You're living in Switzerland, but many of your relatives of friends still live in Serbia, and you are thus regularly sending money between these two countries. This guide is made exactly for you, with the goal to help you better understand the true cost of sending money and enable you to compare the different options.
First of all, as of today, there are sadly no good option to send money from Switzerland to Serbia. The innovative money transfer providers that offer very good rate and low fees have yet to expand their services to these countries.
In the meantime, we're here to help you shed some light on the different options available, their costs, advantages and disadvantages.
There are frequents buses that connect big cities in Switzerland and Serbia, and most of the drivers of these buses will accept to carry your money and give it to your recipient when arriving in Serbia. While illegal, this informal way of transfering money is very popular, as it is not as expansive as other options and has a personnal touch to it, as you know the person who will be carrying your money and you can add some food or other gifts in the bag where you'll put the money.
But this options also has a number of disadvantages. It takes time (and sometimes money) to go to the bus station, it's not really convenient, and there is no guarantee that the money will arrive. In addition, the Swiss Francs (or Euros) you send this way, will need to be exchanged against Serbian Dinar by the recipients, and even if they find a good agent, they will always lost some money in the conversion. This has to be taken into account when calculating the total cost of the transfer.
This is to some people, the most straightforward option, you go to your e-banking, enter the bank details of your recipient, and send the money. Where it gets more tricky (and expansive!), is when we start talking currency conversions. The problem is, no Swiss banks will allow you to send Serbian Dinar, and almost no bank in Serbia will receive transfer in Swiss Franks, which means you usually need to make a transfer in Euros from your bank account in Switzerland, and then either cash-it out in Euros on the other end and exchange it on the street, or let the bank in Serbia do the conversion to Serbian dinar. Adding the fees that both banks will charge to this double conversion, your recipient will receive less than 90% of the amount you sent in the end.
TIP : when selecting who should pay the cost of the transfer in your e-banking, your best guess is usually to select the "shared" option, rather than paying all the cost or letting the recipient bank charge all of the transaction fee.
To our knowledge, there is only one money transfer operator offering to send Serbian Dinar in Serbia, it's Western Union. You can send money either at a branch location or online (with a Credit Card or a Postfinance Account), and the money can be received in cash in many agent location in Serbia. Again, there will be a fee for this transfer, and also a commission on the exchange rate. Expect to pay between 4% and 6% of the total amount in the end.
Another option is to use other money transfer operators, that will let you send Euros to Serbia. But you'll face the same double conversion issue as with the banks, as your recipient will loose and additional 1% - 2% when converting the Euros in Serbian Dinars.
There are almost always hidden fees in a money transfer, mostly due to the margin taken by any bank, money transfer operator or street agents, when converting your money. Try to avoid having to make two currency conversions in the same transfer (from CHF to EUR, and then from EUR to RSD).
Not all options for sending money are the same, their rates, reliability and fees will vary so it's wrong to assume that one is just as good as the other. Comparing different services manually is hard but you can use Monito's comparison tool to find the lowest fees, best exchange rate and speed for your remittance.
Hopefully, better and cheaper ways to send money that are already available in a lot of European countries are coming to Switzerland and Serbia soon. We are following the market very closely, and if you want to be alerted when one of these innovations becomes available, just let us your email address. You can also sign and share the petition we launch to call for a reduction of the transfer fees.