Whether you are planning on transferring money from UK to Spain or France for property, send money from UK the USA for a relative, or transfer money from UK to Australia because you are moving there, the main thing you are after is a cheap international money transfer, which is something you could not expect if you were to use the “High Street” UK banks.
We have covered the best money transfer companies in the UK: dedicated services that ensure that expats, small businesses, or any other type of individuals / organizations, will have access to wholesale currency rates enabling them to conduct international money transfers for cheap.
Transferring money from UK abroad – how expensive is it with banks?
* Could be less depending on destination and account type. This is the maximum cost per wire.
** Does not include currency markup of up to 5% of the total amount transferred.
So, based on the information above, if you were to conduct an international money transfer using a large UK bank you would pay £8-£40 right off the bat. If you are transferring a small amount – say a personal payment, transferring £200 to a relative in the USA, that could eat up as much as 20% of the funds transferred. HSBC is by far the more international bank out of them all and the wire costs are relatively low but in reality there are alternatives which are cheaper than the cheapest banks for international money transfers from UK.
Transferring money from UK overseas – currency costs
While international wire fees matter, when it comes to large money transfers from the UK, the currency exchange is what matters most. Let’s say you want to transfer money from UK to Spain to buy a house, or transfer money to France to buy a fancy boat – those are international payments of 5 to 7 figures. When the banks sell your currency for a rate which is worse than the real current pound sterling rate by 1.5-3% on average, it means you are losing that much in a deal.
Below are some scenarios to show you how much you could be potentially losing by not opting to the cheapest money transfer service available:
|Reason for Transfer||From||To||Cost in £||Margin||Paid in Currency Markups|
|Luxury Item Purchase||UK||France||£50,000||1.5%-2.5%||~£1,000|
|Portfolio Rebalnacing||UK||Any Currency||£300,000||1.5%-2.5%||~£6,000|
It doesn’t have to be like this. As we speak, savvy individuals and enterprises are saving hundreds or even thousands of GBP annually. By using best international money transfer companies, they’re skipping fees, paying lower margins, and getting better customer service.
The best UK money transfer companies available (as rated below) will charge markups averaging at way under 1% and will charge absolutely no outbound wire costs. You will be granted access to a powerful online system to conduct your international money transfer on and other than transferring money from UK to Spain, France, USA, UAE, Australia or anywhere else on the globe for cheap, you will also get a dedicated dealer that will help you transfer the funds at the optimal timing.
Our Top 3 Money Transfer Companies for UK Transfers
From our research we have identified the three best money transfer services in the UK:
What you can find on our UK money transfers guide
You will discover the cheapest options to transfer money from the UK by getting familiarised with the best UK money transfer companies. There is an abundance of options available for UK individuals and businesses who require such a service, and we will help you understand how to choose one money transfer company over another. It does not boil down to only the ones offering the best GBP rates, or the ones promising the fastest transaction time.
It’s very much about convenience. If you wanted to make an international money transfer over the phone or though a branch, you would have stayed with the bank! once you have decided to sidestep your bank and seek our for a FinTech provider, you would expect it to be such. That means that you will have full control over transfers through an online system, follow-up through a smooth mobile app, and readily available support.
Moneycorp is probably the highest end when it comes to service. The firm, operating for 30+ years in the UK, will make it pleasurable to call them or inquire via email. Your representative will be a currency professional who is able to provide guidance to clients on the best timing to conduct an international money transfer and moreover, will provide indications on the best WAY to transfer your money internationally from the UK so there will be as few as possible correspondent bank fees in the middle.
Wise.com is the top notch when it comes to technology. The firm does not offer the same level of tailored guidance as Moneycorp, but its online system and app are completely intuitive and offer complete and full functionality including the borderless account that will enable you to receive funds in foreign currency.
Better exchange fees made possible with money transfer companies
If you are making a larger sized UK money transfer to another currency, the currency rates will come into play. While banks have access to foreign exchange through their own systems (known as the current exchange rates), this is not the pound sterling currency rates they are offering their customers. Banks are taking a small part of each exchange to themselves, but worse than all – they are not making this clear to their customers. Some banks boast “no commission exchanges” while at the same time they sink their teeth deep into the client’s flesh in a vampiric session.
