You need to send money from USA to UK, but wondering how to slash down on costs?
The first crucial thing to be aware of is that you DON’T HAVE TO use your bank to facilitate an international bank transfer from a US bank account to a UK bank account.
Transferring money from USA to UK can be easy to do outside of your bank, and for cheaper than what banks charge.
Whether you are a British national or an American (or holding another nationality like European, Canadian or Australian) –
You could use highly recommended services that facilitate such transfers between the US and UK.
You would obtain better rates.
Something like the below:
Nowadays, there are a number of bank-alternative methods for conducting an international transfer from US to UK.
All of which are supplementary to your bank account and don’t require of you to replace it.
Cheapest Way to Send Money From USA to UK [4 Steps]
Follow these steps and enjoy lower fees on your U.S – UK bank transfer.
Step 1: Choose a Service That Transfers Money Between the Countries
Of all the steps involved to conduct a US to UK money transfer, this is arguably the most important to get right.
When it comes to moving money between these two destinations, there’s a whole host of providers you can choose from; some of them well known like PayPal and others you may not recognise at all.
It’s not simply about choosing a recognised brand though – each provider has their own area of specialism and each has advantages and disadvantages.
The following types of companies can assist in different ways to send money from USA to UK:
⭐ Best Way to Send Money From USA to UK ⭐
- 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)
- 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
- 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
- Largest Money Transfer Provider of its Kind
- Fully-Online Journey
- Transparent Pricing
- Excellent Margins (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
If you’re looking to make a quick decision, we’d recommend using any of the above four payment providers, specializing in the USA – UK corridor.
Not only are they likely to prove cheaper than US banks, they also have a dedicated team of currency specialists that can recommend different FX tools depending on your requirements and risk appetite.
The suite of hedging tools that these firms offer individuals and SMEs (such as forward contracts) are simply not accessible through banks – these products are reserved by banks for their large corporate customers only.
While all three of these firms can process payments for both individuals and businesses, and for a variety of purposes, we do recommend specific companies for certain types of transfers (more on this below).
Overview of possible ways to move money from the US to the UK:
|U.S Banks / Providers||Advantages||Disadvantages|
|Bank of America|
|✔ Use existing bank|
✔ Safe & secure
✔ Handle all payments
✔ Branch network
|✖ No currency hedging for private/SMEs|
✖ Expensive fees
✖ Wide FX Spreads
✖ No currency specialist
|✔ Hedging tools|
✔ Currency specialist
✔ Trade online/phone
✔ Handle all payments
✔ No fees
|✖ Smaller FX spreads than banks|
✖ Fewer brokers in US
✖ No branch network
Wise (formerly TransferWise)
|✔ Fast online payments|
✔ Lower FX spreads
✔ Lower fees
|✖ No hedging tools|
✖ No currency specialist
✖ No branch network
|✔ Cash pick-up|
✔ Online or local branch
|✖ Wide FX spreads|
✖ No hedging tools
In terms of simplicity, it’s probably easiest to use your existing checking account provider.
This does, however, come with some serious warnings which primarily revolve around the cost to make the transfer.
When you transfer US dollars to a UK bank account, there are two ways the bank or payment provider will make money – through the payment fee charged and the FX spread applied.
Banks are notorious for expensive payment fees (a fixed cost per transfer) and wide FX spreads (a variable payment fee that works as a % of the total transfer).
It’s the latter which can soon start to burn a whole in your pocket if you’re not careful.
US Bank International Wire Transfer Fees
|Fee When Sent in US Dollars||Fee When Sent in Foreign Currency|
|Bank of America||$45||$0|
*Wells Fargo international wire fees are reported as $45 elsewhere but Wells Fargo makes no mention of fees on their website. Domestic wire fees are mentioned at $30.
For international wires sent in USD, bank fees range from $35 – $45.
These are some of the highest international payment fees for any country around the world.
These are also based on a US to UK bank transfer initiated online – if you prefer to make a transfer over the phone or in branch then a wire transfer from US to UK could set you back around $50 in payment fees alone.
Currency brokers, such as Currencies Direct, Moneycorp and OFX charge no payment fee at all, whilst online money transfer company Wise charges a minimal payment fee of $4.47.
In addition to the highest international wire fees, US banks are notorious for charging some of the highest FX spreads of any banks in the world.
If you’re making a large US to UK money transfer, then international wire fees will soon start to be dwarfed by other, not so visible, fees.
The FX spread is the difference between the actual interbank exchange rate at the time and the rate you’re offered as a client (learn more about exchange rates for international bank transfers here).
