Santander International Transfers (Explained & Made Easy)

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July 30, 2023
5 min read
If you’re a Santander customer, you may use your bank as a familiar and trusted company to make your international money transfer. But should you?

International money transfers are much more complex than domestic bank transfers.

Sending money abroad often involves a currency conversion, and this is where things get complicated.

In this guide I’ll break down the important information, cut through the financial jargon and unravel the smallprint to explain how an international transfer works with Santander.

You’ll find out whether Santander is a cheap, easy and efficient option for sending money abroad, or if there’s better alternatives out there.

A Santander Branch
Just how suitable is Santander for international money transfers?

How much does Santander charge for international transfers?

Unlike domestic bank transfers, all international transfers will incur costs.

These costs take two different forms:

  1. Transfer fees
  2. Exchange rates

Let me explain how these costs work and how much you’ll be set back.

Santander transfer fees

Transfer fees are relatively small, flat costs that apply every time you make an international transfer.

Here are Santander’s transfer fees for international payments:

Transfer type Fee
SEPA transfers None
Other international transfers (SWIFT) £25
Currency draft (cheque) £10

Santander doesn’t really help with explaining what these terms mean and what kind of transfers they apply to.

SEPA transfers are essentially just transfers within the ‘Single European Payments Area’ (the majority of Europe).

This still includes the UK.

If you’re transferring money outside of the UK and Europe, Santander will charge you £25.

This is usually called a SWIFT transfer.

A ‘currency draft’ (sometimes also called a ‘Banker’s draft’) is like a cheque and is usually issued when buying and selling property abroad, for example in Spain.

While it may only cost £10 to deposit them with Santander, you’ll still be hit with a terrible exchange rate.

The best thing to do is to take your draft to a currency broker that works locally in the country where you sold your property.

Most companies charge you to process currency drafts. 

Key Currency and Currencies Direct are two money transfer providers that will do this for free, and operate heavily in Spain.

You’ll receive a much better exchange rate, too.

Santander exchange rates

The biggest cost of your international money transfer will be the exchange rate.

Santander’s exchange rate costs are typically between 2% - 4% of your transfer total amount.

Let me show you how this works.

As an example, if you were transferring £100,000 to Spain, a 4% exchange rate cost would mean you’re paying Santander £4,000 to make your transfer.

This is an enormous cost!

Not only that, but this cost isn’t immediately visible to you unless you’re privy with exchange rates.

It won’t say “Transfer fee: £4,000”, or anything of the kind.

You’ll simply be shown an exchange rate, and you won’t be told if it’s good or bad.

Unless you take the time to do the calculations, 4% may not seem like a lot.

When you’re making an international transfer (particularly a large one), the smallest margins have a huge impact on the bottom line.

This is why you need to take care, compare money transfer providers and go over all the details with a fine-tooth comb.

Santander is difficult to pin down on the exact exchange rate they’ll offer you.

The information they have available online is broad, basic and general.

They typically won’t show you the exact exchange rate until you’ve taken the time and effort to set up the payment.

That’s how they suck people in.

By this point, many people just want to get the international transfer over and done with.

I’d rather speak to a real person who can give an exact quote as well as some market guidance.

This is where currency brokers come in - you’ll get a much better exchange rate, and superb service.

A man on a laptop
Make sure you compare money transfer companies before sending abroad

How long does a Santander international transfer take?

All international transfer times vary based on where the money is being sent to and from.

According to Santander, international money transfers take anywhere between 0-4 working days.

That’s not very specific.

I can offer a bit more insight based on my experience with international money transfers.

If you’re transferring between the UK and Europe, transfers usually take 1-2 working days and can sometimes be completed the same day.

Transferring money outside of Europe typically takes 2-4 working days.

The time it takes is due to clearing times at the banks.

It’s best to factor in the waiting time to your plans to avoid missing any deadlines you may have for payments.

(A.K.A., always make your money transfer ahead of time)

I did stumble across this helpful clearing time calculator from Santander, although it was hard to find.

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

One of the most frustrating things about making an international transfer with Santander is the limits.

Santander imposes a £25,000 limit per transfer and a £100,000 limit per day.

If you have a large amount to transfer, this can make things very inconvenient.

If I had £100,000 or more to transfer, I’d expect much better than that.

In my opinion, it just goes to show that banks aren’t designed to cater for large international transfers.

Fortunately, there are much better options out there.

Currency brokers are designed to make large international money transfers as easy as possible and don’t impose annoying transfer limits.

Get a comparison quote here.

Can you make international money transfers from the Santander app?

Santander’s mobile app is handy for day-to-day banking and making domestic payments.

However, the Santander online banking app does not allow you to make international money transfers.

But, I’d actually argue it’s a good thing. 

Mobile banking apps can be extremely useful for everyday banking, making things quick and easy.

If you whizz through an international transfer using a mobile banking app, I bet most people (even experts) would miss something important.

You don’t want to make a mistake with an international money transfer.

As I explained earlier, we’ve seen that the smallest margins can make thousands of pounds of difference!

Steer clear of online apps for large international transfers and get some guidance from an expert.

How do Santander international transfer costs compare to other providers?

Santander isn't the worst option out there, but they're certainly far from the best.

Banks are notorious for charging large exchange rate margins for international money transfers.

Santander is no different.

They charge high exchange rate margins whilst adding on unnecessary transfer costs.

I have seen worse providers out there, but you can find much cheaper options.

Take a look at our guide on the cheapest ways to transfer money internationally.

A Santander branch
Santander might not be the best option for you

Is Santander a good option for international money transfers?

Looking at the broader picture, Santander isn’t a good option for international money transfers.

You could end up losing thousands with their large exchange rate costs.

On top of that, they have the cheek to add transfer fees each time you want to make a transfer.

Santander imposes annoying transfer limits, which make large international transfers extremely inconvenient.

You also can’t make any international transfers through the Santander online banking app.

Even if you just wanted to make a small transfer, an online app could’ve been a handy option. But no, think again.

Overall, I’d avoid Santander altogether for sending money abroad.

You’re far better off using a currency broker or money transfer app.

Currency brokers typically charge far less than any high street bank.

You’ll also get your own dedicated account manager who can help guide you through the finer details of sending money abroad.

They’re best for transfers of over £25,000. Below that, and there are some even cheaper options available.

These are money transfer apps, where you do everything by yourself on a mobile app.

I wouldn’t use an app for larger transfers (£25k+), as you’ll want an account manager to make sure everything goes smoothly.

To get started, get some comparison quotes via the form below.

Compare and save on your money transfer


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