Currency Transfers: Top Cheap and Fast Options

Sometimes it’s necessary to make a currency transfer, even if you have no assets “back home”. You might want to send a cash birthday gift, or help fund your child’s gap year abroad. Take a look at the cheapest and fastest ways to make an international currency transfer.

Depending on why you want to make a currency transfer, the method you decide to use could vary. We’ve taken a look at

  • online-only currency transfers,
  • prepaid currency cards,
  • dedicated currency transfer companies,
  • and the fallback solution (your bank).

#1 Online-only currency transfers

The number of people using money transfer websites has increased exponentially in the last couple of years. Take a look at Wise (formally TransferWise) or WorldRemit, along with others.

These multilingual sites are easy to use and come with low fees. You’ll need to upload photo ID for security reasons, so make sure to have it scanned beforehand.

Try registering first and before finalising your first transfer check your email as you may receive a discount code.

Both companies mentioned above are registered with the UK Financial Conduct Authority. This means that company accounts are totally separate to clients’ money, so if the company goes bankrupt your money is safe.

Another option is Xoom by PayPal. Their online fees and exchange rate calculator will help you see how much you’ll pay in commission. Charges depend on the payment method, how much you send, the country of destination, and whether the money is to be deposited in an account or collected in cash.

#2 Multi-currency accounts and cards

If you travel often between countries with different currencies, then your best option is to open a multi-currency account and request a debit card. Loading currency on your debit card is cheaper than using your usual bank debit or credit card. Your Spanish bank will add on up to 3% to each foreign currency transaction, which can soon add up if you’re on holiday.

Full details are available in our dedicated post Multi-Currency Accounts and Cards.

#3 Specialist currency transfer companies

There are a multitude of currency transfer companies. Many are specialists in UK-Spain-UK transfers with offices in several coastal towns in Spain, such as Currencies Direct.

The advantage of using a specialist company is that you’ll have access to an account manager who you’ll be able to speak to directly and ask for advice. This is especially useful when you have to carry out large transfers (for example to purchase a house or car).

Currency transfer companies can offer better rates than a bank. The latter offers many services, currencies being a very minor one, so banks don’t tend to be competitive.

Additionally a dedicated currency transfer company can set up regular payments for you if you still need to pay a mortgage in your home country or have children studying abroad. Use the quote box below to get an idea of how much you could save by using a specialist currency transfer company.

#4 Use your bank

Of course, the easy solution is to use your bank but it will nearly always be a lot more expensive than any of the options above.

Beware of banks that state that their transfers are commission free. If the exchange rate is poor you’ll actually end up getting less for your money.


For the majority of people using their local bank is not going to be the cheapest option. It’s up to you to compare your options and decide which is best for your own personal circumstances.

Remember that reputable companies have to comply with international laws to avoid money laundering. You’ll have to provide a copy of your photo ID/passport and possibly more documentation.

Tip: where possible set up two-factor authentication as an anti-fraud measure. When you log in a code will be sent to your mobile to access your account and carry out transactions online.