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Money Transfer Companies Compared

August 18, 2016 business / expats / retirees / students

How Much Can You Save Using CurrencyFair for Sending Money Abroad?

If you are trying to decide which is the best way to move your money abroad (or receive money from another country), this article Money Transfer Companies Compared is exactly what you need.

Below are all the different options for making international money transfers. We’ll help you with some common questions like:

  1. Which is better, WorldFirst, TransferGo or CurrencyFair?
  2. How do currency brokers like UK Forex compare to CurrencyFair?
  3. Are banks much more expensive than CurrencyFair?
  4. CurrencyFair vs Transferwise?
  5. CurrencyFair v Paypal

Money Transfer Companies Compared

So, let’s get into it (note, we’ll be adding more companies to this list over time so keep checking back) . . .

  1. AIB
  2. Azimo
  3. An Post
  4. Bank of Ireland
  5. Barclays
  6. Halifax
  7. HiFX
  8. HSBC
  9. Lloyds Bank
  10. MoneyCorp
  11. Nationwide
  12. Natwest
  13. PayPal
  14. Permanent TSB
  15. Post Office (UK)
  16. RBS (Royal Bank of Scotland)
  17. Skrill
  18. The Co-operative Bank
  19. Transferwise
  20. Travelex
  21. Western Union
  22. UK Forex (part of the Oz Forex group)
  23. Ulster Bank
  24. XE.com
  25. Neteller
  26. WorldFirst
  27. WorldRemit
  28. TransferGo

Save On International Money Transfers

For the purposes of providing a standard example, we are comparing each provider on the basis that, on today’s date (updated 21st May 2015), you are sending €10,000 to the UK for Eurozone providers or £10,000 to Euros in France for UK providers.

AIB

aib-logo

According to AIB, “going abroad, sending or receiving money internationally is less hassle with AIB.” Yes, that may be the first time you’ve ever seen the words “less hassle” written by a major bank.

Going beyond their headline, they say that “the cost of an International Payment is based on AIB’s charge and the charges of other banks involved in the transfer, such as Intermediary (Agent) banks and the Receiving bank.”. They even reserve the right to throw in some extra charges – “In addition to the international payment charge, account transaction fees will apply.” That doesn’t sound cheap nor hassle-free. In total it takes AIB over 250 words to explain their fees. After all that, they don’t even provide you with a definitive number or percentage for their fees.

We looked further into what the fees and charges are with AIB. If you were to use Allied Irish Bank for a €10,000 transfer, you’d instantly be £105.91 worse off than if you used CurrencyFair.

Azimo

azimo-logo

Azimo’s mission statement is one we heartily agree with – “We believe sending money abroad should be fast, easy and good value for everyone”.

Their pricing does support this goal, but while they’re cheaper than your average high-street bank in terms of fees and FX margins, sending £10,000 from the UK to Spain using Azimo would see you end up with around €90 less than if you’d used CurrencyFair. (as of 2.40pm, Nov 23rd 2015.)

An Post

An Post are keen to promote their “0% commission” throughout their website. We checked out their claims a few years ago in this blog post, and we weren’t that surprised what we found.

Taking a look at the An Post Currency Calculator, sending €10,000 to GBP with their PostFX Currency Card or cash, you would be £271 worse off than if you’d used CurrencyFair (as of 2pm, August 15, 2016)

Commission free or not, they’re clearly making profit somewhere on the deal (hint – it’s the exchange rate).

an-post-aug15-2pm

Bank of Ireland

boi-logo

Huh? It’s a little confusing . . . Bank of Ireland says on its website that it offers “Free online international payments”. Unfortunately, the special offer then comes with a warning message that reads much like the warning on a cigarette packet: ‘Warning: This product may be affected by changes in currency exchange rates.’ Well, yes, the product is affected by exchange rates (to the tune of 1.5% to 3% depending on volume) – that’s probably why it’s called currency exchange. And when it comes to currency exchange, you’d instantly be £98.87 worse off if you sent €10,000 to the UK with them instead of CurrencyFair on today’s date.

