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Our best business money transfers

Business money transfers offer a quick and convenient way to send and receive money

Here’s everything you need to know about both domestic and international money transfers for business.
Last updated
November 29th, 2023

What is a money transfer?

A business money transfer is the process of sending money, either to another company account or to a third party such as a supplier. 

Domestic transfers to UK accounts can usually be done simply via standard business banking. You can often make one-off transfers, schedule future-dated payments, and manage direct debits and standing orders online or via your banking app.

Businesses that trade internationally may also need to pay or be paid in foreign currency such as dollars or euros. This can be done via your business bank, but – as for consumers – international business money transfers are usually cheaper with a specialist money transfer company that can also help you mitigate the risks involved in foreign currency exchange.

Which type of money transfer is right for my business?

Here are some types of money transfers to help you decide what's right for your business:

Domestic money transfers

You can generally organise a business bank transfer within the UK via your online banking service or app. However, there may be limits on the amount you can transfer online. 

At Barclays, for example, the limit is £250,000 per transaction for transfers between your own accounts. And for third-party payments and standing orders, the limit is £50,000. 

Depending on how much and how quickly you need your transfer to go through, there are three main ways to do domestic bank transfers:

  • The Faster Payment Service – with this service, the transfer is often instant and should take no more than two hours. You may have to pay a transaction fee, which will often be higher than the charge for a slower service

  • The BACS payment system – this service takes three days and is often used for direct debits and salary payments. It’s usually a cheaper option. NatWest, for example, charges 18p per transaction for automated BACS payments and 35p for other automated payments

  • The CHAPS system – this same-day electronic transfer system is designed for high-value business-to-business transactions within the UK. The best choice for large transfers, it generally costs around £25 per transaction

Both the Faster Payment Service and BACS are due to be replaced with the New Payment Architecture (NPA) system at some point. 

International money transfers

You can organise international business money transfers via your bank, but it’s often more cost effective to use a specialist service.

The main options are:

  • The SWIFT payment system – your bank can organise credit transfers within the single European payment area (SEPA) for amounts of up to €1bn. SEPA transfers are not cheap but should arrive on the same day if you send the money by 2pm 

  • Direct debits – for regular payments to European companies, your bank can also set up direct debits, which mean paying a fee as well as a foreign currency conversion charge but may allow you to negotiate better payment terms with suppliers

  • Foreign currency business bank accounts – these allow you to send and receive money transfers from other countries, without the need for foreign currency exchange. A Revolut Business account, for example, enables you to send money in more than 25 different currencies

  • International bank transfers – these can be used to make payments to most countries in the world. The cost and timeframe involved will depend on your bank’s charges, exchange rate, and processing terms 

  • International money transfers – a more streamlined and generally more cost-effective alternative to international bank transfers, these are offered by specialist money transfer companies that tend to offer more competitive exchange rates, as well as ways to protect your business should exchange rates change. You can, for example, fix your exchange rate for a set period to avoid a sudden spike in costs.

How to compare business money transfer providers

Here are some things to consider when comparing money transfer providers?

Current exchange rates

The exchange rate you are offered will often depend on the amount you want to transfer as well as the current market conditions. Online money transfer companies generally offer more competitive rates because they have to beat the banks to attract business. These companies also offer specialist services, such as using forward contracts to provide you with greater certainty.

Transfer speed

International money transfers can take days or even weeks to arrive, depending on where you’re sending the money and which type of service you use. Many banks and online transfer companies offer priority services with which you pay more for a quicker turnaround. With business transactions, it’s particularly important to check how long a transfer will take so you can manage the recipient’s expectations.

Regulation and compliance

In a bid to combat money laundering, the EU has introduced business transfer rules requiring certain information to be submitted about both the recipient and the sender. To transfer funds within the EU, you will therefore need to provide details such as your date and place of birth. If you want to make a transfer of more than €1,000, or you’re funding the transfer with cash, you’ll also need to provide ID, such as your passport or driving licence.

Transfer limits

Some banks charge per transaction, so consolidating your business transfers into larger single payments where possible can be one way to cut costs. However, there are also likely to be transfer limits, which can vary widely from one provider to another. SumUp, for example, has a limit of £15,000 per transaction, £25,000 per day, and £75,000 per month. It’s therefore important to check a provider will allow the transfers you need to make – while not forgetting to compare exchange rates and charges.

How to save costs when sending money

Fluctuating exchange rates mean that paying and/or being paid in a foreign currency adds an extra element of risk to running a business. If, for example, the pound-to-euro exchange rate moves from £1 = €1.14 to £1 = €1, the cost to a UK business of paying a €10,000 bill will rise from around £8,750 to £10,000 – a difference of £1,250. 

Specialist money transfer companies can help you to protect your business from the risk of exchange rates moving against you using forward contracts, which allow you to set the exchange rate for a planned transfer or transfers at the current rate – sometimes for up to two years. The downside, however, is that you cannot benefit should the rate move in your favour. 

Some companies therefore prefer to use limit orders that set a limit at which the funds are exchanged, for example if the exchange rate falls from £1 = €1.14 to £1 = €1.10, meaning they can take advantage of favourable movements while mitigating their risk should rates go the other way.

Whether you need to do domestic or international transfers, it’s also important to budget for underlying costs such as the fees and charges involved.

Understanding the best way to transfer money can be essential in ensuring that your business makes payments on time. And by using specialist transfer companies you can also protect your business against fluctuating exchange rates.

FAQs

Are there any tax considerations when transferring money for my business?

If the two companies are not connected, there will be a non-trading profit tax charge on the transfer recipient. See HMRC's Corporate Finance manual for more details.

What is the fastest way to transfer money for urgent business needs?

The Faster Payment Service provided by your bank is the fastest way to transfer money within the UK for urgent business needs. For international transfers, a specialist money transfer company or foreign currency bank account will often offer the quickest service.

How do I stay compliant with international regulations while transferring money?

To comply with international regulations when transferring money, both senders and recipients will generally need to provide documents confirming details such as payment purpose, address, occupation and business, nationality and place of residence, documents such as contracts, invoices, transportation documents, identification documents, and accounting materials.

Some countries also have their own rules when it comes to funding limits and other elements of the international money transfer process.

How secure is an overseas business transfer?

Transfers via the SWIFT network are generally safe and secure, provided you know the recipient. And if you use a legitimate transfer service, anti-money laundering regulations mean each person involved should be required to prove their identity so the money can be traced going through the system. 

Choosing a money transfer provider that is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority also provides an extra layer of security due to the safeguarding rules they have to follow.

Other sensible steps include ensuring that you know your customer/client (KYC) by using thorough checks and processes to verify you are trading with a real person or business.

About the author

Jessica Bown
Jessica Bown is an award-winning freelance journalist and editor who has been writing about personal finance for almost 20 years.

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