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AFEX Review

Associated Foreign Exchange (AFEX) is a global money payment and risk management solutions provider. Since 1979, the California-based company has been offering one of the fastest ways to send money to its customer base, which now stands at over 35,000 corporate and individual clients. Each year, AFEX processes over 400,000 transactions valued at more than $15 billion.

The company’s highly-trained team of foreign exchange experts have a deep understanding of the volatile currency exchange market, putting them in a good position to help clients navigate uncertain markets with swift responses as they send money overseas.

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The provider has invested in sophisticated global payments and risk mismanagement tools to take away your global payment worries and offer their customers great transfer rates. AFEXDirect, the provider’s online global payment platform is designed to give users a consolidated overview of their currency exposure and global invoice management. 

The efficiency of its payment delivery service has earned the provider the ‘Straight Through Processing (STP)’ Award from Deutsche Bank 5 years in a row. Therefore, whether you are running an SME, or a large corporation, or simply planning to buy a house abroad, AFEX can offer you customised solutions to minimise your risk and get the best possible outcome.

In this review, we’ll look at the exchange rate margins and fees AFEX charges, how to trade on the platform, some customer feedback, and lots more.

AFEX exchange rates and fees

International money transfers and currency exchange trades on AFEX attract fees and margins respectively in order for the company to generate profits. However, since the provider is a currency specialist and trades large currency volumes, AFEX is able to offer very competitive transfer rates compared to other international money transfer companies. 

Here’s a breakdown of the fees and exchange rate margins charged by AFEX.

Exchange rates

AFEX has a very wide reach around the globe, giving the company the advantage of being able to facilitate transfers in almost any global currency – from major ones like the USD, GBP, AUD, JPY, or Euro, to less-frequently used currencies such as the South African Rand, Swedish krona, Kuwaiti Dinar.

Until you initiate a trade, it is hard for you to know the rates AFEX offers on your chosen route. Fortunately, we’ve done our research and the following are the exchange rates and margins the provider charges on selected routes as of 11 April 2020.

  • United Kingdom-United States:  The indicative GBP/USD rate offered is 1.2349 compared to the mid-market rate of 1.24512. This gives a margin of 0.82%.
  • United Kingdom-Australia: The indicative GBP/AUD rate that AFEX gives is 1.9454 against a mid-market rate of 1.96115. This translates to a margin of 0.8%.
  • United Kingdom-Spain: The indicative GBP/Euro rate on AFEX is 1.1294 against the prevailing interbank rate of 1.1386. This gives a margin of 0.8%.

AFEX also has options to help you manage your currency exchange exposure on immediate and future trades. Here are the tools:

  • Spot transactions: This option helps you to take advantage of favourable prevailing rates for immediate currency delivery up to 2 days.
  • Forward contracts: If you want to lock an exchange rate for a future transfer, this is the option to go for. You can lock your preferred rate for up to 12 months.

Essentially the exchange rate margins you’ll pay for transfers with AFEX will depend on your transfer route, but in general, you should find these margins being below 1%. This makes AFEX very competitive in the money transfer space

Fees

AFEX charges zero fees for transfers above $5,000. If your transfer amount is under $5,000, you’ll be billed a $10 flat fee.

Additional costs

AFEX is a member of the SWIFT network and the transfers delivered to the recipient may be charged an inward SWIFT fee by the receiving bank.  If you pay using a credit card, you may also be charged a cash advance fee by the card issuer. These fees are not controlled by AFEX, so check with your bank before making a transfer.

AFEX pros and cons

AFEX is an influential brand with a lot of partnerships with industry and other players worldwide. This wide network gives AFEX’s clients lots of advantages when making international money transfers using its platform. However, there are also other areas where the company could improve. Here is a summary of AFEX’s pros and cons.

Pros
Competitive rates: As a foreign currency specialist, AFEX has a bargaining advantage in the global currency markets. This enables it to pass over some of the cost savings it enjoys in the form of low exchange rate margins – generally lower than 1% above the mid-market rate.
Low fees: Offering zero-cost transfers for amounts over $5,000 can save clients money. This is especially the case for clients transferring large sums for business purposes, buying holiday homes and such other purposes
A large number of currencies: The provider supports a mix of more than 90 currencies both major and less commonly used.
Dedicated account executive: Immediately you sign up for an account of the AFEXDirect platform, you’ll be assigned a relationship manager. This is a specialist who will help you plan your transfers and get the best solutions and rates for you.
Customised solutions: AFEX treats its customers based on their unique needs. If you want to buy a property in Spain, your transfer will be negotiated differently from someone transferring money to their family and friends. There are also options such as spot contracts and forward contracts that you can take advantage of.
Cons
No mobile app: If you want to transfer money on the go using an app, AFEX doesn’t offer that. However, the platform is built on PHP, ASP.NET, and Adobe Dreamweaver frameworks making it interactive even on a mobile device.
No live chat support: If you have a query or anything you would like to be addressed by AFEX you can get in touch with its support team on +1(866) 995-6446. Alternatively, you can request a callback or send in an email. There is no option for live chat.
No cash pickup: All transfers are made directly to the beneficiary’s bank. If you are looking for cash pickups or mobile transfers, you’ll have to look for an alternative provider.