The Irish Independent summed it up nicely:

“Don’t be lured by promises of commission-free foreign exchange as this doesn’t always guarantee that you’ll get more bang for your buck. Be careful too to check the foreign exchange rate offered by your bank – as many of these rates have hefty margins built into them.”

Barclays

barclays-logo

Another big well-known bank and, again, more big fees and expensive exchange rates. Using Barclays on today’s date to send £10,000 into the Eurozone would cost you a whopping €426.40 over what you’d pay using CurrencyFair.

Barclays display their fixed transaction charges on their International Payments Services page. But that’s not all. On top of that is the additional foreign exchange fee which is where most of the charges lie. Barclays don’t make it as easy for you to find them.

barclays-charges

Halifax

Halifax don’t make it easy for you to find details of their exchange rate but at least they are up front with their charges: £9.50 to commence an online transfer and £19.50 to commence a transfer via telephone banking or the old-fashioned way, in a branch. The delivery times range from 4 to 12 days; are they delivering your money by boat?!

The old exchange rate fee is where the charges rake up. A £10,000 transfer to Euro on today’s date would be an extra €310.69 than if you’d stuck with CurrencyFair. No wonder Halifax do their best to hide them.

HiFX

hifx-logo

HiFX is another company that is taking on the big banks and we applaud them for it. They provide better exchange rates than many companies such as the banks and Transferwise’s Express Exchange. Of course, they still cost more than CurrencyFair but then they don’t have our unique peer-to-peer money matching system that allows many CurrencyFair customers to beat the international interbank rate. We like the fact that other companies like HiFX are joining us as we take on the big slow expensive banks.

hifx-tcs

They do, however, state that rates shown on their homepage are “indicative only”, and unavailable for private individuals and small/medium business. In other words, they price discriminate, something that CurrencyFair doesn’t do.

HSBC

hsbc-logo

HSBC are one of the largest banks in the world with a market capitalisation of over £120 billion. But they don’t always seem to use this scale for consumer good. If you used HSBC on the date of this post to send £10,000 to a country in the Euro zone it would cost you €285.48 more than if you had used CurrencyFair. That’s an awful lot of money wasted for a simple online transaction. It doesn’t really seem fair, does it?

HSBC are open and honest about their fixed international money transfer fees. But that is only a small part of the overall cost and is used to hook you in. Next time you go to transfer with them, find out the real HSBC exchange rate you are receiving and compare that to the actual exchange rate at that time. Prepare for a shock and make sure that you are sitting down.

Lloyds Bank

lloyds-logo

Hmmm . . . the Lloyds Bank website claims that you will save a lot of money with them for international money transfers. They even have a fancy calculator. Unfortunately, here’s the disclaimer that comes with their calculator:

“The International Money Transfer Calculator is provided for general information purposes and is not intended to provide commercial, financial, investment, accounting, tax or legal advice. All information, content and rates displayed are indicative only and do not represent, nor are intended to represent, the exchange rate or price at which you may be able to purchase or sell currency when using the International Money Transfer Service. As such, you should not use or rely upon the [Lloyds Bank] International Money Transfer Calculator as the basis for any transaction or treat any rates displayed as definitive.”

Instead, perhaps you should take a quick look at our pricing comparison table here because using Lloyds for an example transfer on today’s date of £10,000 to France would cost you an extra €114.11.

MoneyCorp

moneycorp-logo

How do you feel when you exchange money at the airport? Probably a little tense because you know it’s not the cheapest way to exchange money. MoneyCorp is a proud partner of Heathrow Airport, Gatwick, London Stansted, and various other airports, and in this market they’re competitive, but we’re not concerned with holiday cash purchases in physical locations here, we’re just wondering why they would need to be €194.42 more expensive than CurrencyFair when transferring £10,000 to Euros online on today’s date?

Should their international money transfers not be a lot cheaper when done completely online?

Nationwide

nationwide-logo

Nationwide have some helpful information on their website regarding the costs associated with sending money abroad.

