You could be a businessman looking for ways to invest and take advantage of the growth seen in a different country’s economy.
There’s also a chance that you’re someone who believes in helping out, and is interested in sending money for a good cause.
No matter what your reasons or purpose may be, sending money overseas through online channels has become an immediate concern for a lot of people. And it’s not exactly a task that you can do without planning ahead for it.
Sure, it usually takes nothing more than a few clicks.
Sure, it’s not exactly rocket science.
But the less you think about how you send money to the Philippines, the more you open yourself up to the many risks that come with it, risks that do not only result in you wasting a lot of time and effort, but sometimes, a lot of money as well.
TWO BASIC QUESTIONS
Let’s start with the basics.
What are the things that you have to think about before sending money overseas? There are two important questions that you have to ask yourself before you send money to the Philippines for the first time.
How often will you be doing it?
The frequency matters a lot, especially when you think about the cumulative fees that you will be paying for.
Send some money once, and it may not affect your account balance too much. Send money on a regular basis however, and you might be surprised just how much you’re actually spending on transaction and service fees, something that you can somehow control.
How much will you be sending?
Knowing how much you’ll be sending regularly is important as fees sometimes change depending on how big the amount you’re sending is. This means that you would have to work on budgeting as well. It’s always better to plan how much you’ll be sending on a regular basis.
Never mind the one-time transactions and emergencies. Those are unavoidable. As for the monthly or quarterly remittances, that’s an amount that you could definitely plan ahead.
Once you have the answers to these two questions, you can carefully layout your plans to send money.
A PRE-SENDING CHECKLIST
As the demand for money transfer services online grows, so does the need for better decision-making on the side of the people regularly sending money overseas.
Instead of dismissing other services because of generalizations or beliefs, it’s better to have a complete checklist of the important things to consider when sending money overseas. It all depends on the case.
Here’s a list of things that you would have to consider before sending any money to the Philippines. These are not ordered in any specific rank or priority.
In case you find that one of these factors would have to be sacrificed for convenience, it would be up to you to think about what your non-negotiables are.
Transaction and service fees
Different services charge differently. Some charge a specific percentage out of the entire amount, while others charge a specific fee regardless of how big or small the money you’re spending is.
If you plan on sending huge amounts of money, there is a big chance that going for the single constant fee would be more cost-effective for you in the long run, especially if you send money often.
Might as well look for services that change their transaction fees as the money you send gets bigger. For example, there are a few remittance services that charge higher percentages as the amount you’re sending becomes smaller.
Policies on exchange rates
A lot of people become surprised when they see that the money they sent, once in the hands of the recipient, is not worth as much as they initially wanted. And when they find out that it’s because of the fluctuating exchange rate, they often accept it as it is, thinking that this is something that cannot be controlled.
This is where a lot of people are wrong.
Sure, you can’t exactly change the running exchange rate. What you can do however, is choose how it affects your money.
If you course your money through banks, it could sometimes take a couple of days before the transfer is cleared. And sometimes, they apply the exchange rate when the transfer is completed, and not when the transfer was commenced. So if the exchange rate was great today when you sent the money, but has dipped since then, there’s also a huge chance that you’ll lose some money in the process.
Always check what exchange rates are in effect in sending money, and what the policies are in case the rates change before the transaction is completed. It’s always better to go for the rates that you are aware of as this would give you a more accurate estimate on how much the recipient should be receiving.
Amount of time to complete
Of course, when it comes to sending money, the faster that every transaction is completed, the better. This is especially important for those sending money for expenses that would have to be paid, or for emergencies.
Although there are a few options that send your money real-time, there are also other options where transactions take days to complete. Using PayPal for example, would mean real-time sending. However, the process of withdrawing the money from a PayPal account to the bank account would take an additional 3 to 5 business days to complete.
Ease of use
Especially for those who have hectic schedules and have a lot of other errands to run, it’s infuriating having to spend so much time just to send some money. Because of this, you would also have to check how easy it is for the process to be completed.
Some online money transfer services have layouts that are extremely user-friendly, allowing you to send money in just a few clicks regardless of whether you’re tech-savvy or not. There are quite a few services however, that require an unbelievable amount of information before letting you create an account. Add a complicated layout and process on top of that, and you have a potential disaster in your hands.
Now take note that this could sometimes be connected to the next point, which speaks of security. Sometimes, the process becomes complicated simply because the service provider wants to ensure security at all times. And that’s great.
However, you also have to consider how often you’d have to go through the complications. Asking you to submit credentials and identification the first time you create an online account for example, is normal. But letting you go through so many steps even if you transact with them two or three times each month? There are better services around.
