If you need to transfer money from Spain to the UK, you basically have two choices:

  1. Use a bank
  2. Use a currency broker

A lot of people may automatically think of using their bank as it's more familiar, and they have an account already. But there are some cost and service advantages when using a currency broker.

The most important factor in an international money transfer from Spain to the UK is the exchange rate. Think of the exchange rate as like the price you are getting.

When it comes to exchange rates, banks are not your friends.

It doesn't matter whether you are a longstanding customer or not.

The big banks know their customers are essentially a captive audience, and as a result, their exchange rates are terrible.

As a general rule, banks can charge up to 3%-4% more than a good currency broker.

If you are selling a property in Spain for say €80,000, and you want to transfer the money from Spain to a UK bank account, a bank could cost you an extra €2,400 to €3,200.

That's hardly a trifle amount for anyone.

In terms of how an international money transfer from Spain to the UK works, it can be broken it down into 4 simple steps.

Steps to transfer money from Spain to the UK

Why currency brokers are different from banks

If you don't want to incur the high costs of using a bank, the best way to transfer money from Spain to the UK is to use a currency broker.

The big banks such as Barclays, HSBC, Natwest and Santander have many products, but mortgages and saving accounts are their bread and butter.

Foreign exchange and international transfers are not.

As a result, the exchange rates they offer are not competitive, and their staff are not very experienced in this area.

Currency brokers specialise in international money transfers.

That's the core difference.

For customers, it leads to lower costs and better service.

A currency broker can monitor the movements in the exchange rate and let you know when the rate moves in your favour.

For larger money transfers, even small movements in the exchange rate can make a big difference to the money you will receive. 

You may have seen that exchange rates change every 2-3 seconds throughout the day. 

However, most people don't want to watch the rate all day.

If you would rather be doing other things with your time, you could get a currency broker to keep an eye on things for you.

Currency brokers are watching the screens as part of their job and are more familiar with the fluctuations in exchange rates.

If you have a specific rate you are aiming for, a currency broker can put in place a rate alert for you. 

Should the EUR to GBP rate reach that level, your broker will let you know.

If you need to send money from Spain to the UK quickly, a broker can get everything in place ahead of your transfer. 

For larger money transfers, even small movements in the exchange rate can make a big difference to the money you will receive. 

So it may be worth your while speaking to someone who is experienced at this.

A bank, on the other hand, is not set up to offer you any kind of personalised service.

Can you imagine asking your bank to watch the exchange rate and give you a call when the time is right?

Cue laughter.

The truth about online exchange rates

You have probably seen exchange rates online.

There are quite a few websites now, such as XE, Oanda and DailyFX, that provide live exchange rates, charts and news.

But the bit that most people miss is that the rates shown on these are not actually available.

If you look for the disclaimer (usually at the bottom), it will say something like "for information purposes only" or "not available to consumers".

The reason is they are "interbank" rates.

As the name suggests, interbank rates are used by banks to settle trades with each other.

Not even huge corporations that trade tens of millions a day, get the interbank rate.

Online rates are a cause of confusion and frustration for customers. They create false expectations.

I guess it's a bit like hiring a car.

The rates you see aren't realistic or achievable.

If you want to get a real exchange rate, then I would suggest you request a quote from a bank or currency broker.

At least that way you can better budget for the future.


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Property In Spain

How to get the best exchange rate

A currency broker should help you achieve the best exchange rate possible.

Rates change throughout the day.

That can make it difficult for you to know when it's the right time to lock in your rate. 

Some currency brokers can assist you with the timing of exchange rates.

No one has a crystal ball, but currency brokers are a lot more familiar with exchange rate fluctuations and related news and events.

As an example, on a transfer of €120,000, even if you achieve a 0.5% rate improvement by trading on the back of some positive news, you would have gained an extra €600.

I should point out that not all currency brokers are the same.

These days there is a growing army of online-only operators, such as Transferwise, CurrencyFair, PayPal or Revolut.

They are effectively 'do-it-yourself' platforms.

It suits some people, but not others.

I guess it comes down to whether you prefer doing things yourself online.

If you have done plenty of international transfers before, you may be comfortable inputting all the information yourself. 

For online merchants, who process loads of transactions a week, they're a great solution. 

You should be aware though; if you have a problem with the online platforms, the customer support is normally via email or webchat.