While most banks are opaque about the type of margins they are taking from each currency transaction, some banks do advertise the spreads on their websites. On NatWest’s site it is visible that that their markup rate is hovering at around 2.5%, which is very unreasonable – representing £12,500 in fees on property purchase costing £500,000. That’s about the average cost of a nice coastal holiday home in Europe, and these banks are making a bank on clients buying property and paying through them!
Money transfer companies in the UK aren’t always transparent about the rates they are taking but if we take the ones which are fully transparent then a transfer such as the above with Wise would cost you just £1,250 in total. So 90% of the costs can be saved, in some scenarios. Obviously there are some cheaper banks and there are some more expensive money transfer companies in the UK – but there is no denying that as a whole you could save substantial fees using a money transfer company.
Why Are You Looking to Make a Foreign Currency Transfer from the UK?
Because of the increasingly global society that we find ourselves living in, more and more people in the UK are choosing to expand their reach and this has resulted in people making substantial foreign currency transfers overseas. Foreign currency transfer companies are there to provide the most convenient way to move funds abroad and the reason for sending money abroad ultimately determines the applicable FX products and the right provider. Below is a list of some of the typical reasons why people send money abroad, as well as the most ideal money transfer companies in UK for each.
- Best money transfer companies Australia
- Best money transfer companies USA
- Best money transfer companies Canada
- Best money transfer companies Spain
- Best money transfer companies France
- Best money transfer companies Ireland
- Best money transfer companies Hong Kong
- Best money transfer companies UAE
Buying a Property Abroad
One of the reasons why people transfer money from UK to other countries is because they want to buy or sell property. In the past ten years alone, more than 1.6 million Brits have actually relocated to other countries, with most of them relocating to Spain, Australia, France, New Zealand or USA. If you are planning on buying property abroad, it is important that the provider you opt for has the currency you need on offer. Fortunately, all the UK money transfer companies discussed in this article offer over 50 currencies. However, with some companies like Wise, you can only transfer a maximum of $1,000,000. As such, if you are planning on buying a property that is worth more than a million dollars, you need to choose a company with no maximum payment limits such as OFX or Moneycorp.
You will also have to consider the timing of the transfer. Although fees are a huge factor when transferring huge sums of money from UK, timing can actually have a weightier impact. So, make sure that you contact an OFX or Moneycorp expert who will help you to figure out any factors that might have a negative effect on your currency pair. With a tool called forward contract which is offered by these companies, you will also be able to guarantee the market’s exchange rate of today for a period of almost two years in the future.
Solution – Moneycorp
Making Overseas Mortgage Payments
Another common reason why people are looking to make a foreign currency transfer from the UK is that they have an overseas mortgage. As long as you have a mortgage on a property you bought abroad, you will be required to transfer money from UK on a monthly basis towards that mortgage. It is very important that your mortgage is the same currency as your income. Otherwise, the monthly payments will continue fluctuating as a result of the exchange rate movements. A money transfer expert can advise you on the best way to manage this.
A money transfer firm can assist you by making sure that your monthly payments are automatically made on the date which you specify. This means that you can transfer money from UK to USA or send money to Italy from UK without having to lift a finger. You also have a choice whether you want to work with the daily exchange rate or the forward contract set up which locks in the current exchange rate for all the transfers for a period of up to 24 months.
Solution – Moneycorp
Sending Cash Gifts to Loved Ones
The UK also attracts workers from all over the globe. While their primary motivation is to strive for a better life, they also aim to help their families back home. To do this, they save up a portion of their paycheque to send back to their country every month.
However, the banks take too much in fees from these remittances. Let’s say you want to send 200 GBP to India. If you send through HSBC, for example, you’ll lose 14 GBP, or 7%, straight away. Then, they’ll change your money at a rate that’s 5% off interbank – or more.
