A bank transfer is usually the cheapest way to send money to the UK.
You can use either a bank or a money transfer company.
The cost will be a combination of fees and the exchange rate you are charged.
I’ll explain how the process works, how to avoid high charges, and the best options available.
How to send money to the UK (in 4 simple steps)
You can send money to a UK bank account in just four steps.
None are complicated.
Whether you use a bank or money transfer specialist, the steps are pretty much the same.
Step 1 – Identification check
All customers must first have an identification check.
Anti-money laundering regulations require this.
If you have a residential address in the UK, you can often be identified using just a passport number and address.
Sometimes proof of address might be needed for overseas residents.
The process is normally pretty quick. Some companies will complete this step in the same working day.
Step 2 – Secure an exchange rate
Once the ID check is done, you are ready to secure an exchange rate.
To send money to the UK, you are buying Pounds (GBP) and selling whatever foreign currency you hold.
Any exchange rate quoted by your bank or a money transfer company will be on a live basis.
You can decide whether to go ahead or not.
If you are happy to proceed, your bank or money transfer specialist will lock-in your rate for you.
You will then be emailed a confirmation of your transaction.
This will show the exchange rate agreed, the amount of currency you have sold, and the amount of Pounds you have bought (will receive in the UK bank account).
Step 3 – Pay for your money transfer
Before any money is converted, you need to pay for your money transfer.
A bank will require your funds to be in your account already before securing an exchange rate.
Whereas a money transfer company will allow you to send your funds in a day or two later.
If you use a money transfer company, they will provide you with the bank details of their client account.
Step 4 – Your money is converted to Pounds and sent out
Once your bank or money transfer specialist has received your money, they will convert them into Pounds Sterling at the exchange rate previously agreed.
Your Pounds are then sent to the UK bank account you have requested. This is sometimes called the 'beneficiary'.
How long does it take to transfer money to the UK?
The time taken largely depends on where the money is coming from.
It usually takes 1-2 working days to send money from the EU to the UK.
If your money is located in the US, it normally takes 2-3 working days.
From any other country, it can take 3-5 working days.
Whether you use a bank or money transfer service, if you send your money to the United Kingdom using a bank transfer, it will go via the SWIFT international payment system.
SWIFT is the system that links banks all around the world.
The upside of SWIFT is that it's a highly secure and reliable payment method (it's been around since 1973).
The downside is that it can take several days for payments to clear into your account.
The information you will need
Before you can send money to the United Kingdom, you need to gather the banking details of your recipient (otherwise known as the beneficiary).
- Name on the account
- UK bank sort code (6 numbers)
- UK bank account number (8 numbers)
Some bank accounts in the United Kingdom may only have 7 digit account numbers. If that’s the case, just add a zero to the start.
What is the best way to send money to UK?
To send money to the UK, you have three main options:
- Cash transfer
- Debit/credit card
- Bank transfer
I'll explain the pros and cons of each.
Cash transfers are fast, but can be quite costly and are limited in size.
If speed is of the essence, a cash transfer can be the best option.
Sometimes your money will arrive within an hour.
The other benefit is your recipient doesn’t even need to have a bank account.
But cash transfers are limited to smaller amounts (a few thousand max) and tend to be the most expensive way to send money to the UK.
For cash transfers, MoneyGram and Western Union are the two best-known names, but there are others such as Xoom (part of PayPal), Azimo, Ria, and Remitly.
A debit/credit card is another way of sending money to the UK.
It offers a safer alternative than bringing along wads of cash to a money transfer company.
This method is also suited to smaller amounts and may not be as cost-effective as a bank transfer.
A bank transfer tends to be cheapest way to send money to the UK.
Sometimes these are also called telegraphic transfers, wire transfers or an international money transfer.
It's all the same thing.
It's an electronic payment from an overseas bank account to a UK bank account.
Both banks and money transfer specialists compete in this space.
There are quite a few money transfer specialists to choose from.
Some are online-only platforms. Others will provide a human-based service.
How much will it cost to transfer money to the UK?
There are two types of charges to look out for when sending money to the UK:
- Fees; and
- Exchange rates
Each bank and money transfer service has their own combination of fees and exchange rates.
Most people focus on the fees but don't realise the exchange rate includes a profit margin too.
The fees tend to be a fixed charge.
Whereas, exchange rates tend to get better for larger amounts.
