Unless you’ve got a turbo-charged sleigh, enabling you to make last-minute deliveries anywhere in the world, then the easiest Christmas present for friends and relatives overseas is cash. Indeed, it’s probably a good option for anyone you’re not going to see over the Christmas period even if they are in the UK.
Of course, by sending money I don’t mean shoving a tenner in a Christmas card. While I don’t think that much post actually does go astray it’s a risk. You could use the Royal Mail Signed for 1st Class service – it costs from £1.77 and aims for next day delivery – the recipient will need to sign for it too. But although there is compensation of up to £50 if the item goes missing, this excludes cash and jewellery. Or there’s Royal Mail Special Delivery which says it is ‘ideal for sending valuable items such as money or jewellery’ and delivers the next day. It costs from £6.50 depending on what compensation limit you opt for and what time you want it to arrive – there’s a full list of Royal Mail prices here.
For overseas friends and families, there is the Royal Mail International Tracked and Signed service costing from £6. It takes five to seven days to arrive. And there will be a currency conversion cost: if you’re sending UK bank notes that will be borne by the recipient. A better option might be to send in their local currency. You could use a cash transfer service such as Moneygram or Western Union. The advantages of these is your recipient can pick up cash from a local Moneygram or Western Union post. But there’s a cost involved: the Money Advice Service says it can cost £10 just to send the local equivalent of £50.
If you’re sending a reasonable sum – say, three figures – then a foreign exchange broker such as XE* or Moneycorp* could be a good idea. With these, transfers are quick, fee-free and you’ll get a good exchange rate. Or you could try PayPal. It will cost £1.99-£3.99 depending on where the money is going and a currency conversion fee of up to 4%. If you’re funding the transfer from a debit or credit card (rather than via a PayPal account) there will be a further fee. Another option is TransferWise – it would charge £1.49 to send £200 to the USA within 24 hours.
Do check out the Money Advice Service’s comprehensive advice here for more ideas on sending money abroad: Santa’s sleigh is not included....