In the recent past, it was a tad difficult — and expensive — to transfer money to other countries. This was bad news if you lived on the other side of the world and needed to send money back home urgently. Not only was the process complicated and pricey, but the money could take a long time to land in its destination account.
However, as with almost everything, technology has simplified the hoops we need to jump through to transfer money to the UK— or anywhere in the world.
Most folks assume that banks are the only option when they need to send money from one country to another, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, there now exists a new breed of online money transfer companies that are faster, more affordable, and are equally as safe as your trusted bank. And we’re going to introduce you!
Before we explore the top ten money transfer companies to consider, let’s define what an international money transfer entails.
What is an International Money Transfer?
An international money transfer is an exchange of money from one country to another. It involves two or more individuals or/and companies. The receiver can either decide to receive value electronically or in cash. In most cases, these sorts of transactions are handled by a bank or an online money transfer service.
The SWIFT network has previously been the primary mode of money transfers. However, peer-to-peer (P2P) payment services are becoming mainstream and are a significant driver of other money transfer services.
Now that we have that out of the way, what are the top ten UK money transfer services?
The 10 Best UK Money Transfer Services
1. Currencies Direct (Our #1 Recommendation)
Currencies Direct. Winners of the Money Transfer Provider of the Year award in 2018 and the Consumer Champion of the Year award in 2017, CurrenciesDirect is more established than some other money transfer services on our list. They have a 5-star rating out of 5 on TrustPilot and boast one of the most competitive exchange rates.
Pros & Cons of Currencies Direct
- They have exceptional customer service
- Competitive exchange rates
- There are no fees charged
- You can set up your account seamlessly on your mobile phone or through their website
- Some exotic African currencies are unavailable
XE Money Transfer is also one of the most respected international money transfer service globally. One primary reason for their popularity is their low exchange rates, especially when compared to bank rates. The XE service is available in over 170 countries and offers same-day service in most of these countries. It also enables its users to send and receive money in a variety of currencies.
Pros & Cons of XE
- It is one of the most secure and trusted money transfer services
- It enables users to track any transfers for 24 hours
- One of the lowest exchange rates in the industry
- They charge no transfer fees
- They offer customers flexibility in the choice of currency when making a transfer
- Customer reviews on TrustPilot rate them five stars out of five
- XE doesn’t have an option for card payments
How to send money via XE
To send money using the XE money transfer, you need first to set up an account. You’ll need to provide your details — first name and last name, email address, etc. Once that’s done, your account goes through an approval process, and then it’s ready for use.
Based in Australia, but providing a true global service, Send is another company with a 5 out of 5 star customer rating on TrustPilot. This year they were award ‘Best value international money transfer provider’ by Mozo, one of Australia’s leading financial comparison platforms. Send specialise in assisting clients move from country to country with excellent exchange rates on high volume transfers, zero fees, the ability to book transfers 24/7 with same days transfers plus local support from their team of account managers that you can speak to and discuss your requirements.
Setting up an account with Send is very user friendly, free and there’s no obligation to use them once the account is setup. One your identity has been verified you will be introduced to one of their team to discuss and then process your transaction or if you don’t want to speak to anybody then you have the option to self-serve on their secure 24/7 payments platform.
Once you have agreed and accepted an exchange rate either via your personal account manager or online you will receive a copy of the contract and instructions to complete you transfer. Once Send have received your funds they are typically transferred to your nominated bank account overseas on the same day.
Send are trusted by some of Australia’s largest international relocation and removal companies who recommend their services to their clients for the purpose of transferring money internationally, safely and securely.
SendFX Pty Ltd ACN 617 647 220 is regulated by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (‘ASIC’), is a registered remittance provider with the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (‘AUSTRAC’) is a member of the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (‘AFCA’) and holds an Australian Financial Services Licence (‘AFSL’) (number 509635).
- Fee-free transfers
- 5 star Reviews on Trustpilot
- Multi-currency 24/7 online payments platform
- Easy and user-friendly account set-up
- Same day transfers
- Forward contracts
- Personal account managers that you can speak to
- Send do not accept debit or credit cards as a payment method
- Send do not accept Crypto Currency as a payment method
Another excellent option for international transfers is TorFX. It operates out of the United Kingdom and Australia and has won many awards in recent times. It won the Best Customer Service money transfer company at the Moneyfacts Consumer Awards. It has also won the Exceptional Money Transfer Provider awards for four years in a row.
