A Guide to Sending Money Overseas

Sending money overseas can be tricky. In this simple guide, we explore some of the most common ways you can do this, as well as their pros and cons.

Sending money abroad can be a hassle. There are a multitude of options to select from and each has its own pros and cons. Here’s a list of six options for transferring money from Malaysia to an overseas destination to help you figure out the best method for you.

Telegraphic Transfer

The traditional method of sending money abroad, telegraphic transfer moves funds from your bank account to another bank account overseas. The bank will require you to fill in a form and a small fee is charged.

Pros

  • Most major banks allow you to initiate telegraphic transfers online.
  • Fixed, destination-based fees regardless of the amount transferred. Other services like Western Union, MoneyGram and PayPal scale their fees according to the amount sent, destination and currency.

Cons

  • Both sender and recipient pay a fee. The amount of fee charged is bank-dependent; some banks offer a flat rate regardless of destination, some scale it according to the destination.
  • Takes a few days for the money to arrive in the recipient’s bank account.
  • The transfer procedure is arduous: there are a lot of details to fill up just to initiate the transfer.

Western Union

Western Union allows you to send money as cash to an overseas recipient or directly to the recipient’s bank account. Western Union is one of the fastest methods to send money overseas.

Pros

  • Cash-to-cash transfer only takes a few minutes to reach your recipient (who have to collect the money at a Western Union branch at his or her location). Direct-to-bank transfer arrives in your recipient’s bank account within an hour.
  • Your recipient does not need to have a bank account.
  • There are around 2,300 Western Union locations in Malaysia, and most major banks offer Western Union services at their branches.
  • Online transfer available for RHB and Public Bank users.

Cons

  • While Western Union’s fees vary depending on the destination country and the amount sent, it is generally higher than other services available. For example, it costs RM 172 to send RM3,000 to countries like United States, United Kingdom, Singapore and Australia, compared with Paypal's RM118+ or Maybank's RM 10 fixed rate for telegraphic transfer regardless of the location or amount.
  • Direct-to-bank service only available for certain countries. Recipients in countries without direct-to-bank service would have to collect the cash at their local Western Union branch.
  • Non RHB or Public Bank users would have to conduct the transfer in person at a Western Union branch.

MoneyGram

MoneyGram offers the same service as Western Union.

Pros

  • Money transferred within 10 minutes.
  • Your recipient does not need to have a bank account. He or she collects the cash at a local MoneyGram branch.
  • MoneyGram services are available at Maybank and CIMB bank branches and Bureau de Changes.

Cons

  • While MoneyGram’s fees vary depending on the destination country and the amount sent, it is generally higher than other services available. For example, it costs RM 145 to send RM3,000 to countries like United States, United Kingdom, Singapore and Australia, compared with Paypal's RM 118+ or Maybank's RM 10 fixed rate for telegraphic transfer regardless of the location or amount.
  • You have to initiate the transaction in person.

PayPal

PayPal is the most popular method to make and receive payments online. Transactions are done using email addresses.

Pros

  • Instantaneous transfer. Your recipient receives the money in his or her PayPal account right after you conduct the transfer.
  • Hassle-free process. All you need is your recipient’s email address and the money is sent with a few clicks.
  • Instantly top-up your PayPal account using RHB. You have the option to top up your PayPal account in MYR or USD. Make sure you top-up your account with USD if you intend on sending the money overseas; MYR is a restricted currency.

Cons

  • As of 2013, PayPal removed the fee-less personal payment option for Malaysian PayPal users. Sending money overseas using a Malaysian PayPal account would incur a charge of 3.9% of the amount sent plus a fixed fee based on the currency received, with 2.5% added borne by the recipient.
  • You can only top-up your PayPal account using RHB. While topping up in MYR is available 24/7, topping up in USD is only available during 9.30am - 8.00pm on working days. The limit on the amount of money you could top up is RM3,000 or its USD equivalent per day.
  • A PayPal account is required to receive the money. Withdrawing money from PayPal to a bank account takes a few working days depending on your recipient’s country and bank. However, your recipient would be able to use the money in his or her PayPal account once the money arrives, to pay for products or services from merchants accepting PayPal.

Maybank2U Visa Direct

The new kid in the block for sending money abroad, Maybank2U Visa Direct allows you to send money from your Maybank account to the a recipient’s Visa debit, credit or prepaid card.

Pros

  • It’s an online service that is available 24/7.
  • RM10 flat fee for all transfers regardless of the destination country.
  • Recipients with a card from a Visa issuer that qualifies for Fast Fund receives the transferred money within 30 minutes. Transfer to Visa cards from non Fast Fund issuers takes up to 2 working days. You will be informed if your recipient’s Visa card qualifies for Fast Fund prior to confirming the transaction.

Cons Your recipient have to be a Visa card holder. Minimum transfer limit of RM300 and maximum of RM7,500 per day.

Bitcoins

Bitcoin is the world’s most popular digital currency. If you are interested to find out more about bitcoin, check out our simple guide to bitcoin coming up later this week.

Pros

  • Zero transaction fee.
  • Instant transfer. Although your recipient receives the bitcoins instantly, bitcoin recipient are recommended to wait at least 10 minutes for the transaction to be securely confirmed.
  • Hassle-free process. All you need is the recipient’s bitcoin wallet address, which is a string of alphanumeric characters that usually comes together with a QR code. Email-linked bitcoin wallets like Bitx.co even allow you to send bitcoins to a recipient’s email address.

