International Money Transfers to and From Japan: Exchange Rates, Borderless Accounts, and Apps (2021 Guide)
(The fastest, cheapest, most secure way to transfer money internationally.)
Stories from the bottom of the pit and the top mountain. One email a quarter. No B.S.
Updated: March 12, 2021 (JST)
Nihon Hustle is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.
If you've lived in Japan for any length of time, you've no doubt run into the need to conduct an international wire transfer, or bank transfer, in order to get money from your accounts back home to address bills or other sorts of expenses here in Japan. When I first moved here in 2017, I had several thousand dollars tied up in a Bank of America account that I was living off of while on my tourist visa. Since I couldn't open a bank account at the time, and accessing money via ATM machines (most frequently at 7-11) was my only recourse, I was spending a small fortune in ATM withdrawal fees. Since I quickly made friends here I could trust, it would have been more wise to use a service like Wise, Western Union or Xoom, for example and have my money from the U.S. transferred to their account here in Japan. What I didn't know then you get to benefit from now.
Likewise, I've had a friend and here in Kobe ask for advice on the lowest international wire transfer rates prior to his move back to Australia, and I was able to recommend Wise to him. Recently, a colleague of my wife has been inquiring about accepting payments from all sorts of countries like India, the U.A.E, and throughout Europe. At the moment, they're using SMC here in Kobe to accept payments from overseas, and they're paying a flat ¥2,000 for each transfer. Sometimes that's the best rate, and sometimes it not. My goal in putting together this page about the best international money transfer options here in Japan are twofold: first, just to help you become aware as to what resources are out there for you, because there are many, and second, help you make the best decision as to how to send money from Japan, or how to receive money in Japan regardless of where you live now, and where you're moving your money to or from. So! With no further adieu… if you want to send money from Japan to the U.S., to Australia, or Canada, or to The Philippines, Vietnam, or India, you're in the right spot. Stick around. Reviews for each and every way I know to send money from Japan, and send money to Japan, is right around the corner!
The Nuts and Bolts of International Money Transfers
If you're looking for a safe, fast, and affordable way to transfer money into or out of Japan, this guide will help bring you up to speed with all the available offerings.
The Right Tools for the Job
Wire transfers (money transfers, in general), can be a pain in the neck. Knowing which borderless account or money transfer service meets your specific needs is key. What's most critical? Low fees? Security? Ease of use? It all matters.
Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail.
The only way to be sure you're not paying more than you have to when it comes to international money transfers is to do the homework. Which money transfer service is the fastes? Which has the best customer support? Which has the lowest fees? Seeing your money disappear in fees, or worse, arrive too lateto be helpful is not fun. This 2021 research guide is designed help.
Navigate the Article!
- The 23 Best Money Transfer Services for Japan
- More 2021 International Money Transfer Reviews to Come, From…
The 23 Best Money Transfer Services for Japan
(How to securely, quickly, and cheaply transfer money)
Howdy, all, I'm Doc. I live in the beautiful port city of Kobe, JAPAN. I launched this site to help others interested in working with, or starting, a business Japan, or anywhere else in the world!
We all wear different hats, my job is to help you find the one that fits you best. Thanks for reading, and go get 'em!
1. Wise (Formerly Transferwise)
(Borderless Account and Online Money Transfer)
Wise has a nice slogan that they most certainly follow through on: “A cheaper, faster way to send money abroad.”
- Always get the real exchange rate
- More affodable transfer fees than banks
- Lowest possible fees when compared to typical wire transfer services
- Transfer money without knowing the recipient's bank account number
- Transfer money to an email address (great for paying remote teams, or accepting payment as a freelancer
- Transparency of exchange rates and fees
- Send money to 71 countries (as of Jan. 2021)
- Send money from 47 countries (as of Jan. 2021)
- Very rapid international money transfers
- Wise Borderless account in multiple currencies for travelers, expats, and freelancers… anyone, really!
- A Wise Borderless account lets you add money in: AUD, BGN, CAD, CHF, CZK, DKK, EUR, GBP, HRK, HUF, JPY, NOK, NZD, PLN, RON, SEK, SGD, TRY and USD.
- Industry standard safety and trust
I've used Wise to transfer money out of Japan several times over the past few years, an love it. I've used their online and ATM transfers here with SMBC. Hard to go wrong. Wonderfully speedy, and hassle free. I've recommended it to other friends here in the country, and heard similar feedback.
