What is an international money transfer?
It’s a safe and secure way to transfer money abroad via a bank or a money transfer service.
You may want to send money overseas for a variety of reasons, such as:
Whether you’re sending money to the UK or worldwide, international money transfers (IMT) work the same way.
Most international payments are made using the SWIFT system. SWIFT is a worldwide network that allows banks and financial institutions to send and receive information about financial transactions globally.
What ways can you send money abroad?
You can send money worldwide to places like India, the USA, or the UK in several ways.
Whichever method you choose, once you’ve agreed on the exchange rate and provided your details and funds, the money transfer service or bank does the rest.
You can send via:
- mobile app
- in person
Wise Multi-Currency Account
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How do you send money to a bank account abroad?
There are various platforms and services available to transfer money abroad from Ireland. These are the main ways to send money abroad:
- Your bank for example, the Bank of Ireland
- Money transfer services like Western Union or Moneygram
- Foreign exchange services like CurrencyFair and XE
- Multi-currency accounts like Wise, Revolut or Paypal
Each money transfer service has advantages and disadvantages, so weigh up which method is right for you. Once you’ve decided on the platform, shop around for the best deal using a comparison service.
Here’s the pros and cons of the best ways to send money internationally
Use a high street bank
Using your bank to send money overseas is the traditional way to send money, but could be the most expensive.
Foreign currency exchange services
There’s a huge choice of exchange services on the internet; examples include CurrencyFair, Remitly, XE and Small World.
Open a multi-currency account
A bank account that allows you to send, receive and hold more than one currency. Examples include Wise and Revolut.
Money transfer services
Specialising in quick money transfers with the option to send and receive cash online, by app or via high street branches. Examples include Western Union and MoneyGram.
What is the exchange rate?
The exchange rate is the amount one currency is worth in relation to another, for example, how much sterling you can get for your euro.
How do exchange rates work?
The exchange rate is one of the leading factors that determine the cost of your money transfer from Ireland. If the euro (EUR) to pound sterling (GBP) exchange rate is 0.85, it costs £0.85 for 1 euro, so €50 would get you £42.47.
On a large money transfer, for example, a house purchase, a poor exchange rate could mean paying thousands more than you need to.
What details do you need to send money abroad?
If you’re sending online or via an app you’ll need the recipient’s full name and account details.
You will also need additional details, such as the:
If you’re sending in person via a bank or high street money transfer service you’ll need a valid form of ID such as your passport or driving license and the details of the person you are sending the money to.
Some, but not all online services will ask you to verify your identity when you sign up for an account.
What factors affect the cost of your money transfer?
If you want to know the quickest way to send money to the UK, the cheapest method to transfer money worldwide, or the most secure way to transfer a large sum from Ireland to another country, we’ve summarised your choices.
What is the cheapest way of transferring money?
It depends on how much money you want to send, where it’s going and how quickly you need it to get to its destination.
Typically, for one-off transfers under £5,000, multi-currency accounts like Revolut and Wise, can work out one of the cheapest and safest methods of money transfer. Alternatively, one of the many foreign exchange services like Remitly or CurrencyFair can offer good rates.
For regular transfers to the same person, high street banks are likely to offer the most convenient and cheapest method because some allow you to make fee-free transfers - depending on the destination.
Aside from the money transfer service you choose, several things affect the cost of sending money internationally.
What’s the fastest way to send money internationally?
Some money transfers firms and foreign exchange brokers offer almost instant money transfers, but bear in mind the fastest way to send money is usually the most expensive.
There are several transfer services that appear to offer good exchange rates for same-day money transfers, however, fees can be high, so check the costs carefully before you commit.
Sending money abroad in an emergency
If you need to send money for an emergency, the fastest way for your family or friends to get money sent by you is to arrange a cash pick-up. This is when the recipient collects the funds at a local branch of the provider you sent from, e.g. Western Union.
Some banks may also offer ‘express’ international transfers but only to certain countries and fees can be as much as €25 euros per transfer on top of a percentage of the transaction value.
What’s the safest way to send money to the UK and abroad?
When you send large sums of money abroad, you want to trust that any money you send abroad will arrive safely.
Foreign exchange brokers will often offer the best rates, but you may not get the same level of protection as you would with a bank if things go wrong. If a money transfer service goes bust whilst it has your money, there is no guarantee you’ll get your funds back.
The FCA regulates banks and larger e-money institutions like Wise in the UK and the Central Bank of Ireland regulates Irish money transmission and Bureaux de Change businesses.
This means they are bound by rules to safeguard your money by holding it in separate bank accounts and covering it with assets of the same value.
What to consider before you send money abroad
If you’re planning to send money to the UK or overseas, consider the best method for your needs and shop around to find the best deal.
Whether you choose your bank, a currency exchange broker, or a multi-currency account, here are some things to consider:
If a transfer service doesn’t charge fees, they may have hidden them within the exchange rate. Always compare the actual amount you’re getting for your euro to work out which deal is best.
Avoid transferring funds from a credit card as it’s usually charged as a cash advance, which is expensive.
International money transfer FAQs
Should I lock in an exchange rate?
This is where you pay a small fee to guarantee a rate for a future transfer, up to a year in advance. Known as a forward contract, it can help you to plan your finances as you’ll know the total cost in advance, and it can’t change.
You may choose to do this if you’re planning a high-value purchase in the future and the rate is either:
- Good at the moment
- Expected to get worse due to external factors e.g. political
However, this is a gamble as market predictions may be wrong and you could get a better deal by waiting.
Are there any charges to receive money from abroad?
The recipient’s bank may apply a charge to receive funds from abroad - meaning that the overall amount transferred will be reduced.
How quickly can I send money to the UK?
It depends how you do it and what time of the day it is. It can take up to four working days to send money from your bank, while some transfer companies offer same day transfers.
To get funds the same day, you’ll need to beat the cut off time for that day and you usually have to pay extra.
What is the interbank rate?
It’s the rate that banks use for trading foreign currencies with each other, and the mid point between the currency buy and sell open market rates. The mid-market exchange rate is considered the most accurate and ‘fair’ rate for sending money on any given day.
The interbank rate changes all the time but you can check the current euro to pound sterling rate.
Why do different money transfer companies use different exchange rates?
Some companies add their fees into the exchange rate and others separate their fees. It’s rare to be offered the same rate you see on Google (the interbank rate) but some companies offer rates fairly close to it.
You should compare the amount of pounds you’ll get for your euro after any charges, to work out which is the cheapest service.
Can I use PayPal to send money internationally?
Yes, PayPal supports international money transfers to over 200 countries and transaction can take two to three days. The downside is the fee structure is complex and costs can quickly add up.
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