Mukuru is just one of many ways to send money overseas, including banks, money transfer firms and foreign exchange (FX) brokers.

Who are Mukuru Money Transfer?

Mukhuru offers money transfers to more than 18 countries. Sending money can be done online and the company works with various partners worldwide to facilitate pay-outs. Mukuru Africa is registered in the UK and assists with transferring money, goods and services.

The choices for money exchange

If you are looking to send money overseas, these are some of your key considerations before you make a final choice in how to send the money.

  • The total value of money you plan to send
  • What the transfer will cost you
  • The frequency of the payments you are making
  • The way in which the person at the other end would like to receive it
  • How urgent the payment is

To ensure you get the best possible deal for your money transfer, these are some steps we suggest taking:

Step 1 – Consider all your options

When you are sending money overseas, you have three main options to choose from:

  • you can send via your bank or building society
  • you can use a foreign exchange (FX) brokers (like Mukuru)
  • you may wish to opt for a high street transfer firms (such as Western Union).

If you are looking for the safest options, banks will be the most likely to offer this for you. It can also be the most convenient way to transfer funds overseas.

Alternatively, you may be more focused on finding the best option for sending large amounts of money, in which case, FX brokers are probably your best option.

If the transfer is urgent, money transfer firms will definitely be able accommodate your needs.

Step 2 – Understanding the costs

With any of the options for money transfer, you don’t just need to consider the exchange rates, you need to think about all of the associated costs.

The first step is to work out what you will get for your money, so work out the exchange rate and the foreign currency you will get for your money. This will give you a ball park figure to work with.

These are the three costs you will need to consider before making your final decision:

  • Foreign exchange rates – this is usually the main consideration for money transfers. These will also fluctuate, so you need to get in quickly if you find a great rate!
  • Sending fees – you will pay the transfer firm a fee for sending the money. This will differ between the different options.
  • Receiving fees – it is not always the case, but some transfer firms will charge a receiving fee, as well as a sending fee. This is a fee for the person picking up the funds, but you can cover it instead, if you wish.

You will find that the sending fees will be variable depending on how much you are planning to send. Generally speaking, the higher the amount you are transferring, the lower the fees will be.

FX brokers sites like FX Compared can be a good start to getting an idea of what these firms are charging. You can also contact your bank to get a breakdown of their fees.

Step 3 – Ask for confirmation

Not all companies can handle every need, so even if you find the greatest deal you could possibly want, make sure the firm are able to deal with it. For instance, find out if they can handle the amount you wish to send, and within the required timeframe.

It is best to get this in writing instead of over the phone. You might need it if anything goes wrong with the transfer.

Keep a hold of any paperwork you have received in relation to the money transfer, including receipts.

How do I know it’s safe to use Mukuru?

When you put money into your UK savings account, you have peace of mind that it is protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) This means that if the bank goes bust, your money isn’t lost. However, this is not the case with foreign exchange money transfer firms. If they go bust, your money disappears with them.

As Mukuru are FCA authorised, there is some protection as they are required to adhere to specific set rules in how they deal with your money. This does offer significant protection that if they go bust, you are more likely to get your money than those firms without FCA authorisation.

Read our page on checking the authorisation of a firm and what to do if something goes wrong.

It is not so much of a worry if you are sending small sums of money. However, if you are planning to send large amounts, such as over £1,000, you should always make sure the firm you are transferring the money with have FCA authorisation.

Should you use your bank or building society?

When you use your bank or building society you have complete peace of mind that your money is safe. You know your bank, and you already have an account set up so it is a convenient option too.

Let’s delve into some of the benefits and downsides of using your bank or building society for the money transfer:

Benefits:

  • Quick and easy to set up – as you already have a bank account set up, it will be fairly easy to do the transfer and your bank will also assist you with the process.
  • More Convenient – you can set the payment up quickly and easily online or if you prefer to do it face to face, there are branches all over to do this
  • Better security– your money is always protected when you use your bank for a money transfer

Downsides:

  • May be lower exchange rates– if you are sending large sums of money, you are likely to get a much better exchange rate if you use an FX broker, instead of your bank
  • Slower overall process – when you transfer funds via your bank, you can expect it to take longer than if you use a specialised FX broker. It can take up to 6 business days when you use the bank, whereas FX brokers can often do it on the same day.

Using your bank for regular payments

The good thing about using your bank for regular payments is that it is easy to set these up, both online or via your branch.

The other benefit is that most UK high street banks have branches based overseas, or they have some kind of arrangement with overseas banks. This may allow you to reduce any charges you receive on your transfer, or you may not even get charged at all. You could also benefit from better exchange rates.

If you are planning to set up regular payments, for instance to pay bills on a home you have abroad, it can be particularly useful to ensure you are getting the best possible rates.

As long as you have an account in the sending and receiving country, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to benefit from lower charges for regular payments.

Making payments via your bank

If you are planning to set up money transfers via your bank, there are some main things you will need:

  • The International Bank Account Number (IBAN) and Bank Identifier Code (BIC) – this will be required for the account you are paying the money into – i.e. the receiver. These can be found via online banking or the bank statement.
  • Your own IBAN and BIC from your account (the sender.) This may not be required if you are making payments to the same bank, but a different branch.

What about an online or high street money transfer firm?

It is not difficult to find a suitable money transfer firm to assist you with your overseas money transfer.

There are some money transfer firms who are online, and others based on the high street. Western Union are one example of a high street money transfer firm that will be able to assist you.

These are some of the pros and cons of using an online or high street money transfer firm:

Pros:

  • Sending options– you may be able to send instant cash to the recipient, or transfer it into the recipient’s bank. The variety of sending options is a pro of using these firms.
  • Easy to set-up – it is not usually necessary to set up an account to do your money transfer. You may not need to provide identification either, especially if sending small sums.
  • Fast – the money transfer may take place within minutes. Ideal if the recipient is in urgent need of funds.

