Using your bank to make international transfers will cost you a tonne. Fortunately, there are plenty of other options out there to save you money.
Even in 2022, your bank will still probably charge you the most for an international transfer.
They’ll give you a poor rate of exchange while at the same time charging you a transfer fee.
In comparison, a specialist money transfer company will do the opposite.
You’ll get a much better rate of exchange, with next to no fees.
To top it off, you’ll get great service, too.
In this article, I’ll give you our top 10 international money transfer companies with their pros and cons.
I’ll also talk about safety, rates and features and what to look out for in a money transfer company.
Quick Look: Our Top 10 Money Transfer Companies
By small or large transfers, I mean under £5000 worth or over.
If a company has a tick under small transfers, that means they are best suited for transfers under £5000.
And vice versa with a tick under large transfers.
This mostly comes down to the type of service they provide, but I’ll talk more about that further down.
What is a money transfer company?
Money transfer companies provide a more cost-effective way to transfer money internationally.
While they offer the same level of safety and security as a bank, their rates are better and fees are less.
There’s a few different types of money transfer companies:
- Remittance company
- Money transfer app
- Currency broker
Remittance companies, like Western Union and Moneygram, are best for ultra-small payments.
I’m talking between £100 and £500, for paying bills or sending money to family.
This is because their rates and fees are high in comparison to the other types.
However, they offer more transfer options and destinations.
Money transfer apps are great for transfers between £500 - £5000.
Their rates are good and fees low, but there’s one caveat.
You download an app, sign up, and do all the work yourself. There’s no one to speak to.
When transferring large amounts, I always like to have someone there to help me.
That’s where currency brokers come in.
For any transfers over £5000, companies like Key Currency and Currencies Direct are best.
This could be for property purchases or sales, or repatriating inheritance.
You’ll get a great rate, and impeccable service. Just call them whenever you want and get the help you need.
When you’re transferring that big of an amount, it’s reassuring to know that you aren’t alone in the process.
You won’t get the same treatment with other types of companies.
Why you should use a specialist money transfer company (and not your bank)
To put it simply, there are no reasons as to why you should use your bank for international transfers.
They might be more familiar, and have that perceived “safety” (which isn’t true), but it’ll still cost you loads more.
Most money transfer companies are just as safe, if not more safe, than your bank.
This is all to do with FCA regulation.
All banks are regulated, and so are most money transfer companies.
If they aren’t FCA regulated, avoid them (more about this below).
However, if your bank were to go bust, you’d only recover up to £85k of your money.
This is under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).
Money transfer companies do something different.
All of your money that a company holds is “safeguarded”.
Essentially, your money is held in seperate, protected accounts.
This means that if the company goes into administration, you will get all of your money back.
This, in my opinion, makes them more safe than a bank.
Most banks will also charge you around 5-6% more than a specialist firm.
On a large transfer, that’s thousands.
These two reasons alone should be enough to make you seek alternatives.
Who is the largest money transfer provider?
In terms of company size and value, PayPal is the largest money transfer company.
Followed by Western Union and Moneygram.
However, I wouldn’t recommend these companies to you.
You’ll get some of the worst rates on the market, paired with a not-so-good service.
Out of the companies I would recommend, Wise is the largest.
Their revenue came out at nearly £600m for 2022.
What to look for in a money transfer company
When choosing your provider, you should look out for a couple of things.
Then, you can compare each one and rank them to your needs accordingly.
As I said before, most companies will be regulated by the FCA or their countries' equivalent.
But, you still need to check.
If you go with a company that isn’t regulated, there’s no recourse if any issues arise.
Just take a look at the bottom of their website.
There should be a line about their regulation.
If not, dig a little deeper or contact them and ask.
You need to find out how much a transfer would cost compared to other brokers.
There are two main costs:
- Exchange rates
- Transfer fees
The better the rate, the less it’s going to cost you.
So, you’ll want to find the provider with the best rate.
But, don’t forget about fees too.
For example, Wise offers the best rates on the market, but their fees can sometimes put them behind other providers.
If you’re looking for providers with no fees, we’ve found that Key Currency is the best.
Click here to get a transfer quote and compare rates from the leading providers.
