In this article I tell you my experience sending money to Ukraine using different methods: bank transfer, Western Union, PayPal and TransferWise.
Updated Feb 7, 2021
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0. The different ways of sending money to Ukraine
On several occasions I have had to send small amounts of money to relatives to Ukraine or Russia. Sending money abroad always means paying commissions, and if you do it to countries of the former USSR (Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, etc.) these commissions are even higher.
Let’s analyze what it costs today to send $500 to Ukraine (the results are the same if you send euros, pounds, or Canadian dollars), with the recipient receiving the money in Ukrainian hryvnias, by comparing 3 methods:
- Traditional methods: such as WesternUnion or MoneyGram.
- Online payment services: such as PayPal, WebMoney or Yandex Money.
- P2P money transfer services: like TransferWise.
For comparative purposes, all calculations were made on Feb 7, 2021.
The first thing I have to say is that for small amounts of money, a bank wire transfer is the worst method, since the fees charged by the banks (from both the issuing bank and the receiving bank in Ukraine – PrivatBank, Oschadbank, Alfa Bank…- ) are usually very high. For this reason, I have stopped using bank transfers for sending money to Ukraine many years ago, since these are very expensive.
1. Traditional methods: WesternUnion or MoneyGram
WesterUnion or MoneyGram are specialized companies in sending money abroad. They have an extensive network of offices, which I have used on different occasions, though they are now offering the money transfer service through their Internet website.
Well, sending $500 to Ukraine through Western Union has a high commission if you send it by bank transfer ($13) or by debit card ($26), but it applies an exchange rate that it not bad, 27.1099 hryvnias per dollar. The real exchange rate today (February 7, 2021) stands at 27.76.
This means that if you send $500 to Ukraine today, you would be charged an exchange rate of 27.1099 hryvnias per dollar, so that the recipient in Ukraine will receive 13,554.95 hryvnias.
- You send $500 and the recipient in Ukraine receives 13,554.95 hryvnias.
- The bad part of this method is that additionally you have to pay a commission of $26 (Debit Card comisión).
- So you pay $526 to send 13,554.95 hryvnias.
2. Online payment services: PayPal, WebMoney and Yandex Money
PayPal is a payment method already known by anyone, which allows you to buy in many websites, as well as transferring money between users by email.
Currently, you can only ‘send’ payments in Ukraine for purchases with PayPal. The option to ‘receive’ PayPal payments is not available in Ukraine.
In any case, although PayPal may soon allow sending money to Ukraine, it is a method that I would not recommend. I have used it once to send money to Russia, but I will never use it again, for two reasons:
- Firstly, when you send dollars to a recipient in Russia (or another country), Paypal applies a rather unfavorable exchange rate.
- Secondly, when it comes to international personal money transactions to Russia, the commission is not free, as PayPal charges a fee (up to 4% if you send money with your bank card). You can check the commissions in this link.
3. P2P Money Transfer Services: TransferWise
Recently, several financial peer to peer (P2P) online services have emerged, offering money transfers with low commissions and that apply the actual exchange rate of the moment. The most popular of all is TransferWise (from the creators of Skype).
This is the method I currently use to send money to Ukraine because it is cheaper and easier for me.
For example, sending $500 to Ukraine today has a commission of 17.60 USD (using your debit card) but the good thing about TransferWise is that it applies an exchange rate close to the real exchange rate, 27.71 hryvnias per dollar. The real exchange rate today (February 7, 2021) stands at 27.76.
As a result, the recipient in Ukraine receives 13,364.71 hryvnias, having discounted already the applied commission, unlike WesterUnion where commission is paid separately.
- TransferWise: You send $500 and the recipient in Ukraine receives 13,364.71 hryvnias. Commission is already included
- WesterUnion: You send $500 and the recipient in Ukraine receives 13,554.95 hryvnias, but additionally you have to pay a commission of $26 (that would be about 700 hryvnias).
Therefore, TransferWise is the cheapest way to send money to Ukraine. It is the method I currently use.
Have you sent money to Ukraine or to countries of the former USSR? You can tell me about your experience below.