“There are typically two types of cost when transferring money abroad – banking fees and exchange rates differences. Fees: Usually you are charged a fee for international payments and these will differ according to the service used and the bank or building society that is providing the service. There may also be fees charged by any agent banks involved in the payment transmission before a payment reaches its final destination account. Exchange rates: If you choose to send a Sterling payment overseas, you usually also need to take into account exchange rates for the currency conversion between the two countries as this can affect what is received by the recipient.”

We commend their honesty for at least explaining the different charges that their customers face. Unfortunately that doesn’t stop Nationwide for excessive charging for international money transfers. If you used Nationwide instead of CurrencyFair to send £10,000 to France (for example), you’d pay €250.93 more.

Natwest

natwest-logo

As of today’s date (21st May 2015), Natwest’s upfront fees for commencing an international money transfer start at £10 for some locations and quickly range up to £30. That’s not to mention their exchange rate fees.

This newspaper article about Natwest recommended the following:

“Always compare high street foreign currency rates with those of online providers if you have the time. Ignore “commission-free” deals and “buy-back” offers. These are often bogus as exchange rates will already include markups levied by suppliers.”

Sounds like good advice.

And, if you’re curious, exchanging an example amount of £10,000 to Euro with Natwest on today’s date would cost you a whopping €592.87 more than if you’d used CurrencyFair.

PayPal

paypal-logo

Paypal has been great for spreading online commerce but as a way to send money from one country to another it’s just plain bad. Unfortunately, some people still believe that Paypal is free for currency exchange. No, it’s not – it’s actually very expensive.

Below is a screenshot of PayPal’s fees for Cross Border Commercial Payments (9th Dec 2015).

paypal-transaction-fees

Permanent TSB

permanent-tsb

This newspaper article included Permanent TSB in review of bank-provided currency exchange:

“Don’t be lured by promises of commission-free foreign exchange as this doesn’t always guarantee that you’ll get more bang for your buck. Be careful too to check the foreign exchange rate offered by your bank — as many of these rates have hefty margins built into them.”

We agree. Check out our Currency Exchange Calculator.

The Post Office (UK)

post-office-logo

The humble Post Office has evolved from simply handling our letters and selling stamps, to providing mortgages, credit cards and even motor insurance. They also offer currency exchange, and once again we see this all-too-familiar claim rear its head:

competitive rates and 0% commission from the UK’s number one provider

Who needs commission when the rates are so bad?

As of 16:20, August 18th 2016, sending £10,000 through the Post Office to euro account would get you €11,386. Compared to our rates at the same time, you’re €165 out of pocket by not using CurrencyFair.

Pasted image at 2016_08_18 04_23 PM

How many stamps could you buy with that?

RBS (Royal Bank of Scotland)

rbs-logo

Ouch! Of all the international currency exchange companies we’re looking at in this list, RBS are the most expensive. Just exchanging an example amount of £10,000 into Euro would cost you an extraordinary €435 more than if you’d used CurrencyFair (Dec 9th 2015, 11.30am).

€435 more than CurrencyFair! What could you buy with €435? Definitely some new shoes. Perhaps a nice little weekend getaway somewhere nice? Lots and lots and lots of chocolate cake? You get the idea.

Skrill

skrill-logo

We like Skrill for their convenience and for joining us in our quest to bring a level of sanity to the money exchange industry. We also really like their name – we don’t understand it but it’s definitely very cool. Still, we’d prefer it if you didn’t have to pay so much for the convenience and a cool name. Using Skrill to send £10,000 to France would cost you a painful €422.74 more than if you’d used CurrencyFair. We’re not sure if a cool name is worth €422.74 – those highly-paid marketing gurus would probably tell us otherwise but we think you’d probably just prefer to keep your money.

The Co-operative Bank

coop-logo

Well, it’s not what you’d expect to hear from an FAQ page when you’re about to send money abroad:

“Please note, all foreign transactions are done at your own risk. We will do everything that we can to get the funds to the receiver with the information that you provide.”

