How to Send Money Abroad: Cheap from the UK

How to Send Money Abroad from the UK Cheaply (Fee Free)

Finding the cheapest option to send money abroad from the UK can be a challenge if you don't even know how to transfer money in the first place. Not to worry, we've put together this step-by-step guide to show you how to send your money overseas so you don't end up paying ridiculous fees.

Also, look out for our "helpful hints" for easier and cheaper ways to make an international money transfer.

 

Helpful hint

Transferring money overseas online with your computer or mobile phone can be the best way to send money abroad. It's convenient and safe as long as you know what you're doing.

How to transfer money abroad from the UK in 3 steps

Sign-up with a Money Transfer Service Online

1

Sign Up Online Go to the online money transfer website you're using. Create your online account and find out how much it costs.
Provide Money Transfer Details

2

Make Your Transfer Tell them how much GBP you want to send. You will need details of the international bank account you are sending money to abroad. You will also choose how you want to pay for the transfer.
Money Transfer Service Sends your Money Abroad

3

Money Is Delivered Your money transfer service will then convert the money to another currency (if needed) and deliver it to the bank account overseas.

Step 1. Sign up online

It takes 5 - 10 minutes to type in your personal details, set your account with passwords and your personal preferences.

1. Details include:

  • Your full name
  • Your physical address and email address
  • Mobile phone number

2. Verify your account:

  • Take photos of your personal ID. This can be your passport or drivers licence
  • Send it through to the money transfer service

 

Helpful hints

- Make sure your photo is of a high quality so they can see the picture
- Make sure your personal id is valid and within the expiry date

Sign up online to the money transfer service in the UK

Before we move on to Step 2, it's important to find out:

How much will it cost to make my international money transfer?

There are 3 fees you'll usually be charged for your money transfer abroad:

What are the costs to make an International Money Transfer?
  1. Exchange rates - The better the exchange rate, the more money you get in the account abroad. Money transfer services that offer better rates will usually charge you a separate transfer fee.
  2. Transfer fees - These can range anywhere between GBP £0 to £5. Some online transfer companies offer fee-free transfers for sending large amounts of money. These companies usually charge a slightly worse margin on their exchange rate, but are still often better than banks.
  3. Receiving fees - You or the person you're sending money too will often get charged a bank receiving fee of up to £20.

 

Helpful hint

Total costs are lower with money transfer companies than banks.
This is because:

1. they charge less transfer fees and/or
2. give better exchange rates and
3. they reduce the amount or don't charge receiving fees

Step 2. Make your transfer

You will need the address and IBAN/BIC/SWIFT code of the international bank account overseas. Choose how you want to pay for the transfer - cheapest via bank transfer, but some accept credit cards and debit cards.

What information do I need to transfer funds abroad?

  • Your personal information. Your full name, address and date of birth. For security reasons they need your photo id scanned or photographed. You can use your mobile phone to take a photo and send
  • How you wish to pay: Your bank details, account numbers and address or debit/credit card details
  • The full name and address of the person you wish to pay
  • Overseas bank account details, the name on the account, banking codes for the bank account abroad
Helpful hints

- Make sure your photo is of a high quality so they can see the picture
- Make sure your personal id is valid and within the expiry date
- You can't give your work/office address or PO box address

Payment by bank transfer is usually cheaper than using your debit or credit card

What information do you need to transfer money abroad from the UK?

If you want to fast-track finding the receiving bank code you just need to contact the overseas bank or person you're sending the money to ask their bank for these details well before you want to make your transfer.

Alternatively, here is a summary of the main banking codes required for transferring money to different regions or countries and links to help you find it.

Regions or Countries Bank Codes
North/South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania SWIFT / BIC code
Europe, Middle East, Africa IBAN code
Australia, New Zealand BSB Number
United States Routing Number
Canada Routing/Transit Number
India Indian Financial System Code (IFSC)
Ireland National Sort Codes (NSC)
Germany Bankleitzahl (BLZ)
Switzerland Bankenclearing-Nummer (BC) & SIX Interbank Clearing (SIC)
France Code Banque & Code Guichet
Italy Codice (ABI) & Codice di Avviamento Bancario (CAB)

Before we move on to Step 3, the delivery, there's a few questions you might want to find out including:

How much money can I send from my UK bank account?

How much money can I send abroad from the UK?The maximum limits set by the money transfer companies are usually very large. They also depend on which currencies you send to and from and how you pay.

For example, to send money from the UK to Australia the maximum limit for TransferWise is GBP £1,000,000 or AUD $1,500,000. TransferWise allow you to send more than their limits, but you need to set up more than one transfer.

On the other hand, some money transfer companies have minimum transfer amounts like TorFX (£2,000) or OFX (£200).

Can I use a credit card to pay for the money transfer?

Yes you can usually use your credit card to pay for your money transfer. However, money transfer companies may charge a small additional fee.

Most money transfer providers offer the flexibility of paying for your transfer in different ways. This includes direct bank transfers from your UK bank account, wire transfers (SWIFT transfers), debit card or credit card payments.

 

Helpful hint

Avoid using your debit or credit card to make your payment so you don't incur any extra fee. Using a direct bank transfer from your bank account is often cheapest way to transfer money overseas from the UK, however it may also take longer.

Is my money safe online?

Yes. Online money transfer services need to be regulated by Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to send money from the UK. They have very stringent guidelines to be allowed to send money abroad.

Money transfer providers also invest in identity protection, fraud prevention and encryption to create a secure connection with your browser when you register and login into their online services.

Still worried? If you want to keep your funds secure when you transfer larger amounts of money overseas, you have a few options:

  1. Bank transfer — you can send directly between your bank and a bank in another country, but you will pay high fees
  2. Online money transfer services — specialist providers like OFX and World First are transparent, safe and fully regulated
  3. Peer-to-peer transfer services — companies like TransferWise and PayPal match you with people buying or selling the currency you want to exchange with. These companies are just as trustworthy and also have strict compliance procedures
Is it safe to send money abroad online?

Step 3. Money is delivered

Your money transfer service will then convert the money to another currency (if needed) and deliver it to the bank account overseas.

 

Helpful hints

Online money transfer services tend to keep you updated on the movement of your funds. This includes the estimated arrival time of your funds to the foreign account you're sending money to.

In our experience, banks tend to be hit or miss on how often they communicate with you. It's usually up to you to check if the person or account you sent money into has received it.

You're probably wondering how long will it take?

How long does it take to transfer money abroad from the UK?

The actual length of time between you paying for a transfer and the person or account you're sending money to overseas varies depending on several different factors:

  • The international money transfer provider or bank that you’re using
  • The country and currency you’re sending from
  • The country and currency of the person receiving the transfer
  • How you’re paying for the transfer (e.g. by a wire transfer, bank transfer, credit or debit card)
  • Whether your transfer needs an extra review or validation

Here are also some of the average times for our most popular money transfer specialists:

TransferWise: 0 to 3 business days
XE Money Transfers: 0 to 3 business days
WorldFirst: 1 to 2 business days
Western Union: 0 to 3 business days
OFX: 0 to 3 business days
Banks: 1 to 5 business days

How to transfer money abroad fee-free

Very few people like paying transfer fees when making an international money transfer from the UK. Luckily for you, many money transfer services offer zero transfer fees. Here are some popular fee-free money transfer companies that we recommend especially for larger transfers:

Just because a service is 'fee free' doesn't mean it's the cheapest option

When a company offers an international money transfer service that has “no fees”, it usually means the company doesn’t charge you an international money transfer fee (or commission).

Instead, they make money from you through costs that aren’t as obvious when you transfer money overseas - like when you convert your money to another currency. This is known as the exchange rate margin. While you might not be paying an upfront fee, these companies will still charge you higher exchange rates than the market interbank rate, which is how they make their margin (or profit).

Companies that charge a transfer fee tend to offer better exchange rates and some providers offer ‘first transfer free’ promotions for new customers or free transfers when you’re sending larger amounts of money.

Luckily, we've examined other money transfer services that might not necessarily offer "fee-free" transfers, but still have highly competitive exchange rates:

FAQs

What are the best international money transfer apps?

Most providers have smartphone apps so you can access and make money transfers on the go. You can install these apps on Apple and Android devices, then use them to create, pay for and track your international money transfer.

Here are some of the best apps from our specialist providers:

  • TransferWise money transfer app
  • WorldRemit money transfer app
  • WorldFirst money transfer app
  • OFX money transfer app

How do I transfer money overseas using my post office?

UK Post Office lets you easily send money overseas. The transfers are actually handled by Western Union and WU will determine the fees you pay and the exchange rates you get. You can send money online or at a UK Post location. You’ll need:

  • SWIFT code of the bank you are sending the money to
  • The name of the bank
  • An account name
  • An account number

Can I directly transfer money abroad using my credit card?

Yes, you can send money overseas using your credit card, but it can get very expensive. There are several reasons for this:

  • Your credit card provider will probably see this as a “cash advance” and will likely charge a higher interest rate from the moment you fund the transfer
  • You will probably pay more in fees to the money transfer provider
  • Using a credit card may make the exchange rate you get slightly worse

We recommend paying for your transfer by using your bank account, an electronic funds transfer or a debit card. The fees are lower and your money will go further.

Will I get taxed for sending money overseas?

You won’t generally get taxed by the UK government for money you send out of the country. You may get taxed on money you bring into the country, including:

  • After you become a resident of UK, transferring money into your UK bank account
  • Earning income from overseas sources while you’re in the UK

Always seek advise from a tax consultant if you're unsure.

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By Natalie Robertson Updated January 22nd, 2020