What is a Currency Transfer
A currency transfer is an international money transfer* that involves exchanging one currency for another. For example, if you need to transfer money from the UK to the EU and the recipient needs to receive Euros, a currency exchange from Pound Sterling to Euros would be necessary. Currency transfers are a common occurrence for people who work or reside abroad, have global assets, or work for foreign employers, and for most small businesses nowadays.
How to Obtain Cheaper International Transfers
If you are looking for the best way to transfer money internationally, there is one key thing you should know. You could potentially save money and get a more bespoke service if you were to use specialised non-bank providers. These providers are collectively named “international money transfer services“, and unlike banks, their sole purpose** and usage is to accept customer funds on one end, exchange those funds into foreign currency, and send it to the recipient’s bank account, while charging less in fees (or most likely – no wire fees at all), and offering a better exchange rate than offered by high-street banks.
Is it safe to circumvent your bank and use a provider 🏦
Appropriately regulated money transfer companies offer a safe alternative to banks for international money transfers. In the UK, the FCA ensures that regulated companies adhere to certain regulations and compliance requirements. This includes segregating customer funds from their own, reporting any compliance breaches, and demonstrating their compliance policies and controls annually. In other countries, foreign exchange companies must be authorised by local regulators such as FinCEN in the USA, or ASIC in Australia to operate.
Many currency transfer specialists, including those in our top 10 list, are regulated by multiple regulators and have a long history of handling billions of pounds worth of client money, with a seamless transfer experience.
How To Use a Money Transfer Service
Making an international money transfer through a designated service is a straight-forwardprocess. With most companies, you can transfer either online through a web trading platform / mobile app, or via email/phone (though there are exceptions like Wise or Revolut which are strictly online). The process is, generally speaking, as follows:
- Find a company you want to try.
- Leave your email and phone and hit “Get a Quote”.
- Get access to rates online / over the phone.
- Supply more details about yourself prior to trading.
- Book the transfer, online or through the phone.
- Know EXACTLY how much the recipient will get.
- Fund the transfer through a domestic bank transfer.
- Kick back and relax while your money is being sent.
The process will be slightly different with strictly-online money transfer companies and apps.
How To Compare Money Transfers?
International money transfer comparison can prove to be a useful tool prior to choosing the best company to use. The aspects that should be considered are safety and regulation, customer reviews, functionality, quality of service, and ultimately – money transfer rates. There is no “one fits all” when it comes to currency transfers; MoneyTransferComparison believes that the best method is to simply delve deep into reading reviews, and understanding the ins and outs of each company.
For this reason we have covered more than 80 service in our guide and you can access all reviews here.
We may receive compensation from some of the providers featured here as detailed on our affiliate disclosure.
Best International Money Transfer: Top 10
- Top-rated money transfer companies on MoneyTransferComparison for March 2023
- When we compare international money transfer services, our focus is on large international transfers.
- 96% Positive Feedback from Customers, Since 1996
- Service Oriented - Specialising in Large Transfers - Friendly Dealers
- Very Competitive Rates, No Wire Fees
- Global Leader in International Money Transfers - £10bn in Annual Turnover
- 20+ Global Offices
- Very Friendly Online Platform
- Multi-Lingual Website and Staff
- Fully-Functional App
- Forward Contracts Available
- Will Handle Transfer of Any Size
- Fund Transfers via Domestic Bank Transfer or Debit Card
- Accepts Clients Globally (USA - depending on state)
- HQ Outside of London - Lower Staff Costs Rolled Over to the Client
- Quick Onboarding Process and Highly Professional
- Trading Desk with 100+ Years of Experience
- Excellent Online System
- Competitive Exchange Rates
- Many Satisfied Corporate Clients
- Many Hedging Options
- Clients Accepted Globally
- Expertise in Australia with Local Offices
- Providing FX Services since 1979
- Very Recognisable Brand with Excellent Reputation - £36.9in Transfers Annually with Offices in Every Continent
- Business Specialists
