Mar 22, 2021

(+) Another Way to Send Money to Overseas Friends, Relatives, and Merchants

The following is a Plus Edition article, written by and copyright by Dick Eastman. 

A good friend of mine in the United States encountered a payment problem: she discovered that a 90-year-old classmate of her mother who lives in England has self-published a set of books about the history of the small town (also in England) where the two classmates and several generations of my friend’s ancestors had lived. My friend wanted to purchase the set of books. However, these self-published books are only available directly from the author, and the price was listed in Pounds Sterling.

When doing business with an international company, use of a credit card solves the currency conversion easily. You supply the credit card number to the seller; when the transaction is processed, the seller receives payment in his or her local currency, and the sender is charged in his or her local currency. The credit card company makes the conversion, typically adding a small fee for the service.

Using a credit card works well for purchasing items from a company that already has a credit card merchant account and is equipped to receive money via credit cards. However, these books were self-published by the author, a private citizen who was not prepared to accept credit cards. She could only accept cash, cheques, or money orders. The books are not available in any store. How could my friend send payment in the author’s local currency from the United States?

Almost all banks will handle currency conversions for you although at rather high fees. Most banks and other financial institutions like Chase Bank will typically charge a fixed fee of $45 for facilitating an in-branch international transfer. Secondly, it would not be unusual for the bank to add 3%-5% on top of the mid-market rate that they are able to get. It seems silly to pay more for the check than for the books!

I suspect many genealogists encounter the same payment problem when ordering books or photocopies of records from another country. However, I can offer at lease 2 solutions.

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