While your local bank may be the most obvious way to send money to the UK, you can save on fees and get a more competitive exchange rate with a money transfer company – but make sure it offers a speed and transfer type you’re happy with.
Top picks are our selection of some of the best money transfer products and services, based on our extensive research and market experience. Our top picks are displayed at the top of some pages to help you make decisions faster, but our top pick may not be the best pick for you.
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, look 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 $2,000 to the UK
Let’s say you’re in Australia and need to send AUD $2,000 to the UK. Here’s what you might face as far as fees and exchange rates as of 1 May 2020.
Digital money transfer
AUD $10 + additional correspondent bank fees
1 AUD = 0.51 GBP
1 AUD = 0.48 GBP
1 AUD = 0.47 GBP
Slowest and most expensive
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 £70 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 out of your money transfer 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.
Here we show how how the pound sterling trades against the euro in our historical rate chart.
Updated: 11 Jul 2020 09:05:21 UTC
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.
Documents needed to send money 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 shouldn’t have any specific tax obligations attached to them, so long as they are for personal use and kept under £10,000. However, certain laws exist in the UK that may affect your transfer, depending on:
The nationality of the receiver.
The residency status of the receiver.
The purpose of the transfer.
The total amount of the transfer.
It shouldn’t cost a fortune to send money to the UK. Compare transfer companies that specialise in foreign for the strongest rates, lowest fees and flexible delivery. For transfers to other countries, rely on our country specific guides the next time you need to make a transfer.
Zak Killermann is a staff writer at Finder specializing in money transfers. He has ghostwritten hundreds of FinTech articles over the years and found his love for publication at St. Cloud State University. Zak has been traveling internationally for nearly half his life and — after getting burned once by an over-the-counter money exchange — vowed to never settle for anything short of the mid-market rate.
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