I read your article about "How much does it cost...?" and wanted to give you my input of how I solved this situation. The answer is spelled A-T-M. You can use an ATM card anywhere in the world, and the local bank will give you the money in local currency, and you will pay at the LOWEST exchange rate at our end.
Unfortunately there is always an exchange cost, but turns out to be pennies on the dollar compared to the cost of sending a wire transfer, Western Union, or any kind of money service into our countries.
In my case, I am from Panama, so we do not have exchange issues. Our country utilizes the mighty dollar, so I opened a CHECKING account here in the United States (for some unforseen reason a SAVINGS acct. did not work), and handed the ATM to a trusted friend who gets any kind of money that I deposit in this account for my parents' use.
Most of the time, I only have to transfer the funds in the internet from my regular checking to this account, and it will be there instantly. She can go to ANY bank that uses the same logo in the ATM card in Panama, take out the money and this costs me only $1.50 per transaction.
The limitor is the amount of money you can withdraw each DAY, but most of the limits are $200 per day. This means that a $1000 transaction will cost $7.50!
It has worked now over a year. We have transacted over thousands of dollars this way, safely, effectively and at hardly any cost at all. I thought I would share this with you because I am sure some latinos out there could benefit from the information.
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