How to send money to the UK
With the value of the pound at historic lows against several other major currencies, it's an appealing time to make that transfer. Find the best rates for sending money to the UK.
In late September the pound hit an all-time low against the dollar. The pound was aleady having a tough time of it when Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng announced sweeping tax cuts in a mini-budget. These cuts represented a gamble that booming business might invigorate the economy, however nervous international investors responded negatively, sending the pound into freefall.
For Brits spending or sending aboroad, it’s a painful time. However for those spending in – or sending to – the UK, it means their money might go significantly further. This will depend on the strength of their own currency of course, but for many it’s a golden opportunity to convert their money to pounds.
While your regular bank may be the most obvious way to send money to the UK, you can usually save on fees and get a more competitive exchange rate with a dedicated money transfer service.
Compare services that send money to the UK
We update our data regularly, but information can change between updates. Confirm details with the provider you're interested in before making a decision.
How to send money to the UK online
Sign up and send money to the UK with a digital money transfer specialist in four steps:
- Sign up for a free account. Pick a provider and sign up for a free online account using your contact information, proof of ID and your preferred payment method.
- Provide transfer details. Submit your recipient’s contact information and pick a delivery method. If you’re transferring to a bank, you’ll need your recipient’s UK bank account details.
- Confirm transfer details. Double-check your payment method, expected fees and destination.
- Save your receipt. Record your receipt’s confirmation number to track the progress of your transfer to the UK. Some money transfer providers send a text or email when your transfer is complete.
Tips to send money to the UK
What’s the best way to send money to the UK?
Online money transfer providers typically offer the strongest exchange rates and lowest fees on money transfers to the UK. Some offer transfers straight to UK bank accounts, while others allow the money to be picked up in British pound sterling in person. Banks, PayPal and other options are available but come with high fees, weak rates and longer turnaround times.
Digital money transfer services
Companies like OFX and CurrencyTransfer specialise in foreign currencies, making them some of the most cost-effective transfers. Most offer transfers directly to your recipient’s UK bank account, often in as little as a day or two.
Services like MoneyGram allow you to transfer cash for pickup at a local branch in the UK – often in 15 minutes. While it’s a fast way to send money, you’ll pay for the convenience in weaker exchange rates and high fees. If a cash pickup is necessary, compare MoneyGram to digital services like WorldRemit or Xe when possible.
British pound sterling is almost certainly carried by your bank, and although your local bank can convert your currency into GBP, beware of high fees and wide margins on the exchange rate compared to digital and other options.
Let’s crunch the numbers: Sending AUD $1,000 to the UK
Let’s say you’re in Australia and need to send AUD $1,000 to the UK. Here’s what you might face as far as fees and exchange rates as of 26 September 2022.
|Money transfer app||Cash transfer service||Bank transfer|
|Fee||AUD $0||AUD $2.99||AUD $9 + additional correspondent bank fees|
|Exchange rate||1 AUD = 0.5963 GBP||1 AUD = 0.5820 GBP||1 AUD = 0.5813 GBP|
|Transfer speed||1 day||Minutes||2-5 days|
The bank option ends up being both the slowest and gets the smallest amount of money to your recipient. If you go with the digital money transfer service, your recipient ends up with £20 more than the bank offers. If speed is crucial, a cash transfer can typically have your transfer to the UK in as little as 15 minutes for a slightly higher fee.
How to get the most best deal when you send money to the UK
Weigh costs and fees against convenience, and learn how to compare money transfer providers that send to the UK to meet your needs:
- Exchange rates. The GBP relationship with other currencies fluctuates daily, so using a service that allows you to lock-in exchange prices may help you save money down the line if exchange rates take a turn for the worse in the future.
- Transfer fees. Transferring money overseas nearly always requires fees, but they might be hidden in the exchange rate. When sending large amounts, it may be cheaper to pay a flat fee to secure a stronger exchange rate.
- Transfer limits. How much you can send varies by company, and different amounts can attract higher or lower fees. Shop around for the best deal on the amount of British pound sterling you’re sending.
- Turnaround. Transferring money through a local bank can take a business week or longer. If you need the funds delivered quickly, seek out a digital specialist that offers instant transfers to the UK.
- Maximum limits. When exchange rates are favourable, sending more money can save you money in the future. If you plan to send large amounts of money to the UK, be sure to pick a provider that won’t limit you.
- Transfer methods. Whether you want money sent to a UK bank account or picked up as cash at a local agent, narrow down a company that matches your preferred delivery method.
Emergency cash transfer to the UK
If you’re in a hurry to send money to the UK, look for money transfer companies that support cash pickup in minutes.
You can pay with a credit or debit card for fast pickup, but fees are higher than other methods.
How to send money to the UK without a bank account
If you don’t have a bank account, you can still use cash transfer services to get the money to its destination. Similarly, a recipient can get the money with a cash transfer if they don’t have a bank account.
These cash transfer services are widely available around the world and although they’ll typically not be the cheapest available service they can be fast, convenient and can be used without bank accounts.
The UK’s exchange rates explained
The exchange rate determines how much one country’s currency is worth in another country’s currency. When a country’s currency is strong, it yields more money when exchanging it in a country with a weaker currency. The UK’s exchange rate often fluctuates when compared to other currencies, so expect exchange rates today to be different than those you’ll see tomorrow. Factors that influence the exchange rate include interest rates, economic stability and inflation.
Below we show how much a US dollar is worth in pounds in our historical rate chart.
Documents needed for sending money to the UK
To send money to the UK, you’ll need government-issued ID and other documents, while documents needed to pick up money in the United Kingdom may be different by company. If you’re simply receiving a transfer to your bank account, you won’t need ID, but any subsequent, large, in-person withdrawals of cash at your bank will require proof of ID.
Documents needed to send money to the UK from abroad
To send money to the UK from elsewhere, you’ll generally need documentation and details that include:
- Identification. Most services require a driver’s licence, passport or other government-issued ID.
- Payment method. Your service may accept credit or debit cards, cash, bank accounts or personal cheques.
- Recipient information. Submit your recipient’s name as it appears on their ID, along with their phone number, UK bank account and routing number if sending to their bank.
Documents to receive money in the UK
To pick up money in person, documentation can include:
- Transfer number. The person sending you money can forward the transfer’s confirmation details – called a PIN, a MTCN, a reference number or a tracking number, depending on the company.
- Government-issued ID. Passport details, a driver’s licence or a similar government-issued ID is typically required to pick up cash.
- Amount sent. You may need to know how much was sent, usually within 10% of the total.
- Sender’s information. Take along your sender’s full name, the sending country and their address, if known.
What to watch out for
Most money transfers to the UK won’t have specific tax obligations attached. Genrally speaking, if you’re a UK resident you’re free to transfer as much as you likle back to the UK, but if it’s income earned abroad it’s subject to the usual income tax requirements. Non-residents sending under £10,000 won’t hit issues, provided tax was paid in the country the funds are being received from.
So you may need to consider: –
- The residency status of the recipient.
- The taxation history of the funds.
- The total amount of the transfer.
It shouldn’t cost a fortune to send money to the UK, especially given the weakness of the pound. Compare companies that specialise in foreign transfers to access the strongest rates, lowest fees and fastest delivery times.
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