Sending money to the UK doesn’t have to break the bank. Learn how to send simple and affordable international money transfers from the United States to the UK.
According to the 2010 American Community Survey, Americans with English ancestry make up an estimated 9 per cent of the US population. And with almost three million US tourists visiting the United Kingdom every year, many people need a solution to send money to the UK from America.
Banks versus money transfer companies
If you need to conduct an international money transfer, your first thought may be your bank. However, the problem is that banks won’t offer you a particularly good exchange rate and will also charge you high fees. It’s therefore worthwhile using the services of a specialist money transfer provider.
These companies, such as TransferWise and USForex, offer better exchange rates than you will find from a bank and allow you to take care of the entire transaction online. They also charge lower transfer fees, with some companies waiving their fees completely when you transfer more than a set minimum amount. Using such a company can save you money and eliminate the stress of completing an online transfer.
Craig’s son Kevin is living and working in the UK, and with money starting to get tight, Kevin phones home to ask his dad for $1,000 extra spending money. Rather than using his bank to complete the transfer, Craig decides to weigh up the fees and features of two money transfer companies.
|Money transfer company 1||Money transfer company 2|
|Exchange rate||1 USD = 0.64 GBP||1 USD = 0.62 GBP|
|Transfer method||Bank account deposit||Bank account deposit|
|Processing time||1 business day||1 business day|
|Amount received (in British Pounds)||640 GBP||620 GBP|
As you can see, taking the time to do a quick comparison between different providers can make a noticeable difference to the amount of funds your recipient will receive.
How to compare transfer companies when transferring money to the UK
- Exchange rates. Exchange rates can vary noticeably between money transfer providers, so see how rates compare amongst different companies. Remember that the company that offers the highest exchange rate may also charge the higher fees.
- Fees. In most cases you’ll be charged a transfer fee for each transaction, but some companies will waive the fee if you transfer more than a certain threshold.
- Transfer methods. Check to see whether transfers can be placed online, over the phone and/or by visiting a branch.
- Transfer options. If you need flexible transfer options, such as the ability to place a special order or schedule repeat payments, check closely to see what features each provider offers.
- Turnaround time. While some companies make funds available for collection within minutes, others will require you to allow several business days for transfers to be completed.
- Minimum amount. Some companies impose a minimum transfer limit which can be restrictive if you only want to transfer small amounts.
- Pickup methods. Can your recipient collect the cash you send in person or is it deposited directly into their bank account.
- Customer service. Check to see whether phone, email and live chat support are offered in case you need assistance with a transfer.
How to send money to the UK from America
- Bank transfers. Your bank will allow you to send an international transfer from your US account to a bank account in the UK.
- Online money transfer providers. Funds can be quickly and conveniently sent online through a specialist money transfer provider.
- Money transfer companies with cash pickup options. Companies like MoneyGram, Moneycorp, Ria and Western Union allow the funds you send to be picked up from agent locations all over the UK.
- PayPal. PayPal offers an easy and affordable online solution when you need to send money from the US to the UK.
- Checks. This money transfer method might take a little longer than other options but it is still effective.
Emergency cash transfers in the UK
In some situations you will need to send an emergency cash transfer to someone in the UK – perhaps you’re buying a collectible item from a UK seller or maybe your relatives in the UK have fallen on hard financial times and need urgent cash. Whatever the reason you need to send funds quickly, remember that you may have to settle for a higher fee and a lower exchange rate if you want to get your money there as quickly as possible. With this in mind, make sure to closely check the exchange rate and fee that apply to your transaction before sending your funds.Back to top
Cash pickup locations in the UK / Western Union / MoneyGram / Ria branches in the UK
If you’re sending funds to be collected from an agent location in the UK, Western Union, MoneyGram and Ria boast the three largest transfer networks in the world. Just make sure that your recipient takes along photo ID and a transaction reference number when they go to collect the cash, while phoning ahead to confirm an agent’s opening hours can also be a good idea.
Western Union – London
BirminghamInternet City Ltd
11 Charing Cross Road
London, WC2H 0EP
Open 8am to 10pm seven days
London, WC2R 0NE
Open 8:30am to 6pm Monday to Friday, 10am to 5pm Saturday and 11am to 3pm Sunday
Cash Generator Birmingham
4 Kings Parade
Birmingham, West Midlands B4 7LN
Open 9:45am to 5pm Monday to Saturday
34 Union Street
Birmingham, West Midlands B2 4SR
Open 9am to 5:30pm Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm Saturday
MoneyGram – London
BirminghamPost Office – Trafalgar Square
28 Trafalgar Square Post Office 2
24-28 William IV Street
London, WC2N 4DL
Open 8:30am to 6:30pm Monday to Friday, 9am to 5:30pm Saturday
The Change Group
17 Villiers Street
London, WC2N 6ND
Open 10:30am to 10:30pm seven days
Post Office – Corporation Street
118 Corporation Street
Birmingham, B4 6SX
Open 8:30am to 5:30pm Monday to Saturday
Post Office – Vauxhall
29 Revesby Walk
Birmingham, B7 4LG
Open 8:30am to 5:30pm Monday and Tuesday, 9am to 5:30pm Wednesday to Saturday
Ria – London
BirminghamRia Baker St
75 Baker Street
Open Monday to Friday 9am to 9pm, Saturday 9am to 6pm
Ria Brixton Rd
306 Brixton Road
Open 9am to 6:45pm Monday to Friday, 9am to 5:45pm Saturday
Ria does not have any locations in Birmingham.Back to top
Tips for picking up cash in the UK
Although the UK is a safe place to visit, you should always remember to exercise caution when you pick up cash from an agent location. Your personal safety is paramount so it makes sense to avoid any high-crime areas and make sure not to flash your funds around in public. You should also make sure to deposit the cash you pick up into your bank account as soon as possible.Back to top
How to send money to the UK
Although the exact process for sending an international money transfer will vary depending on the provider and transfer method you choose, in most cases you’ll have to register for an account before you can transfer any funds. This usually means you’ll need to provide:
- Your name
- Your address and contact details
- Proof of ID
- Your payment information
Once you’ve lodged a transfer you will be presented with a receipt or tracking number. This can be used to monitor the progress and eventual completion of your funds transfer. Sending money to the UK is simple and affordable when you choose the right transfer method, so make sure to compare a range of options before you make your final decision.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I refund/cancel my transaction?
Certain money transfer companies (such as TransferWise and USForex) will cancel a transaction, granted the transfer has not yet been completed.
What are forward contracts and who can use them?
Forward contracts let you lock in your exchange rate so you can reduce any risk, and they can be used by anyone..
What are Swift codes, ABA & IBAN numbers and Sort Codes?
SWIFT is a secure messaging system that allows banks to communicate with each other about accounts and payments.
Sort Code/Branch Code- UK
BSB Code- Austrailia
ABA Code/Routing Number- US