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Transferring Money From Japan

My friend Lulu recently told me about Lloyds Overseas Remittance Service.

I’ve used a couple of different ways to get money back to the states. Through my own Japanese bank, UFJ, you have to go to one of the main branches, like the Shibuya branch, and then sit in this funky little booth where you do a video conference with someone that will walk you through the process. The booth has a kiosk that is a computer monitor, video conference (camera), ATM, scanner and printer all in one. It was not very fun, it only runs 11am to 2pm or some crazy short hours like that and it was 4000 yen.

Well, the Lloyds service is much easier, at least if you have a Japanese account, maybe even if you don’t. What they do is setup a special account here that if you transfer money too will automatically have that money transferred to a pre-registered bank account of your choice. You can do transfers at most ATMs around Japan. Those ATMs run in Japanese so it can be intimidating to setup the transfer the first time but they give you instructions to hand to a Japanese speaking person if you can’t do it yourself. Also, most ATM systems memorize your info so the next time you’ll just pick the same info from a list and pick “OK”.

That’s far more convienent than the way I was doing it before. Unfortunately it’s not any less expensive at least for me. Lloyds charges 2000 yen, the bank they go through in the states charges $10 and making the local transfer in Japan costs like 650yen. That’s about 3800yen total. If you’re unlucky your final bank will also charge you. Still, at least now I can go down and transfer money at the ATM any time I need to.

If you know of a better and cheaper way please leave a comment! :-)

  • AE

    I needed to send a money order along with an application, so your post office suggestion did the trick for me. So to pass the good karma forward, here’s what our family does to get FREE money transfers between Japan and the US & vice versa:

    We’ve opened HSBC Premier accounts in botth the US and Japan, then linked the accounts to shuttle money back & forth. This is totally free. I suppose you can do this anywhere HSBC has outlets, so long as you have HSBC accounts on both ends.

    You can move fairly sizable chunks of money into whatever account you want and keep the cash sitting in whatever currency you want. (Sometimes the transfer from country to country takes a day or two.) You can then transfer the money into the correct currency when the exchange rates are to your liking (I suppose this is where they make their money, but it isn’t too far off posted rates).

    Anyway, it is a solution that’s worked for us, especially since we can use the US account to automatically pay bills and transfer to other US accounts we have. Don’t know if the Japanese HSBC account does Japanese bill payments, as we use other Japanese banks for that. Good solution, though, for a Gaijin that doesn’t speak much of the nihongo.

  • tallguy

    What’s the best way to send 30,000 dollars from Japan to the USA? Thanks! 

  • pcprov

    @cdmusser’s comment re: GoLloyd’s – FYI I just checked the website and it is true that they charge that 0.1% service charge if you want to send yen overseas WITHOUT EXCHANGING IT. But if you send them yen, have them exchange it and send it onwards in your chosen currency, that extra fee does not apply. (You can be sure that they’re getting it out of you on the exchange rate, I suppose…!)

  • Philby

    HSBC’s Premier accounts require a pretty hefty minimum sum – somewhere in the region of ten million yen, I’ve heard. That’s the only drawback I know of: are there any others?

  • Homeboyent

    i’m going to be moving to japan in march 2012 and i am looking for a place i can save my money and easily transfer it to my account back home.  any suggestions?