You might be tempted to trust a bank or high street retailer to give you the best deal on international payments. In fact 10% of people think using their banks to transfer money overseas is cheaper than using a dedicated foreign exchange provider.
However, you could save even more money by following these tips and turning to online currency providers to seek out competitive exchange rates, with no hidden costs.
The runaway bride
So why get married overseas? The average cost of a wedding abroad is a modest £6,585 - whereas in the UK the average spend is over three times more, a staggering £20,000!
Aside from saving money, warmer climes are perhaps another reason why many are running abroad to get married, with Greece, Italy and the France the top three wedding destinations.
Knowing it's likely you'll get more for your money abroad than in the UK, and you'll likely get perfect weather, it comes as no surprise that overseas weddings are hardly far and few between. It also helps if you have a contact locally to help with arrangements, while using a professional planner could also help you save more money in the long run.
Get more for your money with zero transaction fees
If you're not careful, the venue, ceremony, flowers, dress, cake and entertainment costs could easily blow your budget! We all know that.
But so can the cost of transferring the money to pay for these necessities, and instead of saving money you can be losing out to poor exchange rates and hidden charges. Number 1, you've got to actually get it there; and number 2, you've got to change it into the local currency.
Making multiple smaller payments and paying transaction fees and poor exchange rates on each will add up, so make sure you work with a forex provider that offers highly competitive exchange rates with zero transaction fees.
Don't lose out to a poor exchange rate
Never go with the first rate you find, because how will you know if you've got a good deal? If you can afford to wait then look around and compare prices to currency exchange.
Specialist currency providers are able send out emails to notify their customers, or potential customers (YOU) when they have a great rate and when the markets turn in your favour. Keep an eye out and give yourself as much time as you can to find a worthwhile rate of exchange.
Use comparison sites to help you understand the best offers; they'll often break down the positive and negative aspects of particular money transfers abroad, but it's still worthwhile taking a look each morning and seeing if and when the market is improving.
Uncover hidden fees
Always check each provider's upper and lower limits; will they charge you for transferring below a certain amount? Does your money transfer fit? Knowing a provider's limits, you may be better off paying a lump sum instead of smaller, frequent payments where you'll incur a charge.
X,Y or Z?
Check with the service supplier and see if you can pay in another currency. For example, some beneficiaries will accept US Dollars, and if the rate is far more favourable than paying in X,Y or Z, it may be better to pay in a currency where you'll get more for your money. Don't assume, always ask and weigh up your options.
Talk to the experts
If transferring money abroad is new to you or if you need some assistance, do not hesitate to contact a currency provider directly and get some expert advice. Most reputable money transfer providers don't charge for their support, so make use of it. Look to see if a dealing service is advertised on their website, then request the help of a broker to feel confident that you've got the best deal and relieve yourself of the work.
Forward contracts - minimise your risk on spending
Forward contracts are an excellent way to avoid risk and get certainty for your exchange rates. In their simplest format; forward contracts are a great way of booking an exchange rate today for a future date. They are usually available up to a year in advance, or even longer in exceptional circumstances.
A few variations of the product are available, depending on specific needs, but all offer the following:
A means of locking an exchange rate in on the day in question, for a future 'delivery' date
A way to avoid adverse movements in the FX market - ensuring that you can accurately budget for an upcoming transaction
Can be used in conjunction with pro-active 'rate watch' and 'limit order' services
Take a prepaid card
If you know you're going to be making smaller payments abroad in person then avoid using a debit or credit card and take a prepaid card instead. The advantages of prepaid cards are not only are they easy to use, and convenient, but you'll be getting a better rate of exchange on something that works like a debit card. Reputable prepaid currency card providers offer cards that are Chip & PIN protected, providing additional protection compared to cash, so if the card is lost or stolen the potential loss is limited.
Currency cards can be used all over the world; at ATMs, online, anywhere you see the card issuer symbol for MasterCard® or VISA). Fix your rate by topping-up at a time that suits you. Some providers offer an accompanying mobile app, so you can top-up on the go when the rates are favourable and use it to pay for small purchases abroad.
Don't forget your Family and Friends
Most currency card providers also provide 'Family and Friends' cards, an easy way to share funds on your accounts with a family member or friend aged 13 or over. You still load and manage the cards by linking them to your existing account, which gives you complete control and flexibility in sharing funds. Move funds from your existing card in the same currency rather than through a top-up. You can also move funds back from your Family and Friends Card to your card in the same currency.
Standard cards last at least two years so if you have any remaining funds don't worry you can use them on the honeymoon!
A great example of saving money on your wedding abroad
When Neil's daughter started arranging her wedding, the bride & groom decided to have their big day in Sri Lanka. The idea of a destination wedding was very appealing and that combined with the fact that the groom has family in the country, made Sri Lanka an easy choice.
The wedding took place on August 10th, 2013, but Neil had to start planning payments in advance. The wedding venue is owned by an expat couple living in Hong Kong and the wedding planner was based locally in Sri Lanka, so Neil had to make payments to both countries in USD.
Neil decided to use his high street bank to make the initial payment to Sri Lanka as he was under time pressure, but for his next set of payments he took his time to do some research on more competitive options and decided to use a specialist online transfer service...
All the payments were made in USD and his first payment of $1,500 through his bank on July 11th was charged £10 transfer fee at an exchange rate of $1.446. The online transfer service offered a rate of $1.463 on the same day, so this one transaction alone cost the customer £21.84 extra by using his bank!
The total wedding plus flights and a week's accommodation for 6 came to a total of £13,000, which Neil found to be a massive saving compared to alternatives in the UK. They also wanted something a bit different, so Sri Lanka was an ideal solution.
Neil said "It was a stunning wedding in Siyambala House, Lake Koggola which is the most beautiful location overlooking a lake, next to the Indian Ocean. The payments were a bit tricky to organise, dealing with different people in different parts of the world and non-local currency, and the help I received in setting up international money transfers to Hong Kong and Sri Lanka gave me real peace of mind, and the rates and service were excellent."
Statistics provided by MarryAbroad