Sometimes you need to send money overseas in a hurry – perhaps a friend or relative needs some emergency cash, or maybe you are trying to secure a deal and need a fast payment.
The quickest way to send an international money transfer is often through a specialist firm such as Moneygram or Western Union. Some have branches on the high street, or you can usually carry out the transaction online.
You simply fill in a form with your own details and those of the recipient, hand the money over and note down the reference number
The process is quite straightforward. You simply fill in a form with your own details and those of the recipient, hand the money over and note down the reference number. You then give the number to the beneficiary so they can collect the cash from a local agent. If all goes well, the money is ready for pick up in 10 minutes.
Branches accept most forms of payment. But if you make the transfer online, you will usually have to pay with a credit or debit card. Don’t forget that the person collecting the money will also need some sort of ID as well as the reference number.
Fees and charges
The service is certainly speedy, but it can be costly. There are two types of charge – the first is an explicit fee which can be as much as £10 or £12 to send £100. The firm might also load the exchange rate so that you don’t get as many euros or dollars for your pound as you might in a standard currency transaction.
Charges should be clear and there might be a cost estimator on the firm’s website. However, the best way to compare the true cost of the international money transfer is to ask the firm how much foreign currency you will get for your sterling, after all charges have been deducted.
Security is paramount if you are sending money overseas so you should always check that the transfer firm is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). It must then follow strict guidelines to safeguard the interests of its customers. However, it is unlikely that the firm will be covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), which means there is no guarantee that you would get your money back if something went disastrously wrong.
Foreign exchange brokers are often cheaper than money transfer firms, plus they usually offer a better exchange rate. The transfer is not instant but you might be able to get the money overseas within 24 hours, depending on the currency and the destination.
You normally have to register with a currency broker, but you could then carry out the transaction pretty quickly using the current exchange rate and transferring the funds electronically. Again, brokers are not normally members of the FSCS, but you should always make sure the firm is authorised by the FCA.
If you want to transfer money from your UK current account to an account overseas, most banks and building societies offer an express service. It’s not exactly instant, but the money could arrive within a day. However, you will pay the price. The fees for express services vary but can be as much as £40.
You also have to factor the exchange rate into the total cost. But if security is your priority, a bank or building society might be your preferred option as they are normally members of the FSCS.