It’s not easy to get clear and helpful information from the big banks. 

I’ve put together this guide to save you time trawling through different pages looking for the answers.

Below you will find out what HSBC charges for an international transfer, how long it takes, the daily limits, and how the process works.

HSBC international transfer fee

One of the first things people want to know is what fee HSBC charge for an international transfer.

HSBC charge a flat fee of £4 for international transfers done online or if you use a branch or telephone banking, the fee is £9. There is no fee if you transfer money to another HSBC account.

It’s fairly standard these days to charge a lower fee for online transfers compared to using a branch or telephone banking.

HSBC International Payments


Branch or Telephone


Transfer Fee




While the transfer fees charged by HSBC aren’t huge, they can add up for those making frequent payments.

As a tip, some money transfer specialists don't charge transfer fees. So if the fees bother you, consider an alternative provider to your bank.

Please note - the transfer fee is not the only charge for an HSBC international transfer.

Most of the money made by HSBC is from the exchange rate.

HSBC exchange rates 

Unlike the transfer fee, the exchange rate is a hidden charge.

While it's not obvious, the exchange rate is usually the most significant cost of an international transfer.

Like all the banks, HSBC buys currencies at a wholesale price and adds a mark-up or margin.

The customer exchange rate offered to you has a profit margin already built into it by HSBC.

A lot of customers think exchange rates are standard and the fee is what matters.

Unfortunately, they don't realise where the money is being made.

As someone that works in the foreign exchange industry, I am used to calculating the profit margin on exchange rates.

I am also a customer of HSBC, so I can log into their system and assess their rates.

Here's what I found out:

  • Transfer of £5,000 – 3.49% margin = £174.50 exchange rate costs
  • Transfer of £10,000 – 3.49% margin = £349.00 exchange rate costs
  • Transfer of £50,000 – 2.43% margin = £1,217.03 exchange rate costs

As you can see, the exchange rate costs are quite substantial.

On a £50,000 transfer, you would be charged over £1,200 in exchange rate costs.

The exchange rates costs (hidden charge) dwarf the transfer fee (visible charge).

I suspect most people aren’t aware of the real cost.

The point is if you just accept whatever rate is charged by HSBC, you could end up receiving a lot less than they expected.

Having worked in the industry for years, I know that small differences in the rate can make a big financial difference.

As a quick example, say you were transferring £120,000 to buy a property in France.

If the HSBC exchange rate margin was just 1% higher than elsewhere, it would cost you an extra £1,200 in exchange rate costs.

My advice is to always get a quote from an alternative provider and compare how much money you would receive for your pounds.

There’s no harm in shopping around.

I’ve got no gripe with the big banks, but they seem to be aware that a lot of customers will just accept their charges without question.

At least you’re reading this page, so you are better informed than most!

If you carry out a cost comparison, do it at roughly the same time because exchange rates move throughout the day.

You want to be comparing apples with apples.

If you would like to compare our rates to HSBC, simply request a free quote below.

Get a free quote

How long does a HSBC international transfer take?

It normally takes up to 4 working days for an international transfer with HSBC to complete.

It’s possible to take longer if security checks are needed to validate the payment.

Different time zones, daily cut-off times and public holidays may also influence the time taken.

Transfers within the EEA will usually be faster.

Is there a daily limit?

HSBC has a £50,000 daily limit for international transfers using online banking.

There is no limit within a branch, but you will need to bring some ID.

For telephone banking, there is no limit for Premier customers and up to a £10,000 daily limit for Non-Premier customers.

The information you will need

To send money abroad using HSBC, you need the following information:

  1. Beneficiary’s full name and address.
  2. Beneficiary’s country.
  3. Beneficiary’s BIC (Bank Identifier Code). 
  4. The IBAN (International Bank Account Number). 
  5. Reason for your transfer. 

I will explain a BIC and IBAN.

Put simply, the BIC identifies a specific bank and the IBAN is used to identify an individual account.

All banks have a BIC. It is also known as a SWIFT code.

It’s usually on a statement or shown when you log in. If not, ask in a branch.

An IBAN is a long string of letters and numbers. 

To make matters confusing, its length varies from country to country.

For example, in Belgium, an IBAN is only 16 characters long. Whereas in Malta, an IBAN is 32 characters – double the length.  

There are quite a few free online IBAN generators. I’m not promoting any of those for cyber-security reasons.

If you’re a bit nervous about this part, one option might be to use a money transfer specialist or go into a bank branch.

That way someone can personally assist you with all the payment details and help make sure everything is correct.

How to make an HSBC international transfer

The first step is to choose how you want to send your money:

  • Online Banking
  • Telephone Banking; or
  • Branch

Here's a quick overview of each...

Online Banking:

  1. Log on to personal internet banking.
  2. Select Move Money.
  3. Enter the payment details and follow the on-screen prompts.

The process drags on a bit. There’s a lot of information needed.

At the end, you review and confirm everything and then generate the usual security codes needed.

Telephone Banking:

Call 03457 707 070 (Premier customers)

Call 03457 404 404 (Non-Premier customers)

Within a Branch:

Let someone know you need to make an international transfer (also called a telegraphic transfer) and they will provide the relevant form.

You normally have to fill this out yourself, but someone should check over it before it is submitted for processing.

You will need to bring along some photo ID as well as the payment and beneficiary details.

A trusted and helpful alternative: Key Currency

You don’t have to use your bank for international transfers.

A money transfer specialist may be a lot cheaper, as well as being more attentive and efficient.

Setting up with a money transfer specialist is quick and easy.

Most UK residents can be identified using their name and address.

In terms of security, an FCA Authorised money transfer company will transfer your money using a client safeguarded account.

Not all money transfer companies offer the same service.

One thing that sets our service apart from others is we provide personal support and guidance.

There’s a big push these days to force customers online and take all human contact away.

The banks seem keen to do this.

And a lot of the money transfer companies are heading the same way.

I’ve come across many other money transfer companies that are really just online-only platforms or apps.

As a customer, you pretty much have to do everything yourself.

A lot of our customers aren’t comfortable moving large amounts of money using a mobile phone or navigating around an online system.

It might suit the companies, but it doesn’t suit the customers.

The average person doesn’t make regular international transfers. It’s a fairly infrequent event in their lives.

So why put yourself through the hassle and aggravation of trying to do everything yourself.

At Key Currency we don't force you onto an online platform or make you download an app. 

Every customer has an account manager – a real person.

The role of an account manager is to assist you with the payment details, discuss and agree with you on the right time to exchange your money and keep you fully informed throughout your transfer.

As a company, we are open and transparent.

The names, faces and backgrounds of all our people are shown on our website.

We have a 5-star "excellent" customer rating on the review website Trustpilot; it's the highest rating available.

If you would like a free alternative quote from us, please click on the button below.

Compare our Rates