Cons:

  • Variable fees – The fees for high street and online money transfer firms can be extremely variable, and you may end up being charge high fees for sending a small amount of money. Be aware of the wide range of potential fees.
  • Changing exchange rates– the exchange rates can fluctuate from day to day. If you are comparing different transfer firms and their exchange rates, make sure you do it on the same day.
  • Less safety– the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) does not provide cover to these firms. It is therefore not as safe as transferring via your own bank.

How to use a high street money transfer service

Key facts:

  • Money transfer services are readily about on the high street. If you look around, you will come across them in your local Post Office or newsagents.
  • You don’t usually need to open an account to use a high street money transfer service. It is relatively simple, you just hand the fees over and your money – the rest will be taken care of.
  • When you hand the money and fees over and the transfer is processed, you will be given a reference number for the recipient. This reference number is used to claim the money. Keep it safe!

Thing to find out before paying:

  • Make sure you understand the fees. They could be more expensive than you budgeted for.
  • If you are planning to send ‘instant cash’ abroad, make sure you know where the recipient can pick it up. Make sure the recipient can access the particular branch to pick it up. Otherwise, you may be able to send it to their phone wallet.

Key points about online money transfer services

What you need to know:

  • Online transfers are not ideal if you need to send money urgently, as they could take a few days to complete it.
  • You may be able to make international money transfers using online money transfer firms, for a small fee.
  • You can register your bank or credit card on the website of the online money transfer company and they will take care of the process for you. It’s a very simple process.

Key information before sending money:

  • Make sure you know exactly what the recipient requires to be able to receive the funds. The last thing you want is to send the money and the recipient is unable to collect it.
  • Protect the money by setting up a password that is difficult to guess – and don’t share it with anyone!

Why should you send money via a foreign exchange broker?

If you are planning to send a large amount via a money transfer, a foreign exchange (FX) currency broker will probably be your best option.

Here are some of the pros and cons to help you make an informed decision:

Pros

  • Lower fees – if you are transferring large amounts, such as over £3,000, FX brokers will usually not charge you any fees.
  • Better exchange rate – If you are looking for the best exchange rate, FX brokers will usually offer this as they are the specialists in money transfer
  • Fast process– you can expect the money to hit the recipient’s account on either the same day or the next day. It is ideal for urgent needs.
  • Regular payments – you may be able to set up regular payments, for instance, to pay bills on an overseas home or send money to your family.

Cons

  • It can take time – you will need to open an account with the FX broker. In some cases this may take up to two days. It depends on how quickly you need to make the transfer.
  • You won’t get great deals on small transfers– FX brokers do not really offer many benefits for small payments. They are more suited to large transfers
  • Less security– unlike using your bank, The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) does not offer cover to FX brokers. If they go bust, you don’t have as much security.

How to find the best deal

You need to weigh up all your options before deciding on the best way to make your money transfer overseas.

Most people tend to stick to just one price comparison site, and although it may seem like a bit of a pain to check anymore than one, it could help you get the best possible deal on the market.

Don’t snap up a deal unless you know the firm can completely cater for all your needs. For example, are they offering you the safety and protection you need? Will the recipient get access to the funds when they need it? How much will it cost you altogether? Make sure all the boxes are ticked before you agree to the transfer.

It can be easy to get caught up in the fees but think of the bigger picture and your future needs. Will the firm be able to cater for these?

How to avoid scammers

You always need to have your wits about you when it comes to scammers, they seem to pop up everywhere! Even money transfers are not safe from scammers. Mukuru are probably not trying to scam you, but it is important to always be aware of any fraudulent behaviour,

There are keys ways to ensure you are not scammed:

  • If you think a deal that is significantly different to the rest – avoid it.
  • Do not click on links you receive from any money transfer companies, unless you are absolutely certain that they are legitimate. Otherwise you could be scammed and also end up with viruses on your PC.
  • Do not give out any personal details online. Speak to the company over the phone to ensure legitimacy.

Preparing for future money transfers

It is important not to just think of your here and now when it comes to the exchange rate. You should also consider any future needs.

There is the option of a ‘forward contract’, that allows you to lock a good exchange rate in for any future needs. This means you don’t need to keep comparing deals online every time you want to transfer money overseas.

These are particularly beneficial if you intend to send large sums of money in the future and want to get the most from your money.

If you have intentions of buying a home abroad in the future, for instance, and you will need to make regular bill payments overseas, you will want to ensure you get the best exchange rate on the market. A ‘forward contract’ will ensure this happens.

Ensuring you are protected with Mukuru

It is important that you retain any paperwork you have received from Mukuru, or any of the other options you decide on.

If anything happens to go wrong, you may need to back up any complaints or concerns with the paperwork.

You should know that you when you use Mukuru, you do not have the same kind of protection as you would if you used your bank for the money transfer.

If you find that Mukuru are FCA registered, your money will not be safeguarded if they happen to go out of business.

There is greater protection if the company is FCA authorised as they are required to hold your money in a separate account from where they hold their company funds.

If you wish to check if Mukuru are FCA authorised by checking the Financial Conduct Authority website.

You can narrow your search when looking for any type of money transfer option by searching via your postcode to find local companies in the area.

What are the other options for sending money overseas?

If you are not sending money to an individual but making payments for services or products overseas, you may just want to use your credit or debit card. This can be a good alternative.

You should not send a cheque overseas to pay for your products and services, as these can be easier to intercept and the whole process can be extremely slow. You may end up with higher charges than normal too.

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About the author

Scott Nelson

Scott Nelson is a financial services expert, with over 10 years’ experience in the industry, including 6 years in FCA regulated companies. Read more
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