Also, this wasn’t great:

Unfortunately we do not have the facility to display our exchange rates daily on the website.

Ok, well how much will it cost? To send an example £10,000 to France with the Co-operative Bank will cost you €240.44 more than if you use CurrencyFair.

Transferwise

transferwise-logo

We like those funky hipsters at Transferwise. Like us, they’re taking on the banks by bringing currency exchange online. If you need to exchange small amounts, they’re less expensive than a big bank and we applaud them for their efforts.

There are a few differences between CurrencyFair and Transferwise that you might want to know.

At CurrencyFair, you can set your own rate but our average exchange rate fee is a low 0.4% (with a €/£3 transfer fee). Our standard peer-to-peer exchange rate is 0.15%. Yes, you read that correctly, that’s only 0.15%. In contrast, Transferwise charge an exchange rate fee of between 0.5% and 2.5% (for Colombian pesos) which obviously means that Transferwise gets comparatively more expensive the more you transfer.

Transferwise’s transfer fees can be very high – their pricing structure varies depending on the amount being transferred, ranging from €2 for a transfer up to €400 to 0.5% as the transfer amounts get larger. So, if you transferred £10,000 to France with Transferwise, you’d have to pay an extra €10.67 than if you’d used CurrencyFair.

transferwise-currencyfair-feb2nd-1305pm

Not in a hurry? If you’re happy to wait for an even better exchange rate than the always excellent rate using CurrencyFair’s “Create an Auto-Transaction”, you can opt for CurrencyFair’s Exchange (previously our “marketplace”) to post your funds and wait to see who matches you at an amazing rate. We call it our peer-to-peer or money matching system. You can find out a little more on the difference between Auto-Transaction and the Exchange here. Unfortunately, unlike us, Transferwise doesn’t pass on any savings that come when there are more people using the system. Don’t get us wrong – that’s still better than a big bank, but our unique peer-to-peer system lets people power take over and improve the exchange rate even further. That’s why we encourage everyone to spread the word about CurrencyFair.

Finally, don’t forget that with CurrencyFair (because of our unique peer-to-peer system) you have the potential to beat the interbank rate (the rate that the big banks use amongst themselves). No other company can offer that.

Travelex

travelex-logo

Like MoneyCorp, Travelex is a big player in the airport currency exchange scene. We know that it is always expensive when you exchange money at the airport. That’s life – people need money at airports and we have no problem with Travelex charging extra when providing physical locations. We just wonder why they would need to be €132.35 more expensive than CurrencyFair when transferring, say, £10,000 to Euros online? Shouldn’t their international money transfers be a lot cheaper if done online?

Western Union

western-union-logo

Western Union are synonymous with remittance payments across the globe, but they also offer online bank transfers so it’s only fair to include them in our comparisons. According to their online price calculator, sending £5,000 to a Euro account would get you €6,889.50 (9th Dec 2015, 11:40am) – compared to €6874.50 with CurrencyFair, however this is based in the current interbank rate only – the text below the calculator explains why, at a glance, these rates do appear to be pretty good:

western-union-calculator

The rates displayed by our free currency converter are neither “buy” nor “sell” rates. They are the current interbank rates, which are the wholesale exchange rates between banks for transaction amounts over $5 million USD. They do not include spreads or handling fees that may be charged by any foreign exchange provider. Please note that these rates will vary from the rates available to our private and small business customers, due to transaction sizes and processing costs. These rates are therefore provided for indicative purposes only. Please log in to your Online FX account to see the rates we offer to customers.

UKForex (part of OzForex)

ukforex-logo

We like the fact that UKForex are taking it to the big banks and trying to be more reasonable when it comes to online international money transfers. Whilst they are still a lot more expensive than CurrencyFair, they are cheaper than the big banks and we applaud them for their efforts. Of course, there’s room for improvement. An example £10,000 international money transfer from the UK to France would cost €111.25 more than if you used CurrencyFair.