What kind of payments can I make with AFEX?

AFEX has a business model that caters for businesses and individual clients. There are several payment options available, but payout methods are limited. Here is what to expect when trading on the AFEX platform.

Payment methods available 

You can pay for your transfer using direct debit, wire transfer, CHAPS, BACS, or by cheque. The provider doesn’t mention whether it accepts debit cards and credit cards. If you want to know more about BACS payments, check our guide covering what is BACS.

Withdrawal options available

Funds are sent directly to your recipient’s bank account through the SWIFT network. This network is fast and efficient, and means that your recipient doesn’t have to do anything except wait for the money to show up in their account.

How to send and receive money with AFEX

Making transfers through AFEX is simple. In just a few steps you’ll have your account set up and ready to transfer funds. Here are the steps to expect when making your transfer.

How to send money with AFEX

1. Register for an account: It’s simple to sign up for a trading account on AFEX. You can either register online or download the form as a fillable PDF and fax it to the numbers provided. You’ll need to provide a variety of personal information such as your name, email address, phone number, and address. A relationship manager will then get in touch with you to complete the rest of the process and brief you on how everything works.

2. Trade: Once your trading account is set up and you want to make a payment, reach out to your relationship manager to discuss your individual needs and timescales. You can book your trade over the phone or through the AFEXDirect platform. When your transfer is booked, you’ll get an email notification confirming the currency amount, transfer dates and exchange rate.

3. Payment: Pay for your transfer using the bank account details AFEX will provide you. Ensure that the funds get to the provider on or before the scheduled date for the transfer to avoid delays. 

4. Beneficiary: Instruct AFEX where to send the funds. Ensure you provide accurate beneficiary bank account details and other information as requested by the provider.

5. Transfer: Once AFEX receives your funds, they will send out to your recipient as agreed. You’ll also receive an email that the funds have been transferred.

How to receive money with AFEX

The funds will be credited to the beneficiary’s bank account. There is nothing they are required to do or any documents to provide. They can start spending the money right away!

Does AFEX have a mobile app?

No, AFEX doesn’t have an app. All transactions are done through the AFEXDirect online platform or over the phone.

How fast are AFEX’s transfer speeds?

AFEX is a member of the SWIFT network which means fast transfer deliveries. Most transfers are made within one business day, but others – especially those using exotic currencies – can take up to 4 business days depending on the transfer corridor and the correspondent bank(s) involved.

Are there maximum and minimum transfer amounts?

AFEX doesn’t have transfer limits. The reason could be the kind of clients it serves-businesses and people looking to buy properties. However, if your transfer is less than $5,000, you’ll have to pay a $10 flat fee on top of the exchange rate margin.

Can I trust AFEX?

AFEX is a leading international foreign exchange and a global payment provider. Currently, AFEX has offices in 26 locations including the United States, Europe, Australia, Asia, and the Middle East. It offers exceptional exchange rates, great customer service, and market expertise to businesses and private clients. Before you decide whether to use their services or not, look at the following trust factors.

History

AFEX was incorporated in 1979 in the United States with a mission to deliver effective and streamlined global payment solutions and foreign exchange services. Currently, it serves over 35,000 business and individual clients spread in more than 200 countries and territories. Its headquarters are in 21045 Califa Street Woodland Hills, CA 91367 United States.

Today, AFEX is one of the largest non-banking service providers supporting over 90 currencies. Over the years, the brand has recorded rapid expansion, and its team of experts provide valuable support through customised solutions. 

Between 1979 and 2010, AFEX opened offices in Switzerland, Australia, the United Kingdom and Sweden. From 2011 to date, it has established offices in Canada, Italy, and Ireland and continues growing.

Regulatory compliance

AFEX is licensed and regulated in all the markets it operates in. Here are some of the licenses it has obtained to date.

  • United States: AFEX operates as AFEX Offshore Limited, authorised and regulated by the Jersey Financial Services Commission as a Money Service Business (MSB). It is also registered by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and regulated by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
  • United Kingdom: Here AFEX operates as Associated Foreign Exchange Limited company number 4848033. It is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) as captured under financial register number 502593. Its payment services are regulated by the Payment Services Regulations 2017. AFEX is also registered by Her Majesty Revenue & Customs (HMRC) as a Money Service Business registration number 12159000.
  • Canada: AFEX is registered as a Money Service Business and regulated by the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC). 
  • Switzerland: The provider is regulated by the Financial Services Standards Association (VQF).
  • Australia: Here AFEX is regulated by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) and the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC).

