The best money remittance platforms provide low fees, transparent pricing and some nifty features.
When you need to send money back home to your loved ones, banks may be one of the first options that pop to mind. Sure, banks offer robust networks and safety in transferring your funds where they need to go. However, such services often come with fees, charges and markups, some of which you may not even know about.
As a result, you may be losing chunks of your hard-earned money every time you transfer funds overseas. Just think about how more useful that additional money will be to your family.
Thankfully, there are alternative platforms you can use to safely remit your money without the expensive fees and hidden markups. Some of these even come with useful perks that can help you further save money.
Here are 5 best money remittance services in Singapore you should check out the next time your siblings need to pay their school fees.
5 best remittance platforms in Singapore
|Fees||Transfer amounts||Transfer money to||Transfer speed||Perks|
|Wise||0.44% to 3.11%||No minimum transfer amount|
Maximum amount depends on currency
|Bank account||Same day to 3 business days||Debit Mastercard|
|Western Union||Varies||Online: Up to S$1,000 daily, S$3,000 weekly or S$6,000 monthly||Cash, bank account, or mobile wallet||Same day to 5 business days||Physical locations available|
My WU rewards program grants transfer fee discounts
|Instarem||0.25% to 1%||No minimum transfer amount|
Maximum amount depends on currency
|Bank account||Same day to 3 business days||Earn rewards points when you transact|
|Revolut||0.3%, pegged to a minimum of S$0.30 and maximum of S$9||No minimum transfer amount|
Maximum amount depends on currency
Other Revolut users
|Same day to 5 business days||Visa debit card|
Virtual disposable debit card
Revolut Metal customers receive additional perks
|SingX||0.25% to 1%||Up to SGD1 million, but individual limits may apply for different countries||Bank account||1 to 2 business days||Zero cost for receiving money|
Above, we have summarised the main features and characteristics of five popular money remittance platforms in Singapore. When deciding which platform makes the cut, we placed emphasis on fees, transparency, and ease of use.
Do note that while we strive for utmost accuracy, you should take the data in the table as a guide, instead of gospel truth. This goes especially for information such as fees, which may change according to your remittance amount or unique circumstances.
We highly recommend getting a quote or a round of comparison before committing your funds transfer, especially since these transactions are typically speedy and may be irreversible.
With that said, let’s have a deeper look at each of these platforms.
Created with a mission to slash charges for international money transfers, Wise prides itself on its transparency and low fees.
Its website and app lets you easily and quickly get a quote for your money transfer, with fees clearly stated upfront — all without having to sign up for an account.
The platform pegs its conversion rates to mid-market rates, and adds fees between 0.35% and 1% per transfer. There’s no minimum transfer amount, but each currency has its own maximum transfer cap.
Wise is fast; transactions for popular currencies may be completed within hours. Otherwise, most transactions are completed within 3 working days or less.
Signing up will also qualify you for a free Debit Mastercard linked to a multi-currency account, which lets you hold up to 50+ currencies. You’ll also receive a local bank account for selected currencies, which lets you receive funds without paying any fees.
Your Debit Mastercard also allows you to spend like a local and withdraw up to SGD350 at overseas ATMs every 30 days without paying bank fees.
Additionally, Wise is now integrated with Google Pay in the USA. This lets American Google Pay users transfer money to their friends or relatives in other nations without leaving the platform. The initial launch on 12 May 2021 included Singapore and India, but is set to incorporate Wise’s full network later in the year.
For whom is Wise best for: Digital nomads and savvy travellers seeking low cost, transparent fees and speedy service, coupled with convenient travel perks.
The most ‘traditional’ money remittance service on the list, Western Union’s (WU) claim to fame perhaps lies in acting as a less intimidating alternative to dodgy-looking remittance dens usually found in Chinatown, or the snaking, boisterous queues of Lucky Plaza.
While it doesn’t advertise nor publish its rates, you can still easily look up how much your intended money transfer plus fees will cost you on the website or app. WU states that it does earn from exchange rates (read: they put their own mark-up), so you may not be getting the absolute cheapest rates.
However, WU offers the greatest flexibility in terms of how your recipient may receive the money: you can choose bank transfer, mobile wallet or a cash payout.
Another advantage is the presence of physical counters for you to send (and receive) money, whether through credit card, debit card or cash.
For whom is Western Union best for: Workers seeking a transparent, fuss-free option to send money back home, especially if cash terms are the preferred option for recipients.