- Long-Term Forward Contracts Available, With Many Other Hedging Tools
- Sophisticated Payment Solutions
- Smooth Online System (Tailored for Businesses)
- Many Consumer and Business Awards
- Accepts Clients from any Country
- Fastest Growing UK Currency Transfer Provider
- Strong Onboard Team, Get an Immediate Callback
- Recipient of Multiple Industry Awards
- Close and Personal Touch, Excellent Support
- Specialists in the UK-Spain Corridor with Local Offices
- Competitive Currency Rates
- 99% of its Past Clients Gave the Firm a Positive Review
- Best Rate Guarantee: Global Reach Group Will Beat Any Competing Quote
- Strong Global Reach with Offices in UK, Europe, and Canada
- More than Two Decades of Experience
- Excellent Website
- Award Winning Client Technology
- High Level of FX Expertise and Guidance
- Operating for 15+ Years
- Does not Accept USA-Based Clients
- Best Customer Satisfaction Score on TrustPilot
- Welcoming and Clear Website, Easy to Sign Up
- Excellent Currency Transfer Rates
- Specialising in BRL Transfers
- Very Proficient Trading Team
- Many Business Clients
- Does not Accept USA-Based Clients
- Traded Publicly in Australia
- £20bn Turnover per Year
- Ultra Professional
- Very Tight Margins and no Fees
- 24/7 Support
- The Best Money Transfer App
- 115 Bank Accounts Across the World
- Accepting Clients from Everywhere
- Feefo 2020 Platinum Trusted Provider
- Excellent Website and Online Flow
- Highly Professional
- 15+ Years of Experience
- Spot-On Currency Predictions
- Largest Money Transfer Provider of its Kind
- Fully-Online Journey
- Transparent Pricing
- Best Rates for Small Transfers (Approximately 0.5% on Average)
- Margins don't Change Based on Deal Size
- Very Easy to Use
- Quick Transactions
- Best FAQ Section
- No Dedicated Dealers Available
- Clients Accepted Globally
For Ecommerce and Business Clients (Not Accepting Private Clients)
- Best Rates for Business Transfers
- Authorised by 6 Global Regulators
- Asian Currency Specialists
- Excellent Multi-Currency Offering for Online Sellers
- Operating for 15+ Years
- Owned by Ant Financial, a Global Payments Giant
- Courteous Staff
- Largest Selection of Currencies
- Does not Accept USA-Based Clients
Do all foreign exchange companies offer sending money internationally?
‘Foreign exchange companies’ is a holistic term referring to every company dealing with foreign exchange (as a fun trivia fact, the daily FX trade is 7.5 trillion dollars). Not all foreign exchange companies offer international transfers as a part of their offering. A number of foreign exchange companies are focused on cash exchanges (bureau de change) and that is something that designated bank-to-bank currency transfer entities don’t do.
Across Money Transfer Comparison we might refer to service providers as money transfer services, money transfer companies, foreign exchange companies, foreign exchange providers, international payment service, international payment provider, currency broker, currency specialist, online money transfer, and many more variations. In essence, they are quite synonymous.
Drill-down into the Top Money Transfer Services
The following 5 best international money transfer services all serve approximately the same needs and functions but they differ by company history, size, and slight nuances when it comes to the fine details the actual offering. Below is a recap of their complete reviews:
1. Currencies Direct
Currencies Direct is a leading non-bank currency provider founded in 1996 in the UK, with offices in multiple continents, serving over 325,000 clients globally. The firm transfers over £7.5 billion annually, making it one of the largest and most trustworthy currency firms in existence, with multiple awards for being the Money Transfer Provider of the Year.
Click here for the complete Currencies Direct review.
TorFX was founded in 2004 and has grown steadily in the UK and Australia, transferring over £7.5 billion annually for its clients. With over 50,000 active clients, the company has a great reputation and holds no debt with a perfect Level 1 credit rating. TorFX has a strong and experienced staff and has won several awards including the MoneyFacts Customer Service Award and the Cornwall Business Award for Best Employer. The company is dedicated to providing excellent customer service and is a safe option for international currency transfers.
Click here for the complete TorFX review.
Moneycorp, established in 1962, is a mature company in the foreign exchange industry with over 880 employees and £38 billion in trading volume in 2021. It is one of the largest money transfer companies globally and has a stable corporate structure with experienced management. Moneycorp has a 5A1 rating from D&B, a Gibraltar banking license (for its subsidiary, moneycorp bank), and has received numerous awards for its services.
