How to get the best exchange rate on international money transfers

Learn some tips and tricks which will help you get the most for your pound.

The best exchange rates will help you get more foreign currency for your pound. Understanding how to exchange money can make all the difference when it comes to trying to save money. We compared dozens of ways to exchange money and found that the best methods typically avoid banks and in-person exchange kiosks.

How to find the best exchange rates

When transferring funds internationally or exchanging currency for a trip overseas, you will want to get the most value for money. So here’s our top tips on how to get the best exchange rates possible:

Do

  • Use non-bank exchange services: Providers like OFX, WorldRemit, Wise and similar online money transfer services offer competitive exchange rates and low margins. If you are sending money overseas, these companies typically charge lower fees than traditional banks.
  • Convert cash when rates are favourable: If you know you need to make an international transfer or you will be traveling overseas, then try to exchange your cash when rates are favourable to you. Carry out your conversion at an exchange provider that charges low fees and has a competitive rate, and you’ll benefit by saving money.

Don’t

  • Exchange money at airports or train stations: Although such booths may be convenient, they never offer the best exchange rates. You will find they take advantage of people’s need to exchange their money and charge highly for the convenience.
  • Use a credit or debit card abroad: Unless you know for sure, your card will most likely charge fees for use abroad and offer poor exchange rates.

How to get the best exchange rate on international money transfers

If you plan to use an international money transfer service, then it’s best to shop around and compare your options. The more time you can leave yourself before needing to send the transfer the better. Here are a few things to think about when comparing money transfer exchange rates:

  • Know the mid-market rate for your currency. Money transfer providers skew exchange rates in their favour. Therefore it is best to use the mid-market rate as a baseline and see who is offering the best currency exchange rates.
  • Compare providers. Use our table to compare providers. It is also worth getting quotes from a few providers and seeing which offers the better deal.
  • Skip the bank. The bank is not your friend in this situation, as they almost never offer the best exchange rates.
  • Use transfer tools to save money. Consider using recurring payments, forward contracts and limit orders to get a stronger exchange rate.
  • Use a multicurrency bank account. If you plan to send regular transactions using commonly traded currencies, then a multicurrency bank account often offers strong exchange rates and low fees.
  • Send larger amounts. You will find that many money transfer providers offer stronger exchange rates for larger transfers.

How best to monitor exchange rates?

One of the ways to save yourself money when making an international money transfer is to carry out your conversion when the exchange rate is most favourable. If you know in advance you will be sending money abroad or travelling overseas, then you can monitor currency trends ahead of time. Take a look at our live currency converter to see what exchange rate you would get for converting your cash today.

Market demand dictates how much one currency is worth compared to another – this is known as the mid-market rate. It is also the rate that banks use to trade money with one another.

When you convert money through a money transfer service, you will typically find that the provider adds a margin on top of the exchange rate to make money. So it is worth keeping this in mind when you are monitoring exchange rates.
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Compare exchange rates of money transfer services

Table: sorted by promoted deals first
Our table below lets you compare services you can use to send money abroad. Compare fees, exchange rates and discounts from different money transfer services, and when you have made your choice, click Go to site.
Name Product Filter Values Fastest Transfer Speed Fees (Pay by Bank Transfer) Learn More
TorFX
24 hours
£0

View details
TorFX sends money overseas in 30+ currencies, with competitive rates for transfer amounts over $2,000.
XE Money Transfer
Within minutes
£2
SPECIAL OFFER ✓ £25 Amazon voucher when you refer a friend

View details
XE has fast transfers with low fees and a range of foreign currency tools.
Central FX
24 hours
£0

View details
Finder exclusive: New and existing customers through Finder pay zero fees. Valid till 31 January 2022. T&Cs apply.
Central FX's dedicated team will guide you or your business from first call to final payment.
Currencies Direct
24 hours
£0

View details
CurrenciesDirect makes transferring money abroad simple with bank-beating exchange rates.
CurrencyTransfer
24 hours
£0

View details
CurrencyTransfer lets you shop around for the best exchange rate on its online marketplace.
CurrencyFair
24 hours
€3

View details
Special offer: New customers get unlimited fee-free transfers for their first 3 months. T&Cs apply.
CurrencyFair has bank-beating exchange rates and fast transfer times on 15+ popular currencies.
Azimo
Within minutes
From £0.99
SPECIAL OFFER ✓ First two transfers free for new customers.

