Au Pair Asks: Tips for Getting Money Back Home

by cv harquail on May 6, 2010

I was impressed to discover that some au pairs actually save money, either for themselves or to send back home to their parents.

Many of the au pairs I’ve known have spent their money here in the USA, either on shoes or on traveling (and201005041351.jpg occasionally on both. What do mannies spend their money on?)

If an au pair is frugal enough to save some moeny, then s/he needs to get it back home safely– and at minimal extra cost.

Does anyone know how to send money back home, to places like Namibia, without spending a huge amount of that in wire transfer or currency exchange fees?

Frugal minds want to know.

Image: Nils Holgersson from Georgios Karamanis

{ 13 comments }

Amelie ex au pair May 6, 2010 at 3:46 pm

I sent money to Peru (not my home country – I was paying for a tour I was taking there) thru Western Union. I spent 10 bucks, the money got there on the next day and, as far as I remember, they only asked for the name and adress of the person who would pick up the money. The receiver doesn’t need a bank account or anything, they just need to find the closest Western Union store and get the money.

Ah, and my parents sent me some money via WS as well. They just needed to give my name and state, and I wen to pick up the money (there was a little confusion cause I lived in DC and they sent the money to WA, but it got fixed and I got the money like 2 days after my parents sent it).

Rola May 6, 2010 at 3:57 pm

I guess that the rates depend on the country you are sending the money to and of course the amount. When I did the research on which company would be best to send money to my country (Colombia) I found that MoneyGram is the cheapest. I only sent money once and it was a little over 1,100 dollars, and they charged me 20 bucks for the service. Compared to the others it’s really cheap, plus they gave me a REALLY GOOD exchange rate and the person I sent it to was able to get the money the same day, it only takes 10 minutes. The receiver doesn’t need a bank account either, they just need to find the closest MoneyGram store or bank associated with MoneyGram and get the money. It;s pretty simple, just go on their website and there you can even calculate how much it would cost to send mo ney to each country.

Ann from NE May 6, 2010 at 4:18 pm

Try Paypal – easy (all you need is the recipient’s email address), quick, and less expensive (to the U.S. sender) than an international wire transfer through your local savings bank, especially if your Paypal account is linked/verified to your U.S. checking account. The recipient in the foreign country has to pay a transaction fee but I just included that amount in the amount I transferred over.

Dorsi May 6, 2010 at 6:17 pm

One of my last APs carried cash. I discouraged this, but it worked well for her. No fees, etc. And she took it from the bank, to our house, to the airport, to home. Most countries don’t require you to declare if it is less than 10k. She didn’t want to exchange it because the rate was too low — I tried to explain that it takes a lot of money and skills to succeed in the foreign exchange business, and that rates could continue to trend against her, and then she would have even less money. To my mild irritation, the Greek financial crisis happened and she mad 20% on her money.

I offered to write her a personal check for her money — no cost to create, minimal charge ($20) with depositing in her bank account back home.

Amelie ex au pair May 6, 2010 at 8:40 pm

Dorsi, I also took money with me when I came home. It was around $2,000, but since my host mom took me the airport and my parents picked me up, so I didn’t have any problems! (in Brazil, there’s no need to declare if you’re entering the country with less than $10,000).

Taking a computer lunch May 6, 2010 at 11:05 pm

My first au pair paid for her brother’s college education in Brazil. My current au pair regularly sends money to her parents in China. Here in Washington, DC, where remittances are a fact of life, many banks and stores offer good rates on sending money home. If you live in an area with a lot of immigrants from your country, ask around.

I have sent money to incoming au pairs to buy my son comic books when he was bilingual. I used Western Union, and with minor difficulties, the money made it’s way there. I used a local tienda (store) that was used to handling remittances.

In my neighborhood, I often see men with huge wads of cash lined up to send remittances home on Sunday mornings. I can’t help but think – if only I could save that much money!

If you know that your au pair is supporting family at home – do caution her to set aside money for emergencies – medical expenses, money against a car accident, money for fees for her departure home. All of that can add up quickly — and not all host families can afford to float a loan!

Janet May 7, 2010 at 7:56 am

One of our au pair’s used to send cash home via the mail. I was strongly against this, but somehow the money always made it.

Other au pair’s have used Moneygram, and we have also used the transfer program in place at Wal-Mart. I can’t remember what company it is, but it may be Moneygram.

It has been several years since I compared rates, but I found Western Union to be more expensive.

MommyMia May 7, 2010 at 9:38 pm

I was just at WalMart’s customer service desk this afternoon and noticed that they have a special on Money Gram transfers through June 30 – $6.95. Don’t know if this is nationwide or not, and couldn’t read all the fine print on the poster, but it might be worth checking out….

Au Pair in CO May 7, 2010 at 9:57 am

I have just transfered money via online banking from my American account to my account back in Norway. The exchange rate is always correct, and the fee is just around $7, no matter how much money you transfer. But then Norwegian banks are way ahead of a lot (even American banks. I can’t believe people still use checks here), so I don’t think this would work as well for all countries.

Hula Gal May 7, 2010 at 4:48 pm

I’m pretty sure my au pair mailed her dad a check card and he withdraws money monthly from her account from an ATM. She owes him money for a car he bought her.

franzi May 8, 2010 at 6:20 am

a friend of mine who sent money to her family in eastern europe sent her savings once a month through western union. this way she tried to keep the transaction costs low.

Darthastewart May 8, 2010 at 8:46 am

An au-pair who was from Georgia used to wire hers home via the banks. There is a swift code that got used to get money to her bank- We’ve done that several times, and it works well. The bank at the other end seems to take a random percentage, depending on their mood at the time though, so we send extra to try to cover that. (Doing the same thing to send money to Germany, and the banks there do not take a percentage)

kat October 27, 2011 at 1:13 pm

not sure whether it also works in the us but moneybokers can be used for transferring money around europe. takes around one week and one needs to have a bank account on both sides.

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