In this page, we will review the 1st Contact money transfer company and explain all the pros and cons of using it for your money transfer needs. We focus on the important aspects like fees and exchange rates, the quality of the online trading platform, and the level of service provided.
Neither the old company nor the new merged company rank within our top 10 providers. Discover our best international money transfer services.
|🌎 International Clients||Yes|
|💱 Currencies Offered||25|
|💷 Minimum Transfer||None|
|📲 Trading via||Online and over the phone|
|🏢 Offices In||London (UK), Cape Town (SA), Melbourne (AUS)|
|⚖️ Regulation||Regulated in the UK (FCA), licensed in South Africa (FSB) and Australia (AFSL/ASIC)|
|🤯 Fees||No fee on transfers above £2,000|
|Promotional Code||Receive £20 if you refer a friend|
|👨👩👧👦 Client Reviews||1 review (Trustpilot), 698 (reviews.io)|
|⭐ Client Rating||3.7 (Trustpilot), 4.91 (reviews.io)|
Transfers over £2,000 with no fixed fee
International with 3 offices in different continents
Fast 24/7 payments with an online payment portal
Secure, licensed and established company
A great solution for sending ZAR outside of South Africa
Small transfers can be costly with its fixed fees
Charges both an exchange rate margin and a fee
No mobile app
Our Rating: N/A
Company Information and Credibility
1st Contact was formed in 1995 with a primary focus on aiding professionals immigrating to the UK. Their services covered; contracting, tax returns, immigration, forex, shipping and travel. After many years of exceptional growth, largely driven by listening to their customers growing list of requirements from living abroad, 1st Contact expanded into the Sable Group.
1st Contact has now rebranded to its parent companies brand – Sable International and is a medium-sized company with 50 to 150 employees, and three international offices dotted around the world. Whilst they’re not market leaders, they are certainly well established and have been operating for over 20 years. They currently have over 50,000 registered clients and facilitate over 120,000 transactions per year.
Over the last 18 months, the firm has been slowly phasing out the 1st Contact brand, rebranding as Sable International. All accountants, brokers, and advisors that clients have been dealing with will not be going anywhere as the entire 1st Contact team will be in the same roles at Sable International.
Outside of FX risk management Sable International continues to operate in different areas, such as Accounting, Immigration Services and Wealth Advisory (including financial planning and mortgages). These operations have allowed 1st Contact to scale in size and arguably offer a stronger remittance service as a result of their growing infrastructure.
Registered with HM Revenue & Customs in the UK as a Money Services Business, regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, licensed in South Africa (FSB) and Australia (AFSL/ASIC).
1st Contact proudly market themselves as being highly licensed and regulated, offering the utmost security and an established company presence.
1st Contact’s multi-faceted company seems to be something of the past, with newer fintechs generally specializing in just one service alone. However, the one key advantage over many challenger Forex firms is that they have a proven track record and offer reliability and security. Being an older firm means they understand sustainability regarding the exchange rates offered – instead of being unrealistically and unsustainably low that some other companies have struggled with in the past.
1st Contact does not have many reviews on either of the two main review platforms – TrustPilot or Feefo. They have however earned over 700 reviews on reviews.io in which they are rated 4.91 – based on 759 reviews to be specific. 99% of clients would also happily recommend 1st Contact as a provider.This is of course very positive, with very few negative comments. 1st Contact appears to have many long-standing clients with a heap of reviewers happy to boast of being a 1st contact client for over ten years, regularly praising the excellent service and continual notification of transfer updates. There is only one review on Trustpilot, which is too small a sample size to take seriously.
Almost all of the negative comments are surrounding the issue of payments being late. However, it seems that the vast majority of the overall comments were satisfied with the speed of the transactions, as well as the cost and service. Quite a significant number of Sable International reviews are from clients based in South Africa. With these being generally overwhelming positive it only further cements Sable International’s capabilities in the region.
Reviews for Sable International
Whilst the parent company of 1st Contact was operating independently, Sable International amassed 141 reviews with a 4.81 / 5 score on reviews.io. Much like the 1st Contact reviews, Sable International clients regularly praised Sable International for an incredibly professional service and excellent response times.
Exchange Rate & Fees
Fees differ, apart from with transfers over £2,000, which are free. To give a few examples of the fees to show their high variance:
- UK to Australia = £2
- UK to Poland = £0.90
- UK to South Africa = £10
- Eurozone to the UK = €5.00
Some of the fees are relatively standard and are what you might expect on small transfers from an established remittance company – whilst others appear to be quite large. Additionally, every 5th transfer you make will be free.
The exchange rates consist of an added margin. They fall between the interbank rate (the true exchange rate) and the rate offered by highstreet banks (3% to 5% markup). The exact margin is not explicitly announced by 1st Contact, but this may be because it’s not fixed.
There are no minimum or maximum limits. The likely reason for not having a minimum limit is because of the fixed fees, and likewise, the reason of not having a maximum limit is likely because of the exchange rate margin added.
The fixed fees per transfer means that very small transfers will likely be expensive – perhaps as expensive as a traditional bank. You also never know the exact margin that 1st Contact are adding. Therefore, its cheapness or transfers is completely unknown for large transfers. Furthermore, you’re required to manually check before every transfer to ensure the margin isn’t excessive (because there’s no guarantee), which is inconvenient.
Global Reach & Service
- Dedicated Dealer: No
- Offices: UK, South Africa and Australia
- Ways to approach: Online, Telephone, Email, Live Chat
- Translations: English
- Accepts clients: Recommends to call regarding countries that aren’t listed on the website
- Currencies Handled: 25
- Client reviews: 4.91/5 on reviews.io
The primary USP of 1st Contact/Sable International has to be its physical presence in South Africa. Due to local regulatory requirements any FX firm looking to take ZAR out of the country must have a local ZAR account in South Africa from which to move the funds from. Something only possible if you have a locally registered office, which many of the worlds’ largest brokers don’t have. In fact, it’s only our top rated provider Currencies Direct that also holds a South African office which allows them to seamlessly move ZAR out of the country.
1st Contact have a worldwide reach. With offices in three continents and offering 25 currencies, on paper it seems that 1st Contact are attempting to expand as much as possible (although 25 currencies is far from impressive). This isn’t entirely true though, as the website is extremely centered around South Africa, Australia and the UK (where its offices are). Whilst there are many currencies that they do not regularly deal in, they recommend contacting them if you’re from a country that isn’t listed, just in case as it’s a matter that can be resolved.
Originally, 1st Contact used to keep things simple by offering just forex spot rate transfers. However since the brand has merged with Sable International users can benefit from several market order services, such as Limit orders, Stop-loss orders and OCO orders. This means that clients can have their orders fulfilled based on automated criteria, so they can pre-order and wait for the market to line-up and the order to be executed.
Forward contracts are also offered so you can buy a currency in the future, on a specific date, for an agreed current price.
1st Contact/Sable are offering such forex hedging tools, which many money transfer companies do, in order to attract the custom of small businesses and freelance workers as well as expats. The company makes good use of a well integrated pool of services, thus having a large infrastructure to leverage its forex dealings.
1st Contact Review Summary
1st Contact FX or Sable International is a veteran in the foreign currency space, with a particular focus on emigration to and from the UK; it’s a decent and seemingly while-worthy company but on the other hand, does not show any real advantage over its currency broker competitors.