SENDING MONEY TO MEXICO
by Baja Real Estate Guide
Recently we had an advertiser who wanted to pay for his ad using his Canadian bank account. We wanted to avoid expensive international wire transfer fees and were stumped in trying to find an easy way to make it happen.
A week later I saw a post on an expat forum asking the same question, and it hit me like a ton of bricks. REMITTANCES. Remittances represent Mexico’s single largest source of revenue totaling over 27 billion dollars being sent back to Mexico in 2016 alone. That’s more money than even oil brings to the country. OF COURSE, THERE ARE OPTIONS TO EASILY SEND MONEY TO MEXICO. I was just looking in the wrong place.
There are actually so many options, that it’s a little overwhelming trying to figure out which is the most reliable, least expensive and quickest. Following, you’ll find specific information from 3 different companies:
- Xoom by Paypal (U.S. accounts only)
- Remitly (U.S. and Canadian accounts)
- Canadian Forex (Canadian accounts only & US accounts through OFX)
XOOM by PayPal
XOOM offers 3 types of wire services and has an app you can download to your phone. You do not need a Paypal account. However, your bank account or credit card must be US based.
- Send Money
Cash pick up at over 14,000 locations in Mexico or a bank deposit to any major bank. Cash can be picked up at places such as Electra, Walmart, and Soriana.
- Reload Phones
Buy airtime for a phone that has an account with Telcel, Movistar, Nextel, USACell, or Unefon for only $1.49 per reload.
- Pay Bills
Pay your CFE, Dish and Telmex bills for only $2.99 per bill paid.
- Create an account at xoom.com.
- Provide your bank account/routing info or credit/debit card information.
- Enter in the recipient’s details.
Once these steps are completed, you’ll be able to wire money immediately. In some cases, you may receive a request for additional documentation such as a bank statement. The XOOM customer service reps weren’t able to confirm what would prompt a request for additional information. Assuming your credit is fine and you have money in the bank, the system should approve the transfer automatically. Within 15-30 minutes, the money can be available for pick up in Mexico!
Once you’ve initiated the wire, you can track its status using the app on your phone so you know when the money is actually available. For cash pick-ups, the recipient will need to present the XOOM tracking number and a valid ID.
There are two types of fees with these transfers. There is a service fee the company charges for the wire AND there is also a hidden cost depending on the exchange rate the company offers. For example, if you want to send $250 USD using XOOM, their fees are $4.99 for the wire (regardless if you are using a checking account or a credit/debit card), and the exchange rate they offered was 18.65 on a day when www.xe.com published a rate of 19.095. That’s only a difference of $111 pesos assuming you could even get the bank, you’d otherwise be using for the wire transfer, to honor the same rate was xe.com.
Remitly supports both US and Canadian banks. Unlike, XOOM though, its services are limited to only cash pick-up and deposits to the major banks. They also have an app you can download to your phone or tablet.
- Create an account at remitly.com.
- You’ll receive an email requesting additional documentation of a government issued ID and a bank/credit card statement.
- The approval process can take anywhere from 1 hour up to 24 hours.
- Once approved, you can log on to the site and enter in your recipient’s details.
If you use their Express option, the money will be available to your recipient, in 15-30 minutes. Their Economy option gives you a little bit more favorable exchange rate but will take from 3-5 business days. For cash pick-ups, the recipient will need to present the Remitly tracking number, and we were told, TWO valid IDs. That might be problematic for some folks in Mexico. Thus, it might be wise for the recipient to first visit the cash pick-up spot to confirm what their requirements are prior to sending the money.
The day we spoke with Remitly, they were offering a slightly more favorable exchange rate than XOOM of 18.70 and slightly lower fees of $3.99 for using either a bank account or credit card on a $250 transfer. Where they differed dramatically though was in their credit card processing fees. Remitly charges 3% for using a credit or debit card. So, if you’re using a card to wire the money, in this comparison, XOOM is actually the cheaper option.
CanadianForex supports Canadian banks and OFX, a division of the same company, supports US Banks. The following information pertains to CanadianForex.
- Create an account online at canadianforex.ca
- Within 30 minutes, you’ll receive a personal phone call from a customer service rep who will confirm your information and review the various products with you to determine which suits your needs the most. If your address did not successfully pass their address verification process, you will most likely be asked to provide additional documentation.
CanadianForex is limited to bank to bank transfers and offers a variety of transfer products, for example, that allow you to set up recurring transfers or to even wait for a predetermined exchange rate you want to lock in.
Their fees vary from bank to bank, but in general a wire transfer of $250 CAD will cost you $15. Their minimum transfer is $200 and the process generally takes 3-5 business days. If you need the money sooner than that, you can pay your Canadian bank to wire the money to CanadianForex which can speed the process up to generally 1 business day.
Their exchange rates are very transparent on their website: http://www.canadianforex.ca/customer-rates.
Because they only offer bank to bank transfers, the recipient in Mexico must have an account at the receiving bank.
These three companies offer only a small sample of the options out there. If you want to compare a few other options, consider these companies as well: