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Choosing the right currency transfer provider for your needs

The majority of expats across the globe, and in particular, Brits, are already quite aware of the fact using banks for international money transfers is unnecessarily expensive and that there are many readily available alternatives. Transferwise, which was still a young startup 5 years ago is already moving more than £1bn annually, and it is only one of the top 5 leading currency transfer companies; it is safe to assume that in total, non-bank payment providers are transferring abroad a sum of no less than £100bn annually. Majority of these funds are sources in the UK or are being transferred to the UK as the most popular companies are based UK-based and focus most of their advertising budgets on British customers, locally and abroad.

Global searches for “Moneycorp”, a leader in the money transfer industry, which has a banking license in Gibraltar. From Google Trends.

With so many options, how do you choose the right one for you? Matt Di Vincere, the editor of, a comparison and review site in this field shares his tips:

Finding a reliable and cheap money transfer provider – top 10 tips

  1. First and foremost, you must make sure your provider is going to handle the currencies you need and is able to transfer money from your originating country to your destination country. If you are a British expat who is residing in Spain or somewhere else in the EU, there won’t be a problem. Each and every company will serve you just fine. If you are residing in South Africa and need to move money back home to the UK you’d be surprised that the number of providers who are able to take you on is limited, due to local regulation (Currencies Direct is a good selection if that’s what you need).
  2.  Another question you should be asking yourself is what are your banking needs. For example, Transferwise or Currencyfair, two great providers are working exclusively online. Other providers have a dedicated currency dealer whom you can chat to over the phone and get more guidance on the right timing to make your transaction and whether you should be considering hedging instruments like Forward Contracts.
  3. Any provider you will even consider using needs to be approved by a regulator. The most popular regulator is the FCA, and it is recommended to check that the company is not only registered with the FCA but in fact authorised as a payment provider. When companies are authorised to engage in money transfer activities, the FCA makes sure the clients’ accounts are segregated which makes them a lot safer.
  4. It could be a good practice to stick to money transfer companies which have been successfully operating for a long time. Experience is everything when it comes to international currency transfers, and there are major difference between a company that just set up shop to a company that has been doing it for years.
  5. Similarly to the last point, it is recommended to go with a relatively popular company which has not only been operating for several years but is in fact serving tens of thousands of clients or more, and have moved in excess of £1bn abroad.
  6. If you comply with the previous points and have selected one of the top 10 popular currency transfer companies, you need to check for client reviews online. If you cannot find any, it could be that the company is dishonest about the number of clients it is serving. If you did find reviews, it is recommended you would read through them carefully rather than just looking at the bottom line average scores. See what users have complained about, and how did the company respond to these complaints, and learn about the company’s conduct through that.
  7. International money transfers is an extremely competitive field. That’s why the rates offered by various currency providers are going to be about the same. One day, company A will be slightly cheaper than company B, and the other way, it will be the other way around. There is no particular company which is necessarily cheaper than others, especially when it comes to large quantities of money. If you are transferring more than £20,000 or equivalent, it is probable you could negotiate your rates a little. If you are transferring 6 figures Sterling or more, you may want to sign up with a few companies and let them race between them to give you the best possible quote.
  8. Pushy sales team is the ultimate sign of something suspicious. If the person whom you are speaking to is too pushy or seems biased (recommending to make the transaction now before the rates move against your favour), then you should consider to avoid business. The most important thing about using a money transfer company is to find a reliable partner.
  9. Remember that once you commit, you are fully committed to a trade. All calls are recorded and committing to a trade is legally binding. Once you confirmed a transaction, the currency company is going to buy the FX in a “back to back” fashion; if you will eventually not follow through on your trade, they will incur a potential lose as a result of rate moves.
  10. If you are going to sidestep your bank, you have to be thorough and devote time into selecting the right money transfer service. If your decisions will be impacted by impatience or shortage of time, they will be lacking, definition. It’s better to go with your bank, or halt your transfer, than to choose a money transfer provider in a rash.

To summarise, there are many money transfer companies out there, all of which are specifically targeting expats. Choosing the best one for your needs is going to take time and patience, as well as some negotiation skills, but it will be well worth it because you are likely to use your company quite often as long as you live abroad and have money in the UK (or the opposite).