But with a thriving fintech scene, the days where lack of choice made high charges inevitable are long gone. Nor do you need to leave home to get started, thanks to a wide range of innovative online solutions and apps.
Here are ten of the best options for moving your money across borders in a prompt and cost-efficient manner.
If too many numbers leave your head in a spin, why not try a comparison engine like Monito? The company claims to be “building the Booking.com for money transfers”.
This Swiss-based start-up aims to make it quick and easy for you to shop around before sending your money abroad.
With Dublin-based CurrencyFair you can hold funds in a free multi-currency wallet, ready to exchange at any time. It uses peer-to-peer exchange, so you can choose your preferred rate – and wait for it to be matched with customers swapping the opposite currency.
On average you pay 0.4 percent above the mid-market rate – that’s the interbank lending rate that Google shows you. Estimated processing times vary with different currencies. If you sign up via this link, you can get five free transfers.
This site is well-known for its free information services, showing live mid-market rates online and in its app (which has over 70 million downloads). It also offers the XE Money Transfer service, allowing you to trade in 60 currencies and send money to more than 170 countries.
You can transfer unlimited amounts. The exchange rate is linked to live foreign exchange markets but is not the mid-market rate itself.
London-based Clear Currency places no limit on how much money you can move and positions itself as a specialist in transfers worth £5,000 or more, whether one-off or regular. It supports more than 35 currencies.
Users have the option of locked-in forward contracts to avoid volatility in rates. The Local's readers can get €50 (or your local currency equivalent) off their first transfer by signing up via this link.
A basic Revolut account enables you to transfer money abroad in 30 currencies at the interbank rate (but with a 0.5 percent fee for anything above £5,000* in a month). You can also set alerts in its app to receive notifications when exchange rates hit certain levels.
Readers of The Local who sign up via this link will get their Revolut card shipped free of charge. Customers can also then spend abroad in over 150 currencies at the interbank rate (also up to £5,000* per month before a 0.5 percent fee kicks in).
* Exact amount depends upon your location.
Azimo allows you to send money to bank accounts, mobile wallets or 300,000 cash pick-up locations (some might be limited by coronavirus-related restrictions). Its reach extends to more than 200 countries and territories and most transfers are complete within 24 hours.
Azimo currently offers your first two transfers for free, after which fees depend on the size, method and route of your transfer.
Thanks to its global network of 115 banks, most people can send funds to an OFX account through a domestic transfer. OFX says 80 percent of major currency transfers are processed within 24 hours of OFX receiving the funds.
The company also promises no transfer fees and you can monitor where your money is via its app. OFX has handled £67bn in transfers for more than 430,000 customers.
TorFX deals with more than 60 currencies and says funds should usually be received the same day. The UK-based company allows transfers of up to £25,000 online or via its app; for larger sums, you must place instructions with your dedicated account manager.
The Regular Overseas Payments service allows you to make repeat payments of between £500 and £10,000. TorFX says it aims to provide rates “as close as possible” to the mid-market rate.
Set up by Estonians in London, TransferWise says it is “on a mission to bring transparency to finance”. It pledges that you always get the “real exchange rate” – yes, the mid-market rate – and pay only a small conversion fee.
TransferWise says its small margin is reinvested to grow and improve the service, which is currently available in 59 countries.
WorldRemit lets you send money to 150 countries for competitive fees and says most transactions are received instantly. You can send via bank transfer, mobile money, the WorldRemit wallet or cash pickup – although the options vary according to the destination.
The AirTime service also allows you to instantly add minutes or mobile data to a loved one’s phone. The company advises that some cash pickup services are affected by coronavirus-related restrictions but other services are working as normal.
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