Nationwide International Transfers (Explained & Made Easy)

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July 30, 2023
5 min read
International money transfers are an area of banking that is often confusing and frustrating.

There’s a lot of needless jargon, with all the key information hidden in endless documents and bureaucracy.

When sending money abroad, most people just turn to their bank for simplicity, familiarity and perceived safety.

When in actual fact, there’s much better options out there.

Nationwide is one of the big 6 UK banks (a ‘building society’, to be specific).

If you’re a Nationwide customer, I’ll explain in simple terms whether they’re a good option for international money transfers and whether you should use them or not.

I’ll talk about their charges, limits and the better suited alternatives available to you.

A Nationwide branch
Is Nationwide a good option for your international transfer?

How much does Nationwide charge for international money transfers?

Whether you use Nationwide or any other provider for your international money transfer, there will be two types of costs:

  • Transfer fees
  • Exchange rates

Here are Nationwide’s transfer fees and exchange rates.

Nationwide transfer fees

At Nationwide, the typical transfer fee is £20.

This is where you might get caught out. 

A £20 fee to send money abroad doesn’t seem that bad.

However, it’s not your only cost.

And as transfer fees go, it’s actually quite a big one.

For example, NatWest doesn’t charge any transfer fees.

Remember, you’ll have to pay transfer fees every single time you make a transfer, so they soon add up.

But let’s get to where the real costs are…

Nationwide exchange rates

Nationwide does not display their exchange rate costs or margins.

This means you won’t know how much you’re being charged right up until you go to make the transfer.

Which, personally, I find ridiculous.

Imagine buying a car and having to fill out all the paperwork before knowing how much it costs.

It’s laughable. But somehow for international money transfers, banks seem to think it’s acceptable.

So let me help you out and give you an idea of how much an international money transfer with Nationwide is likely to cost.

In my experience, Nationwide charges between 2% and 4% in their exchange rate margin.

For smaller amounts, you’ll get closer to the 4% figure. For larger amounts, 2%.

You get the idea.

If you were transferring £100,000 to France for example, a 4% margin would cost you £4,000.

This makes it even more baffling that they don’t give you any idea of how much it’s going to cost.

As if you’re going to see a £4,000 charge and just smile, nod and carry on happily.

Unfortunately though, having gone to all the trouble of setting up a transfer, many people do exactly that.

Typically, big banks like Nationwide aren’t the cheapest option for sending large amounts of money abroad.

Make sure you shop around and consider cheaper options like a currency broker.

How long does a Nationwide international money transfer take?

The time it takes to send money abroad depends on where you’re sending money to.

Here’s a rough guide:

Destination Transfer time
Europe (SEPA transfer) 1 - 2 working days
Rest of world (SWIFT transfer) 3 - 5 working days

Unfortunately, there’s no way to speed up these waiting times.

They come down to the clearing time at the sender’s bank and also at the recipient’s bank.

If you have a deadline to hit, make sure you plan ahead to avoid any problems.

What is the maximum amount I can transfer internationally using Nationwide?

Some banks impose limits on the amount you can transfer abroad in one go.

Nationwide doesn't have any limits on international transfers.

A win for Nationwide here.

This means, if you are happy with the exchange rate you’re going to receive, you’re able to transfer your entire amount at once.

You don’t have to make multiple transfers in order to transfer large amounts internationally.

A Nationwide branch
Nationwide doesn't have any international transfer limits

Can you make international money transfers using the Nationwide online banking app?

Transferring money using online banking and apps can make the process quick and easy.

You can use Nationwide online banking or their mobile app to make international transfers.

However, I would recommend against using an app to transfer large amounts of money abroad.

We’ve already established that making a large international money transfer can incur huge costs…

So why would you want to rush things on an app when there are thousands of pounds at stake?

I’d recommend taking your time, making sure to get everything right and not risking any costly mistakes.

Personally, I’d want to speak to an expert to make sure I was:

  1. Processing it correctly
  2. Not being charged an extortionate amount
  3. Sending the money to the correct place

I’d recommend taking your time, getting some advice and not using an online app for large transfers.

Are Nationwide a good option for international money transfers?

When compared to other banks for international money transfers, I’d say Nationwide is pretty middle of the road.

As far as costs go, they’re not the most expensive bank I’ve ever seen, but they’re by no means the cheapest.

They don’t impose annoying transfer limits, which is a good thing.

However, they don’t give you a quote on how much your transfer will cost until you’ve set it all up.

That in itself would be enough to put me off.

I’d want to use a provider who was open and transparent about their costs.

Currency brokers are typically much cheaper than big banks (Nationwide included).

I would always recommend getting a quote from a currency broker before using any high street bank for a large international money transfer.

Not only are they likely to be a lot cheaper, but you’ll also be assigned a 1-on-1 account manager who’ll be there every step of the way to make sure things go smoothly for you.

However, for smaller transfers (under £25k), you’ll get a better rate of exchange using a money transfer app instead.

You can do all of the work yourself on your phone if you so wish.

Get comparison quotes from the top currency brokers here.

Compare and save on your money transfer


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