How to send money to the USA

Here's how to send a quick, affordable and secure money transfer to the United States from the UK.

Updated

Fact checked

While the most obvious way to send money to the US might be through your local bank branch, you can save on fees and take advantage of more competitive exchange rates with an online money transfer company. In this guide, we’ll go through tips on how to get the best deal and what options you have.

To send money to the US:

  1. Compare some services that can exchange your money to US dollars.
  2. Choose one and sign up for an account.
  3. Provide the details of your transfer, including the amount and who you want to send it to.
  4. Confirm and pay.

How much does it cost to send money to the US? Compare your options

Table: sorted by a combination of service offering and the amount your recipient will receive

Use the table below to compare multiple transfer providers and see which one offers you the best value.

Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
GBP 2,000 1 day GBP 0.00 1.254 USD
12,537
TorFX guarantee to beat any competitor's exchange rate for a transaction (conditions apply)
(Conditions apply)
Go to site Show details
GBP 5,000 Same day GBP 0.00 1.254 USD
12,537
Universal Partners FX offers competitive exchange rates and same-day transfers for 100+ currencies. Go to site Show details
GBP 1 Same day GBP 0.00 1.254 USD
12,537
Whatever amount you transfer, XE will not charge you a fee for using their service. Go to site Show details
GBP 3,000 1 day GBP 0.00 1.254 USD
12,537
Get no fees as a Finder customer when you transfer your money overseas with Global Reach. Go to site Show details
GBP 5,000 1 day GBP 0.00 1.254 USD
12,537
Take advantage of fee lock-ins and live bookable rates, helping you save up to 85% in hidden bank fees. Go to site Show details
GBP 2,000 1 day GBP 0.00 1.254 USD
12,537
Make transferring money abroad as simple and safe as possible with bank-beating exchange rates - online, via the app or over the phone. Go to site Show details
GBP 50 Same day GBP 2.99 1.246 USD
12,457
Use promo code 3FREE to send your first 3 transfers with no fee. Conditions apply.
An online money transfer service with cash pick-up, bank account to bank account and airtime transfers available.
Go to site Show details
GBP 10 Within an hour GBP 2.00 1.252 USD
12,518
First two transfers free for new customers.
Instant or 1 hour transfers to over 50 countries, send money directly to bank accounts or over 280,000 cash pickup points.
Go to site Show details

Compare up to 4 providers

Disclaimer: Exchange rates change often. Confirm the total cost with the provider before transferring money.

What’s the best way to send money to the US?

There are three main options that you can use, each with their own pros and cons.

The best way to send money to the US depends on your situation. The main options include the following:

Blue icon representing money transfers Image: Infogram

Money transfer services

These offer some of the most cost-effective transfers as they only trade in foreign currencies. You’ll also have a variety of options for your recipient to receive funds, like to a mobile wallet or via home delivery.

Picture not described: BlueCoinsCashIcon_Infogram_94x62.png Image: Infogram

Cash transfers

Services such as Western Union and MoneyGram allow you to send cash transfers for immediate pick-up by the recipient. While it’s a fast way to send money, it generally won’t match the rates or fees of a dedicated money transfer service.

Picture not described: BlueBankIcon_Infogram_62x56.png Image: Infogram

Banks

The United States dollar is one of the most popular currencies, so it’s safe to assume that any major bank in the UK will offer it. However, beware of higher fees and less competitive exchange rates than other options.

Crunching the numbers: Sending £1,000 to the USA

Let’s say you need to send £1,000 to family in the US each month. Here’s a comparison of two money transfer providers and what you might face as far as fees and exchange rates as of 8 April 2020.

Money transfer service 1Money transfer service 2
Exchange rate1 GBP = 1.22 USD1 GBP = 1.20 USD
Transfer fee£2.99£0
Transfer timeSame day1-2 days
Transfer optionsBank account depositBank account deposit
Amount received in USD for £1,000$1,218$1,202

What’s the difference?

Although the first provider charges a fee to send money to the US, its superior exchange rate and same-day deposit would give the recipient more money, more quickly.