Click here for the complete moneycorp review.
4. Global Reach
Global Reach Group, formerly known as Global Reach Partners Limited, was established in 2001 and merged in 2012 from four separate brands: Corporate FX, Private FX, Smart FX, and Travel FX. It is a currency broker based in the UK with around 120 employees and focuses on helping clients move money internationally. The company has received numerous awards, including the Feefo 2022 Platinum Service Award, Electronic Money Award 2022, Payments Awards 2022, and Global Forex Awards B2B 2022. It also has a presence in the UK, Europe, and Canada, and has a long history of growth and acquisitions, including the 2016 merger with FC Exchange.
Click here for the complete Global Reach review.
5. Key Currency
KeyCurrency is a UK-based foreign exchange (FX) firm established in 2015. It is privately owned by directors with extensive finance and FX backgrounds, including Clive Cooke, who was previously the CEO of City Index. The firm has 30 employees and holds its head office in Truro, Cornwall, which is expected to lower overhead costs compared to London-based currency brokers. KeyCurrency is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and has won the ADVFN International Financial Award for Best Currency Exchange Service for four consecutive years. The firm prides itself on its “no minimum” policy, which allows for small trade enquiries and is viewed as a major advantage.
Click here for the complete Key Currency review.
Are money transfer companies limited to operating in the UK?
While most money transfer companies are based in the UK and initially served only UK and EU residents, many have since expanded and obtained licenses to serve customers in countries such as the US, Australia, Canada, wider Europe, New Zealand, and the UAE, among others. After the legal framework for financial services in the UK changed post brexit, many money transfer service providers obtained an EU licence. It is necessary to research specific companies to determine which nationalities they accept, but for the most part, UK nationals are accepted wherever they reside in the world, and so are EU residents, Australians, and Americans.
Is it difficult to switch from your bank to a money transfer service?
No, it is actually quite easy to sign up with an international money transfer service. Most providers have streamlined registration processes that can be completed online. In the UK, individuals can simply fill out the necessary details and upload documents to verify their identity through the provider’s app or online system. The account is usually quickly approved. Customers in the EU and Australia should also find the registration process straightforward. However, those with dual residency may find it easier to use a UK passport to sign up.
For customers based outside of these regions, there may be a little more back-and-forth until they are authorised to make payments. The process is not going to be cumbersome, like opening up a bank account, as money transfer companies have much more of a fintech-focus (relying on technology) compared to banks. It might consist of a few emails exchanged with requests for documents or questions relating to the source of financing.
For businesses, whether UK based or elsewhere, there could be a little more back and forth, and it’s quite dependent on the company’s structure. Businesses and corporations will probably already be aware of KYC requirements and those of the best money transfer services are not different. Prior to enabling you to make international business money transfers, it’s likely that a money transfer provider will ask for:
- The purpose of your transactions, i.e. are you paying staff, paying overseas suppliers, conducting FX for treasury purposes.
- Details of the type of business and industry you operate in.
- The source and origin of funds that’s used to settle your transfers.
- Copies of articles of association or, if applicable, recent and current financial statements instead.
- The expected level of trading that will take place, usually estimated volumes over a year.
- Identification and verification of 1-3 directors of the business and ultimate beneficial owners (known as UBOs – usually when they own over 25% of the business registering for an account).
Our international money transfer comparison also consists of a parameter for the “ease of signing up” so our recommendations are quite inclusive of that. We have laid out more information about the process itself, and how you fund your international money transfer in our guide dedicated to transferring large sums of money abroad.
Why is the UK the centre of the foreign currency industry?
The UK has the largest number of expats abroad, the largest number of property investors (or those who have a second home overseas) and is also a highly multicultural and global country. Being an Island, most of its businesses, including small businesses, are trading internationally, and of course it is very wealthy (and remains a centre for foreign investors to invest in).
Additionally, the UK is ranked as one of the most fintech-friendly countries in the world, with more than 1,600 fintech firms and second to only the US in financial technology investment, with $9.1bn of investment in 2022. The UK is a top destination for fintech investment due to its strong financial services sector, favourable time zone and English being the native language. In addition to this, entrepreneurs have comparatively good access to investment and capital, and a globally respected regulatory framework, as set out by the FCA.
