If you are like many expats in the UAE, you may be looking to send money back home to your family or to your home country for savings and investments reasons. Here are some areas to research when selecting your banking methods and getting that hard-earned cash home:
1) UAE Bank Foreign Exchange Rate
This is the most important factor to research, especially if you are transferring large amounts of money. Since this will have a percentage based reduction to your balance, you want to ensure you have found the best foreign exchange rate from AED to your home currency and that there is a minimal spread between the buy and sell rates published. Some banks will also let you negotiate this rate, so understand what is possible before ruling the published rate out.
2) Bank Transfer Fees
All UAE banks will charge some amount of international transaction or wire fee with each transfer you initiate back home. This could be a percentage based, or a fixed fee. We have found many of the fixed fees at the currency exchange houses to provide the best rates of ~45AED per transfer.
In your home country, some banks will charge a fee to accept international transfers in from other accounts. It is important to check if your bank does this and add it to the transaction cost. Try to switch to a fee-free account type or perhaps look for another bank if the fees are adding up.
3) Always Use A Regulated Transfer Company
Your money is precious. Don’t get caught up in the excitement of expatriation by arranging a quick and cheap money transfer with a company you don’t trust. You’ll often pay through the nose in charges and you could kiss goodbye to your money entirely if the company is operating a scam. If you are transferring money from the UK to your UAE bank account, make sure the company you use is FCA regulated.
4) Compare, Compare, Compare
It’s so important to keep an eye on what the exchange rate market is doing and to do a little research as often as possible, especially if you have a big money transfer looming. The good news is that there are many exchange rate and money transfer comparison sites offering reliable services and it’s well worth bookmarking one. It’s important to get competitive prices on each and every trade, so think about opening an account with more than one non-bank foreign exchange specialist.
Try also to benchmark the ‘‘real exchange rate’’ against the ‘‘sell rate’’ you are offered. Use a reputable currency converter and have one to hand next time you make an international payment.
5) Required Documentation
Make sure you know exactly what documents are required to process the transfer, both at the UAE Bank and at the bank in your home country. In Dubai, the Bank will typically require a copy of your Emirates ID and will need documented proof of the source of funds. For example, if you are transferring cash Dirhams, the Foreign Exchanger will require a bank receipt showing that the source of funds were withdrawn from an account in your name. Check with your bank in your home country, as some banks will not accept international wire transfers.
6) Transfer Timing
You should know approximately how long it will take for your funds to arrive in the receiving bank account. Depending on the type of transfer and service you are using, this can range from less than 1 day, up to 7 business days. Ask the UAE bank in advance what the typical transaction times are, before you make the transfer. Make sure you’ve planned far enough in advance to ensure you have the funds available in the right country/account when you need them!
7) Online & Automated Options
If you have a common international bank in both countries, then you may be able to automate international money transfers on a reoccurring basis, to move a certain amount of your balance back home. This helps to stash away that hard-earned cash and ensure it does not get spent at one of the many Dubai malls or brunches!
Good luck with your international money transfers! Just remember to try to get the BEST FX RATE POSSIBLE, and keep your transfer fees AS LOW AS POSSIBLE!