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How long will it take to send money to the US?

It depends on what method you choose to go with, but the fastest one is instant and the slowest can take up to a week. Since banks need to transfer your money through several correspondent banks, it takes the longest. Cash transfers are the fastest and normally arrive in minutes.

Emergency cash transfer

If something happens and you need to send money to the US as fast as possible, cash transfers will be your best bet. This involves paying with a credit or debit card and transferring to a cash pick-up location. While it is fast, there’ll be more fees involved.

    How to send money to the US without a bank account

    Cash transfer services can also help you out if either you or your recipient is unbanked. If you don’t have a bank account, look for transfer services that have agent locations so you can go in and pay in cash. These cash transfer services will also have agent locations in other countries where your recipient can pick up the cash, without needing a bank account.

    What to watch out for

    If you’re sending a lot of money to the USA, your recipient will need to declare it to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). US citizens and residents will need to fill in Form 3520 if the transfer is one of the following:

    • A gift worth USD$100,000 or more from a non-resident.
    • A gift of USD$15,601 or more from a foreign corporation or partnership.

    While foreign gifts generally aren’t subject to income tax, you still need to file the form with your taxes or face penalties.

    Documentation you’ll need to send money to the US

    • The recipient’s full name. Your recipient will need to show photo identification if they’re picking up the money, so make sure the name on the order is the same as the name on their ID.
    • The sender’s full name. As an additional security measure, the agent may ask for the full name of the sender. Be sure that the recipient knows your complete name.
    • Your recipient’s contact information and bank details. Both the sender and the recipient must have each other’s address and contact details.
    • The tracking number. Keep the tracking number given to you upon sending the transfer as the recipient must provide this to the agent before the cash can be released.

    It’s always best to keep all the paperwork to do with your transfer, just in case you need proof that the money was sent.

    What to compare to get the best deal

    When you’re choosing what transfer service to use to send money to the US, you should look into the following:
    • Exchange rates. Most services will add a margin to the exchange rate, but banks often add the most. A small difference to the exchange rate can have a big impact when you transfer large amounts of money.
    • Fees. Fees are either charged as a flat fee or a percentage, which means the more you send, the higher the fee will be. While some services offer fee-free transfers, those providers will add a bigger margin to the exchange rate.
    • Payment options. Most, if not all, transfer companies will let you pay through your bank account, but if you can only pay with cash, you’ll have to look a bit harder.
    • Delivery methods. This depends on your recipient – would they prefer it deposited in their bank account or mobile wallet? Or would they rather pick it up from an agent location?
    • Customer service. Some services are only open during business hours, which can make it difficult if something goes wrong. Also, check out how you can contact them – do they only have a phone number? Or can you live-chat with them as well?

    Foreign exchange rates explained

    The exchange rate is how much one country’s currency is worth in another country’s currency. With the GBP/USD currency pairing, if you want to send money to the US you’ll get more money when either the British pound is strong or the US dollar is weak.

    You’ll also see that the exchange rate you get quoted from money transfer companies differs. Compare what you get quoted with the mid-market rate below, which is what your money is actually worth.

    Today’s exchange rate GBP to USD

    1
    0
    Updated: 15 Jul 2020 18:48:02 UTC

    Cash pick-up locations in the US

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    2 Responses

    1. Default Gravatar
      JohnAugust 24, 2019

      I have inherited 50,000 pounds sterling in the UK. How much will I receive in USA at today’s bank rate of 1 pound sterling = $ 1.22, using the least expensive service available?

      • Avatarfinder Customer Care
        JeniAugust 25, 2019Staff

        Hi John,

        Thank you for getting in touch with Finder.

        I’m afraid that we wouldn’t be able to provide the accurate even the estimate amount you might receive if it’s via bank transfer as banks have their own exchange rate as well as fees on processing money transfer. It is recommended to seek further info from the bank that will process the money transfer for you.

        I hope this helps.

        Thank you and have a wonderful day!

        Cheers,
        Jeni

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