TorFX also charges no transfer fees. However, one of its most significant competitive advantages is its financial ratings. Dun & Bradstreet, UK’s leading rating agency, awarded TorFX a Level One rating, which is the highest score that can be awarded to a money transfer service.
Pros & Cons of TorFX
- Customers can transfer money through credit cards, bank transfers, and their phones
- TorFX has also rated five stars out of five on TrustPilot
- They offer exceptional customer service
- Exchange rates are sometimes high compared to XE and other options.
- TorFX is unregulated in the United States and Canada.
How to send money via TorFX
TorFX’s account opening process is straightforward. Once you set up an account on the website, TorFX assigns a personal account manager to you. Your account manager ensures you get the best rate all the time. Once you have an agreed rate, the account manager collects the relevant details and processes the transaction.
OFX is another globally recognized money transfer service. They support money transfers in over 55 currencies and have offices operating from over ten countries. They have been around for more than two decades and have the experience and systems to handle most transactions.
They are also famous for their excellent 24/7 customer service and low exchange rates. Customers can also hedge exchange rates, protecting them from any sudden volatility in exchange rates.
Pros & Cons of OFX
- OFX is rated four out of five stars on TrustPilot
- Customers pay no transfer fees
- Currency flexibility due to its global operations
- Customers can make transfers from either a debit card or bank account via a wire transfer
- It has offices in various countries, which enables customers to benefit from their exceptional customer service
- Customers can’t make transfers below $1,000.
- Receivers can’t receive cash on OFX, and the money must be wired to a bank account.
- OFX doesn’t offer same-day service.
How to send money via OFX
To send money via OFX, you need to set up an account using personal information, including your social security number, driver’s license, etc. Once your account is verified, you can log in and start transferring or receiving money. You can do this on the website or mobile app.
Next on our list is WorldFirst, a money transfer company operating out of the United Kingdom. It is has been around since 2004 and claims to have transferred over 60 billion pounds to date. They service both individuals and businesses globally. They also have a vast network of agents scattered across the globe. This allows recipients to benefit from home delivery in specific locations.
Pros & Cons of WorldFirst
- Customers aren’t charged transfer fees
- WorldFirst has also rated four stars out of five on TrustPilot
- It has the largest basket of transferrable currencies — 187
- Round-the-clock customer service
- They offer same-day and next-day transfers
- Payments can be made with debit or credit cards
- The zero charges on transfer fees are only applicable if you are transferring to a WorldFirst customer. Charges kick in if you are sending to a recipient who isn’t a customer.
- There are limits on the amounts that you can send monthly.
How to send money via WorldFirst
It’s easy to start sending money using WorldFirst. All you need to provide are your details and your passport or any nationally accepted identity card. Once these are verified, you can start transferring money.
TransferWise deserves a place on our list since it’s one of the most popular and secure money transfer options worldwide. Its rise to popularity was helped by its low transfer fees, a wide range of transfer options, and a stable exchange rate. TransferWise has become a trusted company all over the world, and is now used in over 50 countries and has 12 offices globally.
The company claims to handle about 4 billion dollars in money transfers monthly — that’s a great validation of their customer satisfaction.
Pros & Cons of TransferWise
- The platform is rated 9.1 out of 10 on TrustPilot
- They offer various options for transfers — Apple Pay, direct wire, debit and credit cards, etc
- Very low transfer fees — as low as $1 and a 10% charge on the transfer value in some cases
- Their exchange rates are pegged on the country’s official exchange rates, allowing for stability
- Recipients receive value within 48 hrs
- Their process is very transparent, and unlike most money transfer services, you’ll know the exchange rate and transaction fees before you transfer money
- They don’t offer same-day or next-day service
- Transfer fees on large transactions can be higher than its competitors
How to send money via TransferWise
Setting up an account on TransferWise is the same as every other money transfer service. However, to send money to anyone, you need to have the recipient’s International Bank Account Number (IBAN). Without that, you won’t be able to transfer money to anyone.
CurrencyFair has been handling money transfers for about nine years and has a 4.7-star rating out of 5 on TrustPilot. They have offices in most financial hubs across the globe, while their head offices operate out of the United Kingdom.
Interestingly, it is a particularly popular platform for online gamblers and cryptocurrency traders.
