Transferring Money to South Africa in 2018: a brief overview

By Mvusi Ngubane    25-Jan-2018 15:48 UTC+02:00

You might have completed work for someone outside of South Africa, or thinking of selling a product or service to overseas customers. Perhaps you simply aren’t sure about how to retrieve international payments legally and safely. You could just be outside of the country looking for methods to send money to a local bank account. If you need to send money to South Africa, you’re in luck. Family members, employers, travellers, customers, expats and many overseas businesses do so all the time. Consider the three payment methods listed below and make money transfers to South Africa in 2018 a breeze.

Money Transfers to South Africa

A few important items need to be mentioned about transfers from a foreign currency to the South African rand (ZAR).

Firstly, the process is rarely an instant transaction. Unfairly high tariffs usually exist in cases where funds are transferred immediately into a South African bank account. For the fairest rates, note that transfers to South African banks from outside the country take two to eight working days to complete. This is partially due to time zone differences. The rand is also not as popular as other, more desirable currencies, which contributes to delayed payments.

Beyond this, know that the most reliable service providers of foreign exchange transfers do not sacrifice quality assurance for instant gratification. If it takes a few days, this is usually because your service provider is handling your funds as carefully and effectively as the law permits.

Another point to consider is the volatility of the South African rand. The country’s currency has been closely tied to its political developments since the 1980s. Sticking to its usual behaviour, the rand is seen growing rapidly in strength in early 2018. This is said to be due to the recent restructuring of the country’s ruling party and the weakness of the United States dollar (USD).

The increased confidence in the rand has sent its value to heights unseen in over two years. Dipping below R12 per USD, the current value surge follows more than 24 months of large fluctuations. Seesawing values even held moments that saw the rand stoop to lows of more than R16 per USD.

Be hyper-aware of the time it takes for transfers to be completed. This will let you know if something has gone wrong and when to send a panicked email to your service provider. Keep an eye on the exchange rate as well. R2,000 could equal $185 in one week and $190 a week later. Don’t forget about service charges. Those come at the sender’s expense in most cases, although numerous service providers offer the option to charge the recipient instead.

How to Send Money to South Africa

The Bank

This service is often referred to as an international swift payment, called so because most banks have a unique SWIFT code that needs to be provided for such payments to be completed. All that is needed is identification and the recipient’s account number in addition to the SWIFT code of the recipient’s bank.

Wherever you live in the world, chances are that your nearest bank branch is willing to make a transfer to a South African bank account via a SWIFT transfer. The service is equally available in both the first world and developing nations. Very few regions are unreachable by this form of payment and, in addition to that, it is perhaps the safest method to transfer money to South Africa in 2018.

To our benefit, banks are terrified of bad reputations. Handling money is their primary business after all. For people expecting or sending money to South Africa, this means a quality-assured service which won’t subvert local policies and legislation.

However, a few important drawbacks come with SWIFT transfers. The rates offered by banks might seem unreasonable when compared to other services. This form of payment is also the most immediate, but usually not worth the fixed exchange rates and additional service charges.


Getting money in South Africa via PayPal is more common than people might expect. The payment service provider is rather popular in fact, so much so that more banks are looking for ways to give their clients access to direct deposits from the service.

For South Africans, the only thing required is an associated email address and bank account with at least R30 in it. The R30 is used for the verification process, by which users link their bank accounts to their PayPal wallets. The best part is that your money is refunded after the process is done.

Sadly, the only bank that offers withdrawals from PayPal right now in South Africa is First National Bank (FNB), but residents do not have to be FNB customers to make withdrawals. They need only create an FNB online account. Once the online account is created, users can link their PayPal accounts to any South African bank via the FNB platform.

PayPal charges around 2% for a withdrawal and is known to take up to 8 working days to complete a payment. Accounting for weekends and South Africa’s numerous public holidays in addition to those of the sender’s country, PayPal payments are reported to take around two weeks in some rare cases. Under normal circumstances, however, withdrawals are usually completed in three to four working days.


If you’re expecting money from the United States, consider using Xoom. Xoom is a PayPal company, although money transfers to South Africa only take a few hours to two full days. Depending on what the sender and recipient agree upon, either party is charged $10 for every transfer to be completed. The sender only needs a valid South African bank account and the associated South African address. First time recipients are required to fill out a form but will not need to do so again until the year is up.

The drawback about South Africans using Xoom is that the service is not available in every country. This renders people in many regions of the globe unable to use this PayPal service to send money to South African banks.

Even though Xoom is a relatively new and unknown service, the many online complaints about payments being rejected or slowly processed are enough to make first time users shy away from the service.

It might suck for South Africans to realise that being outside the country comes with a fair share of worries, most of them tied to money in some way. The exchange rate is no joke, and often far too step for SA travellers to ignore their spending habits abroad. Secondly, as a rule of note, the more time people spend abroad, the greater their chances of needing to send money back home. However, finding out how to send money home needn’t be among your concerns. Hopefully, the payment methods reviewed above will make the process of transferring money to South Africa less worrisome.

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