The best money transfer companies UK provide a dramatically different experience. For starters, they don’t charge any fees. And second, their margins are much thinner. Moneycorp, our top choice, generally posts rates 1% off interbank or less.
Even if you don’t have much to send, their lowest minimum transfer limit of 55 GBP ensures you can still do your part. Lastly, they offer more than 120 currencies. No matter where you’re from, Moneycorp likely processes transfers in your home currency.
For all these reasons, Moneycorp gets the nod from us.
Solution – Moneycorp
Recovering Overseas Profits
The UK is a dynamic place for entrepreneurs. These days, this includes online e-commerce store owners. These shops don’t just sell locally -they allow them to sell products all over the globe. Like any other international business, though, it comes with unique challenges.
Among these many concerns, currency conversion is a big one. To understand why, we recommend taking a look at the rates that Amazon charges. Whenever you move money through their currency changer, they take a 3.5% cut. That sounds small, but it hurts – a lot.
Allow us to demonstrate how. Let’s say that you transport an average of 20,000 USD to the UK from Amazon.com monthly. Each time, they take off 3.5%. Applying that to our revenues, we lose 700 USD every month. Annually, that number widens to 8,400 USD or roughly 6,300 GBP. Imagine how far your business could get if you could reclaim some of these lost profits?
Well, start planning. Receiving accounts, which money transfer firms like Moneycorp or Currencies Direct offer, allow you to make domestic transfers. By sidestepping Amazon/eBay/etc., you can then move your cash home at far better exchange rates.
Put those two firms head-to-head, though, and Currencies Direct comes out on top. Their margins aren’t only thinner, but their e-commerce services are also better developed.
Solution – Currencies Direct
It also seems that more and more Brits are choosing to retire abroad. However, before you begin the last phase of your life in another country, you have to sort out the financial arrangements first. Because currency market fluctuations can have a significant impact on the amount of money that you receive, it will benefit you if you speak to an expert in foreign currency transfers. It is possible for the currency market to fluctuate by almost 10% in just a few weeks. Also, because pension earnings are usually significant amounts, big foreign currency transfer companies such as OFX or Moneycorp would be the best option.
Solution – Moneycorp
Overseas Investments/Business transfers
As an overseas investor, one issue that you need to navigate is currency market unpredictability. If you are not careful, a seemingly easy transaction can turn into a problematic situation if you choose to transfer your money through the bank. Banks generally offer bad exchange rates as well as excessive bank fees, which will ultimately affect the rate of return on investments.
For business transfers, a personalised hedging plan is critical. It is important to have a good understanding of future expenses and how to minimise exposure to FX markets. Companies such as Moneycorp offer businesses an account manager whose main responsibility will be to work out a currency strategy tailor-made for any business. With a forward contract, your business will not be exposed to currency markets. The FX expert will also give you his or her opinion on the markets and the types of FX tools that you can take advantage of as a business.
Solution – Moneycorp
Sending/Receiving Freelance Payments
These days, more people than ever work for themselves. Corporate life has become less secure, so they’ve taken their skills and struck out on their own. However, when you govern your affairs, things aren’t as simple as they appeared at the outset.
From taxes to self-discipline, the issues are many. But, of them, currency exchange is the most insidious. Most don’t realise how much they are losing when they use services like PayPal to collect payments from international clients.
Every single time, PayPal takes 3%-4% of the original amount. And if a currency pairing like GBP/EUR plunges, you further lose out on your pay. None of these scenarios happens with money transfer providers. They charge no fees, and their exchange rates sit 0.5% to 1% of the interbank rate.
As if that wasn’t enough, hedging tools further guard your money. By getting a forward, you can collect your pay at a guaranteed rate. If a flash crash happens, you still get the agreed-upon rate. As a result of these measures, you’ll make far more over time.
Currencies Direct is best overall, though. Even the most inexperienced freelancer easily understands their services. Combine that with low rates and experienced dedicated dealers, and you have a winning combo.
