Thanks to modern technology, it’s easy for everyday Brits to send and receive international money transfers. Not only are there a range of transfer providers from which to choose, but also a wealth of transfer options available to ensure that you can conveniently and affordably move money overseas. But when you’re receiving or sending money overseas, shop around for the best deal and you can enjoy significant savings.
Compare International Money Transfers
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.
Receiving money sent via international money transfer is quite a simple process, but the exact method will vary depending on the company that handles the transfer. Transfers are most commonly sent in two ways: via bank account transfer directly to your UK account, or by a transfer that allows you to pick up the cash from a transfer agent.
Before the recipient can send the funds, they’ll need to know your legal name (the one that’s on your photo ID), address and contact information. Your bank account details will also be required if the funds are being sent by bank account deposit.
You won’t need to do anything if the funds are going straight to your bank account, other than accessing the money in your account the same way you usually would. If you’re picking up a cash transfer, however, you’ll usually need to take along a transaction reference number and photo ID when you go to collect the funds.
Other international money transfer receiving options include having the money sent to your mobile wallet or loaded onto a prepaid card.
Online transfers. Offered by specialist transfer companies such as Currency Fair, this option usually allows you to access better exchange rates and lower fees than are charged by banks.
Bank transfers. Ask your bank about sending and/or receiving international wire transfers, the fees they charge and the exchange rates they offer.
Cash transfers. MoneyGram and Western Union are the two best-known providers of this service. The funds you receive can be picked up as cash from thousands of branches across the UK, often within 10 minutes of the sender placing a transfer.
Prepaid card. Some companies allow the sender to load funds onto your prepaid card, allowing you to access the funds from any ATM that accepts your card.
Mobile wallet. With this option, the funds can be sent and received entirely from the smartphone, and the funds in your wallet can then be used for fast and convenient purchases.
How do I compare transfer services to receive money from?
Regardless of whether you’re sending or receiving funds, choosing the right company to handle your international money transfer can be a difficult task. Keep the following factors in mind to help make your decision easier:
Exchange rates. The exchange rate determines how much of the money the sender transfers that you will actually receive. Compare exchange rates between a number of providers to see which company regularly offers the highest rates.
Fees. Fees are a consideration with any international money transfer, sometimes just for the sender but other times also for the recipient.
Accessibility. If you need to visit a transfer branch in person to collect the funds, how convenient will it be for you to do so? Are there locations close by that you can access? If the funds are being loaded onto a prepaid card, do you have easy access to an ATM that won’t charge you any transaction fees?
Currencies. Does the provider allow you to pick up the cash transfer in Pounds only or are other currencies available?
Tracking. Consider the ease with which you can check up on the status of a transfer. In addition to online tracking services, some companies also offer email or SMS notifications when the funds are ready for you to collect.
Customer support. If you ever experience difficulties with a transaction, how and when can you access customer support? Is it offered over the phone only or is there also an online option?
Reputation. Do your research to determine whether a company has a good reputation for delivering transfers on time and for the price promised. Recommendations from customers who have used a company to send a similar transaction to the one you have planned can also be invaluable.
What are the pros and cons of receiving money from overseas?
Fast transfers. Some transfer providers allow you to access cash that has been sent from overseas within the space of 10 minutes, which can be a huge relief when you need urgent financial assistance.
Plenty of choice. There are multiple transfer companies to choose from when you need to send money overseas or receive an international money transfer.
Safe and secure. Choose a reputable transfer provider and you can rest assured that you will receive the funds promptly.
Transfer fees. Be warned that fees apply to many international money transfers, so it’s important to make sure those charges are both fair and affordable before agreeing to pay them.
Frequently asked questions
Your name, address and contact information will be required, while transfers to your bank account will require you to supply your full account details. If you’re picking up a cash transfer, a transaction reference number and a valid form of photo ID will also be required.
This depends on the transfer provider. The sender will be responsible for paying any transfer fees in most cases, but other banks and transfer companies charge you a penalty for receiving the funds.
Western Union (500,000 branches worldwide) and MoneyGram (approximately 350,000 branches) operate the two largest transfer networks in the world.
You can do this by using the ‘find a location’ tool on each provider’s respective website.
Shirley Liu is Finder's global program manager. She was previously the publisher for banking and investments and has also written comparisons for energy, money transfers, Uber Eats and many other topics. Shirley has a Master of Commerce and a Bachelor of Media, Journalism and Communications from the University of New South Wales. She is passionate about helping people find the best deal for their needs.
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