[Transferwise]: Cheapest Way to Transfer Money to and From Malaysia

In this article, I will share with you how I convert and transfer money into and out of Malaysia for cheap using an online company and app called; TransferWise.

Here are some scenarios where you might want to transfer or receive money abroad:

From Malaysia to OverseasFrom Overseas to Malaysia
Sending money to family members who are living overseasIf you work overseas and want to send money home
If you work in Malaysia and would like to send money back home (India, Indonesia, Philippines, etc.)

Traditionally, the most convenient way to do this was to use TT transfer using our banks, which costs a lot in fees (cable charges, plus their commission).

The next best way is to use Western Union (I’ve never used it though), which if I’m honest is synonymous with online scams.

Now, we have money transfer apps (TransferWise) that give us transparency, cheap fees, and the convenience of not having to go to the bank or money changers physically.

My Money Transfering Problems in 2014

Back when I was working in Singapore from 2010 to 2014, bank TT transfers were expensive, and money transfer apps either did not exist or were not popular yet.

So when I had to transfer money home (at the time), physical money changers were the way to go. Here’s what I have to do each month:

  1. Head over to Chinatown in Singapore (usually the cheapest rates).
  2. Shop around to see the best MYR rates at each money changers.
  3. Once I’ve identified which one I like, I’ll head over to the nearest ATM and withdraw SGD cash.
  4. I’ll queue up at the money changer and exchange SGD cash to MYR cash (usually put in an envelope).
  5. Place the said cash in my backpack.
  6. Carry on home through immigration queue and occasionally check on it to make sure I didn’t get pickpocketed.
  7. When I finally reach home in Malaysia, I have to drive to the nearest Cash Deposit Machine (CDM) to deposit the money into my bank account.

Thanks to TransferWise, I don’t have to do all of this anymore.

What is TransferWise?

How to transfer money abroad without fees?

You can think of it as an online money transfer that has one of the best exchange rates compared to bank TT and traditional money changers.

TransferWise is a UK company that has been in business since 2011. It is regulated by Bank Negara and has the appropriate remittance license.

I have personally experienced receiving Euros from France (EUR to MYR) and sent over Singapore Dollars back home (SGD to MYR).

How Does TransferWise Work?

In this article, I will show you how I transfer SGD 100 from my Singapore Bank account to my Malaysian bank account using TransferWise:

  1. Register an account with TransferWise on their website.
  2. Select the currency to receive your money (e.g: SGD to MYR).
  3. I’ll get to see the exchange rate & total fees live. I will not pay more than what is quoted.
  4. Fill out the details of the receiver’s (my) bank details.
  5. I will pay the equivalent SGD to TransferWise Singapore bank account.
  6. I will receive the agreed MYR from the Transferwise Malaysian bank account after about 2 to 3 days.

Note: TransferWise has bank accounts in all countries that they operate. The money doesn’t move. I pay to TransferWise’s SGD bank account, and they will transfer me the agreed MYR equivalent from their MYR bank account.

Step-By-Step Transfer:

STEP 1: Use my link to register your account on TransferWise’s website (this will be my affiliate link and you’ll get your first GBP 500 fee waived):

STEP 2: Once signed up, click on ‘Send Money‘:

STEP 3: Select the currency that you want to send and receive currencies in. In this example, I want to send my SGD to MYR. So I need to change the USD to SGD:

STEP 4: Select “SGD” from the drop down menu:

STEP 5: You’ll be able to see:

  1. The total fee that I’ll be charged
  2. The conversion rate for that day and is guaranteed for 48 hours.
  3. The total MYR that I’ll be receiving on the other end:

STEP 6: Before I hit that ‘continue’ button, let’s compare TransferWise’s rate with Google’s conversion rate for SGD 100:

Google’s rate: I’m supposed to be getting RM 306.52, but I’ll only be getting RM 302.60 using Transferwise. The transfer cost is RM 306.52 – 302.60 = RM 3.92. I think this is an excellent conversion rate! I’m happy and I click on the ‘continue button‘.

STEP 7: On the next page, select who the recipient is. In my case, I already have the recipient info because I’ve transferred using TrasnferWise before.

If you’re new, you need to click on ‘New recipient‘:

STEP 8: Fill out the info on the recipient’s bank info:

STEP 10: Answer why are you transferring the money. Don’t worry, I don’t think it really matters what you select, it’s just for their data records I think:

STEP 11: The final step is to review everything:

  • Make sure the amount tallies up with the quote.
  • The recipient’s details are correct.
  • You can type in any reference if you want.

Click on ‘Confirm and continue‘ once everything is in order:

STEP 12: Select how are you going to pay TransferWise that SGD 100. As can be seen in my options, the cheapest is to use bank transfer.

If you don’t have a Singapore bank account, you have to use other methods that will costs you more in fees.

Select your payment method and hit ‘continue to payment‘:

STEP 13: They will honor the agreed price for 48 hours and give you a cutout time for this transaction to be valid.

Before that 48 hour window disappear, I have to make a manual transfer of SGD 100 from my Singapore bank account to TransferWise’s Singapore bank account.

Transferwise’s Singapore Bank account details are shown below. Make sure to include the reference code so it’s easy for them to check on the funds:

Once I’ve made the transfer, click on the ‘I’ve made my bank transfer‘ button and give them 1 to 2 business days to verify that they’ve received the money.

A few hours later, after TransferWise confirmed that they’ve received my SGD 100, I got this email that they have started to send my MYR and when I can expect to receive it:

A day later, the said money is indeed in my bank account:

That’s it. Very easy and transparent, every step of the way! 🙂

Key Takeaway – My Verdict

So far, I’ve used TransferWise exclusively to transfer my money from Singapore to Malaysia. Here’s what I love about TransferWise:

  • I love the transparency of the fees and conversion rates.
  • Their app and website are really easy to use.
  • It’s quick. I get my money within 3 days usually.
  • They alert me via email every step of the money transfer process.

Is there anything I don’t like about TransferWise?

Yes, at the time of this writing, their International Debit MasterCard hasn’t arrived in Malaysia yet. With this card, it’s almost like you have bank accounts internationally without actually being a resident overseas. This will revolutionize online freelance work, and I can’t wait to get it!

TransferWise Debit MasterCard – Not in Malaysia yet

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Helmi Hasan

Hi, I'm Helmi Hasan, the founder, and writer for the personal finance blog, Balkoni Hijau. Read more in the 'About Me' page or follow me on Twitter.

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