When comparing currency exchange services online, the logical thing to do is check rates on various websites by entering your amount and your to/from currencies, to see who offers the best value.
However, some companies still choose to simply use the interbank rate for their website currency exchange calculators, which can result in customers believing they can get better rates than those really on offer.
With that in mind, we’ve listed some of our competitors’ methods of using the interbank to display rates, while subtly indicating these rates are not available to you.
The interbank rate is essentially the rate at which banks exchange currencies with one another. Wikipedia calls it the “top-level foreign exchange market where banks exchange different currencies. The banks can either deal with one another directly, or through electronic brokering platforms.”
Currency Exchange Calculator Wall Of Shame
As part of the third largest money transfer business in the world, HiFX have used their ties to XE.com to their advantage, and feature an XE currency calculator on their homepage. Nothing wrong with that, you might think – and you’re right. However, beneath the calculator is a clear indicator that any rates you might see aren’t available to you.
Why show them, then?
“All figures shown are based on today’s Interbank rates. This is the rate at which banks and brokers buy and sell money to each other. Private individuals and small to medium sized businesses cannot access these rates. They are therefore provided for indicative purposes only. For a quote please contact us.”
HSBC recently reported a huge 62% slump in pre-tax profit, making only $7.1 billion for 2016 (analysts had estimated a $14.4 billion profit for the year).
As we learned when we compared our costs to other currency exchange providers, of the UK banks included, HSBC were relatively reasonable – with Barclays, NatWest and RBS charging the highest fees.
Regardless, HSBC also hide behind a simple interbank-rate calculator, which supplies “indicative information only”.
Indicative of an exchange rate you’ll never get with HSBC.
“This currency calculator supplies indicative information only, and the data should not be used as the basis for any transactions or treated as either a definitive currency price or investment advice.”
Moneycorp was established in 1979, and is based in London. In 2012, the group transferred a total of €13 billion in foreign exchange. For 2016, this figure reached £25 billion.
Still, it’s tricky to get access to their real rates and charges without some effort – and their website currency calculator shows rates which are “not available to individuals”.
“The conversion rate is based on the interbank rate. This rate is not available to individuals and should only be used as a guide. Find out more.”
With offices and bank accounts across the globe, and $100bn in total transfers, OFX has grown a lot since its founding in 1998 (when it was OzForex).
Still, their exchange calculator, which takes pride of place on their main homepage, doesn’t offer customers real, available rates like CurrencyFair do.
Even clicking the link to their “OFX Customer Rates” doesn’t offer any clarity on what your transfer will really cost you.
“Our currency converter displays Market Rates and is not indicative of OFX Customer Rates. Simply register or log in for OFX Customer Rates.”
PayPal have quickly established themselves as the go-to resource for regular and quick online payments. What a lot of people don’t realise, however, is that when currency conversion comes into play, it’s not great.
Unfortunately, some people still believe that Paypal is free for currency exchange – it’s actually very expensive.
PayPal’s charges and fees vary depending on what your sending and receiving currencies are. Instead of including the overall fees and charges on the conversion calculator, PayPal have a T&Cs popup beneath, which links to another page where the applicable charges are detailed (it varies based on where you’re sending funds to and from).
“This rate is our wholesale cost of foreign currency plus a currency conversion fee. This fee depends on the currency you are converting into. See the “Fees” – “Additional Fees” – “Currency Conversion Fee” section of the User Agreement for details.”
WorldFirst pride themselves on offering better exchange rates than the banks, and they certainly do that – which is no surprise.
However, they also use the interbank, and a small line of text beneath it to explain it’s not their actual, offered rate. A line above their calculator confuses further by stating “…see how much this would equate to using the mid-market or “Interbank rate”.
“….It shows you the market rate of your chosen currency pair for information purposes and is not our offered rate or an indication of price.”
Western Union was founded in 1851 as “New York and Mississippi Valley Printing Telegraph Company”, going on to dominate the Transcontinental Telegraph market in the US. By 1900, they’d created a million miles of telegraph lines and two international undersea cables. Impressive stuff!
Now synonymous with remittance payments across the globe, they also offer online bank transfers, so let’s have a look.
Beneath their online currency calculator, the small text explains that the information offered isn’t the real cost of sending money with Western Union.
“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.”
At CurrencyFair, we believe rates, fees and charges shown should be real, accurate and available to customers at that moment. Hence, our currency exchange calculator only shows live data, and the exchange rates that our customers are actually getting.