International Money Transfer |

International Money Transfer

  - Compare your high street bank's international money transfer currency exchange rates with those offered by our preferred currency specialists.
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Guide to international money transfers has chosen Xe to offer an International Money Transfer service. Any legal or contractual relationship will be with Xe. Xe Money Transfer is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority under the Payment Services Regulations 2017. Any customer money held by them will be in a safeguarded account. Money in that account is protected and cannot be used by Xe to pay off any debts in the event they become insolvent.

Sending money abroad, for whatever reason, can be a costly affair. That's why it pays to do your homework and find the service that offers the most competitive rates and the lowest fees. We've selected Xe as our preferred broker for international transfers, as we believe they can offer just that. First, though, we'd like to answer any basic questions you may have about transferring money internationally.

On this page:

  1. Why transfer money abroad?
  2. How do I send money abroad?
  3. The main considerations when sending money abroad
  4. How is the exchange rate calculated?
  5. What will Xe charge me?
  6. How safe is it to transfer funds abroad?
  7. How to find the best deal
  8. How can foreign exchange rate volatility affect my international money transfer?

Why transfer money abroad?

There are many different reasons why you might want or need to send money abroad. The most well-known reason is probably to assist family who live in another country. Yet there are many more instances wherein people transfer money internationally. For example, if you want to buy some property in another country, perhaps a holiday home or as an investment for the future, it could save you a lot of money to use a specialised international money transfer service.

But you don't need a huge transfer amount to benefit from competitive currency exchange. You may want to help out friends or family members who are travelling abroad, find the cheapest way to pay for holiday accommodation, or even save a bit of money when celebrating your wedding in another country.

Given our increasingly interconnected global community, even simple bills could sometimes require currency exchange, as goods and services can be bought from anywhere in the world. There are so many reasons to send money abroad, either on a regular basis or as a one-off, it seems impossible to list them all. A better question might therefore be: why not transfer money overseas, and use the cheapest way to do so?

How do I send money abroad?

You may find yourself wondering how to send money abroad, now that you've found a reason worth doing so. Your first instinct may be to use your bank account, with even international bank transfers easy to complete nowadays using a provider's online banking platform. All you need is the recipient account's details - for many countries this means their International Bank Account Number (IBAN) and Bank Identifier Code (BIC), though note that not all countries take part in this system, including notably the US.

However, the cheapest way to send money abroad is usually through a specialised service rather than your bank account. As transferring money overseas is their main job, they are much more likely to offer the best international money transfer deals. And they shouldn't even be that much more complicated. Usually it's just like paying for something online, except that you'll need to put in the other person or business's account details yourself. Or, with services such as Western Union, you just need to pop into an appropriate shop to make an international money order.

The main considerations when sending money abroad

Businesses and expat pensioners are among the most likely to benefit from using a separate money transfer service, rather than their regular bank account, as they may need to send money oversees regularly. That said, whether personal or business, current accounts tend to charge substantial fees for people to send their money to someone else (or even their own bank account) situated in another country. Not only are there initial fees attached, but the exchange rates are often less than competitive.

A quick glance at our current account Best Buys shows that, notwithstanding their various benefits, personal accounts can charge between £9.50 and £25 for transfers out to foreign accounts, and that's not even looking at what those outside the Best Buys might charge. While this may not seem like a lot when you've got funds of £100,000 or more to send, every little helps, especially if you make regular international transfers.

Then there's the exchange rate. We all know not to get money converted at the airport, as this will usually come with the highest fee and the least favourable currency exchange rate. The same can be said for online money transfers abroad. Make sure to look not only at the fee that the money transfer service is charging, but also at the exchange rate, because there can be stark differences in how these are calculated.

How is the exchange rate calculated?

While it will be up to you to discover how the exchange rate is calculated by other global money transfer services or your current account provider, we can tell you about Xe’s method.

The rate you are offered by Xe Money Transfer will be dependent on a number of factors, including:

  • The amount of money you are transferring.
  • The timeframes you are working to (i.e. whether you are looking to lock into an exchange rate for up to 12 months into the future).
  • The currencies you are buying and selling and the volatility of those currencies.
  • The exchange rate levels at the time of purchase.

To get an idea of the exchange rates currently available, why not use the Xe currency converter on the side of this page? In the end, though, it all boils down to asking a simple question before committing to a currency exchange service: “How many euros/dollars/Swiss francs etc. will I receive for my pounds, after all charges are taken into account?”

What will Xe charge me?

As stated on their website, Xe Money Transfer does not charge any fees. It's free to open an account and there are no monthly charges. They don't charge fees to receive money and they don't apply transfer fees to foreign exchange transactions. Charges may occasionally be applied by a third party bank when transferring the funds to Xe Money Transfer or before the funds arrive in the recipient account.

