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How to Send Money to India

I have had quite a few requests from visitors about sites that help Indians abroad to send money to India. Since Iive in the United States, I am familiar with the companies and websites that offer to send money to India from United States to India. In the next few weeks, I will post the details of these websites here. I will also study how to send money to India from other countries.

Personal Checks and Cashier's Checks:

Most Indians here do not realize that you can send your loved ones in India a personal check (from the same bunch of checks provided by your bank that you use to pay your bills with). You write the amount in dollars, send it via mail to India. The recipient needs to go to their local bank and deposit the check. The downside to this is that it takes 15-21 days for the amount to clear. The amount in the Rupees is determined by the exhange rate prevelant at that time.  If you are in a hurry to get the cash, then this is not a good choice.  Some banks will allow you to encash the check immediately at a discounted price. Of course, if you want to send money periodically, you could send them a number checks appropriately post-dated.

As an alternative to the above method of sending personal checks, you could make a Cashier's Check (in dollars) which MAY get encashed faster (as it is a guaranteed instrument).  Remember you will have to pay an $8-$10 charge to get the cashier's check from your local bank.

Demand Drafts in Rupees :

State Bank of India allows you to make Demand Drafts (DD) in Indian rupees which you can then mail to the recipient in India.  They seem to have branches in New York City and Chicago. The site provides users outrside of these locations a number of options such as wire transfer, cashier's check etc to get money to them and then they would issue the demand draft to you.  You can visit their website for more details. The downside of this method to transfer money is the time it would take for the money to reach your loved ones. So if you are in a hurry to send money to India you may have to look at the options below.

WireTransfer :

If the recipient has an account with SBI in India, you can also make a wire transfer through the SBI branch. The amount is transferred in 2 business days and there is a charge of $30 per transaction. Check with the bank for more details.

Money Transfer Services:

Use Western Union (1-800-355-6000) or MoneyGram (1-800-MONEYGRAM). These companies provide money transfer facilities. Advantages are that this is very fast and you can arrange the transfer over the phone using your credit card. Disadvantages are the relatively high commissions, restricted areas of operation in India and the fact that agents accept cash only (credit cards cannot be used if you go to an agent; commissions are lesser if you go to an agent rather than use your credit card over the phone). Call the companies for more details (their web-sites are not very useful to find charges, areas of operation, etc).

Online Services :

cliks2india.com allows you to send money home using their online service. You pay the amount you want to send by credit card (along with a service fee) and they will send a local check (from Punjab National Bank) to the recipient in 5 business days. This is similar to the Western Union service, but with the convenience of being an online service and having wider coverage and lower fees.

Remit2India is a very nice service by the Times of India group in association with CitiBank and UTI Bank. Using a very simple process, you can send money to your folks back in India. Basically you register with the site, choose a mode of payment, send them the money via personal check or wire transfer and they will send a DD to the recipient in India in Rupees or if you choose to, you can wire transfer the money to the recipient in India. They also maintain a transaction history that you can view online. The cost is pretty low too ($10 per transaction at the time of writing this).

Sendwise.com provides a service using which you can send money to India via gift cheques. The gift cheques are issued by Canara Bank and will be sent to the receipient in 3-4 working days. You can pay for the cheque by credit card. Credit card transaction fees and services charges apply. You can also use the site to send other gifts to recipients in India.

Money2India is a service from ICICI Bank. This service provides free Money transfers into an ICICI Bank Account, free Money transfers above $1000 or equivalent into Bank accounts with over 30 other banks in India, free Demand Drafts above $1000 or equivalent issued and payable at over 1760 locations in India. Money2India also provides Online Tracking of the status of the funds and their exchange rates are also supposed to be competitive.

Rupee Checking Accounts:

Open a Rupee Checking Account with Citibank. This seems to be like any of the NRE/NRO accounts provided by other Indian banks, but they have a host of features including check books for family members in India, ATM cards for family members, money transfers, DD's sent via courier for a nominal charge and Internet banking. Check with Citibank for more details. Citibank has started a new service called c2it. This is an online service that allows you to send money from the US to over 30 countries in the world including India. This service can be used by anyone having a bank or credit card account to send money to a recipient in India who will receive the money as a local check or a bank direct deposit. The service can be used for other kinds of payments too.