Transferring Money From USA to UK

If you have a requirement which sees you transferring money from USA to UK, you’re probably wondering just how it is you go about it and what options are available to you. The first crucial thing to be aware of is that you DON’T HAVE TO use your bank to facilitate a international bank transfer from a US bank account to a UK bank account.

Nowadays, there are a number of bank-alternative methods for conducting a international transfer from US to UK. In fact (and this will always be dependent on your own personal priorities, values and objectives) we believe the best way to transfer money from USA to UK is by using a specialist international payment firm, which you can easily operate alongside your existing bank account. Read this guide to learn our recommendation for the cheapest and and yet reliable in a bank-like fashion method to transfer money from USA to UK.

Cheapest Way to Send Money From USA to UK [4 Steps]

Follow these four steps and you’ll be making your transfer to a bank account in UK in no time using the best way to transfer large amounts abroad as per our research.

Step 1) Choose a Payment Provider

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 from US to UK, 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 (and with that being said, we still have our ranking of the best international money transfer service for transferring money from USA to any destination).

The following types of companies can assist in different ways to send money from USA to UK:

⭐ Quick Tip – Best Way to Send Money From USA to UK ⭐

Based on Security, Speed and Cost, for May 2022; companies operating in USA and UK

USA Currencies Direct: Best for Large International Money Transfers
Local USA Offices:
4705 South Apopka-Vineland Rd,Suite 114, Orlando, FL 32819
97.8% Editorial rating
3,000 Client Reviews
Minimum transfer:
£100 / €100 / $100 or equivalent
Why Them?
  • 96% Positive Feedback from Customers, Since 1996
  • Service Oriented - Specializing in Large Transfers - Friendly, Professional, Dealers
  • Very Competitive Rates, No Wire Fees
+Read more
USA Moneycorp: Industry Veteran, Pristine Reputation, Business Specialists
Local USA Offices:
4500 Park Granada UNIT 239, Calabasas, CA 91302
93.2% Editorial rating
7,000 Client Reviews
Minimum transfer:
$250
Why Them?
  • Personal and close service, perfect for large international money transfers and businesses
  • Competitive exchange rates and no transfer fees
  • Many industry and business awards - operating since 1979
+Read more
USA OFX: Publicly Traded Money Transfers Giant, Great Online System
Local USA Offices:
T49 Stevenson Street, 13th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94105
90.4% Editorial rating
1,500 Client Reviews
Minimum transfer:
$100
Why Them?
  • Traded publicly, very well known name in the currency business
  • Great online platform and mobile app - easy to use, comprehend an sign up with
  • Good rates even for small transfers, and no transfer fees
+Read more
USA Wise: Excellent Rates Online
Local USA Offices:
19 W 24th Street, Floor 9, New York City, NY 10010
86.8% Editorial rating
32,000 Client Reviews
Minimum transfer:
$1
Why Them?
  • Transparent and good pricing
  • Very known name and recently went public, biggest money transfer service by volume
  • No minimum transfer
+Read more
USA WorldRemit: Immigrant-Friendly Rates
Local USA Offices:
WorldRemit Corp, 600 17th Street, Suite 200S Denver, CO 80202
77.0% Editorial rating
50,000 Client Reviews
Minimum transfer:
$1
Why Them?
  • Transfer from $1
  • Send to 130 Countries
  • Remittances-Oriented
+Read more

If you’re looking to make a quick decision, we’d recommend using any of the above three payment providers. 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.

Unless you have a requirement for the beneficiary to pick up cash at the other end of your US to UK money transfer, we’d suggest ignoring remittance companies. Big brand remittance companies like Western Union & Moneygram are notoriously expensive and better suited for instances where you need to send cash to more remote destinations around the world. Newer breed remittance companies like Remitly are cheaper than Western Union but again are better suited for cash delivery and mobile top ups. They’re also likely to be more expensive than currency brokers and money transfer companies for a bank transfer from USA to UK.

You’ll find that some payment providers are a hybrid of both a currency broker & online money transfer company. Let’s explore the role that each of these types of companies performs in more detail here.

Transferring money from UK to USA with:

U.S BanksCurrency BrokersOnline Money Transfer CompaniesRemittance Companies
Example Providers
  • Bank of America
  • Citibank
  • JPMorgan Chase
  • Wells Fargo
  • Currencies Direct
  • OFX
  • Moneycorp
  • PayPal (Xoom)
  • Wise (formerly TransferWise)
  • Western Union
  • Moneygram
  • Remitly
Advantages
  • Use your existing bank, no need to register with another provider
  • Safe & secure
  • Handle payments of all sizes
  • Branch network if prefer to make payments in-person (though usually more expensive)
  • Various hedging tools to manage exposure in currency market
  • Guidance from a dedicated currency specialist
  • Trade online or over the phone
  • Handle payments of all sizes
  • No payment fees
  • Slick online offering can make payments in minutes.
  • Lower FX spreads compared to banks and usually transparent
  • Lower payment fees
  • Can arrange cash pick-up (depending on destinations and provider)
  • Choose to settle deals either online or by visiting a local branch
Disadvantages
  • Currency hedging tools not made available to private clients and SMEs
  • Expensive payment fees
  • Wide FX Spreads
  • Can’t speak with a currency specialist
  • FX spreads usually smaller than banks – best foreign exchange rates for large international transfers
  • Fewer currency brokers operating in US compared to UK, meaning less options.
  • No branch network
  • No hedging tools, must accept the FX rate at the time you want to make the payment
  • No guidance from a currency specialist
  • No branch network
  • Wide FX spreads (perhaps still smaller than bank FX spreads)
  • No hedging tools, must accept the FX rate at the time you want to make the payment

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 DollarsFee When Sent in Foreign Currency
Bank of America$45$0
Citibank$35$35
JPMorgan Chase$40$5
Wells FargoUndisclosed*Undisclosed*

*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 0.1% – 2% applied. 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 and also flexible tools/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.

Step 2) Register With Your Provider

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 worse 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.

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.

 

⭐ 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 Money Transfer from USA to UK   – Overseas Property Purchase

Moneycorp provides a range of FX hedging tools that can be particularly helpful when buying a property overseas, supported by a team of currency experts that are on hand to run you through them all and the FX markets. Arguably the most important tool is a forward contract – allowing you to guarantee today’s exchange rate for up to two years in the future. Providing security around your budget and perhaps allowing you to bag a better FX rate by timing your forward contract correctly.

Best For Money Transfer from USA to UK – 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 Money Transfer From USA to UK – 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.

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 with a new international payment firm but once you’re familiar with the process and saved your beneficiary details, future transfers can be made with ease – either through an app, online or over the phone. Transferring money from USA to UK with any bank alternative should save substantial amounts of money.