How to avoid the fees and frustrations of conventional currency exchange

Published:  24 Oct at 6 PM
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One of the most trying aspects of living overseas is currency transfer between your home country or offshore bank account and your account in your host country.

Whether you’re retiring overseas, working for a company which pays salaries from the UK, freelancing, or just touring around the places you’ve always wanted to see before you make a decision about permanent residence, the stress and expense of currency transactions is often a negative experience. However, new technologies and several innovative start-ups are about to change traditional banking services for ever.

The main aim of the innovators is to cut costs, improve exchange rates and banish commissions imposed by banks which take advantage of their long-term control over the service. The companies offering the newly-designed schemes are anything but fly-by-night, with one of the best-known, Transferwise, backed by Richard Branson and other well-known investors.

It’s the best, web-based option available for those transferring money between countries covered by the Single Euro Payment Area (SEPA). Using the official mid-market rate, it charges just 0.5 per cent of the total transferred, and is also a favourite for receiving or sending money using USA or Indian banks.

Currency Fair's online service operates from Ireland, and is consumer based in that the mid-market exchange rate isn’t taken into account. Its straightforward system allows users to set their own exchange rate and wait for another client to accept it, after which a transfer can be made subject to a charge of 0.15 of the total transferred.

Should no-one offer to accept the user-set rate, Currency Fair will take on the transfer at between 0.4 and 0.5 per cent plus a three euro fee. It’s especially useful for currency exchange between Irish and Australian or New Zealand banks , all of which charge astronomical fees.
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