Furthermore, they can provide you with estimates of how many dollars/euros/etc. you will get for your pounds, so you can minimise uncertainty before you commit to send money overseas with them.

How safe is it to transfer funds abroad?

As with anything, you should never entrust your money to an organisation without first making sure they are legitimate. While international money transfer companies may not have the same Financial Services Compensation Scheme protection that banks have, there are some key things to look out for.

The main indication of a legitimate, trustworthy service, in any country, is customer reviews. If there are enough other people telling you that they have used it successfully and liked it, then you can be fairly confident that you too can trust it (just watch out for paid-for reviews! If a review sounds too good or generic to be true, it might just be). In the UK, there is another key indicator, namely whether or not the transfer company is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

The FCA is the UK's financial watchdog, and businesses offering payment services are required to be either authorised by or registered with the FCA. If a company is authorised, your cash is protected so that you should be able to get it back if the firm finds itself in difficulties. If it is registered instead, as smaller companies tend to be, your cash may not safeguarded, as these companies can choose whether or not to comply with the safeguarding rules.

Naturally, you should also check the account you are sending your money to, as there are plenty of online scams asking for money to be sent abroad under false pretences. Aside from these unfortunate occurrences, however, sending money abroad using an authorised service should be just as secure as sending it to another bank account within the UK.

How to find the best deal

Especially for larger bank-to-bank international money transfers (£1,000 and over), it pays to compare your high street bank's currency exchange rates with those offered by some of the currency specialists that exist within the UK. This will ensure that you are truly getting the best deal when sending money abroad. It really is that simple!

And you wouldn’t be the only one comparing rates to find the best global money transfer deals. Every month, Xe uses an independent company to check the main high street banks and building societies to make sure their overall price (including bank charges, exchange rates and other fees) is better.

So, why not let the Xe International Money Transfer experts provide you with all the help and guidance you need. It is easy and completely free to sign up with Xe Money Transfer and the benefits of using its services include:

  • Bank-beating exchange rates online and over the phone.
  • No hidden charges or fees.
  • 60 currencies available giving you the ability to transfer funds to over 170 countries.
  • Options including spot (buy now, pay now), forwards (buy now, pay later) and market orders for targeting a specific exchange rate.
  • Fast transfers ensuring your money arrives on time every time.
  • Online account management and the ability to track payments 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
  • A trusted brand. Xe Money Transfer is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority and is part of the Euronet Worldwide (incl. NASDAQ: EEFT).
  • Xe's security technology, Norton, is used by 97 of the world's top 100 banks, giving customers complete peace of mind when transferring money.

How can foreign exchange rate volatility affect my international money transfer?

Exchange rates are never static - they change every day, and every hour, so the amount you get on one day could be completely different from the currency you get on another day. While small variations are hard to predict, there are certain societal events which could affect the strength of your exchange rate.

Elections and other important votes can have a drastic effect. We saw this in 2016 when after the EU referendum the pound's exchange rate plummeted. What this means is that you may want to make sure your global money transfers are conducted before such a big event takes place, or you could take the risk and see if the exchange rate might actually improve afterwards.

When you're going on holiday and buying foreign currency, it's always a good idea to start keeping an eye on the exchange rate a couple of weeks in advance, and then take advantage when it looks like it won't go any lower. The same can be said for sending money overseas.

However, you may not have to do all the hard work alone. Unlike many banks, currency specialists can offer additional services and tools that can help you manage your money transfers. Xe, for one, offers:

  • Forward contracts - A 'buy now, pay later' option. This enables you to buy foreign currency based on current market rates, for delivery at a predetermined date, which can be up to one year in the future. Should the exchange rate worsen in the meantime, you will not be affected.
  • Market order - This allows you to specify a 'target rate'. When the market reaches this rate, your currency is bought or sold automatically. You can cancel your order at any time.
  • Personalised rate alerts - This service allows you to set a target rate; Xe will alert you when this rate has been achieved.

Read more about the services and information from our partner Xe in the articles below:

  • Managing corporate foreign exchange and international payments. If you are running a business that could benefit from quick and cost-effective international money transfers, this article is for you! Learn about the benefits Xe can offer, including its Corporate FX service for big businesses.

  • Larger transfers. You can transfer up to £300,000 online and Xe offers access to a dedicated account manager, and more.

  • Smaller transfers. You can transfer any amount of money with Xe.

  • Regular transfers. If you need to send money overseas on a regular basis, for an international mortgage, pension transfers or your family back home perhaps, it’s easy to set up a regular payment with Xe.
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