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Money-saving currency transfers 

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What are currency transfers?

If you’re buying property abroad, sending money to loved ones overseas or making a foreign purchase, you’ll probably need to make a currency transfer. 

Currency transfers involve exchanging one currency for another, with the ‘exchange rate’ telling you the value of the currency you have relative to the currency you want. 

For example, if you needed to send money from the UK to a country in the eurozone you would be dealing with the pound/euro (GBP/EUR) exchange rate. 

Exchange rates are always moving, and even a small discrepancy in the rate you secure can have a big impact on how much you receive for your currency transfer. 

How to secure a great exchange rate 

The provider you use for your currency transfer can affect the exchange rate you’re offered. 

Typically banks offer uncompetitive exchange rates and apply transfer fees, while specialist currency providers can help you achieve excellent exchange rates, with no added fees. 

Here’s an example of just how much difference the exchange rate can make on a £200,000 currency transfer to Spain.

Updated 10 May 2023
Currency pairExchange rateAmount transferredAmount received

That’s a difference of €6,000. 

Currency transfer specialists also offer a range of services designed to help you achieve a better exchange rate. 

What currency transfer service should you use?

  • Move money immediately – with a spot contract If you need to make a currency transfer right away a spot contract is the service for you. With a spot contract your transfer will be made automatically at the current exchange rate. 

  • Fix an exchange rate in advance – with a forward contract If the current exchange rate is good but you don’t need to move money right now you can use a forward contract to fix the rate ahead of making a transfer. While you would miss out if the exchange rate strengthened you’d be protected from any sudden dips. 

  • Target an exchange rate – with a limit order A limit order gives you the ability to target an exchange rate that’s stronger than the current level. You simply set the rate you want to achieve and your transfer will be triggered automatically if your rate is hit. 

  • Keep track of exchange rates – with rate alerts As exchange rates are always moving it’s all too easy to miss out on a positive shift. With a rate alert you can set your target exchange rate and receive a notification by text or email if the market moves to that level. You can then decide whether to make a transfer or wait for the rate to improve further. 

  • Speed up currency transfers – with currency wallets Some currency transfer providers give you the ability to buy currency in advance and keep it in a digital currency wallet until you need it. Buying currency in advance can help you take advantage of a favourable exchange rate and speed up future transfers - although if the target currency falls, rather than rises, you will also lock in that higher price. 

How do currency transfers work? 

If you’re using an international payment specialist for your transfer you can move money abroad in three simple steps. 

  • Create a free, no obligation account – this should only take a couple of minutes, and you should have the option to do it online or over the phone 

  • Enter your currency pair and transfer amount to get a quote – if you’re happy with the rate you’re offered you just need to say where you want to send your funds and how you plan to pay for the transfer to complete the transaction

  • The currency provider will then send your currency to your recipient account

How much do currency transfers cost? 

How much a currency transfer costs depends on the provider you use. Look for a currency company that offers the best overall combination of exchange rates and transfer fees. 

How long do currency transfers take? 

Generally currency transfers take between 24 and 48 hours depending on the currencies and countries involved, but transfers can take place same day if you have funds on account. 

How much can you transfer abroad? 

Again, this depends on the provider you use, but many allow you to move as little as £100 and don’t have a maximum transfer limit. 

How can you trust that your transfer is secure? 

Find a provider that is authorised by the correct regulatory body, has excellent online reviews and the highest credit rating.

Also check to see if they’ve won any industry awards as this is another good accreditation. 

What is the interbank exchange rate? 

If you do an internet search for an exchange rate the figure shown is typically the interbank exchange rate.

This is the rate at which banks and major financial institutions buy currency and isn’t available to individuals.

Banks and currency specialists apply a margin to exchange rates when selling currency on to individuals and businesses. The smaller the margin, the better the rate. 

Why might you need to make currency transfers?

These are some of the most common reasons why individuals need to use currency transfer services:

  • Buying a property abroad

  • Selling an overseas property

  • Emigrating

  • Retiring abroad

  • Transferring wages or a pension

  • Covering living costs

  • Paying a foreign mortgage

  • Repatriating an inheritance

  • Sending funds to friends and family

  • Purchasing luxury goods

Businesses, on the other hand, may need to make international payments to:

  • Cover import/export costs

  • Invest in overseas assets

  • Expand operations abroad

  • Manage a foreign payroll

  • Pay royalties

If you have any of these requirements it’s time to start looking into your currency transfer options.

The earlier you start exploring the different services available to you the better your chances of securing a great exchange rate for your transfer.

Get a free quote for your currency transfer today and find out how much you could save

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