Best Christmas gift for overseas family and friends

In case you haven’t cottoned on to Christmas decorations cropping up in shop windows, the festive season is well and truly upon us! And if you have family or friends living overseas, you’ve got the added pressure of the looming postal deadline. But instead of posting gifts this Christmas, have you considered sending money instead?

Here are some of the top reasons why cash makes the best overseas xmas gift:

  • It’s easier. Rather than spend hours in the shops and in the postal queue, you can transfer cash online using your smartphone or laptop.
  • Quicker. Money transfers take a couple of days at most whereas you need to allow weeks for posting items.
  • Cheaper than airmail. Sometimes sending a gift airmail can cost more than the gift itself whereas an online money transfer can involve minimal fees.
  • Lower risk. Packages get lost all the time, but money gifts can be completed safely and securely online, deposited direct into your recipient’s bank account.
  • They’ll prefer it. You don’t have to worry about out of season goods, fashion trends or buying the wrong size. Your relative or friend can buy something they really want.

How to send money overseas

Once you rule out dropping a letter with cash in the post box, you have a few options when it comes to sending your relatives funds over the Christmas period:

Foreign Exchange specialist.
Boutique International Money Transfer (IMT) specialists provide a cheap way for Aussies to send money overseas by applying lower margins on exchange rates and charging lower fees compared to major banks. Your AUD is exchanged into the currency of your choice, and the funds get deposited directly into your recipient’s account.

Pros: Competitive exchange rates
Cons: Some providers have minimum transaction amounts.

Bank transfer.
Most banks have international money transfer services. You can usually do your transfer online or via a bank branch.

Pros: Convenient
Cons: Lower exchange rates and higher fees than IMT providers

Is a quick and secure option for sending small amounts of money overseas. You’ll pay a pay a currency conversion fee from 0.5% to 7.4%, depending on the country you’re sending the money to, and the card or account you use for the transaction.

Pros: Convenient
Cons: Both you and your recipient will need to have a Paypal account. Less competitive rates than IMT providers.

How to save on money transfers

1. Shop around for the best exchange rate. Exchange rates fluctuate daily but don’t think that all bank’s rates are similar so it’s not worth shopping around. Using our international money transfer calculator today, shows that on a $500 transfer to the US there is a $36 USD difference between the cheapest and most expensive provider in our tables. Who would you rather get that extra $36?

Top tip: Exchange rates on our site are updated on our site every 15 minutes so you can keep track of the latest movements in a range of currencies across all major providers.

2. Bundle your transfers. If you’ve got lots of relatives living in the one country rather than making a bunch of small transfers to various accounts, make one larger transfer to a single account and then get this relative to distribute the money to other family members or friends. This will help you to save on money transfer fees (sometimes as high as $22 per online transaction), and depending on how much money you are transferring, can result in a better exchange rate. Some overseas banks also charge for incoming transfers so by bundling your transfer it will also help your relatives save on these fees if they apply.

3. Get organised early. While you’ll usually be able to sign up for an IMT account online, it is best to have your account set up in advance so that you can take advantage of the exchange rate when it moves in your favour. This means you’ll also want to make sure you gather details from your family (name, address, bank and account number) so that you can transfer the money without delay.