Should I use Natwest for money transfers?
Services Offered by Natwest
Natwest Review: Executive SummaryNatwest bank is a high-street bank in the United Kingdom and since the year 2000, it is a subsidiary of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group. The bank has branches throughout the United Kingdom and also has an online presence. Customers can access their accounts and perform transactions through the website or mobile app. It offers a wide range of banking products and services to both personal and business customers, but at least when it comes to foreign exchange it does not excel and cannot compete with specialist currency brokers.
Not Top 10 Ranked
Where is Natwest Available?
Natwest International Payment Alternatives – Compare Exchange Rates
Some additional Natwest Bank international money transfer services competitors are displayed below, all of which offering lower international money transfer fees.
- Min Transfer: £/€/$ 100
- Currencies Supported: 39
- Offices : UK, EU, USA, India, South Africa.
- Our Rating : 97.8%
- Most Global Offices and Reach
No Fees from Anywhere and Competitive Rates
96% Client Satisfaction
- Min Transfer: £/€ 100
- Currencies Supported: 40
- Offices : UK, EU, Singapore, and Australia.
- Our Rating : 93.4%
- High Quality Bespoke Service
MoneyFact's Best Provider Award
Over 100 Years of FX Experience Across Its Trading Desk
- Min Transfer: £/€/$ 50
- Currencies Supported: 120
- Offices : UK, EU, USA, HK, and UAE.
- Our Rating : 92.8%
- Business Oriented, Many High Profile Business Customers
Industry Veteran since 1979
Diverse Hedging Options and Excellent Guidance
This review for the NatWest money transfer service is intended to explain the pros and cons of using it for your money transfer needs. We focus on the important aspects like fees, exchange rates, and the quality of the service provided. To view other companies like NatWest’s money transfer service, check our top 10 UK money transfer companies list.
Is NatWest Safe?
NatWest is the largest retail and commercial bank in the United Kingdom. Since 2000, it has been part of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group, ranked among the top 10 largest banks in the world by assets. As part of its personal banking offering, Natwest provides individuals with the possibility to exchange currency and make international payments.
Being a bank, it is much more heavily regulated than commercial FX companies. It also gets massive media coverage – more than any FX company, even Wise which constantly gets to the headlines.
Alongside glorifying media coverage and various awards over the years (including Natwest’s own The Great British Entrepreneur Awards), the bank has been getting constant criticism over the years. Notable mentions include this claim to compensate clients for fraud, this fine for misconduct, or public rage against its decision to close some of its branches (view more money transfer scandals committed by banks here).
Prudential Regulation Authority (UK), FCA (UK), Financial Services Compensation Scheme(UK), Financial Services Compensation Scheme (UK), British Bankers’ Association (UK)
Natwest is definitely “safe” in the old-fashioned sense of the word. There are more regulatory bodies supervising its activities than any commercial financial service provider. It’s also definitely well-known and offers easier face-to-face access with over 1,000 branches in the UK (while in comparison, FX companies have between 1 and 5 UK offices in total).
On the other hand, it’s not all rainbows and sunshines with Natwest. There is a lot of criticism (and possibly, public rage as reflected in our Client Reviews section) out there, and some of it has been confirmed as justified by the regulators who have fined Natwest for its misconduct more than once.
An honest Natwest review could have not ignored either of these sides.
NatWest Client Reviews
4,269 reviews on TrustPilot, and 227 reviews on ReviewCentre [True October 2020]. In addition there are plenty of blog posts and forum comments about Natwest across the British internet. Vast majority of these posts and comments we have reviewed are negative (here’s one from ThisIsMoney and another one from MoneySavingExpert’s Forum).
Please note, the Natwest client reviews that were collated into this section do not necessarily discuss international payments.
- Bank account hacked and compromised
- Lack of interest from Natwest’s behalf on hacking attempts
- Unhelpful client service
- Denied access to funds with no reason
- Complaints unaddressed
- Bad business banking
- Charging excessive fees
- Poor interest rate
- Poor telephone banking
- Money sent via BACS didn’t reach the account
- */ This is just a sample. Too many complaints to list here.
There is a lot of discontent with Natwest’s banking services over the internet. Are a few hundred reviews enough of a sample size to measure such an immense establishment with as many as 7.5m private accounts? Hard to say.
NatWest Exchange Rate & Fees
Fees: The fees detailed on Natwest’s website are £10 for Euro transfers, £22 Euro for non-Euro transfers, and £30 for priority 1-2 business day transfers.
Exchange Rates: Natwest does not publish its exchange rates for private customers. Only customers who bank with Natwest will be able to see the rate they will achieve when they set up an international payment. Natwest does choose to publish its business FX rates on a daily basis and we can get a feel for the exchange rate margins they apply here.
