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Transferring Large Amounts of Money Abroad

According to World Bank’s Migration and Development Brief published on April 29th 2019, a total of $689 million was transferred internationally in 2018 between family, friends, businesses, and others who needed to move funds.

This article is designed to guide you in getting the best rate when transferring large sums of money internationally.

Updated: 03/06/2021
Read time: 10 minutes
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What to Consider When Transferring Money Internationally

The size of each transfer, its origin and your transfer destination, and the payment and payout methods used mean that a variety of fees will have been paid on these money transfers, and many people will have paid over the odds without knowing it.

Typically, sending small amounts of money is pretty simple and often not much thought goes into the fees and exchange rate margins charged in the process. The relatively low value of the transaction means that small variations in the percentage rate don’t make a huge difference: even if you get low exchange rates and pay a little more in transfer fees, the size of the transfer makes the charges negligible. However, when larger amounts of money are involved, the story changes. You need to consider:

The Amount You Are Sending

First of all, depending on the amount you want to transfer, some money transfer companies may not support your transfers due to sending limits. This may force you to either break the amount into several transfers or look for a different provider with higher limits.

Exchange Rates & Fees

The second aspect you have to be extra careful on is exchange rates and transfer fees. The margin a provider charges for your currency pair can eat into the amount the person you’re sending the money to will actually receive if you don’t make sure your large currency transfer is done at a fair rate.

With transfer fees, you need to check if your provider charges a flat fee or a percentage fee, and whether it might be more financially efficient to go for a provider with a flat fee if you’re transferring a large amount of money.

The easiest way to go around all this is to check how much your recipient will get after all fees and exchange rates have been factored in. In this guide to transferring large amounts of money, you’ll get comprehensive coverage on the key areas to consider when making your transfer abroad. In here you’ll find:

  • The Methods Available for Transferring Large Amounts of Money Abroad
  • The Common Reasons for Sending Large Amounts Abroad
  • A Summary of the Best services to Use

The Common Reasons for Sending Large Amounts Abroad

The world has become a global village and it is not uncommon for people on one end of the world to transfer large sums of money to other people or businesses in different countries. Whatever the currencies and amounts involved, every transfer has a purpose which may have an effect on the best service to use. Some of the most common reasons for large money transfers are:

Relocation
Property Purchase
Tuition and Other Costs
Business Transactions
Other Common Reasons

Sending Large Amounts Abroad – Analysis

Sending money across borders to buy a property or settle a business transaction can be expensive for a variety of reasons. Factors such as your transfer destination, the money transfer service provider you choose, the currency pairs involved and the transfer payment method you use, determine the affordability of a transfer.

To illustrate this, below is a look at how these and other factors play out when transferring £10,000 to the US through some of the biggest financial institutions: HSBC, Lloyds Bank, Barclays UK and NatWest.

HSBC

With HSBC the main component that you need to carefully consider is the exchange rates. HSBC updates its exchange rates frequently in a bid to reflect the global currency market movement – but, since rates vary and at times you have to call the international transfer desk to negotiate a good rate, the best approach is to look at the exchange rate margin.

At the time of creating this article HSBC charges a 3.52% exchange rate margin. This means that a £10,000 transfer to the US will cost you £352 above the mid-market rate. The receiving bank in the US will also charge your recipient a receiving fee. Assume the receiving bank is Wells Fargo, the recipient will be charged $16 to collect the funds.

When all these charges are added up, and expressed as a percentage of your transfer, you’ll be losing nearly 4% of your £10,000 in the transfer process. The exchange rate margin is always the hidden cost in money transfers, and the most important one to look out for with large amounts.

Lloyds Bank

If you are sending money online through Lloyds bank, you have a limit of up to £100,000 per day. An international transfer to the United States will take anywhere between 2 and 3 working days to be delivered.

Save for Euro transfers which are free, sending money to countries that use different currencies like the United States will cost you £9.50 per transfer.

Again, the difference comes when you bring in the exchange rate margin. A transfer of £10,000 attracts a margin of about 3.47% between the rate given and the mid-market rate. For £10,000, this will translate to £347. If you are sending to a Capital One account, the recipient will be charged a further $15.