As part of the regulatory requirements, AFEX is obligated to maintain client funds in segregated accounts separate from its business funds. The provider banks with some of the most reputable financial institutions in the industry like Deutsche Bank and Bank of America.

Key industry partnerships

To better the services offered to its clients, AFEX has partnered with other players in the industry such as:

  • FXD Capital: This partnership entered in September 2019 enables AFEX to provide end-to-end cash management and foreign exchange solutions.
  • MoneyNetint: AFEX entered this partnership in March 2020 and plans to leverage MoneyNetint’s innovation as a payment solutions provider.
  • Ascent Software: In this partnership signed in December 2017, AFEX aims at simplifying payments to financial services firms using Ascent Software solutions.
  • Currencybird: This partnership entered in August 2019 is a win-win as Currencybird seeks to leverage AFEX’s integrated solutions API to serve the Chilean market.

Encryption and customer data

AFEX has prioritised client information and identity safety. It uses sophisticated data encryption technology for customer privacy. It also has multi-factor authentication (MFA) systems in place to enhance login security.

To further strengthen its security, AFEX uses SSL by Default, DigiCert SSL, DigiCert EV, Symantec VeriSign, Verisign EV SGC, and Verisign EV technology stacks.

Investors and awards

AFEX is a private company limited by shares and owned 100% by Associated Foreign Exchange Holdings Inc. There is no record of external investors or funding rounds that the company has participated in. 

One of the awards the provider has consistently won from 2008 to 2012 is the “Straight Through Processing Award”. This is an award by the Deutsche Bank given to providers with a payment efficiency rate exceeding 97.0%. AFEX has consistently delivered efficiency rates of 98.7% and above.

Customer satisfaction

AFEX has 95% of its reviews rated 4 or 5-star on Trustpilot. Even though this is from a relatively small sample of 624 reviews, such a high rating points towards impressive customer experience. Here are what customers had to say about AFEX:

Positive

  • Excellent customer service: Questions and concerns were addressed in a timely and courteous manner.
  • Simple to trade: Whether you choose to trade through the telephone or the AFEXDirect online platform, initiating a transfer is very simple. 
  • Excellent exchange rate: AFEX offers competitive rates on both the major and less-used currencies

Negative

  • Lengthy foreign currency purchasing process: The provider takes customers through several steps including software downloads and identity verifications that some clients find onerous.

Can I cancel my transfer?

Once a trade order has been booked, clients cannot cancel it from their end. You’ll have to contact the AFEX customer support team or your relationship manager for approval.

Top destinations for using Afex

AFEX supports more than 200 countries and territories. However, the following are the most traded destinations on its platform: 

Customer support

The provider operates from 26 locations globally. For any questions or concerns, you can get in touch with the office in your region or country. Alternatively, you can contact the head office on the following channels.

  • Telephone: You can call their 1 888 634 4681 toll number for assistance. In some markets such as Australia and the United Kingdom, lines are open 24/7. If you can’t get through to the customer support, you’ll be prompted to leave a voicemail message.
  • Email: You can fill in the webform and an AFEX representative will get in touch with you or if you have a complaint, you can email it to complaints.us@afex.com.
  • Social media: AFEX has active social media handles and pages you could use. They are on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube.

Summary

AFEX is a trusted global specialist in foreign exchange and international payments. It supports transfers to more than 200 countries and territories and facilitates payments for over 100 industries in different sectors. 

The provider designates a relationship manager for every corporate and private client. This ensures customers get personalised services and professional help from experts with a strong understanding of their industries and business needs. Typically your relationship manager can help you send money with zero fees and an exchange rate markup of less than 1% on AFEX.

Using risk management tools and innovative global payment solutions, AFEX can handle every aspect of customers’ foreign payment and transaction execution needs. Globally the brand serves more than 35,000 customers and processes approximately £15 billion annually. 

However, much like with other services, you should compare the various providers and options available for your transfer route before choosing a provider. We have designed a money transfer comparison tool that can help you quickly analyse other providers on your transfer corridor, what they offer, and whether they are faster, cheaper or more effective than AFEX. 

All this means that you can save money on international money transfers, for example sending money from USA to Australia will be much cheaper with AFEX compared to any common high street bank.

Expect AFEX to show up on our recommended list, especially if you are looking to transfer a large amount of money. Its flexible and integrated online payment platform, foreign hedging solutions, and industry expertise make this provider a go-to service for many customers.

April Summers

April is a trained journalist and the Content Editor for MoneyTransfers.com. She has 10 years experience writing about a diverse range of subjects, from financial services to arts and entertainment. When she’s not writing about global remittances she can be found daydreaming about her next holiday abroad.

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