If you want to transfer money abroad, banks will charge you up to £25 per transfer, but if you use an international money transfer service, it will be cheaper.
Transfer money abroad
We’ve looked at 10 companies and found that some are better for big transfers and some are better for small transfers. We compared fees and the overall cost to transfer money to Europe and to the USA (£1,000 and £50,000). We did this on the same day (Thursday 30th May 2019) so there were as few discrepancies as possible with the exchange rate, and only looked at costs for direct to bank transfers.
SAVVY TIP: Don’t be fooled into thinking that the companies who say they are ‘commission-free’ are cheaper. They adjust the exchange rate meaning you can end up getting a worse rate than other companies that charge a small fee.
You can find and compare more than 450 money transfer services via the website Monito. I’ve put a link to it at the end of this article.
How the firms are regulated
We think it’s important to understand how these firms are regulated, especially if you’re thinking of transferring a lot of money. It’s not just about the cheapest deal, in our view. International money transfer firms aren’t regulated in the same way that banks and building societies are, for example.
Some money transfer firms are authorised by the FCA and some are FCA registered. Firms that are authorised by the FCA should keep your money separate from its own company funds, so you should get it back if the firm goes bust. However, if they were to go bust, your money won’t be protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) up to £85,000, in the same way that bank savings are.
A firm that is FCA registered needs to show it’s based in the UK and that none of its managers have been convicted of financial crimes. Firms don’t have to keep your money separate (although they may choose to do so).
So, if you’re transferring money, it’s better to pay by debit card rather than bank transfer. If you pay by debit card you may be able to do a chargeback (essentially, reverse the transaction) in the case of fraud. You can’t do this if you’ve made a bank transfer (for example, by online or phone banking).
This is what we found (in alphabetical order):
Azimo is authorised by the FCA.
Your first two transfers are fee- free. Azimo says that the fees can vary based on where you are sending to and from, and the delivery method that you choose.
- £1,000 to EUR – €1,128.29 plus £0.99 fee
- £50,000 to EUR – €56,413 plus £0.99 fee
- £1,000 to the USA – $1,262.96 plus £11.99 fee
- £50,000 to the USA – $63,148 plus £11.99 fee
Azimo launched in 2012. You can transfer money in over 60 currencies and direct to bank transfers take one to three working days with a minimum transfer of £10 and a maximum transfer of £3,000.
SAVVY TIP: if you refer a friend using an invite code and they make an international transfer of £100 or more, they’ll get £10 off – and you’ll get £10 off your next transfer too. There’s no limit to the number of friends you can refer.
You can download the Azimo app via the App Store and Google Play. Their customer support team is available Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm on the phone or via web chat (you have to be logged into your account to contact them via web chat).
Trustpilot: 9 out of 10
Covercy is authorised by the FCA.
To send money to Europe or to the USA via bank transfer is £5.
- £1,000 to EUR – N/A
- £50,000 to EUR – €56,287.58 including £5 fee
- £1,000 to the USA – N/A
- £50,000 to the USA – $62,674.57 including £5 fee
Covercy launched in 2015 and is mainly aimed at businesses. It’s moving toward real estate investments, but you can use it as a consumer, though the minimum amount you can transfer to Europe and the USA, for example, is €3,400 and $4,000 respectively. You can transfer money to 28 currencies.
You can schedule future payments and there is no limit to the amount you can transfer, though you may be asked to produce additional information for large transactions. Transfers are usually within 24 hours and take up to three business days.
Covercy doesn’t have an app. You can contact their support team via email or web chat on Sunday to Thursday 9.30am to 5.30pm Israel Standard Time and on Fridays 9am to 1pm Israel Standard Time.
Trustpilot: 9.1 out of 10
Currencies Direct is authorised by the FCA.
There are no charges for 90% of their transactions and the following have no fees:
- £1,000 to EUR – €1,118.70
- £50,000 to EUR – €56,478.37
- £1,000 to the USA – $1,224.93
- £50,000 to the USA – $62,861.80
Established in 1996, you can transfer money in more than 60 currencies. Minimum transfer is £100 and there is no maximum. Transfers usually take between one and two days.
Their online service is intended for transfers under £25,000. For anything over this amount, one of their currency experts will be able to help you with your transfer.
You can download their app via the App Store or Google Play. You can contact them between 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday. You can also contact them between 9am to 2pm on Saturday for enquiries only.
SAVVY TIP: If you refer a friend, you will get a £50 Amazon voucher when they transfer money.
It’s worth noting that you have to create an account (they ask you for your address, date of birth, telephone number and to upload your passport or other documents) before you can even look at transfer rates. The other money transfer services we looked at allow you to check transfer rates without opening an account first.
Trustpilot: 9.5 out of 10
CurrencyFair is not authorised by the FCA. It is regulated (fully authorised) by the Central Bank of Ireland under the European Communities (Payments Services) Regulations 2018. This regulation governs foreign exchange and money remittance.
