There are other factors to consider when sending an international money transfer in addition to the exchange rate, including the transfer fees, the payment method, the speed of delivery and the level of customer service. What’s best for you might not be best for someone else.
Today’s mid-market rate
The mid-market pound-to-dollar exchange rate is 1 GBP = 1.42 USD. (Rate accurate as of May 18, 2021.)
We’ve gathered today’s best rates to inform your foreign exchange decisions when sending money from the UK to the US.
How does the British pound trade against the US dollar historically?
The British pound has a rich history and is the oldest actively traded currency on the foreign exchange (forex) market. The first exchange rate between the GBP and USD was published in The Times on August 10, 1866.
Since then, the GBP = USD currency pair has been affected by various factors. One of these factors is the interest rate between the UK’s Bank of England and the US’s Federal Reserve, which affects the value of currencies when compared to each other. For example, when the Fed intervenes on open market activities to strengthen the USD, the value of the GBP trade against the USD could decline.
From 2012 through 2016, the GBP has had an average worth of $1.35 to $1.75. There is some confusion to why the pound consistently trades stronger than the US dollar, taking into account the US’s more powerful economy over the UK. It turns out that the nominal value of a country’s currency and its economic strength have little to do with one another.
The effects of “Brexit” on currency exchange
After Brexit — or Britain’s proposed exit from the European Union — in June 2016, the GBP has plummeted against the USD, reaching extreme lows of 1.20 against the US dollar.
However, this low is nothing compared to the 1.05 record low in February 1985. The GBP is expected to remain volatile during this period of the UK’s exit from the EU.
In December 1957, the GBP reached its highest ever against the dollar at 2.86. Since then, the GBP has been in a decline and hasn’t hit more than 2.0 in the last decade.
GBP > USD exchange rate history
We’ve put together the annual average exchange rate for the British pound against the US dollar from 2007 to 2016.
GBP = USD
Here’s the monthly average exchange rate for the British pound over the past 12 months.
GBP = USD
What affects GBP > USD exchange rates?
In general, five factors affect how the British pound trades against the US dollar.
Prices and inflation
These elements play an important role in the value of the British pound. Countries with high levels of inflation see higher currency depreciation when compared with other currencies.
The Bank of England controls the supply of the British pound and promotes its stability. This means that whenever inflation is rising to a level that threatens stability of the British pound, the Bank of England will use its policy tools to control inflation.
Confidence and sentiment
Traders rely on public confidence about the economy. Whether the public is optimistic or pessimistic about the wealth and resources of the UK can be a key to detecting shifting trends in the economy.
The UK’s economic activity also affects currency value. The growth of the economy is measured by its gross domestic product (GDP). GDP reports include the preliminary GDP, the revised GDP and the final GDP — all estimating trends that will impact the economy.
Balance of payments
The balance of payments is like a country’s accounting record of interaction with the rest of the world. It’s made up of three accounts, but only the current account affects exchange rates. This account reveals how much a country is exporting and importing, as well as the flow of income and transfer payments.
How much is traded between these currencies?
The GBP > USD currency pair makes up 85% of all currency cross-rate trades. It is the third most commonly traded pair, taking a 14% share of all daily trading volume.
Did you know?
The GBP = USD currency pair is often referred to by forex traders as trading the “cable,” a reference to the cable across the Atlantic used to transmit exchange rates in the 1800s. In London markets, it’s called “Betty” — cockney rhyming slang that mutated “cable” to “Betty Grable.”
No matter your reason for transferring money abroad, you want to make an informed decision.
When choosing a money transfer service for currency exchange, it’s best to look for an exchange rate that’s closest to the mid-market rate and comparable to historically low exchange rates within the past year.
What is the mid-market rate?
The mid-market rate is what your money’s actually worth on the global market compared to another currency. It’s the midpoint between worldwide supply and demand for that currency — and the rate banks and transfer services use when they trade among themselves.
Use the mid-market rate as a baseline to compare against the rates provided by your bank or transfer service. With it, you’ll discover which companies offer the best rates.
Frequently asked questions
For traders that trade on fundamentals (economic reports and news events), knowing which reports to follow can save them time and provide guidance on which areas to focus on.
In the 1800s, the exchange rate between the US dollar and British pound was transmitted across the Atlantic by a cable that ran across the ocean floor. This exchange rate has been called “cable” by traders ever since.
Yes. Less important factors include limits set on the exchange rate, trade balance on services, goods and merchandise, and borrowing costs.
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