September 1996 – Austin, Texas –
With the many Mexican nationals who live in the Austin area and with the increase in trade between our countries under NAFTA, the Consulate frequently handles questions from individuals and businesses who need to send money to Mexico. The services described below are common ways to accomplish that goal; included are the general costs and requirements for each. We hope this information will be useful to our readers.
Banks: Those with bank accounts in the US can use their bank to send money abroad through one of four different methods. The first is by wire transfer, in which money is transferred electronically from one bank to another. Wire transfers usually cost around $45, regardless of the amount of money being sent, plus an additional charge for converting dollars into pesos. To send money by wire transfer, the sender must have a US bank account and the recipient must have a Mexican bank account. The sender must provide: 1) the name of the bank in Mexico which will receive the money, 2) the address of the subsidiary or the specific branch of the receiving bank, 3) the ABA number or swift code of the Mexican bank, and 4) the account number and the name of the person who will receive the money. Depending on the banks which send and receive the money, this transaction usually takes one or two days, and since the money is sent directly from bank to bank, this is a very secure way to send money to Mexico.
Another method of sending money aboard is called a “C-Draft.” A C-Draft is a form of money order which is bought at a bank; the minimum fee charged by the bank begins at around $11 and increases with the amount of money sent, plus a charge for converting to pesos. To buy a C-Draft, the sender should give to the US bank: 1) the name of the bank in Mexico which will receive the money, 2) the address of the specific branch or subsidiary in Mexico, 3) the name of the person who will receive the money, and 4) the name of the person sending the money. The US bank then issues a C-Draft to the sender, who then mails the C-Draft to the recipient in Mexico. Once the person in Mexico receives the C-Draft in the mail, he or she can collect the money being sent by presenting the C-Draft to the specific Mexican bank indicated on the draft. Since the draft is mailed from person to person, there is a risk that the draft could be lost in the mail. If the document is lost, the sender can recover the money from the bank at which the C-Draft was bought, but the procedure can be very time-consuming.
A third method of sending money is by cashier’s check, which costs around $3 at most banks, plus a charge for the currency exchange. To buy a cashier’s check, the sender should give the US bank: 1) the name of the person who will receive the money and 2) the name of the person who is sending the money. The person who receives the cashier’s check must present it to a Mexican bank, which will not cash the check until it can verify the transaction with the US bank. This process sometimes takes several days, in addition to the time when the check is in transit by mail. In this transaction, there is a risk that the check could be lost in the mail, or that the check might be stolen and cashed by someone who identifies himself as the intended recipient. If this happens before the US bank has been notified that the check has been stolen, the money would be lost forever.
A final way to use a US bank to send money to Mexico is by debit card. Regardless of the amount being sent, debit card transactions cost about $1, plus a charge for the currency exchange. To send money by debit card, the sender must have a US bank account and must obtain from the bank at least two debit cards, one for the sender’s personal use in the US and one for the use of the recipient in Mexico. We recommend this method only for people in whom the sender has great trust, such as a family member or a business partner, for with the duplicate debit card, the person in Mexico will have full access to withdraw money from the sender’s account from automatic teller machines in Mexico. The sender in the US needs only to provide the recipient with the card and the confidential PIN number, which should never be written on the card itself.
US Mail: For those without bank accounts in the US, money can also be sent through the mail in the form of an international money order, which can be purchased in any US Post Office, which charges $3 for every $500 being sent, plus a fee for the currency exchange. To buy a money order at the post office, the sender must provide: 1) the name and the address of the person who will receive the money, and 2) the name and address of the person who is sending the money. Once the money order is issued, the sender mails the money order to the recipient in Mexico, who must then present the money order to a bank in Mexico in order to receive the money. There is normally a delay of a few days before the money order can be cashed, while the Mexican bank confirms the transaction with the institution which issued the money order. Since this method involves using the regular mail service, there is some risk that the money order could be lost or stolen and cashed by an unauthorized person. The US Post Office does insure its money orders, but for the purchaser of a stolen money to be reimbursed, an investigation is required, which might take several months.
Western Union: Senders in the US may also send money to Mexico via Western Union, which offers two types of electronic transfer. The first, called “Money in Minutes,” costs a minimum of $16, increasing with the amount of money being sent, plus a charge for currency exchange. To send money this way, the sender should go to a Western Union agency and provide the agent with: 1) the name, address, and phone number of the recipient in Mexico and 2) the name, address, and phone number of the person sending the money. The sender must then inform the recipient that the money is being sent and specify the location in Mexico where the recipient can claim the money. Money can be sent from Western Union agencies in the US to over 1,500 locations in Mexico, including offices of Telegrafos de Mexico, the Mexican banks Bital and Banca Promex, and Elektra and Woolworth stores. Since this transaction occurs between institutions, it is totally secure.
Money can also be sent through Western Union by a process called “Money Transfer,” which also costs a minimum of $16, increasing with the amount of money being sent, plus a fee for the currency exchange. To send money this way, the sender must provide the Western Union agent with: 1) the name, address, and phone number of the person who will receive the money, and 2) the name, address, and phone number of the person sending the money. Once the sender has paid for the draft, Western Union sends the money to the central offices of Telegrafos de Mexico, where it arrives the next day, and from there on to offices in the smaller cities in two days total. The recipient then is notified at his or her home; the sender can include a ten-word message at no extra cost. Again, since this transaction occurs between large institutions, it is a very secure way to send money.