Transferring Money From the UK to the USA

By 
Alon Rajic
Last Edited Nov 02, 2023

If you need to send money from the UK to the U.S, there are cheaper alternatives to banks.

Specifically, between the UK, the home of most of the world’s leading money transfer services, and the USA, the world’s largest economy. The options hand-picked on these page will allow both customers with British nationality, or an American one, register with ease, save money and enjoy an excellent service.

How to transfer money from UK to USA (without banks)?

Money transfer services are an external, non-bank, financial service. They can receive money in the UK, in Pound Sterling, make the exchange, and then send it to its recipient in US dollars (or the other way around, if necessary).

Which services support such transfers

These are recommended services that support sending money to the USA. They are the best way in terms of pricing, quality of service and well rounded offering.

Best Way to Transfer from UK to USA 2023

Based on Security, Speed and Cost; companies operating in USA and UK

#1
UK EU USA Currencies Direct: Best Overall for International Money Transfers
Headquarters:
1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5AA, UK
97.8% Editorial rating
7,500 Client Reviews
Minimum transfer:
£100 / €100 / $100 or equivalent
Why Them?
  • 96% Positive Feedback from Customers, Since 1996
  • Service Oriented - Specialising in Large Transfers - Friendly Dealers
  • Very Competitive Rates, No Wire Fees
+Read more
1
Currencies Direct
Currencies Direct: Best Overall for International Money Transfers
97.8%
Editorial rating
#2
UK EU Australia USA UAE moneycorp: Oldest and Most Reputable Foreign Exchange Service
Headquarters:
Zig Zag Building, 70 Victoria St, Westminster, London SW1E 6SQ, UK
93.2% Editorial rating
7,000 Client Reviews
Minimum transfer:
£50 / €50 / $50 or equivalent
Why Them?
  • Providing FX Services since 1979
  • Very Recognisable Brand with Excellent Reputation - £36.9in Transfers Annually with Offices in Every Continent
  • Business Specialists
+Read more
2
Moneycorp
moneycorp: Oldest and Most Reputable Foreign Exchange Service
93.2%
Editorial rating
#3
Australia UK EU USA New Zealand OFX: The Publicly-Traded Money Transfer Company from Down Under
Headquarters:
Level 19, 60 Margaret St, Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia
90.4% Editorial rating
1,500 Client Reviews
Minimum transfer:
£100 / €100 / $100 or equivalent
Why Them?
  • Traded Publicly in Australia
  • £20bn Turnover per Year
  • Ultra Professional
+Read more
3
OFX
OFX: The Publicly-Traded Money Transfer Company from Down Under
90.4%
Editorial rating
#4
EU UK USA Australia Wise (Previously TransferWise): Valued at £10bn
Headquarters:
17 Avenue Marnix, 1000 Brussels, Belgium
86.8% Editorial rating
32,000 Client Reviews
Minimum transfer:
No Minimum
Why Them?
  • Largest Money Transfer Provider of its Kind
  • Fully-Online Journey
  • Transparent Pricing
+Read more
4
Wise / TransferWise
Wise (Previously TransferWise): Valued at £10bn
86.8%
Editorial rating

How to use money transfer services?

All it requires of you is to sign up with one, input the details of your transfer, and then fund it (by using a domestic bank transfer in local currency, or a debit card if it’s a small transfer).

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How much money can you save in the process?

You can save up to 80% of the costs you would have paid using a bank.

For starters, let’s look at the currency exchange rates for such a transfer from UK to USA, involving the Pound to Dollar exchange, and understand the associated savings.

Currency Exchange Rates

GBP to USD

Current Rate: 1.2443 USD

Estimated Bank Rate (2.5% markup): 1.2132 USD

Provider Rate (0.6%): 1.2369 USD

Indicative rates only. 2.5% was applied as the bank margin and 0.6% as the provider rates, but we don’t guarantee either.

USD to GBP

Current Rate: 0.8037 GBP

Estimated Bank Rate (2.5% markup): 0.7836 GBP

Provider Rate (0.6%): 0.7988 GBP

Indicative rates only. 2.5% was applied as the bank margin and 0.6% as the provider rates, but we don’t guarantee either.