2. Western Union
Founded in 1851, in the days of the Pony Express, Western Union has learned a few things about transferring money from one entity to another over thee years. Their domestic and international money transfer services are top notch, and while a bit on the expensive side for many, the ease of use, and vast network of in-person locations all over Japan, with dozens of offices in and around Tokyo, and many in major cities like Osaka, Kobe, Fukuoka, Okinawa, and Kyoto. They remain a serious competitor to new kids on the blog like Wise, despite that firm's with lower than average real time exchange rate fees. So, if you're in need of Western Union customer service with a smile, or the ability to transfer cash in Japan or outside the country to any number of locations, Western Union is certainly worth a visit.
What are the benefits of Western Union to transfer money in Japan?
- A cornucopia of options for sending money domestically and internationally
- Receive money using Western Union's cash pickup, bank account, or mobile wallet services.
- Send money directly from a bank account as a bank transfer, or with cash
- Western Union promo codes for discounts and cash off international money transfers
- Western Union tracking, so you can track your money transfer whether you're the sender or the receiver. Just enter your MTCN tracking number from your transfer history page and in your printed or emailed receipt.
- Online service that's simple to use in English and Japanese and 28 other languages
- Free Western Union: Money Transfer app available in “your language” including: English, Arabic, Bulgarian, Burmese, Cambodian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, Filipino, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Laotian, Malay, Norwegian Bokmål, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Traditional Chinese, Turkish, Vietnamese
- Transparent fees. Not always the cheapest, but , at least, you know what you're paying for
- Easy repeat money transfers using the Western Union online portal, or the Western Union app
- Different transfer fees depending on whether you're sending cash, bank transfer, credit card, or debit card. These last two methods of sending money, are more costly
- Typically, no limits on in-person international transfers, but there are limits for other services such as their: “Minutes and Three Day,” ($2,999 per transfer), next day payments ($500 per transfer), mobile money transfer ($500 per transfer), and phone transfers ($500-$2500 per transfer)
Is there a Western Union Near Me?
Most likely! Check out the searchable map below to find a Western Union location that will help you send or recieve money anywhere in the world. But why wait? Transfer Money Online With Western Union.
What are the benefits of using Xoom to send money to Japan?
In person locations. In Japan, the system structure we often deal with is obviously slanted toward in-person transactions. And, because cross-border banking regulations often involve a significant amount of paperwork to get started, taking care of that paperwork face-to-face can be much simpler, particularly if you're doing it in broken Japanese.
Xoom has lightened this load a bit by parterning with numerous large banks in the country, so getting access to your money is as easy for most of us as walking down the street.
Since you're use of Xoom in Japan will be to receive money from overseas, the situation is even more ideal for those individuals who want to send money to your Japanese bank account. As of January 24, 2021, for example, The United States has 7024 locations to send and recieve money, Vietnam has 1758 money transfer locations, The Philippines has 74, and there are an astounding 100,211 money transfer locations in India. Wow!
Money sent from international locations outside Japan, arrive in your bank account in yen. Transactions can be accepted at any of these supported Japanese nation wide banks:
Aomori Bank, Ashikaga Bank, Awa Bank, Bank of Fukuoka, Bank of Kyoto, Bank of Okinawa Ltd., Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd., Bank of Yokohama, Ltd., Chiba Bank, Ltd., Hokkaido Bank, Ltd., Hokkoku Bank, Ltd., Hokuriku Bank, Ltd., Japan Post Bank Co., Ltd., Joyo Bank, Ltd., Mizuho Bank Ltd., Resona Bank, Ltd., Saitama Resona Bank Limited, Seven Bank Ltd., Shizuoka Bank, Ltd., SMBC Trust Bank, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation
Fees comparable to other remittance companies. How much does it cost to send money to Japan using Xoom? As of January 24, 2021, in USD: if transferring money using a PayPal balance or bank account, the fee is $9.99. Debit and credit card remittances are charged at $20.00 fee.
As stated on Xoom's website, it “also makes money when it changes your send currency into a different currency. Xoom rounds to the nearest whole yen.” The firm's exchange rate generally fluctuates between 1-3% above the mid-market rate. So, this can make Xoom more expensive than other providers, particularly, Wise which does not make money on the exchange rate, charging only the mid-market rate without applying any markup.
Integration with PayPal. For some senders, the convenience of being able to use a PayPal balance to send money to Japan is what forces the decision to use Xoom. But, given there are so many other options, that advantage hardly makes it a deal breaker.
Speed of transfer. Like Western Union, international money transfers funded with cash, a bank account, credit or debit card, are often funded to your Japan account within hours when sent Monday – Friday, midnight – 10 a.m., JST to all banks in Japan.((https://www.xoom.com/japan/send-money))
Multiple funding options. Money can be sent to Japan using CAN, EUR, GBP, USD currencies (this includes credit and debit payments as well as a PayPal balance) and cash can be delivered on pickup within Japan. The ability to send money in these currencies using cash, so it can be received as cash is one advantage to using Xoom over Wise, if that is a preferred option.