Ulster Bank

ulsterbank-logo

This newspaper article included Ulster Bank in review of bank-provided currency exchange:

“Don’t be lured by promises of commission-free foreign exchange as this doesn’t always guarantee that you’ll get more bang for your buck. Be careful too to check the foreign exchange rate offered by your bank — as many of these rates have hefty margins built into them.”

We agree. The trick is to look out for the exchange rate they give you, and compare it to the amazing exchange rate offered by CurrencyFair. Our exchange rate is so good because of our ‘people power’ (is it too late for us to copyright that phrase?) – our unique peer-to-peer money matching system provides you with well-deserved savings. Check out our Currency Exchange Calculator.

XE.com

xe-logo

XE was the brainchild of Steven Dengler and Beric Farmer, who in 1995 introduced the web’s dominant currency converter to the world. Since then, they’ve gone from strength to strength and are rightly proud to be

“…one of the last remaining independent first-wave Internet companies around”.

Once registered with their site, the numbers and rates you see are the real rates your transfer will realise – and we like that transparency. However, in terms of saving money, you’d be £69.93 better off using CurrencyFair when sending €10,000 to GBP (January 4th 2016, 12:00pm).

£7,287.57 (XE) v £7,357.50 (CurrencyFair)

xe-jan4

Neteller

neteller-logo

In fairness, Neteller offer some very innovative payment solutions, such as prepaid Mastercards and mobile payments, but for comparison we’ll be looking at their overseas bank to bank transfer option only.

While it’s free to deposit from your bank account in the UK (as it should be), they charge €7.50 (£5) to withdraw back out from your Neteller account. On top of this, there are the currency exchange fees, which adds a whopping 3.39% charge to the daily market interbank rate. (this charge gets lower if you become a VIP member, however).

At this rate, if you were to send £10,000 to a EUR account using Neteller’s bank transfer option today (11.09am, March 9th, 2016 – 1 GBP = 1.29743 EUR), you’d end up with €12,529.47. Using CurrencyFair would get you €12928, a rather significant difference of €398.53!

WorldFirst

world-first-logo

WorldFirst pride themselves on offering better exchange rates then the banks, with lightning fast transfer times. They’ve won the 2014 European Business Award for Customer Focus and the 2013 Customer Experience Award (Financial Services – Banking and Investment), so we do like that aspect!

However, how do they compare to our rates? As with most online providers (not us!), their calculator simply uses the current interbank rate, with their fees and charges mentioned below, yet no exact figure given. So, we checked MoneySuperMarket.com to see what they were offering.

At 11:38am, March 9th 2016, you’d receive €12,705.66 when sending £9,900 to a EUR account. With CurrencyFair, the amount received would be €12,798.69, which is €93.03 more.

worldfirst-fx

WorldRemit

Another company pushing innovative payment solutions is WorldRemit, who offer payments not only via bank deposit but also cash and mobile.

However, from a pure currency conversion angle, you’re still better off using us. As of March 15th 2016, at noon, sending £10,000 from the UK to a EUR account in France would result in €12644.10 received at the other end. Using CurrencyFair, you’d get €12707.56, a significant saving of €63.46.

worldremit-march15-12pm

TransferGo

In terms of transparency, TransferGo are one of the better providers out there. All fees are clear, and the amount you see on their calculator doesn’t hide behind the usual “rates shown are indicative only” nonsense.

transfergo-march15th-1345

We like that.

They charge a flat fee per transaction, as well as between 0.6% and 1.5% on the currency conversion itself. These costs fluctuate depending on which currency you are sending and receiving. However, you will know exactly how much you’ll get thanks to their transparency.

Is TransferGo cheaper than CurrencyFair though? No – not when we checked on March 15th 2016. At 1:46pm, sending £10,000 from a UK account to France would result in €12,710.64, compared to €12756.09 with ourselves, a difference of €45.45 in CurrencyFair’s favour.

Save On International Money Transfers

So there you have it – the best money transfer companies compared. We’ll keep an eye on the industry and will continue to add new companies as they join the scene.

Don’t forget to spread the word about CurrencyFair!

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