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The UAE has rapidly developed and become one of the world's foremost business centres, which means a place with fantastic employment opportunities as well. This has also led to a growth of the market for online money transfers like digital transfers, exchange houses within the country, and online banking, which also play a vital role in the economy. 

With a high number of ex-pats in the UAE, the volume of outward remittances from the UAE has also been on the rise in the last few years. This article will discuss the crucial aspects of international money transfers in the UAE.

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Ways to Make International Money Transfers

If you plan to move to the UAE, chances are that you will transfer money back home from the UAE or vice versa. With almost 90% of the UAE's population comprising expats, the remittance is also among the highest in the world. As per the UAE Central bank, the beneficiary families are primarily from the UK, the USA, India, and the Philippines. 

There are numerous ways to make international money transfers in the UAE such as –   

  1. Online International Money Transfer
  2. International Money Transfer through banks
  3. International Money Transfer with Traditional Bank Services
  4. International Money Transfer through Mobile or Internet Banking
  5. International Money Transfer via Foreign Exchange Brokers
  6. International Money Transfer via Wire Transfer

Let’s discuss how you can make money transfer with each of the listed modes – 

Online International Money Transfer

Online money transfers are swift, secure, and straightforward. Several online services available in the UAE allow customers to transfer dirhams to overseas bank accounts. Notably, transferring money via online services can also help you avoid excessive fees that lending institutions usually charge if you opt for the traditional way of transferring money. 

On top of all, online transfer services are convenient as you don't have to visit the branch in person and can easily wire the money in a few clicks through your laptop or smartphone.

Some of the online remittance platforms are described below.

  • Paypal – It is an online payment system that enables immediate money transfers for transfers around the world without any transaction fee 
  • Western Union – This makes for an excellent choice for international online transfers. All you need to do here is log in to your profile, enter the receiver's details, pay with a credit card, and transfer money. You can then track your transfer with the tracking number that you get in the confirmation mail. With Western Union transfer, the overall process can take one to two days, depending on the receiver's country.
  • Xpress Money – It offers a high-rate money transfer service. You can select either the account credit facility or cash pick-up for the transfer.
  • Wise – It is one of the cheapest and fastest ways to send money abroad. You can transfer funds to more than 40 countries at a real-time exchange rate.
  • Moneygram – The online process of transferring funds through MoneyGram is reliable and quick. With this, you can easily use your mobile wallet or bank account to receive or send money.
  • Moneycorp – With a presence in more than 120 countries, Moneycorp is another money transfer service provider offering a full suite of payment solutions. You can easily send or receive payment from one convenient location with this.
  • Currency Fair – Currency Fair provides money transfer facilities for more than 150 countries. One of its most notable features is that its exchange rates are lower than most banks, which can help users avoid any excess fees.

International Money Transfer through banks

The UAE has numerous licenced banks that offer money transfer services. Transferring money via bank transfer is fairly convenient, as you can access your bank accounts via mobile banking or the internet in minutes. 

At the same time, it’s crucial to note that the cost of sending money via a traditional bank account is generally higher than online transfers. This is because banks predetermine their exchange rates, which differ from the interbank rates displayed on Google or xe.com. 

Banks also charge service fees for exchange remittances. For international bank transfers, the maximum transfer time is usually 5 working days, and the bank service fee may be anywhere from 0 to 100 AED (without including the VAT). 

Numerous options can be found when you decide to open a foreign bank account to transfer funds. Several UAE banks have low fees for international money transfers across the globe. Listed below are the top banks to transfer money out of the UAE – 

  • Emirates NBD Bank (Direct Remit)
  • Mashreq Bank (Quick Remit)
  • Noor Islamic Bank
  • Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank
  • First Gulf Bank
  • Standard Chartered Bank
  • HSBC Bank
  • Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank
  • Dubai Islamic Bank

International Money Transfer with Traditional Bank Services

If you prefer to perform financial operations in person, you can always visit the bank and complete the steps as per the bank's directive. The main process here is fairly simple – you will be required to fill out the money transfer form and pay in cash. As an alternative, you can directly pay from your bank account.

It must be noted that completing international money transfer with traditional bank services is usually costlier due to higher outstanding service charges compared to online or phone banking. 

International Money Transfer through Mobile or Internet Banking

With mobile banking in the UAE, sending money overseas is easy and hassle-free. You can open your mobile app or log into your online banking account and select the option of international money transfers. 

Almost all the leading banks offer both domestic and international transfers. You will, however, first need to add a new payee to make a transfer. You should make sure that you have the recipient's account information on hand as well. 

The following details are required to make the payment –

  • Full name of the recipient (as on the bank account) along with any other  personal information required by the bank
  • Address of the bank, including the bank's account number and bank branch number
  • Depending on the receiver’s country, IBAN or SWIFT codes would be required
  • Reason for the transfer

In the UAE, a bank employee may contact you to confirm the details if you make your first international money transfer. After confirmation, the funds are transferred instantaneously.