Security and insurance
It’s money we’re talking about here. So yes, security is definitely a top concern.
Unless you’re a tech guru however, the understanding on how secure transactions online are would not exactly be easy to grasp. There are systems and firewalls and other hullaballoo in place, and for a normal person who just wants their money sent, it could be too much to take in.
So if you’re not interested in what kind of security they have in place, knowing how protected you are could be the next best thing to check. Find out if they have any plan B set into place in case anything goes wrong with your transaction.
This is also where reviews and recommendations come into play. Since security can be unpredictable sometimes, might as well check for reviews and other people’s experience with the service first to see whether they have always been able to live up to their promise of security or not.
People often miss out on this part, a huge mistake that could cost them so much in the long run.
Even when it comes to money transfer services, customer service plays a huge role. Nothing and no one is perfect, and something is bound to go wrong eventually. And when something does go wrong, what happens next would often depend on the quality of their customer service.
How quickly do they respond to queries? How friendly are they? Are they knowledgeable about their products and policies? Are they able to find working solutions for your concerns?
Check all these out by sending them a simple inquiry or two. The moment you find out the answers to each of these questions, remember that this is the same way they’ll be handling more pressing concerns in the future.
You may just see these as six simple things on your checklist, but these simple things can make a huge difference.
RISKS TO WATCH OUT FOR
So you’ve got your checklist covered.
Now here’s a disclaimer: there are still risks out there, and no matter how thorough you are with your initial screening process, a bug or two could crawl its way in without you noticing.
Let’s go over some of the potential risks that come with sending money to the Philippines:
Poor customer service
Remember that no matter how established the service you choose, these risks will still be there. Avoiding these would have to be up to you. Without your own diligence, you will leave yourself open to each and every one of these risks.
QUICK TIPS BEFORE SENDING MONEY
For you to avoid the many risks that come with sending money online, here are a few tips for you:
Know what the money is for and where it’s going.
Be wary of get-rich-quick schemes and people you don’t know too well who are asking for help. No matter how secure your chosen payment channel may be, you would still end up losing money if you don’t try to find out more about why you need to send it.
This is an especially important note for Australians who are hoping to help out friends that they met online, or Filipinos who are hoping to invest on a new business back home. This is money you worked hard for. Think twice, thrice, or more before sending any money that’s beyond your usual expense schedule.
Always compute and compare everything a few times.
It’s simple, right? Compare transaction fees and exchange rates and you’ll see which services offer the best deals and which ones charge you like crazy.
Sometimes however, it’s not something that can be seen right away.
PayPal, for example, does not charge you anything if you send money to friends and family. Good deal, right? However, notice that their exchange rate also shows a huge difference from the actual exchange rates applied by banks and other financial institutions.
This, of course, would result to a huge difference in the total amount that the recipient will be getting especially if you send dollars to someone who would have to convert it into peso.
Watch out for hidden charges.
The moment you sense a few hidden charges the first time you send money, slowly back off and reassess the situation. What you initially thought was a cost-effective solution could turn out to be a money-draining choice after all.
Take note of the fees and the exchange rates and keep track of the transaction until it is completed. Compute the final amount that the recipient gets and compare the numbers. If there’s a considerable difference, then start shopping for a different transfer service.
Be careful about the information you give.
Be careful about individuals claiming to be from the bank or the service that you use to send money. Always be mindful of the information that you’re giving out as well.
One critical point here is that financial institutions and services like these will never ask you for your passwords and other sensitive account details such as addresses and birthdays via email, text, or other similar means of communication.
Sadly, a lot of people fall for cheap tricks where they receive legitimate-looking emails and other forms of correspondence asking for these pieces of information. Mind you, these fraudulent emails often look like the real deal.
Think twice about giving out info like these. The best thing to do would be to contact the service first and confirm whether they sent out such an email.
Always send a test email or chat message.
Before using a specific service, always send a test email or chat message. Ask a question or two. Find out how they’re going to respond. This way, you could have a clearer idea of how their customer service works.
Be suspicious if you start being redirected to different departments right away, or are given vague answers to very specific questions.
Start thinking twice the moment you encounter customer service associates who seem uninterested or aloof when talking to you as well. If they’re uninterested in your simple questions, just imagine how they’ll react the moment you start losing money, or when you want to complain about their service.
There you go. You are now armed with important information that would help your cause. Start applying these tips the next time you send money. Who knows, through this guide, you just might discover that you’ve been losing money, time and effort on a less than adequate money transfer service all these years.