Most money transfer services in the UK are based in London due to its reputation as a business epicentre, the diverse and skilled workforce it attracts, and its transport connections. The city also has a long history of being a global finance hub, which has made it particularly popular among currency brokers. In 2019, global daily trading of FX volumes was $6.6 trillion, with London accounting for $2.86 trillion, the most out of any city in the world. The Bank of England reported in July 2022 that London was still processing $3.27 trillion a day in April 2022, a record survey high.
That does not mean, however, that money transfer services cannot serve other nationalities. Have a look at the best money transfers available elsewhere:
Best International Money Transfers: USA Edition
Best International Money Transfers: Canada Edition
Best International Money Transfers: Australia Edition
Best International Money Transfers: South Africa Edition
Should you use an online money transfer service?
Using an online platform, such as a provider’s website or mobile app, to transfer money abroad only requires a bit of confidence in your ability to navigate the system and enter the correct information. If you are certain you can do this, there is no reason the transfer should go wrong. In fact, Wise has received positive reviews for their excellent online-only platform.
To successfully make an online transfer, you will need to ensure you have the correct recipient account details and accurately fill out the transfer form. You may also need to provide details about the nature of the transaction, as required by electronic money regulations in the UK.
Pros of using an online platform for money transfers include a faster process (especially for repeat payments), the ability to see and compare rates to current interbank rate, the ability to track the status of your transfer online, and the lack of need to share personal documents through email.
Cons include a lack of individual guidance on the transfer, a lack of ability to negotiate the rate, and an inability to receive payments from abroad, clear checks, or book advanced contracts like a Forward Contract.
Is receiving money internationally supported?
Most money transfer services, aside from a few remittance service providers, typically allow for the receipt of money internationally. With currency brokers, it would mostly be about receiving large sums of money from abroad, but some specific companies even offer a multi-currency account, which is an alternative to a traditional bank account that allows you to receive, store, and make payments using funds, while also offering competitive currency exchange rates.
The following diagram explains further how receiving money for cheap is made possible via money transfer services:
Moreover, multi-currency accounts are a trendy feature that the most fintech money transfer companies like Wise and OFX offer.This allows customers to have virtual bank accounts in multiple currencies where they can receive, send or simply hold money.
Which company offers the best international money transfer rates?
You may have noticed that, unlike some of our competitors, we do not list specific money transfer rates next to each company. The reason for this is that, in most cases, the actual currency exchange rate you will pay depends heavily on your individual circumstances. Factors such as the amount of money you are sending abroad, the currencies involved in the transfer, and overall currency market volatility can significantly impact the exchange rates offered by a provider. Regardless of the amount you are transferring, whether online or via phone, and regardless of the currencies involved, these services will generally offer significant savings compared to banks. However, the exact amount can only be quoted in real-time after you sign up with many of the top money transfer companies in UK.
To summarise, the best (obtainable) exchange fx rates are a result of a combination of factors.
How to Save Money on International Money Transfers
In addition to using the best international money transfer service for your requirements, you can also save money by:
- Exchanging money at a favourable rate. It can be difficult to predict, but if you are successful, you can get the most for your pound sterling. Remember that even the best international bank accounts in UK or best UK banks for international transfers may offer worse rates than commercial money transfer services.
- Similar to the above, you could consider booking a forward contract rather than a spot FX contract. This means fixing today’s exchange rate for a future transfer, which can be useful if rates are expected to move against you.
- Always verify that you are getting a good rate, even if you have signed up with a specific international money transfer company that’s known for low fees. The margins applied to your first transfer may not necessarily be applied to future transfers.
- To ensure you are getting the best currency transfer rate, you could sign up with multiple providers and compare bank transfer quotes between them.
- If you want your transfer quote to be more competitive, transfer as much money as possible at once. Of course, it doesn’t make sense to exchange more currency than you need, but if you have a few transfers that you intended to split, consider where the rate may move in the future and the savings you could make by processing the transfers in a single, larger sum. On the other hand, there may occasionally be additional costs associated with transferring large amounts of money internationally in a single payment. Specialists can provide individual guidance on how to split your transfer into multiple payments, which may help save on bank fees (and particularly intermediary bank fees).