Your local bank branch offers an easy way to send money overseas straight out of your account, but often there are high fees attached to this convenience. We’ve researched the wire transfer fees of some of the top banks in the UK to show how they compare against one another and against independent money transfer services.
The fees your bank charges depend on whether you’re sending or receiving the money, as well as whether the recipient or sender is overseas. Some banks charge more depending on how you initiate the wire transfer – for example, online or in person.
Generally, it’s much cheaper to send money domestically because fewer financial systems are involved. International transfers involve banks and wire processing services for each country – and with more banks come more fees.
Based on our research from 10 UK banks, these are the current wire transfer fees you can expect:
Incoming international fee: Up to £7.50 for receiving money from an overseas bank account.
Outgoing international fee: Up to £40 for sending money to an overseas bank account.
Initiation fee: Up to £20, depending on how you make your transfer, for example, in a branch or over the phone.
Tracer fee: Up to £10 for requesting tracing services for a previous wire transfer.
Wire transfer fees for top UK banks
We’ve gathered the wire transfer fees charged by 10 major UK banks. You may also be subject to foreign transaction, minimum balance and other fees – and some banks waive or reduce fees depending on what kind of account you have.
Up to £6
Up to £40
The Co-operative Bank
Up to £6
Up to £25
Up to £4
Up to £9
Up to £6
Up to £8
Up to £7
Up to £9.50
Up to £7.50
Up to £15
Up to £7.50
Up to £15
Up to £25
Up to £7
Up to £20
How can I compare these bank wire transfer fees?
To make your decisions a bit easier, we’ve gathered wire transfer fees for several UK banks below.
When assessing these fees, how much you’ll pay depends on where you’re sending money to and other elements like:
Incoming vs outgoing. Incoming wire transfers tend to be cheaper than outgoing wire transfers. This is because the sender usually bears the brunt of the costs associated with the wire transfer.
Domestic vs international. Because domestic wire transfers involve less processing, they will be cheaper than international wire transfers. International wire transfers typically involve multiple banking systems and operators between the two countries.
Recurring vs one-time fees. Some banks offer savings of a few dollars per transfer when you set up recurring wire transfers.
Initiation fees. Your bank could charge a fee for requesting the wire transfer in a branch or over the phone, instead of online.
Tracer fees. If your recipient hasn’t received your transfer as scheduled, you may need to trace it. This could incur more fees.
Exchange rates. An exchange rate shows how much one currency is worth in another currency. Nearly all banks skew the published exchange rate for a profit, and they aren’t always forthcoming about the margin they add. You may need to call your bank or initiate a transfer online to see the best exchange rate offered.
How can I beat the banks and reduce what I pay in fees?
Many providers give a break on fees if you send more money each time you use its service. Some smaller banks even give you a break on transfers to and from student accounts. This helps parents or guardians avoid being double charged if they’re funding both accounts.
Case study: Wiring £1,000 to India
Cash pickup transfer
Money transfer service
£20 + bank fees
1 GBP = 90.17 INR
1 GBP = 91.65 INR
1 GBP = 93.51 INR
Slowest and most expensive
The bank ends up being both the slowest and most expensive option, resulting in the least amount of money delivered among the three – 3,340 INR less than if you sent the money through the online money transfer service.
Send money abroad with XE
XE has fast transfers with no fees and a range of foreign currency tools.
Compare banks to independent money transfer services
Table: sorted by a combination of service offering and the amount your recipient will receive
Disclaimer: Exchange rates change often. Confirm the total cost with the provider before transferring money.
Banks offer a secure and familiar way to complete wire transfers with friends, family members and merchants. However, you can expect to pay high transfer fees on top of weaker exchange rates than you would get by using an online money transfer service.
There are more ways than just your bank to send money domestically and internationally, so be sure to compare your options before paying high fees.
Frequently asked questions
To send a wire transfer, you’ll need your recipient’s full personal and banking information, including their bank’s name and SWIFT code (if international) and their routing and account number.
Short for Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, a SWIFT code is an international bank code used for incoming transfers. Every bank has a unique SWIFT code that can be used to identify it in a global financial transaction such as a money transfer.
For international money transfers, it’s better to send money in your recipient’s currency. This takes the burden of converting the currency off of your recipient. Often times it is cheaper to wire in a foreign currency, too.
The processing time for a wire transfer varies from bank to bank and depends on several factors, such as whether the wire transfer is domestic or international. Some wire transfers can be processed within the same day if requested before the bank’s cutoff time. Others can take up to five business days.
Zak Killermann is a writer at Finder. He’s ghostwritten hundreds of articles on fintech, finding his love for publication at St. Cloud State University. Traveling internationally for nearly half his life — and getting burned once by an OTC money exchange — Zak's vowed not to settle for anything short of the mid-market rate again.
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