Currency Transfers: Top Solutions
For many expats living in Spain, it’s sometimes necessary to make currency transfers. Even if you have no assets “back home” you may want to send a cash birthday gift or even clear your kid’s overdraft. We’ve looked at the cheapest and best ways to make an international transfer.
Depending on why you want to make a currency transfer, the method you decide to use should vary. Don’t stick with the same provider every time.
We’ve taken a look at online-only currency transfers websites, prepaid currency cards, dedicated currency transfer companies and the fallback solution (your bank).
#1 Online-only Currency Transfers
All multilingual sites offer an online-only currency transfer service with low fees. The websites are really easy to use, you may need to upload ID for security reasons, so make sure to have it scanned beforehand.
TransferWise offers real mid-market rates for with fees of 0.35% on low amounts and 0.5% on higher amounts, World Remit offers a flat fee of 3.99€ on most transfers an Transfer Go has a tiered fee system with the cheapest rate of 0.99€.
With all companies register first and before finalising your transfer details check your email – you’ll may receive a discount code to send your first transfer for free.
All three companies are registered with the UK Financial Conduct Authority; company accounts are totally separate to clients’ money, meaning that if any company goes bankrupt your money is safe.
#2 Currency Card
If you travel often between countries with different currencies, then the currency card offered by Revolut is an easy to use option.
Available for residents of the majority of EU countries, with more countries to be added in the future, all you need to do is download their app and request the prepaid card. Top up from your bank account or debit card for free or use your credit card with a 1% transaction fee.
The app and card are free, however you have to pay for card delivery: £5 (or €/$ equivalent) standard delivery or 20€ express delivery to Europe.
You can use the card for purchases abroad and make cash withdrawals at ATMs in the local currency. Withdrawals are free up to £200 (or equivalent in other currencies) per month, afterwards a 2% fee is charged.
You can also transfer money between users via the app, WhatsApp or email.
Revolut offers real bank rates. Over 80 currencies can be used; your money is held in dollars, pounds sterling or euros.
Security is guaranteed as funds are held in an account in Barclays Bank, however it makes sense to only top up the funds on the card a week or so before you travel. Transactions have 2-step verification, as well as a passcode you’ll also have to enter a code sent to your phone.
#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.
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.
#4 Use Your Bank
Of course, the easy solution is to use your bank. However it’s essential to get up-to-date accurate information about the commission and the exchange rate.
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.
If you’re a highly valued customer, you can probably get access to better exchange rates than other clients. But then we doubt you’d be reading Money Saver Spain!
Bonus Solution: What About PayPal?
For smaller amounts lots of people still use Paypal, but it works out more expensive than option #1 above.
Check out their fees table for cross border personal payments. Payments funded by a credit or debit card are considerably more expensive. Further down on the page is the fixed fee (based on the currency received) plus a currency conversion fee.
Each solution has its merits; for the majority of people using their local bank is not going to be the most favourable. It’s up to you to compare and decide which is best for your own personal circumstances.
Remember that all these companies have to comply with international laws to avoid money laundering. You’ll have to provide at least a copy of your ID/passport, and possibly more documentation.
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