Just the apps, ma'am. Just the apps.
Want to send money to Japan, or from Japan with your mobile device? Download any, or all of these money transfer apps!
- Wise International Money Transfer app
- Western Union: Money Transfer app
- Xoom Money Transfer app
- OFX Money Transfer app
- MoneyGram app
- Remitly Transfer Money Abroad app
- PayPal: Mobile Cash app
- Ria Money Transfer app
- World Remit Money Transfer app
- Skrill app — Pay & Transfer Money
- Money Transfer app Paysend
- XE Currency & Money Transfers app
- Google Pay app: Save, Pay, Manage
- TransferGo: Money Transfer app
- Shinsei Bank, GoRemit app (in Japanese)
- Wise International Money Transfer app (in Japanese)
- SEVEN BANK, Money Transfer app (in Japanese)
- Orbit Remit Money Transfer app
- Azimo—Global Money Transfers app
- Revolut Money Transfer app
- SPEED Japan Money Transfer app
- XE Currency & Money Transfers app (in Japanese)
- Western Union: Money Transfer app (in Japanese)
- docomo Money Transfer (in Japanese)
- PayPal: Mobile Cash app (in Japanese)
- TopRemit—Money Transfer
- Brastel Remit Overseas Remittance
- Brastel Remit Overseas Remittance (in Japanese)
- USEND app, Send Money worldwide
You would never know by its heft, but Remitly is a relatively new kid on the block when it comes to the international money transfer scene. Founded in 2011, by former Barclays Kenya Internet and mobile banking chief, Matt Oppenheimer, this Fintech powerhouse is serving up the competition in the multi billion dollar money transfer market. And, with a 2019 infusion of $220 million in capital, the Seattle firm is setting it's eyes on speed.((https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffkauflin/2019/07/10/money-transfer-startup-remitly-raises-220-million-in-new-funding/?sh=4fe7bc5c5c7c))
Money transfer companies make their money on exchange rate markups and fees, and the competition is stiff, and Remitly is betting it's money on making a difference by zeroing in on transaction speed.
The company already has heart in their business, having launched the effort in 2011 with the goal of helping immigrant families transfer money back home to their relatives, mainly in The Philippines. These days, you can transfer money internationally to 50 countries, from 59 countries (as of February 8, 2021). Japan, of course, is one of those countries you can send money to from a number of others. Let's take a look.
What are the benefits of using Remitly to send money to Japan?
- Character. When it comes to entrusting the sending and recieving of money across the globe, I think character counts. As I wrote above, Remitly's origin began with the intent to help immigrant families transfer money back to their home country of The Philippines. It has since expanded to throughout the globe, helping people transfer money from bank to bank, bank to location with the ease of technology and low fees. In Vietnam, they actually support home delivery. Remitly is now available to send money abroad from 17 countries, including: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and The United States. You can send money to 88 countries using Remitly's international transfer service. One of those countries, of course, being Japan.
- Flexible Receipt of Money. Remitly offers four ways to deliver a remittance: bank transfer, cash pickup, home delivery, and mobile wallet. You can use Remitly's app, or their website to facilitate your transfer.
- Local Japanese Partner Banks. Remitly's service creatively connects its deliveries to the end recipient through partner banks. In Japan, they work with the biggies, so you should be in good shape. Currently, Remitly's bank partners in Japan are: MFUG, JP Bank, Mizuho, SMBC, Resona and Fukuoka Bank.
- Competitive rates and fees. Like Wise, Remitly offers competitive rates, without markup fees on exchange rates. The fees they do levy are based on the speed you choose for your digital remittance. So, since their exchange rates should be roughly in line with Wise, who is using the mid-market rate, you'll want to compare based on where you might be sending your money from, as well as how you want it delivered, and how fast.
- Speed. As mentioned earlier, Remitly has invested a significant amount of money in upping the ante on the delivery speeds of their international transfers. They have essentially two tiers as of this writing (February 8, 2021). Their Express Transfer pricing tier shuffles money from sender to recipient immediately using a debit or credit card. Economy money transfers take about 3-5 days to travel to the remittance recipient, and the transfer fees are lower as a result.
- Service. Remitly offers 24/7 assistance to customers.
- Discounts and Referrals. I'm always a fan of a good discount, and Remitly offers a promoitional discount for your initial transfer. They also have a referral program, so if you have a lot of friends with the need to transfer money around the world, well, why not earn a few buck for spreading the word, right?
More 2021 International Money Transfer Reviews to Come, From…