Expat cross border money transfers made easier

Published:  25 Jun at 6 PM
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Every year, around 150,000 UK citizens move overseas to live and work, with most still keeping financial and familial links with the home country.

Transferring money is a necessary evil for a majority of expats, whether it’s pension payments, mortgages on property at home or abroad or interest payments on UK or offshore investments. Between the relatively high costs of transfer and the threat of negative currency fluctuations, it’s one of the least favourite of all the practicalities of living overseas.

Banks, alternative money transfer services and the use of a broker are the three main means of moving money across borders. Most take time, and all are relatively costly, but all use similar processes, making it tricky to choose which is faster and cheaper.

High street banks nowadays may offer a currency transfer service, often as part of online banking giving convenience at the very least. One-off charges start at around £17 and soar to £40 or more, dependent on the destination bank and the speed of the transaction.

The downside of using an online service provided by your UK bank is its unfavourable exchange rate, especially when you’re transferring a larger amount, and bank-to-bank services are invariably slower than those of thier competitors. Five days is typical, but farther-flung destinations such as Asian countries can take a week to 10 days or even longer.

Using a broker is an option for considerable amounts, as exchange rates can be three to four per cent more favourable than the best bank offering. Broker services are also the preferred option for regular payments such as mortgages, as fees are low at around £10, and many brokers don’t charge fees at all on larger transactions.

Independent online money transfer services win as regards convenience and ,once an account is set up, it’s possible to pay by credit or charge card as well as direct from your UK bank. Exchange rates are favourable compared to those offered by high street banks.
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