The UAE is a global destination with great infrastructure and connectivity. It attracts people from all over the world who relocate to this dynamic city for work and livelihood.

People move for better lives, to meet their family needs, sometimes to pay back debts and in some cases, to earn enough to buy property in their home country. Therefore, money remittances form an important part of an expat’s life.

If you are looking for reliable ways to remit the funds to other countries, here are the three popular options to choose from - bank transfers, exchange houses and online platforms.

Exchange houses

When you want to send money overseas but don't have a local bank account, exchange houses and express money transfer agencies prove to be useful.

Exchange houses offer transfer services ranging from bank-to-bank, cash-to-cash, transfers to mobile wallets and account-to-account transfers. With these services, money transfer can happen within a couple of hours, and sometimes 1-4 working days, depending on the method of transfer.

While, account-to-account is the most popular as it typically offers the best rates, cash and online transfers tend to have similar prices but with a small difference in its fee.

Also, there are express money transfer agencies that allow money transfer within minutes. These fast services come at a premium in the form of high charges. Many times sender’s money is claimed by others at the receivers end. Hence, ensure the recipient of the money is present with an ID to obtain the funds.

Anyone with a valid ID and recipient’s bank details can use the exchange house service. There is a fixed transaction cost regardless of the amount being transferred, therefore, sending larger amounts in one go is more economical. Moreover, the transfer cost may differ from outlet to outlet, so it's best to compare providers’.


Banks are the safest and most convenient methods of money remittances that offer attractive rates and usually have no service charges. Many banks in the UAE provide international transfer services through the bank's branch, online from their website or through their mobile app.

Banks services are secure, instant and available round the clock. There are a number of innovative services including Direct Debit, Foreign Currency Transfers, Standing Instruction Payments, Local AED Transfers, and more, which enables you, transact and remit money with ease.

The daily online transfer limits may vary from one bank to another. For example, at Citi, the daily online transfer limit is USD1,000,000 (or equivalent).

Steps to make a money transfer through the bank:

  • Open a local bank account.
  • Create an online account, once you have your account details.
  • Add beneficiary or payee - this can be you or anyone to whom you want to transfer the funds.
  • Enter the payee name, bank's name, account number, and bank address in the country where you are routing the money. You are also asked for a SWIFT code or some sort of routing code to identify the bank. So, make sure you keep all the information with you.
  • Once, the payee details are entered, the bank will need a short period to verify the new account added. The account holder is notified through email and SMS that the new beneficiary is added to their account.
  • You can usually begin to transfer money after 24 hours of adding a new payee to your account. However, with some banks such as Citi, customers can transfer the money instantly without the 24 hours wait. For every transaction you make, you will be prompted to enter the one-time security code that is sent to your mobile phone to verify and process the transaction; this is a fraud prevention mechanism.
  • For some transfers, few banks may charge a flat rate as transfer fees. Here, you can select who bears the cost - the payer or payee. Most banks in the UAE, however, offer incentives to transfer money online such as few free transactions in a month or reward points.
  • A confirmation number is issued once the transaction is completed online; keep this handy until the money transfer amount is confirmed at the recipient's end.

Online platforms

The online platforms for money transfer is another option available but are far more complex and slower than remitting funds through money exchanges and bank transfers.

With some international platforms, like Currency Fair or Moneycorp, the sender is permitted to transfer money in Dirhams to the overseas bank accounts. This is considered to be more economical than international transfers. However, some banks in the UAE refuse to send Dirhams to the overseas account. Instead, they automatically convert the transfer to the local currency. So, the sender should make sure the overseas bank account receives the transfer amount in dirhams.

So, whether you chose a bank, money exchange house or online transfer options, always negotiate and discuss what each channel has quoted. It is after all your hard-earned money, so don’t take an action without detailed discussion and evaluation.

The exchange rates may differ for each of these platforms. Therefore, it is recommended to consider the overall costs, (including transaction rates, any hidden charges, upfront fees), processing times, and convenience to ensure you pick the right option for you and your money.

Sending money back home is a great way to support your loved ones, fulfill financial obligations and build for the future. To begin, click here.