.
This option is best for emergencies where you need to send money to Africa urgently. On the other hand, you can go with the cheaper option that charges less but takes longer.
This option is known as Economy and transfer is mostly between banks. Either way, your money is safe and secure.
With one of the best customer support teams out there, it is not surprising that Remitly has so many positive reviews from customers all over the world.
Speed, convenience, low cost, and high exchange dominate the need to select the most affordable way to send money to Africa. A note of caution, before deciding to go with any of the methods mentioned above is to ensure that the country you want to send money to is supported.
Also, take note of any policy in the recipient’s country that might affect how the money is sent. For example, you cannot send money directly into a local (Naira) account in Nigeria.
The only available options are via a domiciliary account or cash pick-up. The fees and exchange rates could differ depending on where the money is going (either a domiciliary account or an agent).
So, have you tried sending money to any African country? Let us know which method you used and what was your experience in the comment section below. Also, if you found this article helpful, consider subscribing to our newsletter so that you will be the first to know when new editions are published.
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