Another platform playing the ‘low-fees’ card, Instarem offers international money transfers at between 0.25% and 1%. Additionally, it boasts an instant or same-day transfer speed, which might immediately seal the deal for some folks out there.
If you plan to transact frequently, you’re in luck. Instarem has a rewards program in place, allowing you to earn points as you make transfers. Successful referrals net you points as well. These can be exchanged for a small discount when you make transfers, essentially offsetting the transfer fees incurred.
A standout feature that Instarem has would be its ability to lock in an exchange rate. Once your transaction has been submitted on the app, you’re given a period of time to deposit the necessary funds before the transfer takes place. Do note that this grace period varies from country to country, ranging from 1 hour to 12 days.
For whom is Instarem best for: Individuals who make frequent international money transfers and desire fast transactions.
As its name suggests, Revolut is all about revolutionising your relationship with money.
The multi-fangled banking and financial platform not only allows you to send money to bank accounts worldwide, you can also transfer money instantly if your recipient is a Revolut user too. That’s right, we’re talking peer-to-peer instant funds transfer.
Your Revolut account also doubles up as a financial tracker with analytics and budgets you can set. And to complete the futuristic look and feel, you can also set up virtual disposable debit cards which expire after one use to protect yourself against dodgy merchants. (You can always generate more debit cards for subsequent purchases).
What about fees, then? Fortunately, you’re granted access to interbank exchange rates no matter which pricing plan tier you’re subscribed to. Markups are only included for several illiquid currencies and outside the London Forex trading hours.
Remittance fees are then charged at 0.3% of the amount transferred, being pegged to a minimum of S$0.30 and maximum of S$9.
And speaking about pricing plans, there are 3 for you to choose from:
- Standard: S$0 per month. Perks include a complimentary Revolut Junior account for one child and fee-free international ATM withdrawals of up to S$350 a month.
- Premium: S$9.99 per month. Perks include one fee-free remittance every month and a monthly transfer cap of S$15,000.
- Metal: S$19.99 per month. Perks include unlimited fee-free remittances and no transfer cap.
For whom is Revolut best for: Digital natives looking for convenient and instant peer-to-peer money transfer.
A home-grown money remittance platform that promises low fees and transparency, SingX’s unique selling point is that it guarantees there won’t be any fees for your recipient to receive the money.
Don’t overlook this seemingly minor detail. Banks often charge a fee for receiving your remittance, and while remittance platforms try to absorb this fee, they may not do so in every case. This bank fee is deducted from the amount dispensed to your recipient, creating another money sink that reduces your monthly contribution to your family.
However, SingX has it set up such that instead of a cross-border transaction, your recipient will receive the funds as a local transaction, avoiding any additional fees.
Its service fees are also attractive; it ranges from 0.24% to 1% markup, with typical transactions hovering around the 0.5% mark.
For whom is SingX best for: Anyone wishing to avoid extra bank charges when sending money.
How do I remit money overseas?
You can choose to send your money overseas via banks or remittance platforms. For the latter, make sure they are licensed and regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore!
If you already have an online banking account with your bank, you may find it more convenient to remit money through your bank’s online banking overseas transfer option although this may not necessarily be the cheapest option out there.
That said, remittance platforms can let you remit money overseas quickly and conveniently, too. They may even give the traditional banks a run for their money as there are generally less fees and charges — and more transparency — associated with using their services.
To use remittance platforms’ services, in general, you will first need to create an account with your remittance platform of choice then transfer the funds from your bank account to the remittance company. Some also let you transfer funds from your debit or credit card. Note that if you are looking to remit cold, hard cash in its physical form, you have to do so at a physical branch and that not all remittance platforms offer this option.
Banks vs Remittance Service Platforms: Which is better?
Remittance platforms are generally less expensive than banks, especially when you’re looking at transferring smaller amounts of money. Many of them only tack on a margin to your exchange rate or charge a per-transfer fee, unlike banks that often charge a host of other fees and charges, on top of offering a less favourable exchange rate.
When choosing between remittance services, pay attention to factors like sending and receiving fees, exchange rates, processing duration, minimum transfer amounts, countries you can transfer to, ease of use, or even perks like the ability to track transactions or existence of a price match guarantee.
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By Alevin Chan
An ex-Financial Planner with a curiosity about what makes people tick, Alevin’s mission is to help readers understand the psychology of money. He’s also on an ongoing quest to optimise happiness and enjoyment in his life.