Transferring money from US to UK with a bank will likely see you charged an FX spread of 2.5%+, whereas transferring money from US to UK with a specialist currency broker or money transfer organization will see a spread in the region of 0.25% – 1.5% applied (similar rates apply on other routes like Spain – UK money transfers, we’d say an industry average for larger trades is around 0.6 or 0.7 per cent).
With currency brokers, the larger the amount you send, the better the rate you’ll achieve.
You may even be able to negotiate a tighter spread if you’re sending large volumes. Online providers like Wise pride themselves on a transparent spread of 0.43% no matter the amount sent (or variable fee as they like to call it).
If you’re happy to accept the exchange rate on any given day and you’re simply interested in driving the cost of the transfer down through the lowest charges and fees then Wise is likely to prove your best option.
The totally online platform is built around putting the onus of the transfer on the user and simply facilitating US to UK money transfers with a no-fuss, low-fee approach.
However, opting for the provider with the lowest fees is not the only way to bring the cost down on your US to UK bank transfer.
The timing of the trade is vital and large currency swings can even start to dwarf foreign exchange spreads.
For example, if you were transferring money from US to UK on 28th May 2021, you’d have received £0.70 to the $1. Making that same US to UK money transfer at the beginning of December 2021 would have achieved a rate of £0.76 to the $1. A difference of 8.6%.
This is one of the primary factors as to why we recommend currency brokers. They offer the advantage of both lower fees/FX spreads combined with flexible tools and expert guidance that can improve the timing of your bank transfer from USA to UK.
Once you’ve carefully considered your options and found a provider that’s best suited to your requirements, it’s time to initiate the transfer.
Remember, different providers have different strengths. For instance, if you’re looking for the best way to send money from Australia to UK, we have a dedicated guide for that.
Step 2: Register With Your Service of Choice
Upon registering with any new payment company, you’ll have to complete an identity check. These ‘Know Your Customer’ obligations are conducted by payment companies for the purpose of adhering to anti-money laundering regulations.
You can learn more about the KYC documents required to sign up with a money transfer service.
This process is only conducted once at the point of opening an account and should be complete in just a few hours.
The process, which is notoriously slow with banks, has been identified as a pain point for customers by fintechs and money transfer organizations.
Building solutions to conduct most of this online and, when possible, removing any manual processes from the customer, such as scanning identity andchome address documents.
Step 3: Format the Details of Your Wire Transfer From US to UK
Once you’re fully registered with your provider, it’s time to format the details of your US to UK bank transfer. Chances are you’ll do this online or over the phone (if you’re using a currency broker).
It’s important you input the beneficiary details correctly to avoid delay and, in the worst case scenario, sending your US dollars to the wrong UK bank account.
All UK bank accounts can be formatted as an International Bank Account Number (IBAN).
It’s this IBAN that you need to input when you send money from US to UK.
If you have an invoice, the IBAN should be included on this. If you’re looking to transfer US dollars to a UK bank account in your name then there are a number of IBAN generators you can use online. Simply input the sort code (the UK’s version of a routing number) and bank account number into the IBAN generator.
Either input the amount of USD you want to convert, or the GBP amount you want to receive.
As you make the payment you’ll then be able to lock-in the exchange rate. At this point a legal obligation is made that you will enter into this contract and convert USD to GBP for your bank transfer from USA to UK.
IBAN Format to Transfer Money From USA to UK Bank Account
22 Alphanumeric characters
GBkk BBBB SSSS SSCC CCCC CC
GB = Country Code
kk = Check Digits
B = First four of BIC
S = Sort Code
C = Account No
The US is not part of the IBAN formatting system and you’ll need to get more information on the beneficiary bank in order to process an international wire.
Details Required to Transfer Money From UK to USA Bank Account
- Beneficiary Bank BIC/SWIFT – 8 or 11 characters
- ABA Number
- Beneficiary Address
Either input the amount of USD you want to convert, or the GBP amount you want to receive. As you make the payment you’ll then be able to lock-in the exchange rate. At this point a legal obligation is made that you will enter into this contract and convert USD to GBP for your bank transfer from USA to UK.
Step 4: Settle Your Deal and Wait for Funds to Hit the UK Account
Once you’ve set up your US to UK money transfer and agreed an exchange rate, you’ll need to fund the deal in USD.
Your payment company will provide their account number for you to settle the trade as soon as you’ve set it up, either through the online portal or over the telephone/email.
This will include any details you’ll need to include in the reference.
