Whether you need to move money to another country because you are emigrating, making a high-value purchase (such as a property or a car), or have to set up a regular arrangement to settle bills (like a mortgage or loan) in the UK, an international transfer is the best way to go.
As with any important financial transaction, however, you need to do some research about moving money overseas before you take the plunge. To help you get started, I’ve put together a brief guide to international transfers and what you need to think about.
How do international money transfers work?
In essence, an overseas money transfer is the same as any made between banks in the UK. Where it differs, however, is that you’re usually dealing with more than one currency and, of course, financial institutions where English isn’t necessarily the first language.
Although they are more complicated than standard bank transfers, they can still be processed quickly, provided you’ve chosen the right organisation to manage the transaction on your behalf, which is something we’ll come on to in a minute.
Who can carry out international transfers?
When you’re planning to transfer money, your first port of call is likely to be your bank. However, while these institutions can arrange overseas transfers, they’re usually not your best option.
Why? The reasons are twofold. Firstly, banks will normally charge a commission to carry out the transaction, which, on a high-value transfer may not seem like a lot, but it can add up if this is something you need to do regularly. Secondly, the exchange rates offered by the banks are often not the most favourable available, which means you could be losing out on a substantial amount simply due to the exchange rate you’re given.
You’re probably wondering where to turn if your bank isn’t the best choice, and the answer is to a dedicated foreign exchange specialist. These kinds of companies will often offer transfers with no commission charges and will beat the banks’ exchange rates by a substantial margin. On a high-value transfer, this could even see you make money.
Typically, this type of firm will also employ multilingual members of staff who can deal with financial institutions in other countries on your behalf.
Locking in a good exchange rate
While you can do everything in your power to find a provider that offers the most favourable exchange rate at any given time, there’s little you can do about fluctuations in international currency markets. Simply choosing the right time to complete the transaction can save you a substantial sum of money when you’re dealing with thousands – or hundreds of thousands – of pounds.
If you go through a specialist foreign exchange provider, they will give you a range of options to help you choose the most appropriate for your circumstances. This includes offering products like forward contracts, which enable you to lock in a favourable exchange rate but make the payment at a future date, and limit orders, which allow you to specify that a currency should be purchased on your behalf once it hits a certain exchange rate that’s not currently available.
What this does is give you the opportunity to plan ahead and, should your payment date not be fixed, provides you with the best possible chance of making the most of your money when you make the overseas transfer.
What currency can I make transfers to/from?
As a general rule, if you want to make a same-day transfer, you’ll be limited as to the currencies you can deal in. Normally, these will include sterling, euros, US dollars and Canadian dollars.
If you’re intending to make a transfer to or from almost any other monetary unit imaginable, it will usually be available through a specialist provider on a next-day or other future contract.