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As an NRI, with dependants and loved ones back in India, sending money back home is a given. Irrespective of the value of the dollar, an NRI should be aware of the various modes of transfers available to him and use it to his advantage.


The article has evaluated the various modes of transfer available to you, on the following parameters.



Speed of delivery









Exchange Rates




Wire Transfer

Wire Transfer also known as Telegraphic transfer is the easiest method of transferring money offline. Offline, because you have to physically visit your bank branch in the country of your residence to initiate this process.


A wire transfer consists of the following steps.



You need to visit the branch of your bank overseas and fill in a Wire transfer form. The format of the form is called MT 103. You will need the details of the Beneficiary account i.e. account holders name, account number, branch address and Bank Swift Code. You will also be asked for the NOSTRO account details. Depending on the currency of your transfer, each beneficiary bank will have an account with the overseas bank in the foreign currency which is called a Nostro account. These details are readily available on the Beneficiary bank’s website.




Once your overseas bank has these details, the foreign currency from your originating bank account will be transferred by the bank to the Nostro account.




The beneficiary bank will convert the funds from the Nostro account into INR and credit the funds into the beneficiary account that you have mentioned in the MT 103 format.


The entire transaction takes a maximum of 2 working days and is one among the fastest methods of funds transfer available, however it rates lower on convenience since you are required to physically travel to your branch overseas which will be an encumbrance.


The exchange rate will be applied by the beneficiary bank on the day the funds are available with them for conversion, this is typically the second working day from which you would have initiated remittance. If you have a long standing relationship with the bank, you can always reach out to your relationship manager and negotiate for the best rate that the bank can offer you since the exchange rate here will be levied by the beneficiary bank.


While it is the fastest method to remit money, the charges involved in a wire transfer are something which you would need to be aware of. Your originating bank overseas, will levy Wire Transfer charges, there will be some charges for handling, deducted bank which has the Nostro account, and some inward remittance charges by the beneficiary bank. Depending on your country of residence, a typical wire transfer can cost you anywhere between $30 to $50 making it an expensive mode of transfer.


When should you use it? Don’t use it for recurring transfers every month. Not only is it not convenient and expensive, you will not have the bargaining power of exchange rates with the beneficiary bank. Use it for making high value transfers, wherein the preferred exchange rate offered by the bank will offset all the other charges levied.




Online Transfers

If you are in the US, you would be already familiar with Remit2India or Xoom.com. These are online Money transfer services. You can transfer money from any bank account overseas to any bank account in India. Remit2India offers it services in 23 currencies across UK, Europe, Australia, East Asia, UAE and New Zealand.

You would need to register on their website once before you initiate a transfer.


The best part about these services is the convenience it offers to you as a customer. You can initiate a transfer from the comfort of your home at any-time.

There are minimal charges of $5 per transaction which are waived off if the transfer amounts are greater than $1000.


In the US, the ACH facility for transfers will be used which means that it will take a maximum of 7 working days for the transfer to be completed. For other geographies it will take about 3 to 5 working days.

            The exchange rate is applied by these institutions and you don’t have any bargaining power. However keeping the market in mind they are fairly competitive in exchange rates.


When should you use this? If you have a recurring need for transfer for eg. If you need to transfer small amounts of money every month, then this is the best way to transfer funds. It is convenient, has nil or minimal transaction costs, secure and hassle free.





If you are in India, you may not be able to initiate a Wire Transfer and you are carrying your bank cheque book. You can also issue a foreign currency cheque to any of the Indian banks who offer NRI services.

These cheques will be presented for International Clearing. On an average it takes about 7 to 10 days for the funds to be sighted in the Nostro account of the Indian Bank. After than depending on the currency there is a hold period of approximately 21 working days until you can utilise your funds. Like the Wire Transfer, the exchange rate can be negotiated with the beneficiary bank.

There will be some cheque collection charges deducted by the Indian Bank which you should ask before you initiate a cheque based transfer.


Unless absolutely required, this method of transfer is best avoided.





Money Transfer Service Agents


Western Union, MoneyGram etc. are called Money Transfer Service Agents. You can initiate a cash based remittance from your home country and your beneficiary in India can collect it from any of the MTSS enabled centres across the country,


This method allows you to send money in cash from overseas without any requirement of a bank account overseas. The per transfer limit is capped at $2500 per transfer and there is also a cap on the number of transactions in a year.


About the Author:

Daisy Fernandes is a personal finance enthusiast who is also pursuing her Certification in Financial Planning. She can be reached at





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