The Cheapest Way of Sending Money Abroad

two piggy banks transfering coins

Let's face it, sending money abroad can be a confusing process. Most high street banks offer low exchange rates and charge high fees for using their services, and nearly every money transfer service claims that they are the cheapest and fastest service available for sending money abroad.

So, what exactly is the best option for sending money abroad? We have all the information you need on international money transfers, how they work, and how you can get more for your money. Read on to find out more.

Basic information on sending money abroad

You can send money to another person within the UK, known as a local transfer, whilst sending money abroad is known as an international money transfer.

There are multiple services available for sending money abroad, including:

  • High Street Banks
  • Digital Banks
  • Money Transfer Services
plant earth

Each service provides customers with different fees and exchange rates, often making it difficult for consumers to know the cheapest option available to them and how they can get the best rates. Luckily, there are a good number of money transfer services that have become available that are challenging the old method of charging high fees and offering low exchange rates.

High street banks typically only offer the option of sending money abroad through a bank transfer from your bank account into the recipient’s. Whereas money transfer services offer additional payment options.

Some of the payment methods available for sending money abroad are:

  • Bank transfer
  • Cash deposit
  • Debit card payment
  • Credit card payment
  • Apple Pay
  • Google Pay

Can I send money abroad anywhere in the world?

The services available for sending money abroad have grown immensely over the years and it is now possible to send money abroad to most countries in nearly every currency available. However, the countries and currencies available will vary depending on the service you use.

Transfer services, such as WorldRemit, makes sending money abroad to friends and family easy. You can send money abroad to most countries, in continents such as:

  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Antarctica
  • Australia
  • Europe
  • North America
  • South America

What is the cheapest way to send money abroad?

The cheapest way of sending money abroad will depend on a few factors, such as:

  • The service you use to send your payment
  • The country and currency you are sending money to and from
  • The exchange rate
  • The payment method you use to send and receive the payment

The amount the recipient receives each time will change depending on the exchange rate at the time of the payment.

How safe is my money?

Money transfer services and banks keep your money safe throughout the entire transfer process. They are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and must take measures to ensure money entrusted to them by customers is kept safe, in addition to having fail-safes in place so that if they went into administration, your money is kept safe and secure.

High street banks are arguably the safest option. However, they often offer the lowest exchange rates and charge high fees to use their services. Money transfer services are still a safe option, and you usually enjoy better exchange rates, reduced fees; and, sometimes, no fees at all.

Can I send a repeat money transfer?

Some banks and money transfer services give you the option of setting up repeat payments. This could be to pay a monthly bill or to transfer money to a friend or family member on the same date each month.

The amount the recipient receives each time will change depending on the exchange rate at the time of the payment.

What are the fees for making an international money transfer?

The transfer service you use will often charge the sender a fee for sending money abroad. It calculates its fees based on:

A fluctuating line graph
  • The amount of money you are sending
  • The country and currency you are sending to/from
  • The payment method you use to send and receive the payment

Steps you can take to ensure you pay the lowest money transfer fee, include:

  • Shop around to find the best deal
  • Monitor the exchange rate (Often shown on the provider's website)
  • Pay for your transfer online with a debit card or bank transfer
  • Send money online using a money transfer service
  • Have the recipient receive your payment via bank transfer or cash collection
  • Avoid sending international money transfers over the weekend when exchange rates are frozen with a small markup added until the following week when the markets re-open.

Exchange rates

The exchange rate is the value of one currency compared to another. For example, what the equivalent of 1 GBP(£) is in Euros(€).

When shopping around to send money abroad, you should look for a high exchange to get more for your money. A low exchange rate means you are getting less for your money in the recipient's local currency.

The main exchange rate is called the Real Time Exchange Rate, which is the same rate banks use to exchange money between one another. This exchange rate is in a constant state of fluctuation based on:

  • The economy
  • Global events
  • Interest rates
  • Demand in the currency

Although every transfer service takes the real time exchange rate into consideration, they often add additional fees and markups in order to make a profit. This is how some money transfer services claim to offer no fees which, in reality, is not entirely true as it hides the fees within the exchange rate it offers you.

Some companies are more transparent than others, and offer customers the real time exchange rate with no fees or markup and then charge the sender a clearly stated fee to use the service. Exchange rates are often what consumers find confusing when trying to choose the best way of sending money abroad and it is something that can either save you money or see you losing out on a good deal.

Digital bank, Revolut allows its customers to send money abroad through its mobile online banking app and, to ensure you get the best deal, you can set custom alerts to be notified when its exchange rate reaches a certain figure.

The best thing to do is shop around. You can often get a quote to send money abroad on the provider’s website without having to register or commit to the transfer, and some providers display their current exchange rate on their homepage so you can quickly compare rates.

Sending money abroad without paying fees

A piggy bank with stack of notes and coins

Although there are providers out there who claim that sending money abroad through them incurs no fees, they usually hide a fee within its exchange rate to cover the cost of providing its services, which means their transfer rate is a lot lower.

Essentially, you have two types of providers - those who offer customers the flat real time exchange rate and charge the sender a small fee to send the money abroad, and those who claim to charge no fees but hide it within a marked up exchange rate.

How do I receive an international money transfer?

Depending on the transfer service the sender uses, there are a few options available to receive money abroad, including

  • Deposited into your bank account
  • Cash collection
  • Cash delivery to your address

Fees and charges for receiving money abroad are almost always charged to the sender and not the recipient. However, if you are receiving the money into your bank account, your bank may charge you a fee if it usually charges you to receive international payments.

Some transfer services, such as TransferWise, payout their bank transfers using a local bank account in the recipient’s country and currency, avoiding international bank transfer fees. This is achieved because of the money transfer service holding local bank accounts in multiple countries and currencies throughout the world. It then pays the money from the bank account it holds in the recipient’s country.

How long does it take to receive money abroad?

Local bank transfers can often be sent abroad and received within the same day and now, thanks to the many advancements in technology, international money transfers can also benefit from same day transfers, depending on the country you are sending to and the payment method you use to send and receive the payment.

The time it takes for your money to reach your recipient will vary, depending on:

  • The country you are sending money to
  • The service you use to send your money abroad
  • The payment method you use to make the transfer
  • The delivery method you choose for the recipient to receive your transfer

What services are available for sending money abroad?

There are many great money transfer services available and we have information on some of the providers available.

Many digital banks provide low-cost international money transfers, which you can read about in our guide to digital banking.

TransferWise logo


TransferWise is a low-cost money transfer service for sending money abroad at a low-cost rate, often beating fees and rates offered by traditional high street banks

More info
WorldRemit logo


WorldRemit is an award-winning online transfer service for sending money abroad to friends and family nearly everywhere in world and charges low fees.

More info

XE logo

XE Money Transfer

XE Money Transfer enables its customers to send money in 60 currencies to over 170 countries with near-instant transfers, competitive exchange rates, and no fees

More info
Revolut logo


Revolut is one of the most popular prepaid debit cards in the world. In addition to its banking features, customers can also send money abroad with no fees.

More info

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