On average you pay 0.4% of the amount exchanged plus €3 transfer fee.
- £1,000 to EUR – €1,126.20 including €3 fee
- £50,000 to EUR – €56,457 including €3 fee
- £1,000 to the USA – $1,254.30 including $4 fee
- £50,000 to the USA – $62,909.02 including $4 fee
CurrencyFair launched in 2009 and you can transfer money in 18 currencies. The minimum amount you can transfer is £5 and the maximum amount is £10,000,000.00. You can create daily, weekly or custom alerts for exchange rates. It takes a few working days to reach your beneficiary, depending on the currency.
SAVVY TIP: if you refer a friend using a unique code and they open an account and make a transfer of at least €2,000, both you and you friend will receive €30 cash paid into your CurrencyFair accounts.
You can download their app via the App Store or Google Play. You can contact them online.
Trustpilot: 9.4 out of 10
FairFX is authorised by the FCA.
Free transfers from £100.
- £1,000 to EUR – €1,111.40
- £50,000 to EUR – €56,200
- £1,000 to the USA – $1,237.40
- £50,000 to the USA – $62,575
FairFx launched in 2007. You can transfer money in 11 currencies; the minimum amount you can transfer is £100 and the maximum is £50,000. Transfers take between one and four days. You can buy currency and hold it securely in your FairFX Account for future payments. You can also set up regular monthly payments and register for their rate watch service.
You can download the FairFx app via the App Store or Google Play. You can contact them via email or on the phone from Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5.30pm.
Trustpilot: 9.3 out of 10
TransferGo is authorised by the FCA.
TransferGo charges a fixed fee of £0.99 and between 0% and 2.2% commission on the foreign exchange.
- £1,000 to EUR – €1,133.71
- £50,000 to EUR – €56,429.38 including £0.99 fee
- £1,000 to the USA – $1,263.21
- £50,000 to the USA – $62,843.26 including £0.99 fee
Founded in 2012, TransferGo is aimed at migrant workers who want to send money back to their families without paying excessive bank fees. You can transfer money in 47 countries. They say there is no daily limit that you transfer per day, though there maybe a daily limit applied by your bank. The minimum amount you can transfer is £1.40. Transfers usually go through the next business day but they don’t process transfers on weekends or bank holidays.
SAVVY TIP: If you refer a friend with a unique code and they transfer £50 or more, you’ll both get £10.
You can contact them via email or phone Monday to Friday, 7am to 4pm.
Trustpilot: 9.6 out of 10
Transferwise is authorised by the FCA.
To send money to Europe is 0.35% of the amount that’s converted plus £0.80.
- £1,000 to EUR – €1,130.34 including £3.66 fee
- £50,000 to EUR – €56,531.99 including £169.69 fee
- £1,000 to the USA – $1,258.23 including £3.97 fee
- £50,000 to the USA – $62,950.24 including £170 fee
Launched in January 2011, you can transfer money in over 40 currencies. The minimum amount you can transfer is £1 and the maximum is £1,000,000. Transfers usually take up to two working days.
You can download the app via the App Store or Google Play and contact their customer support team via email, on the phone or web chat. They are available on the phone Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm.
Trustpilot: 9.2 out of 10
Western Union is authorised by the FCA through a passported licence, which means they are authorised elsewhere in the EU, in this case, in Austria. Passporting is a mechanism that means authorised companies based in the EU can operate in the UK.
Fees depend on the amount you want to transfer, the countries it is being transferred to and from and the pay-in and pay-out methods. Fees at a branch are generally higher than sending online.
- £1,000 to EUR – €1,1125.26
- £50,000 to EUR – €56,262.77
- £1,000 to the USA – $1,252
- £50,000 to the USA – $62,600.16
Western Union is the largest money transfer network in the world. They began over 145 years ago and you can transfer money in 130 currencies, in cash at a branch or through an ATM, or online. Money is often available within minutes after being sent, or up to two working days. The minimum amount you can send is £1 and the maximum amount is £50,000.
You can download the app via the App Store or Google Play. You can contact them in a branch, on the phone 24/7, via email or online form.
Trustpilot: 7.8 out of 10
XE is authorised by the FCA.
No fees, however they say the bank receiving your funds, or intermediary bank, may deduct fees when crediting the payment.
- £1,000 to EUR – €1,118.73
- £50,000 to EUR – €56,237
- £1,000 to the USA – $1,245.93
- £50,000 to the USA – $62,631.50
XE launched in 1993. You can transfer money in 60 currencies online. XE has no minimum transfer limit. The maximum amount is £350,000, or you can contact them to transfer a larger amount. Transfers take one to four working days.
XE has a currency converter app, which you can download via the App Store or Google Play. You can contact XE via phone email.
Trustpilot: 9.4 out of 10
You can find and compare money transfer services via the website Monito.
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