Complex Made Simple

Remitting money from the UAE? Compare the costs…

UAE’s outward remittances stood at $19 billion (Dh70 billion), among the highest in the world, according to World Bank’s 2016 Migration and Remittances Factbook.

Being home to more than 8 million expats, it’s no wonder that the UAE offers more than just a few options when it comes to remitting money. And with more ways than one to send money to your loved ones, how do you make sure you get the best deal?

The most common modes of money transfer from the UAE include exchange houses, bank transfers, Western Union and online brokerages. The best deal is no doubt the one that gets you the most favorable exchange rate and the lowest transfer fees.

Let’s take a look at the cost of sending money using different services, from the UAE to some of the most popular remittance destinations – India, Pakistan, Philippines and the UK.

Exchange houses

Noticed the long queues outside exchange houses during the last week of the month? Money exchange companies are the most popular means of sending money home and so the likes of UAE Exchange, Al Ansari Exchange, Al Ghurair Exchange and others are usually quite busy around paydays.

Be sure to check the current exchange rates being offered by different providers, these can change frequently and also vary considerably. Comparing your options is the best way to go.

Money exchange companies typically charge you a flat fee per transaction which depends on the amount being transferred as well as the country you are making the transfer to.

Bank transfers

In just a few simple steps you can use your banks’ online banking services to transfer money directly to the recipient’s bank account. Not only is this convenient and fast, but you can also take advantage of special offers and free transfer services offered by banks for certain popular remittance destinations.

For example, Emirates NBD’s DirectRemit allows same day free-of-charge transfers from the UAE to India, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Egypt. RAKBANK’s RAKMoneyTransfer allows account holders to send money to India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Philippines with transfer fees between AED 5 and AED 30. Dubai Islamic Bank offers free remittances to Pakistan, with a turnaround time of one day.

You must be an account holder to use the bank’s transfer services. Also be aware that the free remittances may only apply to certain partner banks in your home country. And remember that bank transfers made online are cheaper than those made at the branch.

Western Union

If you are sending money to a person who doesn’t have a bank account, money transfer services like those offered by Western Union and MoneyGram are probably the best option. The transferred amount can be picked up by the recipient in the destination country typically within minutes (if the recipient picks up cash at a Western Union location) or a day or two (if money is sent to the bank account). To collect the funds, all they need to present is the Money Transfer Control Number and a valid ID.

When using Western Union, there are a number of ways to send your money, either through a branch, using your bank account or online using your debit/credit card. The transfer rates and payment charges depend on the amount transferred, whether you’re transferring cash or sending money online, and how the recipient wants to receive the funds.

Online brokerages

Online brokerages are a good way to remit large amounts of money. Companies offering such services include and Global Currency Exchange Network. A minimum amount is often set for buying and selling currencies and so the cost is usually not passed on to the customer. You may also have the option of transferring money when a particular exchange rate is the most favorable.

With all the above options available, you can send money home in a number of ways in just a matter of minutes. But before you get your wallet out, make sure you always follow’s mantra – ‘Compare before you commit’.