Cheapest way to convert Japanese Yen to US Dollars?
October 8, 2013 10:59 AM   Subscribe

Someone is going to be sending me money - they live in Japan. What is the cheapest way to send the money? The amount is going to be somewhere between $1500-6000, probably closer to the 1500. I have an account with xetrade and they have worked well in the past for UK/US money transfers but I notice that Japanese residents cannot sign up on that site. Where can I get the best rate possible? I also have a forex account with my broker but 'hedging' is probably too complicated for this transfer unless someone here thinks differently. I will also be visiting this person in December so there is the possibility they could give me some cash and I could convert once I reach the US again, although I'm sure there are limits on the amounts of money I can take overseas.
posted by locussst to Work & Money (5 answers total)
Probably bank wire transfer. You can shop around for remittance fees and exchange rates - here is a brief guide.
posted by exogenous at 11:04 AM on October 8, 2013

I don't know if it is the cheapest, but you can bring $6,000 in currency back into the US without a problem.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:33 AM on October 8, 2013

I would have thought the best way would be make a cash withdrawal from a US ATM with one of their cards but this is probably pretty impractical.

Bank transfer will even cheaper if you use Transferwise and I can't see any other method beating that really... Certainly avoid exchanging cash.
posted by turkeyphant at 12:27 PM on October 8, 2013

Here in Japan there are ads everywhere for Lloyd's bank transfer. It's supposedly two thousand yen for wiring money. Many people I know have used it, but I haven't.

There are also postal money orders, which are a bit more involved. The word for them is spooking (そおきん), and they are a pain in that you have to fill them out by hand, and each one has an upper limit of $700 per check. You can do multiple money orders at the same time, though. I used to use them for repaying loans/sending money home.

Lloyd's involves signing up, postal money order invokes time and the post office. Both are simple.
posted by Ghidorah at 2:53 AM on October 9, 2013

Oh, and whatever you do, avoid any solution which involves exchanging the money from yen to dollars in the states. I made the mistake, once, of forgetting to change my money at the airport. I thought I could just go to a bank. I was charged, in addition to everything else, a large bill handling fee because all I had were ¥10,000 notes, which the bank claimed were 'large bills.' This was a reverse culture shock for me, since it's perfectly common in Japan to carry them and use them, even to buy a pack of gum at a convenience store.

Whatever you do, make sure you're not trying to get your bank in the states to exchange it. You'll lose a significant percent of money.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:28 AM on October 9, 2013

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