Whether you want to send funds across the pond to America or over the channel to Europe, it pays to choose the best money transfer service you can.

This means comparing your options and going with the money transfer company that lets you transfer how and where you want for the lowest cost and the least hassle.

Depending on the amount you want to transfer and where you want to send it, you can often quickly exclude providers that don't offer the service or currency you need. However, with so many services offering international money transfers it can be difficult choosing the best one. Here's how to get the best deal whenever you transfer money abroad:

Sometimes it's hard to decide which service is best for you as so many companies now offer international money transfers. This is why it's important you know how much you want to transfer and where you want to send, this way you can exclude services that you don't want, leaving you with only the services that are suitable for you.

How to make a cheap international money transfer

All money transfers are priced based on a combination of how much you want to transfer and how much the provider's upfront charges add to the total. This means the overall cost will largely depend on two charges that are applicable to every money transfer, fees and exchange rates:


These are the clearest costs associated with a global money transfer and will be stated explicitly by the provider. They include any commission payable on the amount you send and the transfer fees that you're liable for.

When the money arrives at its destination some providers charge a receiving fee which isn't always stated clearly! So make sure you check if any charges will incur when the money is received into the other account.

Exchange rates

Exchange rates determine how many Dollars, Euros or Chinese Yen you will get for the amount you want to transfer and can be something of a hidden cost because they are more difficult to calculate.

Money transfer services often don't state the exact exchange rate they offer; instead they tend to declare the cost of a money transfer as an overall package, inclusive of fees and exchange rates.

The easiest way to find the best money transfer abroad is to compare the total cost, i.e. how much your transfer will cost once all the fees, charges and exchange rates have been taken into account.

How to get the best exchange rate and fees

Many online money transfer providers will offer their better deals (and better rates) if you want to transfer a large sum, e.g. £5,000 or more. You should compare providers to see which offers the lowest threshold for its premium rates, and if your transfer is eligible.

You can use our money transfer comparison to find the cheapest money transfer service.

How long does an international bank transfer take?

This will depend on the provider you choose, the country you want to make the transfer to and the time and date you make the transfer.

Some providers offer the option of next day transfers for an extra charge, which can be vital if your schedule's tight. Otherwise, many international wire transfers take between 3 to 5 working days, although they can take up to 2 weeks.

Check with providers and find out how long their international bank transfers take. If you can, compare their estimates by country or by region against other providers, and see if they fit into your timescale.

How it works

You'll need to compare your options for making a money transfer abroad based on the timescale you're working to, as well as how you can make transfers (whether by phone, via an agent or online), and the overall cost of the transfer.

Once you have found the cheapest way to transfer money overseas, you should also check that your intended recipient will be able to easily access the money once it has arrived.

The amount you pay will be the amount you want to transfer plus the provider's fee for putting it through, usually taken in £pounds sterling.

Your transfer gets converted to the correct currency then forwarded to the location or account, ready to be withdrawn pending any receiving fees charged at the other end.

Smaller amounts

If you need to make smaller payments, consider purpose-built products such as prepaid currency cards. The cards allow you to load funds in advance at competitive exchange rates.

They can then be used like a debit card to pay for products and services online or when abroad, without further transaction or exchange fees. Read this guide to find out more about how they work.