Solution – Currencies Direct
B2B Money Transfers
The UK is one of the world’s leading destinations for business. From finance to manufacturing to high tech, there is an astonishing diversity of firms here. Knowing this, it’s not surprising to hear that the UK has the fifth largest economy on Earth.
However, these companies can’t do it on their own. To run correctly, they buy services and products from other businesses. But, unlike many consumer products & services, the B2B equivalents don’t come cheap.
As such, the slightest unexpected shift in currency rates can lead a company short on cash flows. That’s why UK businesses of any size are actively seeking out the protection of hedging tools. That way, when a politician trips over their tongue and causes a shift in rates, these tools safeguard smart firms.
Forward contracts are the best-known way of achieving these results, as they offer cost certainty. Every money transfer firm we promote offers forwards, limit orders, and stop-losses. But, of the three, TorFX is best for UK commerce, thanks to them having the best international money transfer rates from UK. If you move enough capital, you could get spreads as low as 0.15%.
Pair that with their rate match guarantee, and no other firm comes close.
Solution – TorFX
Cheap International Money Transfers – Why the UK has Managed to Stay Ahead
The UK has a long history with money transfer. For many generations, it has been a global financial superpower. And, being an island nation, its people have longed for the world outside. Spreading around the globe, they’ve grown well-acquainted with money transfer.
However, only in the past few decades have Britons had low-cost options for moving capital to and from the UK. Before Moneycorp hung its shingle in 1979, the banks, Western Union, and Moneygram were our only options. And, they took full advantage of their quasi-monopoly by charging outrageous fees and margins.
However, as we mentioned, Moneycorp began offering businesses and individuals relief in the 1980s. However, in 1996, Currencies Direct joined them, adding much-needed competition. By the 2010s, World First and TorFX, both British non-bank money transfer firms, also began trading.
Then Wise opened the floodgates. Founded in London by two Estonian friends, they offered an irresistible angle – trades at the interbank rate. Soon, people caught on and began transferring more money online than ever before. In the present day, margins have narrowed to as much as 0.15% off interbank.
Nonetheless, the banks still have an iron grip on specific demographics. These groups trend older and less tech-savvy. But, as time goes on, the market as a whole will continue to get younger and more tech-savvy. Eventually, financial institutions will have no choice but to compete with the best money transfer companies UK.
Alternative Money Transfer Companies in the UK
Apart from foreign currency transfer firms such as Moneycorp and OFX which people opt for when they want to transfer huge sums of money, there are other well-known international money transfer companies that focus more on moving smaller amounts of money. However, even though they focus on transferring smaller amounts, they have a huge client base. They might not be as cheap as the above-mentioned companies, but we feel they are still worth mentioning.
Western Union isn’t just a powerful brand name in money transfer – they invented the genre. In the year 1872, they sent a special transmission over their telegraph wires. Its instructions officially moved money from one end of the USA to the other. Western Union had just completed the first-ever “wire transfer”.
Because they were first, they dominated the non-bank transfer market for generations. It wasn’t until after WWII that Moneygram joined them. Yet, they too didn’t rock the boat. Instead, they went along with the high fees and fat margins the banks were charging.
Today, Western Union remains on top, despite their ridiculous rates and fees. How? Because they maintain a massive network of cash pickup agents in virtually every country on Earth. But, just because they are everywhere doesn’t mean you should use them.
Here’s why: let’s say you’ve got to send 100 GBP to Brazil. Immediately, they apply a fee of 2.90 GBP – or 2.9% of your amount. Then, they move your money at the GBP/BRL rate of 6.5071. Look at the GBP/BRL interbank rate, though, and you’ll find a price of 7.1210 – a horrible margin of 8.6%.
Using WU is a waste of time. If your contact has a bank account, go with Moneycorp. If they need cash pickup, we like WorldRemit. With a network of cash agents that are growing fast, we expect them to give Western Union a run for their money someday.