International Money Transfer via Foreign Exchange Brokers

Foreign exchange brokers are simply financial companies that specifically provide services related to fund transfers. Several foreign exchange brokers operate in the UAE and can be relied upon for excellent currency rates. 

Owing to the competition in the foreign exchange industry, a few companies advertise interbank exchange rates only to add extra fees in the end, which ultimately increases the cost of transaction for you. For this reason, it is highly advisable to obtain an estimate first and enquire about all the associated costs beforehand. When evaluating a currency broker for international transfers in the UAE, you should consider several factors like customer reviews, ranking on online platforms, estimated transaction costs, and more.

International Money Transfer via Wire Transfer

You can also transfer money quickly and securely with wire transfers, also known as wire payments. They allow two parties to transfer funds safely regardless of their location. Notably, it is not necessary for the participants to share cash – they can instead share information about recipients, account numbers, and the amount to be transferred.

Most expats in the UAE use wire transfers as they are highly convenient and straightforward. Here, you can send money through money exchanges or cash houses using the SWIFT banking network or via international wire transfers. 

Listed below are the major exchange houses in the UAE – 

  • Al Fardan Exchange
  • Al Rostamani Exchange
  • LuLu Exchange
  • GCC Exchange
  • UAE Exchange and so forth.

Wire Transfer Process 

As mentioned before, the process of transferring money internationally is easy if you opt for wire transfer. You can simply visit an exchange house, fill out the form for the service, and pay money to transfer funds. 

You will need to provide details like the recipient's name and complete address. Once you submit all the documents, such as Emirates ID and passport, you will get a receipt with a money transfer control number. Keep in mind that the recipient may need to fill out a separate form with the same number to collect the funds. 

Wire transfers usually take minutes, although it may take longer depending on the recipient's location. If you are making the payment through your credit card, for instance, it can take up to five business days.

How long do International Money Transfers Take?

Transfer periods vary depending on the method and the destination country, so it's always a good idea to ask the bank or exchange house regarding the expected time for the transfer. Depending on your method, the transaction may take a few minutes to a few days. Generally, online transactions take lesser time compared to traditional banking routes. Similarly, with wire transfers, the transfer can be completed even in a few minutes.

Cost of International Money Transfers

The four major factors primarily determining the final cost of money transfers, regardless of your chosen mode, are as follows – 

  • Transfer fees charged by transfer company or bank
  • Amount to be transferred by you 
  • Speed of transfer 
  • Currency involved and the exchange rate at the time of transfer

When selecting a service, it is necessary to consider all these factors and the overall cost. For instance, even if a company charges low fees, you may end up with high costs due to the high exchange rate.

Important Things to Keep in Mind when Sending Money Internationally

Here are some things that should be considered when receiving or sending money in the UAE – 

Choose the Option That Best Fit your Needs

With numerous options available for transferring money like wire transfer, bank account, foreign exchange house, online transfers, and more, one may get confused regarding the selection of the best one. 

However, even with all the available options, you should only go with the one that suits your requirements. For instance, if you don’t have time for visiting a foreign exchange house and have an account with a reputed bank, you can choose the online transfer option here.

Watch Out for Transfer Costs

Whenever you make a foreign payment in the UAE, you will have to pay a certain fee. The costs here can exist come in the form of exchange rates or as a one-time fee. The exchange firm makes money on your transaction if the interbank rate is not offered. Comparing international money transfer costs in the UAE, thus, is a good idea.

Time your Transfers

While exchange rates fluctuate as per various factors, sending money internationally during a festival can be more expensive. Additionally, you may also have to pay higher fees for urgent transactions in such cases. For this reason, you should try to plan your transfer beforehand to avoid paying extra for urgent transfers in case of urgent requirements.

Check the Exchange-Rates

A constant fluctuation in rates exists due to currency markets' 24-hour, seven-day-a-week activity. Consequently, currency conversion rates can vary widely depending on the provider's internal policies. A forex broker typically uses the interbank rate, while a bank or exchange house sets its own. Thus, you should first verify the exchange rates before initiating the transfer to get the best deal.

Beware of Scams

The following factors may indicate a transfer scam:

  • If you are asked to wire your money through an unusual method 
  • You're pressured into parting with your money
  • You are asked for your password or personal information
  • Using a QR code, you are requested to approve a "collection" request
  • A commission accompanies the transfer of large amounts of money

In case you notice any of the above-mentioned factors, you must be alert and examine the chosen provider carefully to avoid losses due to fraud. You must also take the time to verify that the transfer company is regulated if you're not using your bank.

Wrapping Up 

Numerous options can be found in the UAE to make foreign money transfers, ranging from wire transfers to foreign exchange brokers. However, it's just a matter of selecting the option that aligns with your budget and needs the most at the end of the day. To ensure that you select the best option and the provider, conduct a thorough market research and compare the available options based on the fees, exchange rates, and more. This can ensure that you don’t end up paying exorbitant fees or face any inconvenience in the transfer.

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