Cons

  • It’s not easy to buy bitcoins in Malaysia. There has yet to be a reliable service for Malaysians to purchase bitcoins in a flash. As bitcoin are not purchasable via PayPal, most reputable bitcoin exchanges require you to link your bank account to purchase bitcoins.
  • Unfortunately, most bitcoin exchanges have yet to support Malaysian bank accounts. As of writing, the only bitcoin exchange operating in Malaysia is Bitx.co. It takes up to two working days to transfer ringgit into your Bitx.co account before you can purchase bitcoins on the exchange.
  • Bitcoin has yet to be widely adopted, which means your recipient would most likely have to find a way to convert the bitcoins you sent him or her into physical currency. Depending on where your recipient resides, it could take anything from hours to days for him or her to turn the bitcoins into cash.
  • Bitcoin is a bit like email in the early 90s: while it can deliver your mail instantly, the low adoption of email back then meant that it is unlikely your intended recipient would have an email account, let alone a personal computer. If you wanted a mail delivered urgently, it was probably worth it to just pay Fedex to do it for you.

Each method has their strengths and weaknesses and their suitability depends on what you are looking for. Western Union and MoneyGram get pretty close to teleporting cash overseas, but you pay more for their transfer speed.

Maybank2U Visa Direct is a cheap and convenient alternative if your recipient has a Visa card. PayPal is great if your recipient is not a Visa card holder and resides in a country where the Western Union or MoneyGram fees are significantly higher than PayPal’s. Telegraphic transfer is good for large sums of non-urgent money. Bitcoin is for, well, those interested in cryptocurrencies.

0 comments

Agree or disagree with this post? Questions? You also have your word!

  • JJJ

    hi, thanks for your article, assuming i would like to transfer more than myr 100k to australia. what would be the best way to o it? currently, i'm looking at converting myr into singapore dollars locally and then transferring SGD to AUD with tech such as transferwise or ofx (sgd to aud). they offer very low fee. what do you think? also, should bank negara be notified?

    Reply
    • RinggitPlus

      Hi JJJ,

      You should know that if you send more than RM10,000 in one transaction, you need approval from Malaysia's central bank.
      If you're planning on doing frequent international money transfers, consider using the services of a currency specialist where you can get better deals for less hassle: http://www.expatfinder.com/malaysia/money/currency-exchange

      Reply
    • DL

      hi im planning to send RM300k to singapore. can advise the best way to send ? thank you,.

      Reply
      • RinggitPlus

        You should know that if you send more than RM10,000 in one transaction, you need approval from Malaysia's central bank.
        If you're planning on doing frequent international money transfers, consider using the services of a currency specialist where you can get better deals for less hassle: http://www.expatfinder.com/malaysia/money/currency-exchange

        Reply
      • a

        Hi, may i know what is the fastest and safest way for me to transfer money from UK to Malaysia instead?

        Reply
        • RinggitPlus

          Hi A,

          Western Union is a quick (within a couple days) and relatively affordable way to send money. We would like to tackle your question in a full article in the future.
          Thanks for your question!

          Reply
        • terish

          what banks offer the cheapest foreign currency rate?

          Reply
          • RinggitPlus

            Hi Terish,

            Exchange rates vary from bank to bank but the lowest we've seen the last time we checked is around 1%.
            If you can find a bank that offers that rate, we recommend taking it as it likely won't get any lower.
            Good luck out there

            Reply
          • Nicole

            How about sending money to Nigeria?only 100?

            Reply
            • RinggitPlus

              Hi Nicole,

              You can try any of the above methods as long as they allow for sending your cash to Nigeria.

              Reply
            • KKK

              Hi, can i know if I use MoneyCorp to transfer an amount of RM1m (prize won from 4D Magnum) to Singapore, would that be very hassle? Any problem to transfer such amount?

              Reply
              • RinggitPlus

                Hi KKK,

                If you're using MoneyCorp perhaps it's best to contact them to know more about how it will work?
                Thanks for your question!

                Reply
              • Kele barnes

                How beneficiary money is transfered to the local banks in Fiji islands?let's say for an example:USD 9.8M,will it be wire transfer?it has to right?because if you send that amount of money by cheque than its probably a scam.what do you think?I need advice

                Reply
                • RinggitPlus

                  Hi Kele,

                  Yes, that amount of money should not be sent just via cheque. It's a lot safer and more secure to be sent via wire transfer.

                  Reply
                • Kele barnes

                  Corrections:if the sender sends me a cheque of 9.8M through mail,than its probably a scam right?together with legal documents from the high Court and banks.note this is just an example.

                  Reply
                  • Harpal

                    what about bit coin ? any thoughts on that?

                    Reply
                    • Guo Heng

                      Hi Harpal, thanks for the question. We would be running an article on bitcoin next week. Keep an eye out for that!

                      Reply
                    • cayenne

                      very resourceful, nice reserarch,thx :D

                      Reply
                      • Al

                        You can also use AirAsia Big Prepaid MasterCard to "top-up" to a max of RM10k - a virtual way of "transferring" money abroad.

                        Reply
                        • Box

                          Thats true IF any card in question uses the Visa logo and applies to Cirrus or other international ATM systems. The more logos on the back of the card, the better. If the backside logos are only of local providers the card wont work at all overseas and withdrawals from the card can only be made in the issuing country. Many cards are first issued in the local standard and the cardholder has to apply for an upgraded international card. Secondly, though topped-up cards are a safer way to carry money in the first place, the fees for withdrawal internationally can be quite high because besides the ATM fee itself there is the poor exchange rate and and exchange fees forced on the cardholder.

                          Reply
                        • from my experience (I do it all the time) telegraphic transfer or we also call it wire transfer or electronic transfer only takes about 12 hours to reach US from Malaysia using Maybank.

                          Reply