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Compare international money transfers

Money transfer companies offer one-off transactions or regular payments

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CorpayWiseRevolutCurrencies DirectXEFairFXCurrency SolutionsTorFXMoneycorpOFXCorpayWiseRevolutCurrencies DirectXEFairFXCurrency SolutionsTorFXMoneycorpOFX
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Last updated
December 21st, 2023

What is a money transfer?

An international money transfer involves sending money from a bank account in one country to one in another via a currency transfer service. Depending on the company offering the service you can do this over the phone, online, through an app or even on the high street. 

Your money will be converted from one currency to another before the transfer takes place.

Send money from a bank account in one country to one in another.”

How does a money transfer work?

Money transfer companies can help you to send money abroad quickly and easily. However, you’ll need to have some things in place before the transfer can occur. 

For example, you need to have the funds available in your bank account and the exact account details of where you need to send the money. You also need to ensure that the names registered on the bank accounts are identical to the names on the money transfer order, as even small differences could result in the transfer being rejected. 

Finally, you’ll need to verify your ID with the money transfer company, and for larger transfers, you might need to authorise the transaction verbally too. This means speaking to one of their account managers over the phone. 

How long does it take to transfer? 

The duration of the transfer depends on the money transfer company and where you are sending the money, but it could be the same day, the next day, or take between one and three business days. You might need to pay more for a same day transfer, so always check with your chosen provider.

How to choose the best money transfer company

Getting the best international money transfer deal is all about comparing fees and exchange rates, as these can vary considerably between money transfer brokers and apps. Costs also depend on where in the world you're sending money.

The amount of money you want to transfer

First of all, you need to decide how much money you need to transfer and when you’ll need to transfer it.

The exchange rate

The exchange rate will impact how much you need to transfer, so always look for the best money transfer rates.

Extra transfer fees

Even cheap money transfers come with fees of some kind, so remember to read all the terms and conditions carefully to work out how much it will cost.

Today’s best exchange rates

See how much foreign currency you can buy per pound sterling with the latest exchange rates below. These rates are automatically updated every 10 minutes. *Rates may be different for money transfers.
CurrencyExchange rate
Euros1.17
US Dollars1.26
Australian Dollars1.89
Turkish Lira39.00
UAE Dirham4.58

Pros and cons

Pros

Flexible and convenient with even same-day transfers available
Usually no upper limit on how much you can send
Option to lock in the current exchange rate for future transfers

Cons

Not always suitable for small transfers, as the minimum can be up to £1,000
You’ll generally have to pay transfer fees
Requires account registration

Our best one-off transfers: 'I need to pay for my wedding abroad'

Our editors picked this money transfer company for a single payment by weighing up factors such as fees, customer service, and the speed of transfer.

Editor’s pick
Our best pick for single payments

Wise is great for single payments as it offers fast and secure money transfers, and on average it is five times cheaper than other UK banks. Wise is also upfront about any fees, so you can quickly work out how much the transfer will cost.

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Card
Wise Money Transfer
Transfer fees
Transfer funds
Online & in app
Transfer options
Single payments only
Show Details
Eligibility
Minimum Age
18 years
Open to Non-UK Residents
NO
Editor’s pick
Our best pick for single payments
Card
Wise Money Transfer
Transfer fees
Transfer funds
Online & in app
Transfer options
Single payments only
Show Details
Eligibility
Minimum Age
18 years
Open to Non-UK Residents
NO

Wise is great for single payments as it offers fast and secure money transfers, and on average it is five times cheaper than other UK banks. Wise is also upfront about any fees, so you can quickly work out how much the transfer will cost.

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savings expert

Our best regular transfers: 'I send money to a relative every month'

Our editors picked this money transfer company for regular payments by weighing up factors such as fees, customer service and the speed of transfer.

Editor’s pick
Our best pick for regular payments

This award-winning money transfer service works well for regular payments as you get a personal account manager who is always on hand to help online or by phone. You’ll also benefit from no fees and great exchange rates.

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savings expert
Card
TorFX Currency Transfer
Transfer fees
Transfer funds
Online, by phone & in app
Transfer options
Single & regular payments
Show Details
Eligibility
Minimum Age
18 years
Open to Non-UK Residents
NO
Editor’s pick
Our best pick for regular payments
Card
TorFX Currency Transfer
Transfer fees
Transfer funds
Online, by phone & in app
Transfer options
Single & regular payments
Show Details
Eligibility
Minimum Age
18 years
Open to Non-UK Residents
NO

This award-winning money transfer service works well for regular payments as you get a personal account manager who is always on hand to help online or by phone. You’ll also benefit from no fees and great exchange rates.

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savings expert

How much does a money transfer cost?

You need to take a close look at the fees, the commission, and the exchange rates available when comparing international money transfer deals. These will often differ depending on how much money you're sending and where you're sending it, while fees can sometimes be charged to both send and receive.

Some currency transfer companies advertise fee-free money transfers. In this case, look closely at the exchange rate: many money transfer companies mark up the exchange rate instead of publishing separate fees.

When you set up a money transfer for a specific amount, you also need to think about how much foreign currency you’ll get after fees and charges.

  • Western Union charges a fee to transfer money abroad. This varies depending on which country you're sending the money to, the currency you want, how you're paying for the transfer (bank account, debit card or credit card), and whether you're sending the money online or in person at a counter. Western Union also adds a charge on to the exchange rate you receive.

  • MoneyGram’s transfer fees vary depending on which country you're sending the money to, the currency you want, how you're paying for the transfer (bank account, debit card or credit card), and whether you're sending the money online or not. MoneyGram may also add a charge to the exchange rate, which can vary depending on whether you send the money online or via a physical agent.

