Although Samoa’s small economy has been growing steadily over the last few years, its citizens are still dependent on remittances from family members in Australia and around the world to help with daily expenses.
Australia has strong ties with the small Pacific nation and a number of trade programs in place to help them build a stronger economy. This includes scholarship programs to help build skills and a seasonal worker program that allows Samoan citizens to work in Australia’s horticultural industry. With so much support between the two nations, there is a demand for secure means of transferring money from Australia to Samoa.
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For the past three years, Losefa has travelled to Australia in August as an employee in the horticultural industry. Each year he has been able to continue working until the end of April, yet has wanted to send his family in Samoa money periodically before heading home.
Curious to find the least expensive way to do this before going back to Australia this year, Losefa takes the time to research some of his money transfer options by researching how much he spends in fees to send his family $1,000 Australian dollars (AUD) and how much they receive in Samoan Tala (WST).
Money transfer service
AUD 1.00 = WST 1.79
AUD 1.00 AUD = WST 1.97
Amount received for $1,000 AUD – in WST
Two to three business days
Bank to bank transfer
Pick up at an agency
How to compare transfer companies when transferring money to Samoa
Losefa’s research showed him that the money transfer company put more of his money into the pocket of his family. When looking over the math he realised that when you include the difference in bank fees, he was losing almost AUD 94 every time he sent AUD 1,000 home. To do the same type of research that Losefa did, you will want to look at the following features of both banks and money transfer companies:
Exchange rate. Check what the exchange rate is, but take into account the fees, as some companies may offer great exchange rates but offset this with expensive fees.
Fees. Many banks have a set fee for all transfer amounts and countries, while transfer companies will vary by country and can offer cheaper or no fees when large sums are transferred.
Transfer time. For individuals supporting a household or making a regular payment, waiting a few days may be acceptable, but for emergency situations you may want to use a cash pickup system which makes the transfer within a couple of minutes.
Transfer methods. Money today can be sent bank account to bank account or to be picked up as cash. Decide how you want the money available to your recipient and then compare services based on this.
Security. There is a certain level of security when you make a money transfer through your bank then with a transfer company. If you do plan on using a money transfer company often make sure that you know and understand their dispute policies.
With the amount of workers, students and citizens of Samoa in Australia, a number of banks and money transfer companies have recognised the demand for reliable means of transferring money. You will find that the following banks and transfer companies are equipped to send money from Australia to Samoa:
MoneyGram. For the recipient this is a cash pickup only but offers the sender competitive rates and fees.
Westpac. Westpac has services in place to send money to a bank in Samoa using the ‘express card’ - a new, cost-effective way to send money using a telegraphic transfer.
Western Union. With Western Union you can make cash transfers from Australia to Samoa.
If you find yourself in a situation where you need a cash transfer while on vacation in Samoa, you have a few options:
Travel insurance. If you purchased an insurance policy for your trip, its terms may include a provision for transferring you cash in case of an emergency. Make sure to retain any police reports to hand in when filing your claim.
Credit card insurance. Many credit cards also offer types of travellers insurance. In most cases you will have had to have purchased your travel bookings with that card, but they will send you emergency cash if you qualify.
Money transfer company. If you still have your photo identification, Australians can pick up cash at a money transfer agency.
Cash pickup locations in Samoa (Western Union and MoneyGram branches in Samoa)
Both MoneyGram and Western Union have agents set up in Samoa where cash pick ups can be made. Before leaving for any location make sure that you have your identification with you and the money transfer reference number. Below you will find a few locations that may be convenient for you to pick up your money:
Apia, Apia 814
Open Seven days a week from 8am to 6pm
Fexco Samoa Tuasivi
Savaii, Savaii 814
Open Monday through Friday 8:30am to 5pm. Saturday 8:30am to 1:30pm. Sunday closed.
Le Lagoto Resort
Salelologa, Salelologa 814
Open Monday through Friday 8am to 6pm. Saturday and Sunday 8am to 2pm.
Open Monday through Friday 7:30am to 5:30pm. Closed Saturday and Sunday
Open Monday through Wednesday 9am to 4:00pm. Thursday through Friday 9am to 4:30pm. Closed Saturday and Sunday.
Westpac Bank Samoa
Open Monday through Friday 7:30am to 5:30pm. Saturday and Sunday closed.
According to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) an Australian should exercise normal safety precautions when traveling to Samoa. Even so, you should be extra vigilant when traveling to any of the above listed locations to pick up cash. Only travel to the agency with a trusted friend and immediately return to where you are staying to secure your cash.
If you have chosen to use a money transfer service to send cash from Australia to Samoa you will need to have the following:
Recipient’s full name as it appears on their identification document
The transfer reference number which you will need to give to your recipient
A photo ID to show to the agent when placing your money transfer order
After you have given the reference number to your family member or friend, save the paper until you are sure they have received the cash. This paperwork serves as a receipt of the transaction in the event that there is a dispute.
When sending money overseas from Australia to Samoa, or any other destination, it's important that you look into your options carefully. Fees can vary greatly and are sometimes hidden in the currency exchange rate. Once you have found the most cost effective method for your situation, you will find it easy to send money from Australia to friends and family in Samoa.
Marc Terrano is the lead publisher of Points Finder and a co-host of the Pocket Money podcast. He was previously a writer and publisher for home loans at Finder. Marc has a Bachelor of Communications (Journalism) from the University of Technology Sydney. He’s passionate about creating honest and simple reviews and comparisons to help Australians get the best value for their money.
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