Pros & Cons of CurrencyFair
- Customers can send or receive cash via their mobile phones
- Their operations are available in over 200 countries
- You can use the platform to make transfers to online gambling services and crypto-currency firms/brokerages
- The recipient gets value almost immediately
- Users can set up recurring automatic transfers
- The transfer fee and exchange rate system can be confusing.
- Charges are expensive compared to their competitors.
WorldRemit is one of those money transfer services that seem to have been around forever — at least as long as XE Money Transfer. Over time, the platform has garnered over 120,000 5-star reviews on TrustPilot. This says a lot about the quality of their platform, and how their customers keep coming back. They also have one of the most diverse payment sources in the money transfer industry.
Users can accept payments from Apple Pay, debit and credit cards, bank account transfers, Google Pay, Trustly, and other payment sources. Customers can also send money to over 140 different countries around the world.
Pros & Cons of WorldRemit
- They have competitive exchange rates and affordable transfer charges
- A wide range of options for the recipient to receive money (door-to-door payment, cash pickup, airtime top-up, bank transfer)
- The recipient gets value almost immediately
- Their fees can be a bit expensive in comparison to other services on the list
MoneyGram is one of the most recognized money transfer platforms in the United States and globally. Their cashpoints are present at the service desk of every Wal-Mart store. While they are rated lower than most other transfer services on TrustPilot (3.5-stars out of 5), MoneyGram is used extensively in the United States.
Considering they have over 350,000 offices in over 200 countries, their popularity in the UK and across the world shouldn’t shock anyone.
Pros & Cons of MoneyGram
- They provide an exhaustive list of locations you can send money to compared to the competition
- Their transfers are usually same-day services
- The recipient doesn’t need a bank account to receive a MoneyGram transfer (this is their most-used service)
- Their fees are relatively expensive
- They have a transfer limit of $6,000
COMPANIES WE DON’T RECOMMEND
The last (but not least!) company on our list is Western Union, their money transfer service is another platform akin to MoneyGram in terms of popularity and widespread use across the UK. Like MoneyGram, it also has operations in lots of countries — over 200 different countries.
They, however, have a much larger physical presence than some other money transfer services, with about 550,000 offices around the world.
Pros & Cons of Western Union
- Their geographical spread offers you the opportunity to send funds to far-flung locations
- They provide next-day transfers
- Recipients can walk into their offices and collect the money as cash without presenting a bank account
- They charge a hefty fee for next-day transfers
- Their transfer charges are also expensive
A Guide to Choosing Your Preferred Money Transfer Service
Selecting a money transfer service can seem daunting, considering the options presented. However, there are three crucial factors you must consider when deciding on a preferred platform:
- Transfer fees: This cost can be a game-changer. Depending on the service you pick, you might not pay any fees or pay a flat fee. Some service providers will charge you a percentage tied to the amount you plan to transfer. Costs are also higher if you are sending money via a credit card. Bank accounts are the most affordable option if you decide to pick a provider that charges transfer fees.
- Exchange rates: You want to pick a provider with stable exchange rates, especially if you send large amounts. This is one of the most important factors when making your choice.
- Transfer speed: This is the time it takes for the recipient to receive the money. This is critical as the money might be needed for something urgent, and you want it to get there as soon as possible. In general, industry standards range from a few hours to five working days. It’s usually advisable to pick a service that guarantees fast transfer speeds.
Final Thoughts For Sending Money Abroad
Picking the right money transfer service is critical. The ten money transfer companies included in this guide all have their advantages and disadvantages, so your choice will depend on where you’ll need to send money to, what currency you’re sending, and the amount of money you need to transfer.
Also, ensure you decide which platform to use only after carefully weighing up the pros and cons using the three factors mentioned above. Fees, rates, and speed are all vital factors to consider.
Finally, make sure you don’t get carried away by brand names. Well-known services may not be the best for your situation! Once you do all of this, you should be ready to start sending money. We hope you found this guide helpful!
In summary, our overall top recommendation is Currencies Direct.
Matt is a veteran of the moving industry, a recognized moving expert and is the founder of MoverFocus. Matt holds a Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) majoring in Finance and Marketing and Bachelor of Arts (BA) majoring in Economics and History. He also has completed the EiM (Essentials in International Moving) course from the FIDI Academy. His advice has been featured in Reader’s Digest, Yahoo Finance, MSN Money, Business News Daily and The SpareFoot Blog Go. Read more.