  • XE doesn't charge a fee for an international money transfer, whether you're sending or receiving. But sending money through XE isn't free, as it adds a charge on to the current mid-market exchange rate. That means XE receives a small percentage of the total amount transferred.

  • Wise charges a fee that varies depending on how much you're sending and which country it is being sent to or from. However, you get a true mid-market exchange rate, which means it's the same internal exchange rate that banks use.

  • PayPal charges a wide range of fees for sending money abroad. The fees vary depending on the sender and the recipient's country and the currency being transferred. It can also be affected by how you're paying for the transaction; the cheapest option is from a bank account. The sender can decide whether to pay the fees up front or pass them on to the receiver, but either way PayPal also adds a charge to the exchange rate.

Fees can sometimes be charged to send and receive.”

Are money transfers safe?

If you use a money transfer company and it goes bust, then unfortunately there is no guarantee that you will get your money back. In other words, you don’t get the same protection as you do with UK banks. However, if a company is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority it should follow certain safeguarding rules. You can find out if a company is FCA regulated here.

Remember, if someone contacts you asking for money, always do your due diligence to ensure that the person is who they say they are and that it is not a scam.

Alternative ways to transfer money

International bank transfer

Also known as a wire transfer, this method involves a direct transfer of funds to an overseas bank account. You’ll need to know the account’s IBAN (international bank account number) and/or SWIFT code. Each bank levies its own set of fees and charges, and you may be forced to visit a branch to perform the transfer, although some let you send money via an app or their website. Contact your bank for advice should you wish to use this type of service – our comparison doesn’t cover international bank transfers.

Money transfer apps

Dedicated phone apps offer the latest method of sending currency abroad. As you don’t need to leave your armchair to transfer money, it’s probably the most convenient option for many people. To use the service, download the appropriate app onto your Android or Apple (iOS) mobile  – companies like OFX, PayPal and Wise (formerly TransferWise) all have their own software. Once installed, connect it to a funding source such as your bank account, and you’re ready to send money abroad with just a few taps.

Money transfer agents

Back in the day, agencies were the only way of sending money abroad. And it's a method that still works today.

To transfer money via an agency, you’ll need to visit a Western Union or MoneyGram branch in person. You meet face-to-face with the agent who arranges to transfer your money to another agent elsewhere in the world. The recipient can then visit their closest branch to collect the money. This approach can be quick: sometimes the money takes just seconds to arrive. However, it’s unlikely to offer the best money transfer rates.

Alternative ways to transfer money

International bank transfer

Also known as a wire transfer, this method involves a direct transfer of funds to an overseas bank account. You’ll need to know the account’s IBAN (international bank account number) and/or SWIFT code. Each bank levies its own set of fees and charges, and you may be forced to visit a branch to perform the transfer, although some let you send money via an app or their website. Contact your bank for advice should you wish to use this type of service – our comparison doesn’t cover international bank transfers.

Money transfer apps

Dedicated phone apps offer the latest method of sending currency abroad. As you don’t need to leave your armchair to transfer money, it’s probably the most convenient option for many people. To use the service, download the appropriate app onto your Android or Apple (iOS) mobile  – companies like OFX, PayPal and Wise (formerly TransferWise) all have their own software. Once installed, connect it to a funding source such as your bank account, and you’re ready to send money abroad with just a few taps.

Money transfer agents

Back in the day, agencies were the only way of sending money abroad. And it's a method that still works today.

To transfer money via an agency, you’ll need to visit a Western Union or MoneyGram branch in person. You meet face-to-face with the agent who arranges to transfer your money to another agent elsewhere in the world. The recipient can then visit their closest branch to collect the money. This approach can be quick: sometimes the money takes just seconds to arrive. However, it’s unlikely to offer the best money transfer rates.

FAQs

Can I agree an exchange rate now and send my money later?

Yes, some money transfer companies allow you to do this. The service is known as a forward contract transfer. Find out more here.

Why do transfer companies offer different exchange rates?

Transfer companies offer different exchange rates because they revise the exchange rate they offer – which is based on the interbank rate used by financial organisations – to cover their costs, often rather than charging a separate commission fee. This is why it's important to look at the total cost of a transfer, including fees, rather than simply comparing exchange rates.

How long does an international money transfer take?

It depends on which currency transfer company or mobile app you use. With some, the money is transferred almost instantly, while others take up to five days.

Can I transfer money abroad to any country?

Not always, it depends on the transfer company. Compare the companies above to find one that lets you send money to your chosen destination.

Can I transfer money abroad to an account in another name?

Some transfer companies only let you send money to an account in your own name. Check this before choosing your international money transfer service to avoid any delays.

Can I transfer money abroad through my bank?

Yes, you can transfer money abroad through your bank. Most banks offer a transfer service, but it is usually more expensive than using the companies in this comparison. Find out more here.

What's the cheapest way to transfer money internationally?

It's possible to send money overseas for free - but there are a lot of hoops to jump through. Some banks will let you transfer cash free - but only to another account from the same bank in a different country, or possibly to another account that's also in your name, or even for free to the EU if the transfer is made in euros. 

For a one-off transfer, compare rates and fees for the amount you're transferring then pick the service that costs least overall.

Are money transfers FCA regulated?

Yes, so as long as you choose an FCA-regulated company, your money should be kept separate to the transfer company's operational money, meaning you have a better chance of getting your money back if they go bust.

Can I send money worldwide?

It depends on the company you choose. Some money transfer companies offer a worldwide money transfer service from one account, so look out for this.

Explore our in-depth money transfer guides

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About the author

Lucinda O'Brien
Lucinda O'Brien has spent the past 10 years writing and editing content for regional and national titles. She applies her industry knowledge to ensure readers can make confident financial decisions.

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