Our comprehensive guide to international money transfer fees breaks down Natwest’s exchange rates and compares these to other leading banks across the UK.
|Exchange Rate Margin
|GBPUGX (Ugandan Shilling)
|Natwest / RBS*
|GBPKES (Kenya Shilling)
Natwest was in the middle of the pack when it came to the exchange rate markup applied by major UK banks. In our analysis, Natwest proved more expensive than Nationwide, less expensive than Lloyds and about the same as Barclays. As previously stated, however, the only method of sourcing Natwest FX spreads was through rates made available to Natwest business customers. It is widely accepted that businesses are offered preferential FX spreads for having more frequent and higher value international transfer requirements than individuals.
Business transfers with Natwest were charged an FX margin of 2-3% and we can only assume transfers for individuals will have an even wider FX margin applied.Independent analysis shows that either TorFX or Currencies Direct apply lower margins than this and in 99% of cases they will offer bank-beating exchange rates.. Wise (formerly Transferwise) charges a fixed margin around 0.5% which is significantly cheaper than Natwest.
Limits: Not stated but we assume the bank does not limit you on the quantities you can send abroad. Needless to say, the international payments service offered by Natwest if for its clients only.
Natwest fees and rates are much higher than any commercial fx provider.
NatWest Global Reach & Service
- Dedicated Dealer: Private clients are not offered with a dedicated FX dealer.
- Offices: Thousands of branches in the UK.
- Ways to approach: Telephone, Chat, In branch or Online.
- Translations: Natwest is focused on UK clients and thus has only an English language version of its website.
- Accepts clients: UK citizens.
- Currencies Handled: We assume Natwest will handle every currency in existence.
- Client reviews: Majority of online reviews are very negative.
Unlike commercial FX companies which are able to operate in certain regions with its FCA qualifications (for example, in EU-countries or Australia), banks undergo very different procedures to accept non-UK citizens as clients. To our best understanding, Natwest does not operate abroad and thus, is offering its services only to UK clients.
Based on the client reviews we have collated and discussed earlier in this piece, clients are generally dissatisfied with Natwest’s banking services. That fact definitely has an impact on us when we seek to review its international payment services. Foreign exchange is quite a complicated process for first-timers and there are normally significant amounts of money involved, so the level of service is of a cardinal importance in this field.
Additionally, since Natwest Bank’s business goes beyond the narrow scope of foreign exchange, it does not offer its clients one of the best perks that some of the best money transfer companies do offer: a dedicated FX dealer that provides individual guidance to clients who need substantial amounts of money abroad.
It is really difficult to apply the same criteria used for commercial foreign exchange companies on a major bank like Natwest. Natwest offers a wide array of financial products which are far more complicated and time-consuming to review than FX.
Let us just say that Natwest, being a bank, offers services such as (but not limited to): private loans, corporate loans, mortgages, credit cards, current accounts, saving accounts, and investing accounts.
It is not specifically mentioned on Natwest’s website which hedging tools are offered for business clients (or, alas, we could not have located this information). We can use our industry experience to say that if you are a big enough client, you will gain access to any derivative you may desire.
For smaller business and private clients, we would say hedging is not accessible, at least not to the same extent it is for larger corporations.
Natwest bank has, as expected, an iPhone and Android apps. These apps enable clients to send international payments from their mobile devices effortlessly.
These apps are some of the best rated banking apps we have tested across the globe and the functionality seems similar to the one you can find on our best money transfer apps page (being non-FX oriented it may not have some of the functions that our best-rated apps have, such as placing a limit order on FX or receiving notifications on rate changes). This app was even awarded with the ‘Best Banking App’ award by the British Banking Awards in 2017.
The Natwest Bank app review rating on Google Play is 4.6 / 5, with more than 100,000 reviewers, most of them feel incredibly positive about the quality of the app and how seamless it is to use it.
Natwest has a whole array of services, including (supposedly) the most sophisticated FX hedging tools there are. It also boasts a really nice award-winning app with functionality that includes international payments.
There is no doubt that this is an area where being a bank makes a difference when compared to commercial FX companies which will always offer less than the bank (but possibly, for better prices, and with greater accessibility to smaller/private clients).
Natwest International Money Transfer Service Review Summary
Natwest is one of the largest retail banks in the UK with reputation of over 5 decades. It is far more regulated than commercial FX companies, and has an extremely wide offering of currencies and hedging tools (for larger corporate clients) than what most commercial foreign exchange providers would be able to supply. In addition to that, Natwest boasts a really tremendous app.
While that being said, the fees for international payments at Natwest bank are very high compared to an industry standard which hardly ever charges fix fees anymore, and the rates provided to private clients are worse than those you can find with recommended FX companies. In addition to that, it should be noted that Natwest has been criticised by the media, as well as by online reviewers, and fined more than once for its misconduct (by the regulators).
More Bank and Bank-like Services Reviews
Looking to find the best bank for international transfers? here is the list.
- Virgin Money International Payments Review (best for business customers)
- Natwest Bank’s International Payments Review
- Lloyds Bank International Money Transfers Review
- Starling Bank Money Transfer Review
- Commonwealth Bank of Australia International Money Transfers Review
- Monese Review (quasi-bank accounts, not an actual bank)
- Revolut Review (quasi-bank accounts, not an actual bank)