View details
Azimo sends money directly to a bank account or over 280,000 cash pick-up points. It also has fast transfers to 50+ countries.
Remitly
Within minutes
From £1.49
SPECIAL OFFER ✓ Free transfers and better exchange rates for new customers

View details
Remitly has quick, affordable transfers around the world, with both express and economy options.
WorldRemit
Within minutes
From £1.99
SPECIAL OFFER ✓ Use promo code 3FREE to send your first 3 transfers with no fee. Conditions apply.

View details
Use code Take10GB to get £10 off when you spend £20. Valid till 31 January 2022. T&Cs apply.
WorldRemit sends money to 110+ countries for bank-to-bank deposits, cash pick-ups or mobile top-ups.
VertoFX Business
24 hours
£0

View details
Special offer: New customers get $100 trade credit after their first transaction. T&Cs apply.
VertoFX sends money via bank transfer at competitive rates and fees in 35+ currencies.
Wise (TransferWise) Business
2 days
From £3.75

View details
Wise uses the mid-market rate and transparent fees to help you send money in 45+ currencies.
TorFX Business
24 hours
£0

View details
TorFX sends money overseas in 30+ currencies, with competitive rates for transfer amounts over $2,000.
Currencies Direct Business
24 hours
£0
SPECIAL OFFER ✓ https://www.currenciesdirect.com/en/info/refer-a-friend

View details
CurrenciesDirect makes transferring money abroad simple with bank-beating exchange rates.
CurrencyFair Business
24 hours
€3

View details
Special offer: Zero fees on your first 10 transfers.
CurrencyFair has bank-beating exchange rates and fast transfer times on 15+ popular currencies.
WorldFirst Business
24 hours
£0

View details
WorldFirst sends 60+ currencies at competitive rates with no fees. If you find a better eligible quote, WorldFirst will beat it.
Wise (TransferWise)
4 hours
From £3.75

View details
Wise uses the mid-market rate and transparent fees to help you send money in 45+ currencies.
Wise (TransferWise)
4 hours
From £3.75

View details
Wise uses the mid-market rate and transparent fees to help you send money in 45+ currencies.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Where to exchange currency in the UK before your trip

If you know in advance that you will be travelling abroad, then there are several options for how to get the best exchange rates for your GBP:

  • Check your local bank. If you bank with one of the larger bank chains in the UK, they will almost certainly be able to sell you a wide range of foreign currency. Just beware of poor exchange rates. Even smaller banks can often order money from larger branches.
  • Use a currency ordering service. Services like Travelex allow you to order more than 50 currencies and have them delivered straight to your door. However, keep in mind you won’t get the mid-market rate.
  • Use an international transfer service, but have it delivered to your destination. Find a provider that can deliver your transfer for cash pickup at an agent location and have it waiting for you when you arrive at your destination.

Where to exchange currency outside of the UK?

When traveling internationally you’ll typically get the best exchange rates at banks, ATMs and post offices. If you have a bank card that doesn’t charge international ATM fees, this will most likely be the strongest and most convenient option.

It may be possible to exchange money at your hotel, but double-check the rate against the mid-market rate to see how strong it is. You may also find that some local shops and restaurants offer to accept payment in your native currency.

Here’s our dos and don’ts when it comes to exchanging currency outside of the UK:

Do exchange money at:

  • ATMs
  • Post offices
  • Banks
  • Your hotel

Do not exchange money at:

  • Tourist destinations
  • Street-side exchange bureaus
  • Airports, train stations, bus stations and the like

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2 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    torFXJuly 13, 2017

    Is torFX a safe and reliable money transfer company to use?

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      AnndyJuly 21, 2017Staff

      Hi there,

      Thanks for your question.

      torfx is a legitimate business that is registered in England & Wales. They are also authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority as an Electronic Money Institution.

      You can visit this page to learn more about torfx.

      Cheers,
      Anndy

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