Moneygram has locations in more than 200 countries, making it one of the best options if you want to send money just about anywhere in the world. Sending money is easy; you can do it online, through your mobile phone, or in-store at one of their many locations. This is the ideal option for smaller remittance payments to nations where the receiver might not have a bank account. The only downside is that it will cost you quite a bit of money to send the funds. For instance, the markups begin from as much as 3% and you can expect to pay as much as $35 as a payment fee.
Casual users love PayPal, but even those who’ve been online for a while has a distorted perception of them. Because of this company, online commerce became a thing. These days, though, they’ve outlived their usefulness.
Under the cover of their brand name, they charge unbelievably bad fees and margins. Depending on the country you send money to, you’ll pay 3%-4% of the send amount. When you receive money from abroad, they’ll take 0.5% to 2% before they give it to you.
Compare international money transfers that PayPal offers to the super slim margins of the best international money transfer firms like Currencies Direct. Use their receiving accounts, and you won’t ever have to deal with PayPal’s crazy fees/margins ever again.
Wise (Formerly TransferWise)
Wise is one of the few online money transfer providers that average Britons know about. This firm launched in 2010 after two Estonian friends had it with crazy exchange rates. By using the published interbank rate, these pals lent money to each other to get around the bad margins that were costing them thousands of GBP.
Not long after, they decided to make a business out of their bank-busting trick. Within a year, the pair had a thriving business. In retrospect, it wasn’t surprising. After all, when you offer currency exchange at the “interbank rate”, that tends to get attention.
But how did they make money? Rather than cut fees, they charged a modest percentage on the transfer amount. Even with this model, Wise has the cheapest international money transfer in many markets. Fast forward to today, and they are now the world’s 2nd largest money transfer provider.
So, why don’t we recommend them? It’s nothing personal – for many individuals, Wise IS the best money transfer option. But, for some business customers, they aren’t a suitable choice.
Here’s why we feel this way – first, they limit the size of transfers. No user can move more than 1 million GBP at a time on Wise. Many business transactions are more significant than that. As such, they’re better off choosing a service with no transfer cap.
And two, their business services aren’t as excellent as their competitors. They do have a mass payments tool, but they lack hedging capabilities. In a world where currencies can shift by up to 1% on speculation, that’s not good.
In time, we expect Wise to fix this situation. If they do, we’ll reevaluate their ranking. For now, though, they usually have the best international money transfer rates from UK. So, if you’re not a medium-sized/big business or are buying an expensive house, this firm is a great choice.
2004 was a big year in UK finance. Not only did TorFX start moving money that year, but so did World First. Sixteen years on, they have 300,000 clients that they move more than 70 billion GBP for each year.
How have they built such a fantastic portfolio? By charging some of the thinnest margins in money transfer. If companies transport more than 7 million GBP per year, they get a 0.15% spread on all their currency moves. When you do an international money transfer comparison UK, there’s no better option for medium and large businesses.
That’s not all they have to offer. World First also has some of the most intelligent minds in finance working for them. As a consequence, World First corporate clients are all too happy to stick around to leverage the advice they get.
Despite all that, though, they don’t make our top three. The big reason is World First’s minimum send amount – at 1,000 GBP, this service is out of reach for smaller customers. Remittance senders and small businesses are better off using any of the money transfer providers in our recommended list.
That said, World First is a fantastic option for bigger enterprises, real estate purchases, and high net-worth individuals because, as of Feb 2021, they stopped onboarding new private clients.
Concluding Thoughts – UK Money Transfers
Despite the drama surrounding Brexit, the United Kingdom remains a world power. As such, money transfer will continue to be an important part of the daily lives of its citizens and businesses. In fact, it has played a crucial role in helping many everyday people shelter their assets against a worst-case Brexit scenario.
As Britons have done this, many have realised how expensive money transfer is. Popping online, many have found cheaper international money transfer. These people are never going back to the banks. And, as they talk to their family and friends, this trend will only deepen.
Low/no fees and thin margins are just the beginning. From sophisticated financial services to customer service staffed by actual humans, online money transfer providers are soundly beating the financial establishment. Why not join others and start saving money today?