By closely adhering to the reference requirements you can ensure the funds are immediately settled by the payment company on your deal and converted to GBP.
Companies like Currencies Direct, Moneycorp and OFX all hold a local USD bank account in the USA, meaning you’ll just have to make a local wire from your main US checking account to the payment provider’s USD account.
Payment companies advise that transferring money from USA to UK can take 1-2 business days. However, if you’re efficient with your timings, you can see funds hit your UK account the same day you initiate the transfer.
The main thing working against you is the difference in time zones.
As the UK is ahead of the US, there’s a chance the banking systems may already be closed by the time your funds reach the UK.
This is particularly true for those finding themselves on the west coast. If you’re sending funds from the east coast prior to 9:00am then you give yourself a good shot at same-day completion on your transfer.
If it’s not possible, your deal should be one of the first in line to process the following morning.
And – that’s it, you’re done!
⭐ Best Way to Transfer Money From U.S to UK⭐ [For Each Use-Case]
The answer to this question depends a lot on why you’re transferring money from US to UK. We explore some of the most popular reasons here and provide our recommendations on the most suitable payment provider for each.
Best for Overseas Property Puirchase
Currencies Direct: With an extensive range of property guides and a track record of helping individuals buy property overseas for 25+ years, Currencies Direct is our no.1 choice for anything related to property purchases.
Currencies Direct offers a variety of hedging tools, such as a forward contract, that can help customers budget for the future and provide certainty around how much they will have to pay.
Helping to mitigate exchange rate fluctuations and the risk that a house might fall outside your budget should the exchange rate move against you.
Best For Overseas Mortgage Payments / Repatriating Salary
When making a regular wire transfer from US to UK (say each month) you may want to work with a provider that offers automated regular transfers such as Currencies Direct.
For example a mortgage payment, you can either agree to take the exchange rate it will be on the day or set each regular transfer as a forward contract – locking in the current exchange rate for every regular transfer up to 2 years.
Best For Freelance Invoicing
If you’re moving money from US to UK because you happen to be invoicing a client in USD then we recommend Wise as you won’t necessarily know how much you’re set to receive or when it is due, meaning it’s best to opt for a provider with guaranteed low spreads and low fees.
They also have a multi-currency account solution which lets you hold balances in both GBP & USD – allowing you to spend directly from the balances or convert to multiple different currencies.
Best For Supplier Payments (B2B)
Moneycorp: Moneycorp is arguably the best all-round corporate FX provider on the market today.
With an intuitive online platform, a dedicated relationship manager and even FX options for corporate customers, Moneycorp understands the challenges that businesses face when trading internationally.
Whether you’re a large organisation or an SME, moneycorp can cater for your international payment needs and help reduce your foreign currency risk. As things stand, moneycorp is already helping over 21,000 businesses move money across borders.
Best For Paying Staff
Papaya Global : Papaya Global offers an all-in-one payroll solution that allows customers to automate their payroll with a safe and regulatory compliant solution.
Payments can be made in any currency, anywhere to 160+ countries, including transferring money from US to UK. Local Support is available in the UK and US with guidance on local taxes, employment law, hiring laws and social benefits and contracts.
Cheapest Way to Transfer Money from USA to UK?
This can be dependent on a number of factors but the biggest influence is how much it is you’re looking to transfer.
- Cheapest Way to Transfer Money from US to UK – Under $20,000: On purely costs alone, Wise will likely prove cheaper than currency brokers when you conduct a bank transfer from USA to UK under $20,000. Of course, a currency broker might be able to provide guidance which improves your timing of a trade and thus make it cheaper but on standalone cost we’d recommend Wise for smaller amounts.
- Cheapest Way to Transfer Money from US to UK – Over $20,000: Currencies Direct, Moneycorp, and OFX are three highly respected currency brokers offering both an online trading system and a team of foreign exchange specialists which are on hand to guide you through the transfer process. When sending large volumes, it’s worth seeing if you can negotiate the FX spread that’s applied on your US to UK bank transfer too.
Final Thoughts: International Bank Transfer From USA to UK
Despite US banks being some of the most expensive international payment providers around the world, individuals and SMEs are finding an increasingly growing range of currency brokers and online money transfer companies that can send money from US to UK.
Choosing the right provider will depend on why you’re transferring money from US to UK, but there are specialist companies that have all bases covered.
The first occasion that you transfer money from the USA to UK, bank account to bank account, can be a little more time consuming as it can involve selecting and registering but 95% of all customer reviews on these services online are highly positive…
So it may be worth the trouble.