Example: You could potentially save $1,900 on a transfer of $200,000.

More info:
Transfer Money From the USA to the UK

Cheapest Way to Send Money From UK to USA 

4 easy and simple steps to find the right provider for your needs and understand the ins and outs of the process involved.

Step 1: Choose a Service That Transfers Money Between the Countries

The foundation of everything instructed would be pick the best way to transfer money to USA, based on your own requirements and needs. As a rule of thumb, people who transfer lower volumes would be more price sensitive and opt to pick the cheapest provider.

Similarly, people who want to move larger amounts, are looking for a more bespoke type of service. Before you begin the process you have to decide with yourself what matters to you most.

There are many possibilities for you to choose from.

Almost every single money transfer service reviewed on this website (we have 90+ reviewed to date) supports UK to USA transfers.

Similarly, every bank, every remittances company, and every digital provider out there would support such a transfer. You can use our recommendations, dive into our reviews or expand your research but just remember you don’t have to settle on a company that you think isn’t reliable, good, or cheap enough.

There are excellent currency brokers in the UK who support transfers from UK to USA like Key Currency or TorFX who don’t have USA offices so we omitted them from this listing.

The top 3 payment providers on this listing (other than Wise which is purely digital) have an array of specialists in-house and give tailored guidance on aspects like when to trade, how to optimise payments and whether/how to hedge FX.

These companies will support both businesses (from sole traders to SMEs all the way to corporations) as well as private clients.

Here is more about how they are categorised:

Comparing ways to send money from the UK to the USA:

UK Banks / ProvidersAdvantagesDisadvantages

NatWest

Barclays

Lloyds

✔ Use existing bank
✔ Safe & secure
✔ Handle all payments
✔ Branch network
✖ No currency hedging for private/SMEs
✖ Expensive fees
✖ Wide FX Spreads
✖ No currency specialist
Currencies Direct
OFX
Moneycorp
✔ Hedging tools
✔ Currency specialist
✔ Trade online/phone
✔ Handle all payments
✔ No fees
✖ Smaller FX spreads than banks
✖ Fewer brokers in US
✖ No branch network
PayPal (Xoom)
Wise (formerly TransferWise)
✔ Fast online payments
✔ Lower FX spreads
✔ Lower fees
✖ No hedging tools
✖ No currency specialist
✖ No branch network
Western Union
Moneygram
Remitly
✔ Cash pick-up
✔ Online or local branch
✖ Wide FX spreads
✖ No hedging tools

The easiest solution is always to use your existing bank account.

But, it is oftentimes the most expensive solution as well.

When you transfer from your UK bank and want the recipient to get dollars then you have to exchange your currency at the bank’s rates.

While many believe the bank’s rates are the same as the “official rates” that is simply untrue.

The bank rate has an embedded markup (spread), and that spread can go as high as 3%.

Most UK banks also charge a fixed fee of about £9 (HSBC waives it).

Currency brokers, such as Currencies Direct, Moneycorp and OFX don’t have any wire fees.

Step 2: Register With Your Service of Choice

When you register with a company you will have to prove your identity in the same fashion you would when registering with any financial provider.

You’ll have to give details about yourself, and sometimes the source of your funds, similarly to what the bank would ask of you if you were to make a large transfer through it.

For Brits, most times the entire Know Your Customer process will be just online by uploading a bunch of documents and identifying through face recognition software. A lot faster and smoother than registering with a new bank.

Step 3: Format the Details of Your Wire Transfer From US to UK

Once you are registered and authorised to trade, then it’s time to understand how to make the transfer in practise.

You must ask your beneficiary for his bank details, and it’s better if he supplies that through an official letter from his bank so that you’d know he did not make any typos handing those details over to you.

Then, when it’s your time to input the payee’s details (or your own US bank account’s details), pay close attention to mitigate any mistakes.