When I say availability, I mean transfer options and available destinations.
If a company cannot send money to your destination country, then obviously they aren’t suitable.
You might also need a certain type of transfer, for example cash or airtime.
In this case, only a select few can help, like Remitly or WorldRemit.
For vanilla transfers like Euros or Dollars to common countries, most providers will be able to assist.
How important is it to compare providers?
In short, very.
Every provider is different.
They will all have different costs, speeds, services and availability.
It mostly depends on the currencies you are exchanging and the countries you are sending from or to.
Your chosen payment method may also have an effect.
By comparing providers, you’ll not only find the cheapest one, but also the one that suits your needs the most.
I would have a sit-down and shortlist a few companies to compare before making your decision.
Top 10 International Money Transfer Companies
Here is our top 10, complete with some helpful knowledge and pros & cons.
1. Key Currency
Key Currency, founded in 2016, is a high-volume currency broker based in Cornwall, UK.
They provide an old-fashioned, service-orientated brokerage service, conducting all of their business via telephone and email.
By operating out of Cornwall, they save a hell of a lot of money on business expenses and wages compared to their London counterparts.
This allows them to pass the savings onto their customers in the form of better rates.
IS KEY CURRENCY SAFE?
Yes, Key Currency is safe.
They are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
Not only that, but they have over 1000 customer reviews on Trustpilot.
KEY CURRENCY RATES & FEES
Key Currency offers tight spreads with a no fee policy.
For large transfers, you probably won’t get a better deal elsewhere.
For transfers of £200k and up, I’ve worked out their spread to be around 0.2%.
Compared to most banks, this is thousands upon thousands of savings.
KEY CURRENCY AVAILABILITY
Key Currency offers standard trading options like forward contracts and limit orders.
Most destination countries are available to send to.
However, there is a lack of African currencies available.
IS KEY CURRENCY FOR ME?
If you have a large transfer to perform, then yes.
Key Currency’s rates and level of service is tailored for high-volume transfers.
This could be for an international property sale or purchase, or repatriation of inheritance.
However, if your transfer is small, you might be better suited for a money transfer app.
Wise (formerly known as TransferWise), is an online and mobile money transfer app.
They’re known in the industry for being one of the cheapest providers.
They IPO’d on the London Stock Exchange in 2021, being the first of its kind to do so.
This took Wise’s market value to over £11 billion.
IS WISE SAFE?
Being a publicly traded company, Wise is very safe.
They’re also fully regulated in 14 countries.
Over 150k customers have left reviews on Trustpilot.
WISE RATES & FEES
Wise is one of the cheapest options for transferring money abroad.
This is shown in their prices, only charging 0.41%.
Technically, they offer interbank rates with the 0.41% being the fee.
So if you transferred £1000, you’ll be charged roughly £4.10.
Wise offers a multi-currency account and a debit card to pair.
I’ve personally used this feature and I must say, it is brilliant for travelling.
You can top up any currency at any time, using only one card for all currencies.
Wise will know which currency to debit based on where you are in the world.
However, they don’t offer trading options like forwards or limit orders.
IS WISE FOR ME?
If you’re sending money to friends and family, then yes.
If you’re travelling or going on holiday and want your currency on a debit card, then also yes.
If your transfer is large, you’ll want someone to speak to to make sure it goes through without any problems.
Wise do not offer that possibility.
So, for larger transfers, use a currency broker instead.
3. Currencies Direct
Currencies Direct was founded in 1996 out of London.
They were the first non-bank money transfer provider in Europe.
As of 2021, they have 20 offices around the globe covering nearly every continent.
IS CURRENCIES DIRECT SAFE?
Currencies Direct is authorised and regulated in multiple countries.
This includes the UK, Spain, USA, Canada and South Africa.
They also have over 6k customer reviews on Trustpilot.
I don’t think they could be safer.
CURRENCIES DIRECT RATES & FEES
Currencies Direct’s spread is between 0.5% and 1%.
This means that for every £10000 you transfer, they make between £50 and £100 profit.
To put it into perspective, most big UK banks set their margin between 5-6%.
So, you’re making big savings.
Currencies Direct doesn’t charge any fees, either.