Logically, that means for smaller transfers; the fees will have a greater bearing.
But for larger transfers, the exchange rate is the more important factor.
Unfortunately finding out exactly how much your bank is going to charge you to send money to the UK is not easy.
Most banks bury their charges within a schedule of tariffs that can run for 15-20 pages.
With all the jargon and variations presented, the average person will struggle to get any clear answers.
I can't speak to every bank in the word, but as a ballpark, expect a flat fee in the region of $30-$50 per transfer and an exchange rate cost of 2%-5% of the money you send.
We try and keep things simpler and more transparent.
There are no fees for a start.
We quote you our current exchange rate and let you know the amount of Pounds you will receive in the UK.
That way, you know exactly where you stand.
If you would like a free, no-obligation quote, please click on the button below.
How do I get the best exchange rate?
Think of the exchange rate as the price of money.
Getting a better rate means more money in your pocket.
As a word of warning, a lot of the exchange rates you see online are misleading.
They are wholesale rates used by banks.
Companies sometimes publish these as 'teaser rates' - to lure you in.
Their customer rates can be quite different.
I wouldn't trust comparison sites for the same reason. They don't know whether the rates offered are genuine or not.
To get a genuine customer rate, you are best off getting a free quote from a bank or money transfer specialist.
It doesn’t commit you to anything, but you can then compare the numbers.
It's easier just to focus on the amount of Pounds you will receive for the currency you want to convert.
If you make a comparison between different providers, try to do it at roughly the same time as exchange rates are always changing.
Timing is everything
Timing can make a big financial difference to you.
Exchanging your money at the wrong time could add thousands to the cost of sending money to the UK.
Most people aren’t overly familiar with foreign exchange and currency markets.
It’s not their area of expertise.
Which is why it's understandable that a lot of customers don't know if it’s a good or bad time to exchange their money.
One option might be to speak to a money transfer specialist.
A money transfer specialist, such as ourselves, can keep you informed of market trends and offer guidance on exchange rates.
It’s something that sets our service apart from banks and online-only platforms.
We work with you to achieve the best rate possible.
In practical terms, that could mean letting you know when the rate moves in your favour, discussing a target rate to aim for, or helping you navigate the daily fluctuations within the timeframe you have available.
We will provide you with access to highly competitive rates and apply our insights and expertise to execute your trade to your best advantage, thereby reducing your costs.
Is there any limit on how much money I can send to the UK?
There are no legal limits on the amount of money you can send to the United Kingdom.
The UK does not restrict money coming in or out of the country. It's an open economy; there are no foreign exchange controls.
However, you may find your bank has set its own daily limits.
The big UK banks tend to restrict international money transfers to a limit of £50,000-£100,000 per day.
Foreign banks tend to have similar policies.
For large money transfers, these daily limits can slow down your payment and result in more fees.
Money transfer companies don't tend to have any maximum size for payments, which can make them a better option for large transfers.
To transfer money to the UK:
- It takes anywhere between 1-5 working days depending on what country you send the money from.
- The cost will be a combination of fees and the exchange rate charged.
- Cash transfers are generally a more expensive option than a bank transfer.
- A bank transfer can be done through a bank or money transfer specialist.
- There are no legal limits on how much money you can send to a UK bank account.
Who are we?
Key Currency is a leading money transfer specialist.
We've helped thousands of people move money in and out of the UK at great rates and with no fees.
The cost of our service is included within the exchange rate we quote.
There are no hidden fees you need to worry about.
One thing that separates us from the banks and online-only platforms is that all our customers are allocated an Account Manager (a real person) who will take care of the entire money transfer process for you.
Importantly, we don't make you download an ‘app’ and do everything yourself.
Your Account Manager can answer any questions, help you set up your transfer and guide you on current exchange rates.
Getting some guidance on exchange rates can help you avoid losing money through poor timing or adverse currency fluctuations.
You won't get that from a bank or online-only system.
As a company, we are open and transparent.
Our company has a 5-star "Excellent" customer rating on Trustpilot; the highest customer rating available for our industry.
Key Currency is an FCA regulated Authorised Payment Institution (No. 753989).
You also have the peace of mind knowing that all money transfers are conducted through safeguarded client accounts.
Request a free quote to compare our rates to your bank or existing provider.
You are under no obligation to trade with us.