Thanks chaps, I have used my head for once, and e-mailled paypal, and asked them if it is possible. I will let you know my findings. Martin, with Western Union, is it the case that it is expensive to send small amounts of money?
Yes but you could open an account in a bank specifically for that purpose. Limit the amount in the account and send her the debit card. If your really close as a couple, put 100 bucks in the account and send the debit card to her or give to her the next time you are there. You could transfer to by paypal or any bank account for the matter. It would definately defray the costs of Western union and you could control the amount of money two ways. Leave only 5 bucks in the account until she needs money, or like my bank it has a max of $200 at the atm daily. When you look at the prices Western Union Charges for transfers to Ukraine, you would be a few hundred dollars off better in the long run.
To anyone looking for a great inexpensive way to send money to a lady in the FSU - and its o LOT LESS EXPENSIVE than Western Union - plus she doesn't have to present ID to get it each time - which tend to make people over there nervous.
Its ikobo (available at ikobo.com).
It costs about $13 total to send $300.
With your first transfer - THEY wil rush your lady an "ikobo card" which is actually a Visa ATM card - with a difference. It CANNOT be used for purchases. It can ONLY be used to withdraw money from an ATM machine.
She will have her own 4 digit pin number and if she has an email address she will ab able to check her own account.
Problem with most bank debit cards is that they can also be used for purchases, like a credit card. Even if there is a low (or no) credit limit - if she runs up a charge, the fine print in the papers you sign say that you are on the hook for the full amount if the card is in your name.
(The logic for that is the fact that not all stores have online access to check credit limits immediately. Some still use the old fashioned carbon paper, pressure, imprint to make your receipt. If you weren't bound to pay for charges made in this way, over any credit limit - the store would be out and left unfairly holding-the-bag for any purchases it accepted in this way.)
With ikobo the card is in HER name, not yours. And since she cannot make any purchases with it (it doesn't even have raised numbers for imprinting) she can can never try to use it as a credit card.
Once I used my PayPal account from another country, and Paypal suspended my account. I had to come back and fax them copies of 2 id's to restore the account. Haven't you ever gotten emails from PayPal account that someone tried to use your account, and if that someone wasn't you, to report it. They do it to prevent fraud.
I should mention here that the ONLY drawback to ikobo is that you have to wait a week or so for them to deliver the card to your lady. Of course Western Union can be done overnight. And they WON'T send the card until you actually make a tranfer and some in some countries they charge a fee for the card. (No fee was charged for the card in Moldova, but my lady had to wait a week for her card - which didn't please her).
Once the card is received, of course, its good for a couple of years.
But the great prices more than make up for the short delay with initially getting the card.
(And if you just met the lady and she demands money overnight - you probably shouldn't be sending anything anyway.)
Ukraine fare is a business. Many businesses have foriegn accounts. I have had a number of Ukrainian busineses that accept paypal doesnt mean it is available to the general public.
For those who think a daily limit on a card means much I can tell you that I used my credit card in the Sheraton Cairo to withdraw some local currency. An hour later Someone in St Petersburg started drawing money out of the account at an ATM. They withdrew $10,000 in 1 hr when my daily limit was $1,000. Painful and inconvenient. Although I got the money back eventually it was at the cost of a lot of international calls and lots of inconvenience with my holiday.
So limits dont always work and make sure you hide your fingers when entering your PIN!
Above, I was one of those who wondered if PayPal worked in the FSU. After I typed my question I recalled an experience myself proving it didn't.
When I went to Latvia - I didn't know a soul or have a single lead. I just figured that I would prove myself to be one of the foreign guys who actually shows up (as you know there is an oft quoted figure saying that only one in 20 of us gets off our asses and goes over there). Well I had a fiance.com membership - and a couple of other sources to use at the internet cafe - but it simply wasn't enough. Time was a-wastin' and I needed to join a few more services I figured.
When I tried to use my PayPal account - on even an American owned website it simply would not let me. The site obviously recorded the IP address from where I was accessing the internet - realized it was in Latvia and cut me off cold.
I tried to write to the site administrators telling them that on vacation in Latvia.... like if that was going to do me any good.
When I got back to the US, I complained and PayPla informed me that they have so many scam attempts that IP addresses in most of the FSU are just automatically blocked.