CURRENCIES DIRECT AVAILABILITY
Alongside the usuals like forward contracts and limit orders, Currencies Direct offer a few other things, too:
- Mobile app
- Batch payments (business clients)
- Risk management solutions (business clients)
- Options (business clients)
- Multi-currency accounts (business clients)
If you’re a business owner, these features can help you hedge your currency exposure.
IS CURRENCIES DIRECT FOR ME?
Currencies Direct can help you with all transfers of any size.
However, their large team of personal account managers make them a great option for large volume transfers.
They’ll be there every step of the way to make sure your money gets from A to B safely.
They offer some great features for business clients, too.
TorFX was founded in 2004 in Penzance, Cornwall.
As one of the leading money transfer companies, they focus on providing the best possible service for their clients.
In 2011, TorFX was acquired by the same company that owns Currencies Direct.
IS TORFX SAFE?
TorFX is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
Being regulated provides the highest level of protection and safety for customers.
Any company that is regulated is safe to use.
They also have over 5k customer reviews on Trustpilot.
TORFX RATES & FEES
TorFX’s spread is usually between 1-2%, getting lower with large volumes.
With most banks charging 5-6%, there’s great savings to be made.
TorFX does not charge transfer fees.
Although being 15 years old, TorFX still offers the basics.
This includes forward contracts, limit orders and stop losses.
However, they do have a fancy mobile app which you can use for smaller transfers.
IS TORFX FOR ME?
TorFX is a high-volume currency broker.
They have over 100 personal account managers.
While you can use them for small transfers, I recommend using them for international property sales and purchases.
You’ll get a good rate of exchange and great service.
5. Global Reach
Global Reach is a London based currency broker.
They were initially founded in Canada in 2001.
They now employ 200+ people across 14 branches in 6 different countries.
Global Reach is known for their tight FX margins, operating close to the mid-market rate.
IS GLOBAL REACH SAFE?
Global Reach is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
To get regulated, companies must show that they’re safe and reliable over a period of time.
With that said, they are safe to use.
Global Reach has over 3k customer reviews on Feefo.
GLOBAL REACH RATES & FEES
I’ve found that Global Reach’s spread is around 0.3% for transfers over £200k.
This is one of the tightest spreads available in the industry.
For transfers under £3k, you’ll be charged a £20 fee.
GLOBAL REACH AVAILABILITY
Global Reach is renowned for their technology and product offerings.
If you’re a business client, you have access to the following:
- Treasury products
- Risk management solutions
- Options products
- Batch payments
Ultimately, saving your business money.
IS GLOBAL REACH FOR ME?
Global Reach can perform transfers of all sizes.
However, I’d only recommend using them for larger transfers.
Their rates can get worse with smaller volumes, and you may get charged a fee, too.
If you’re a business owner, you can increase your profit margins with Global Reach’s business product offerings.
XE is an app-based money transfer company and currency conversion tool.
They were founded by two friends out of a basement in Canada, in 1993.
XE was acquired in 2015 by Euronet, a NASDAQ company, for $380 million.
OFX is an Australian currency broker.
They are publicly traded on the Australian Stock Exchange, completing their IPO in 2013.
They’re one of the biggest brokers in the industry, transacting over £20 billion annually.
WorldRemit is a digital cross border remittance and currency conversion app.
They specialise in small, frequent payments through less common corridors, such as Africa and Asia.
If you have family abroad or are working overseas, WorldRemit could be for you.
Remitly is an online remittance app based in the United States.
Similar to WorldRemit, they specialise in small payments to exotic countries.
If you’re an expat or just need to send money home, Remitly could be for you.
TransferGo is an international money transfer provider.
They market themselves as a solution for “paying family, friends and bills, for less”.
With that said, they are best for travellers and expats who need to send money home.
In this article, I’ve given you some helpful advice on why to use a money transfer company, and how to choose one.
Then, I’ve given you my top 10 money transfer providers.
- Using your bank will most likely cost you significantly more
- When choosing a money transfer provider, look for security, cost and availability
- Comparing providers will ultimately save you time and money
- Key Currency is best for large transfers (£5k and over)
- Wise is best for smaller transfers (£5k or less)
Just below, you can get a quote from the leading money transfer providers and compare their rates.