Looking at the full cost of the transfer, you’ll again be losing in the region of 4% of your £10,000 using Lloyds for your transfer.

Barclays UK

Barclays UK has 3 charging options which are:

·       OUR – Here the sender pays all the charges related to the transfer

·       SHA- the sender pays only their share of the transfer charges with the rest borne by the beneficiary

·       BEN -The beneficiary pays all the transfer charges.

Barclays UK charges an exchange rate margin of 2.75%. Therefore, a transfer of £10,000 will see you pay a margin of £275 above the mid-market rate. Compared to HSBC and Lloyds Bank, this margin is one of the lowest you’ll find with the big banks, although it’ll still eat up a chunk of your transfer.

If you factor in the $15 or $16 international wire transfer receiving fee, the total transfer cost still is more in the region of 3 – 4%.However, Barclays UK doesn’t explicitly lay out how much is charged in fees by any correspondent and intermediary banks – so there may be a small hidden cost or two lying around.

If you want to know more about international bank transfers, check out our guide on transferring money internationally between banks.

NatWest

International money transfers to the United States through NatWest cost £23.50 per transfer. You can opt for either a standard transfer or urgent transfer. Standard transfers take anywhere between 2-4 working days to be delivered while urgent transfers take 1-2 working days at a cost of £30 per transfer. The maximum amount you can send per day is £10,000.

But be wary of the rates: transfers of £10,000 and above to USD attract exchange rate margins of about 2.32% on top of the mid-market rate. This adds up to about £232 less per transfer. Intermediary fees and transfer recipient fees can weigh heavily on the transfer cost bringing it close to 3% of the amount transferred.

Using a money transfer provider – XE

As you can see, transferring a large amount of money abroad using a bank can be a costly process. Luckily there are a variety of online platforms that offer you an alternative, and can often save you a lot in terms of fees.

Let’s take international money transfer provider XE Money Transfer as an example. When you make the same transfer we have been examining above (£10,000 to the United States) using Xe Money Transfer, you will pay zero fees with only a margin of about 0.9% on top of the mid-market rate. This means that the cost of your £10,000 transfer will only be £90, when it could be nearer £400 with some of the big banks.

One potential hidden charge with Xe Money Transfer is that third-party banks may occasionally charge you for the money to end up in your recipient’s bank account. However, these fees are unlikely to be much, if anything at all, and the most important factor with using a platform like Xe Money Transfer is the large saving you get on the conversion rate against the big banks.

Analysis Roundup

Like with any decision involving spending or sending money, when choosing a method to send large amounts of money overseas, it is always a good idea to compare your options. From the breakdown of all the relevant fees and charges we’ve given above, it’s clear that it’s most often financially sensible to choose an online provider such as Xe Money Transfer over some of the bigger names in international banking.

This can come across as a bit of a surprise, as high street banks are the form of financial service most often used by regular consumers, and therefore often the most trusted. However, as you can see from our analysis, the big banks know that many people will see them as the default option, and know that this means they can charge higher fees and margins above the mid-market exchange rate which can see you spending up to £400 overall on a transfer of £10,000.

On the contrary, most online money transfer providers know that in order to attract business, they have to provide attractive rates to their users. Not only can the fees and charges add up to less than a quarter of what some banks may charge, companies like Xe Money Transfer Money Transfer have dedicated currency specialists that have mastered trends between currency pairs to help you process your transfer at the best rates possible.

There are many reasons why people might want to transfer a large amount of money abroad, but the common theme across all of them is a desire to ensure as much money as possible reaches the person on the other end of the transfer.

Doing a comparison across all transfer service providers is always the best way to go about finding the lowest rate for each transfer, and in most cases you will find that the most financially sensible option will be a specialist money transfer service rather than a large bank.

Disclaimer:

We have an active affiliate relationship with Xe Money Transfer, and receive compensation when a user signs up at their service. This comparison & analysis has been made independently and the affiliate relationship with Xe Money Transfer has not influenced the rankings of the services.

Exchange rates and fees were collected by the MoneyTransfers.com team between 28/02/20 – 03.03.2020, the full breakdown of rates can be found here.

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