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What is a money transfer?

A money transfer, or currency transfer, is what you use to send money abroad. You'll usually do an international money transfer from your UK debit card, credit card or bank account, to a bank account in another country.

Depending on which currency transfers company or mobile app you use, the money could be transferred almost instantly. With some international money transfer companies it could take up to five days.

Sometimes an international money transfer can be collected as cash in person by whoever you're sending it to, rather than deposited into a bank account. That's usually what happens if you use a global money transfer service like Moneygram or Western Union to transfer money abroad.

How to do a money transfer

When you're planning a currency transfer, the first thing to do is compare exchange deals. You can do your international money transfer and currency exchange comparison using the table above.

When you've decided which company offers the best money transfer service for you, you'll need to arrange your currency transfers. Some international money transfer transactions can be done online using a mobile app like TransferWise or PayPal. For other currency transfers services, you might need to visit your local bank branch, or visit a Western Union or Moneygram branch.

Here are some other things to think about before you do a money transfer.

How to get the best currency transfers deal

Use our international money transfer and currency exchange comparison table. It'll help you to find the best money transfer companies so you can send money abroad from the UK to another country.

Before you begin an international money transfer, you should compare the fees and rates from a few different currency transfers companies and apps. That way you'll find the best money transfer deal.

The cost of sending money abroad is based on several factors such as:

  • How much money you want to transfer abroad

  • The current exchange rate

  • Additional money transfer fees

Money transfer fees can vary depending on which company or app you're using, and which country you're sending money to.

The fees and rates can also vary a lot between different money transfer companies. That's why it's so important to compare money exchange deals.

Are there any restrictions?

The name registered to your bank account will need to match the name on your money transfer account, otherwise your transfer could get rejected.

Most transfers can be completed online, but some travel money companies will need you to complete your transfer by speaking over the phone with one of their account managers. You are only likely to need to do this for large transfers, though.

How else can I send money abroad?

There are lots of ways to send money abroad. If you're looking for the best and cheapest way to send money abroad, it'll depend on a few factors. These include how quickly you need to send the money, and how much you need to transfer. The deals you'll be offered will vary depending on these factors.

International bank transfer: This is often called a wire transfer. It's where you send money abroad to another bank account using an international bank account number (IBAN) and/or SWIFT code. The fees and charges vary from bank to bank. Some banks let you send money internationally online or via their app but some need you to go into a branch. This comparison doesn't cover wire transfers. Talk directly to your current account provider if you want to do an international bank transfer.

Money transfer apps: Using an app you can do an online currency transfer. It's the easiest way to do a currency transfer. You can download an app like PayPal, OFX, TransferWise or Venmo on iOS or Android. Then you just connect it to a source of money, like a bank account. You can then send money abroad at the click of a button.

Money transfer agents. This is the original way of sending money abroad. To do this, you just visit a Western Union or Moneygram agent and send money abroad to another agent elsewhere in the world. The recipient can then go and collect the money. This can be quick - sometimes they can collect it within seconds of sending the money.

How much money can you send?

The lowest amount you can send will vary depending on the transfer company you choose to use, with some setting a lower limit of as much as £1,000.

You will usually find that there is not a stated upper limit, but most money transfer companies will ask you to speak to one of their consultants to authorise any transfers over a certain amount, for example £15,000.

From a regulatory perspective, the UK government has no official limit on the amount of money you can send overseas. However, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and HMRC will likely monitor suspiciously large transactions for any illegal activity.

You may find the amount you are transferring becomes an issue if either of these bodies suspect your transfers are part of either a tax evasion or money laundering scheme.

Money transfer fees

When you compare international money transfer deals, you'll need to look carefully at the fees, commission and exchange rates.

As mentioned before, the fees and rates will vary depending on how much money you're sending and which country you're sending it to. The fees can sometimes be charged to both the sender and receiver.

Some currency transfers companies will advertise fee-free money transfers. But you should look closely at the exchange rate. You'll find that different money transfer companies offer different exchange rates. That's usually because many money transfer companies mark up the exchange rate in place instead of charging separate fees.

When you compare money transfer companies think about how much foreign currency you're actually getting after fees and charges.

Updated 14 September 2021
Transfer company Fees
Western Union Western Union charges a fee to transfer money abroad. This varies depending on which country you're sending the money abroad 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 at a counter. Western Union also adds a charge on to the exchange rate.
MoneygramMoneygram'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 at a counter. Moneygram may also add a charge to the exchange rate, which can vary depending on whether you send the money online or at a physical agent.
XE money transfer 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 they add a charge on to the current mid-market exchange rate. That means they get a small percentage of the total amount transferred.
TransferWise TransferWise charges a fee that varies from country to country and depends on how much you're sending. You get a true mid-market exchange rate, which means it's the same internal exchange rate that banks use.
PayPalPayPal 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, though it's cheapest to use a bank account. The sender can decide whether to pay the fees up front, or pass them on for the receiver. PayPal also adds a charge to the exchange rate.

International money transfer FAQs

Some transfer companies let you do this, also known as a forward contract transfer. Find out more here.

They deduct their costs from the interbank rate (the rate banks use to exchange currencies with one another) to give you a personalised rate.

Most take three to five working days, although they can take up to two weeks. Check with the transfer company before you send your money.

This depends on the transfer company, so compare the companies above to find one that lets you send money to your chosen destination.

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

Yes, most banks offer a transfer service, but it is usually more expensive than using the companies in this comparison. Find out more here.

Yes, your money is kept separate to a transfer company's operational money, meaning you have a better chance of getting your money back if they go bust.

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

About our international money transfers comparison

Our comparison tables include providers we have commercial arrangements with. The number of listings in our tables can vary depending on the terms of those arrangements, as well as other market developments. They are all from lenders regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Here is more information about How our website works.

We have commercial agreements with some of the companies in this comparison and get paid commission if we help you take out one of their products or services. Find out more here.

You do not pay any extra and the deal you get is not affected.

Last updated: 3 August, 2021

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