How to pay less when sending money abroad from Sweden

Transferring money between countries is big business. According to United Nations estimates, roughly one billion people worldwide either send or receive international transfers.

How to pay less when sending money abroad from Sweden
A father and son with a piggy bank. Photo: Getty Images

These transactions are often expensive, time-consuming and complicated – as many of you who live abroad are only too aware. Currency conversions and bank fees eat up an average of seven percent of the funds transferred between nations, although sometimes the chunk claimed by the financial institutions can be much, much higher. 

This is such a widespread problem that one of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals is to reduce these remittance fees to under three percent of transaction costs by 2030. 

To help achieve this goal, the Swedish Consumer Agency introduced the state-financed service Money from Sweden, which is completely free to use. The online service allows you to quickly and easily compare fees on sending 1,000, 3,000 or 5,000 kronor to 42 different countries. It’s certified by the World Bank and was set up on a commission from the Swedish government, which in turn was asked to take action by the UN.

Send money abroad? Click here to find the cheapest deal now with Money from Sweden

When the service was launched in 2014, members of Sweden’s international community were paying an average of 19 percent on 1,000 kronor transfers when sending money to family members back home or to a bank account they still own in a previous country of residence.

But the Swedish Consumer Agency, which runs the consumer rights information website Hallå konsument, says the cost of sending money abroad has since fallen by up to seven percent on transfers for this amount – ensuring more money reaches the intended recipients. The cost of sending larger amounts has also dropped significantly.

Ankit Mathur, a software engineer who has lived in Stockholm since 2017, said the transparency of transaction costs is very important when he sends money to family members in India. Like many within Sweden’s international community, he was unaware that Money from Sweden’s free comparison tool exists. The service’s state backing makes it appealing and trustworthy, he said. 

“The fact that it is sponsored by the government and other agencies is definitely very important for me because then I know that the comparisons are unbiased and unlikely to be influenced by the products being compared,” he said. Photo: Ankit Mathur in Stockholm

Click here to try Money from Sweden’s free and transparent price comparison service

Another member of Sweden’s Indian community, Bandana Shrestha, said she used to transfer money to both India and the US and would typically use the remittance options provided by her own bank. 

“I haven’t checked Money from Sweden and hadn’t realized this option was available,” she said. “However, for future purposes, I would definitely check it out.” 

Money from Sweden does not facilitate the transfers directly. Instead, it provides a quick and easy-to-understand overview of the various options provided by banks, agents and other financial institutions.

You simply select the country you want to send funds to and you quickly get an overview of the cheapest services for your intended transaction. If time is more important than cost, you can also sort the results by which institution will transfer the funds fastest. 

While the cost of sending money abroad from Sweden has been falling, transfers using traditional banks still cost an average of 21 percent, whereas the average cost with other services is nine percent. Knowing all one’s options, therefore, can really pay off.

But researching the sending and receiving fees across the whole market can be time-consuming. The Money from Sweden service provides a quick overview of the different choices, breaking down the fees, the operator exchange rate and the available pick-up methods. 

The most common destination countries users search for are Thailand, Syria, Afghanistan, Turkey, and Somalia. Western countries like the US and Germany are also among the ten most-searched destination countries. The comparison tool is available in English, Swedish and Arabic and there is also information available in another dozen languages. 

With around one in every seven people around the world sending or receiving international transfers, the scope of the UN’s mission to bring down costs is huge. No single organisation can change a global issue like this alone. But greater consumer choice is vital – especially where it’s enabled by allowing people to make quick, impartial and transparent cost comparisons.

Do you send money abroad from Sweden? Click here to make fast, free and transparent price comparisons on the government-funded Money from Sweden website

For members


Spanish town brings back the peseta in bid to boost spending

They haven't been legal currency in Spain since 2002 but residents in one town in Valencia can now spend any old pesetas they have hidden away thanks to a scheme aimed at boosting spending during the coronavirus crisis.

Spanish town brings back the peseta in bid to boost spending
Old peseta notes and coins can be exchanged until the end of 2020. Photo: AFP

The Multipaterna Commerce and Services Association has launched a campaign that allows payment to be made with pesetas in certain establishments in Paterna, a town in the Valencian Community.

The campaign, which includes hardware stores, opticians, computer and electronics stores, real estate, florists, lingerie stores and parcel kiosks, will run until December 15th. 

For the rest of Spain those who still have the old currency there is still a few months left to convert them into euros, although they can’t spend them in shops.

Spaniards have been told that they have until December 31st 2020  to exchange their pesetas for euros and that applies for both bank notes and coins.

Any notes produced during the Franco era, which ran from the end of the Civil War in 1939 until the dictator's death in 1975 can be automatically changed by the Bank of Spain.

Those issued during the conflict can also be exchanged but the process will involve them being analysed by experts to confirm their authenticity.

And any coins still in circulation at the time that euros were brought in on New Year's Day in 2002 can also be exchanged at Bank of Spain headquarters in Madrid.

The exchange rate offered  by the Bank of Spain is 1 euro = 166,386 pesetas but the bank advised that commemorative coins and notes may be worth more as collectors' items than for their face value, which is all that will be offered in the exchange scheme.

The Bank of Spain estimates that pesetas worth some €1.61 billion are squirreled away in Spanish homes, cluttering up the drawers of old desks and trunks in dusty old attics.

Many will never see the light of the day and others have become collectors' items now worth more than their exchangeable value.

Spain adopted the Euro at the start of 2002 but pesetas were still legal currency during a transition period that lasted the first three months of that year.

Exchanges can be made in person at the Banco España building on Madrid's Calle Alcala or via a postal or online service, even available to those abroad.  For more information check out the official webpage of the Banco España HERE. 

By Conor Patrick Faulkner in Valencia