Transferring Money to and from Israel
Updated: Jun 15, 2020
The days of bringing a suitcase full of cash to Israel are long gone.
So, what is the safest, quickest and cheapest way of transferring your money to Israel from abroad?
I will try and break down the different alternatives for you. (There is a summary table below)
A: Bank to Bank
Pros: This is the most traditional and safest way. Unless you’ve given the wrong bank details to your bank, your money will be safe and no one will have the opportunity of stealing it on the way.
If you wish to transfer you can negotiate better exchange rate and a reduced fixed charge.
Cons: Banks are generally a more expensive method of transferring your money. The banks offer a flat charge for the transfer and then a less than favourable rate of exchange. Nevertheless, you can negotiate with them and get much improved terms.
Some Israeli banks have been known to drag their fee in accepting transfers, but in general it is quite quick. NB: Ensure you supplied your bank with all the necessary documents to prove that your funds are in order. Click here to see what you need.
Unless you have a good relationship with your bank, it’s difficult to have a human point of contact, and even if you do, you won’t necessarily speak to the same banker each time.
Only worth using for a large sum.
B: Money Changers
Pros – Money changers claim they will always beat the bank’s rate and don’t have a fixed charge. You can also negotiate a rate with them and even contact a few competitors to get the best rate. (We have money changers we regularly work with and recommend.)
They can do small transfers – from $500.
You also have a human point of contact.
Cons – Money changers are often small players. They can go bankrupt and can steal your money - See the case of Cheerfully Changed.
Therefore, NEVER leave your money with the money changer for a long period of time. Make sure his instructions are to transfer your funds to your Israeli account IMMEDIATELY upon in his account. Always use someone you trust - we have money changers we regularly work with and recommend.
They are basically online money changers.
Pros – They might be able to offer better rates than moneychangers and banks. Some of the larger companies have offices in many countries.
Cons – They do have human contacts but in some of the bigger firms you may not necessarily speak to the same worker each time. They will only transfer large amounts (Each company has different policies some from $20,000-$100,000).
NB: Check out each company beforehand - some have very unhappy customers who are waging legal battles with them. Ensure the company you use is covered by an FCA protection scheme. I am not endorsing any particular company, but we dmentioned here.
If you are not confident with internet banking, avoid them and never let someone do it for you. There are too many cases of people losing their money.
D: UK and US bank account holders - REVOLUT
REVOLUT is a banking app that allows for the transfer of funds at the interbank exchange rate at the moment of transaction (as long as the foreign exchange markets are open). You can take out cash from an Israeli ATM or transfer the amount to your Israeli bank account. I personally only use REVOLUT for small amounts (around £5,000) for reasons explained below.
If you are planning to transfer a large amount, it's worth using their premium service, It has has a small monthly charge, that you can freeze when not in use. People who use REVOLUT regularly swear by it.
REVOLUT has just opened up in the US. I assume it works the same way there, but can't be sure.
Pros – It is very easy to transfer money to and from your REVOLUT app and NO ONE will you give you a better rate.
Cons – No human contact. (For amounts over 200,000 GBP, you can speak to someone.)
If REVOLUT freezes your money (as will any Bank and online foreign exchange, if they suspect that the sources are unlawful, or that you provided them with false information.), it is very difficult, (but not impossible), to talk to someone to unfreeze it. Therefore, I do not leave large amounts of cash on my app nor do I transfer large amounts with it.
What do I personally do?
I have a good relationship with my bank, and my banker always gets annoyed with me that I don’t use him. That’s because I like to help the small person. I use a local money changer that I know well and trust. I would rather he make a profit than the bank.
What should you do?
You are dealing with huge amounts of YOUR money. Use the method that you are comfortable with. If you are a cautious, anxious person or dislike technology, then stick with the bank. The small amount you might save is not worth your piece of mind.
ALWAYS negotiate a better deal.
We will always be happy to advise you, especially in cases where you are finding it difficult to come up with the documents to satisfy your bank. https://www.israel-properties.com/
NB - No company mentioned in this blog should be seen as a personal recommendation.
For the legal documentation you need to transfer money click here