Not my cup of tea. 

I have found that for larger money transfers, most people want the peace of mind of being able to speak to someone.

I've been there myself. I've sent a large chunk of my money abroad.

There was no way I was going to tap in all the details myself and hope for the best.

I wanted another human to check things over, let me know when my money had arrived, and when it was sent out.

Why add stress and worry by trying to do everything yourself?

Watch out for banker's draft fees

If you are sending money from Spain to the UK, the Spanish banks can charge a lot of nasty fees.

One of the worst is on Banker's Drafts. 

Take the common situation of a British ex-pat who is selling a property in Spain...

Upon completion, the seller will receive a Banker's Draft in Euros from the Notary.

This is still the most commonly used way in Spain for the seller to receive their proceeds. 

Now you would think a Spanish bank would allow you to deposit your Bankers Draft for free, right?

No, no, no. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

The major Spanish banks such as Santander, Caixa, Bilbao and Sabadell typically charge you a percentage of your Banker's Draft simply to deposit it into your own Spanish bank account.

Our research found that the typical fee charged by the big Spanish banks ranged from 0.5% to 1.0%. 

Using an example of a €100,000 Spanish property sale, the fee just to cash your Banker's Draft could be anywhere between €500 and €1,000.

And that's before you've even converted your Euros into Pounds. It's a rip-off.

Fortunately, I have a solution. 

As a currency broker with operations in Spain, we have established a deal with one of the largest Spanish banks that allows our customers to cash Banker's Drafts for free.

This is not something that is readily available elsewhere as most brokers have no physical presence in Spain. 

Can you avoid international transfer fees? (answer:YES)

When you transfer money from Spain to England, Scotland or Wales, almost all banks (and even some currency brokers) will charge you international transfer fees.

These are generally flat fees charged on every international transfer.

I guess the banks would describe it as a type of 'admin fee'.

But bear in mind almost all banking is done electronically these days, so the idea that they add on more fees for something that has caused no real cost to them is annoying to say the very least.

International transfer fees tend are normally in the region of €15 to €20 per money transfer.

While not significant, for a customer it’s a bit like rubbing salt into the wounds.

Be aware that some banks charge you twice. A fee for the sending bank, and a fee for the receiving bank.

Currency brokers have different views on this subject.

Many just copy the banks and charge transfer fees too.

At Key Currency, we are one of the only currency brokers that doesn't charge you any fees on international transfers.


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How safe is it using a currency broker?

One of the questions I get asked a lot from new customers is whether it's safe using a currency broker.

Fair enough too. We deal with life-changing sums.

The key is to make sure you use a currency broker that is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority

A company authorised by the FCA has a regulatory obligation to segregate customer money from their own. 

What does that mean?

It means your money will be held in a separate, safeguarded bank account.

How long does a bank transfer from Spain to the UK take?

Generally speaking, it should take 2-3 working days.

It can vary because some banks are quicker than others at clearing funds into your UK bank account.

If you have sold a property in Spain and have been given a banker's draft, that needs to be deposited first. We can help expedite this.

Also if a weekend falls in the middle of your transfer, that can add a little time too (most banks shut down over the weekend).

So there are some variables, but usually, it is fairly quick.

I have found currency brokers are normally more efficient at processing payments than the Spanish banks. Therefore a broker can be faster at getting your money to your UK bank account - sometimes by several days.

Summary

In summary, if you are transferring money from Spain to the UK, you have a choice on whether to use your bank or a currency broker.

If you are looking to transfer a large amount, you could be up to 3%-4% worse off using a bank. 

Who are we?

Key Currency is an independent currency broker.

We specialise in money transfers from Spain to the UK, particularly on property transactions where costs and timing can make a big difference. 

Our rates are highly competitive, and we don't charge any fees.

From a personal perspective, before I do business with a company, I like to know who I'm dealing with, so here's some information about us.

I am one of the Directors of Key Currency.

Along with my other Directors, we 100% own-and-operate the company.

All the names, faces and backgrounds of our people are shown on our website. Most currency brokers hide behind a logo, app or mission statement.

Key Currency is Authorised by the FCA (No. 753989) and Registered with HMRC (No.12888761).

We also have a 5-star customer rating on Trustpilot, which is the result of over 500 customer reviews. 

If you feel our service could be of use to you, simply request a free quote.