To send money from UK to a US bank account you must supply

a. a full legal name of the beneficiary account and address

b. bank, branch number, and sometimes address of branch

c. account number

d. a SWIFT code

Format: The format is simple and consists of 11 digits – the first 4 letters represent the bank code in USA, the next two letters will always be US (which stands for USA), the next two digits stand for location and then the last 3 digits are the branch code (where XXX stands for the head office). If the SWIFT code you have has only 8 digits, it refers to the bank’s primary office.

Here is a list of US bank SWIFT codes

Then, either input the amount of GBP you want to convert, or the USD amount you want to receive.

Step 4: Settle Your Deal and Wait for Funds to Hit the USA Account

Once you have agreed on a transfer from UK to USA you will need to fund the deal in Pound Sterling (or any other currency you have selected for exchange).

Your provider will send you the details of his local bank account and you’ll have to just transfer it through CHAPS or BACS.

This will include any details you’ll need to include in the reference.

It’s important you will remember to include those details in your reference to verify funds will actually arrive to YOUR account.

Payment companies advise that transferring money from UK to USA can take 1-2 business days. However, you can optimise that if you are efficient.

The main thing working against you is the difference in time zones.

The UK is typically 5 hours ahead of the Eastern Time zone in the USA, and 8 hours ahead of the Pacific Time zone.

To ensure your transfer hits the US bank account on the same day, you need to initiate your transfer early in the UK business day.

Ideally, making your transfer by mid-morning (around 10 am UK time) should increase the chances of your funds arriving in a US bank account by the end of their business day, especially if dealing with banks on the East Coast. H

owever, for West Coast banks, you may need to initiate the transfer even earlier.

Always consult with your bank or transfer service regarding their specific cut-off times and procedures.

⭐ Best Way to Transfer Money: UK to USA⭐

Best For Real Estate and Mortgage Transfers

Currencies Direct has major track record when it comes to sending funds for Brits who buy property in the U.S (or the other way around).

They even issued property guides for the USA, available on their website.

A highly professional and service oriented company with 25+ of operation who help thousands of property buyers purchase abroad each year.

The company offers the full suite when it comes to defending against currency movements during the time of the deal:

It offer rate alerts that notify you if a certain GBP USD rate was hit.

It offers also Forward contracts to lock today’s rate for the future.

Lastly, it offers guidance on how to hedge correctly for your situation.

Best for Freelancers, Travels and Newcomers to the USA

There are several use-cases in which the Wise Account is simply the best option.

One is if you are freelancer with American customers who insist on paying in USD and worse than that – via bank transfers – the Wise account can get you a virtual bank account abroad, denominated in USD. So you can invoice them to that address and exchange that quickly and easily back to Sterling.

If you are a traveler of have recently moved to the US, then having a Wise Account comes with a very big perk: you are eligible for a debit card. That means you can move money to your Wise account in Sterling and pay using your Wise card in dollars.

And it all comes with very low fees and spreads.

 Best For B2B Payments to the U.S

Moneycorp is an industry veteran with a ton of experience in corporate FX and money transfers.

They are headquartered in the UK, with large offices in the USA where they mainly deal with B2B payments.

That means they offer additional functionalities that could come in very useful for both corporations and small businesses.

Things like FX risk assessments and guidance, hedging and tailored solutions to meet their customer’s requirements.

This type of brokerage is a great fit for businesses who have constant requirements for international payments.

Best for UK companies who want to employee in the U.S

Papaya Global is a global payroll company which means they are able to recruit employees on your business’ behalf and handle all the payroll, social benefits, employee portal and the likes.

They have businesses of all sizes save up big time on overheads when hiring abroad.

Executive Summary on The Best & Cheapest Providers for UK to USA Money Transfers

These are my findings based on my research in this topic.

  • Cheapest Under £20,000: On purely costs alone, Wise is likely to give the best exchange rate and charge lower fees. The downside is that you have to Do It Yourself which may be more error prone.
  • Cheapest Over £20,000: Currencies Direct, Moneycorp, and OFX are three of the highest respected brokerages in the UK. Brokers in general are known to compete over deals above £20,000 and could potentially beat Wise’s rates as well as provide a more holistic service you may need at large volumes.