How To Send Money Abroad From The UK
Lots of people who move to the UK decide to send some of their earnings to family and friends in other countries. This is known as remittance, and it’s really important for lots of people to be able to send money to their loved ones overseas.
41.2% of people send money abroad to support their family, while 37.8% send cash overseas as a gift. Other common reasons to send money abroad include paying for a wedding, holiday, or business expenses.
If you want to send money to your loved ones abroad, here are 5 ways to do it — along with the fastest, safest, and cheapest ways to send money overseas.
5 ways to send money abroad
Online transactions are now among the most common ways to send money. Here are 5 of the best ways to send money abroad.
1. Bank transfer
Bank transfer involves sending money via your current account. It’s an easy, secure process that can be completed online or in your banking app. But banks may charge fees that can make this a relatively expensive way to send money abroad.
International bank transfer fees vary from bank to bank. Most charge a flat fee, but others may charge a percentage of the amount you send. The recipient’s bank may also charge fees to receive money from overseas. So check what fees will be incurred before you send money via your bank.
Depending on where you’re sending money to, bank transfers can be instant, or they may take several days.
2. Money transfer service
There are lots of money transfer services available that specialise in sending money overseas. Some of the most popular include:
- Western Union
Western Union enables the recipient to collect the money in cash from their Western Union location, which may be best for cash-first countries. Newer companies like Revolut and Wise can only send money electronically.
Fees, charges, and exchange rates differ between services. They also depend on which country you’re sending money to.
PayPal’s international money transfer service, Xoom, is one of the most flexible options for sending money abroad from the UK. With Xoom, you can:
- Pay bills for overseas family directly
- Send money for cash pickup or delivery
- Top up someone’s mobile phone from afar
- Send money to an international bank account.
Like other services, PayPal charges a fee for sending money. As of January 2023, you can send money to Poland and India for £1.99, or Romania and Pakistan for £2.99.
However, you can’t send money to all countries via Xoom. Notably, you can’t currently send money to Nigeria, Afghanistan, or Iran.
4. Prepaid debit card
Prepaid debit cards can be loaded with funds in the UK, then given to someone in another country to make purchases with the money. Prepaid debit cards are a flexible, safe way to carry money, and they’re accepted at most places where you can use your debit or credit card.
This is a relatively simple way to give money to someone abroad, but there are some drawbacks. First, you’ll need to find a way of giving or sending the card to the recipient. The safest way to do this is in person, but this isn’t always practical or possible. There may also be fees involved, including transaction or cash withdrawal fees. Some cards also have top-up limits.
5. Foreign currency exchange services
If you want to make sure you’re getting the best exchange rate before you send money abroad, a foreign currency exchange may be the best option. Companies like Travelex and Xendpay allow you to convert your cash into the local currency you need, then transfer it to another bank account or cash pickup location.
Fees are involved, and you may not get the best exchange rate, but you’ll know exactly how much your recipient will receive before you send the money.
What’s the cheapest way to send money abroad?
There are several costs to consider when sending money internationally, including:
- Exchange rates
- Transfer fees
- Recipient fees
- Cash withdrawal fees
The cheapest way to send money abroad depends on how much you’re sending, and how often. If you transfer money regularly, see if you can both open a HSBC bank account. HSBC currently offers free worldwide transfers to other HSBC bankers (although the exchange rate may not be the best).
For large sums, choose the service with the best exchange rate, regardless of fees. These are often specialist currency brokers. If you’re sending £50,000, an exchange rate difference of just 1% can increase or reduce the amount by £500. So it’s important to check the exchange rate as well as the transfer fee.
What’s the quickest way to send money abroad?
Same-day international transfers are often available with money transfer services. Wise offers instant and same-day money transfer. PayPal is also famously quick at processing overseas payments.
Your bank may also be able to offer this, but it’s best to double check before you send the cash, as it can take several days.
What’s the safest way to send money abroad?
Every option above is safer than sending large amounts of cash, or giving large cash gifts that the recipient needs to travel with. Sending money online is much more secure than giving cash.
However, there are still some risks involved. Make sure any passwords and PINs for banking apps or websites are as secure as possible, and don’t click links in any emails or text messages claiming to be from your bank. Recommend that your recipient receives the money to a bank account, rather than collecting in cash (although this isn’t always possible).
Using Bloom to support friends and family
Send and pool money right here in the UK with Bloom. Our app is designed to help you pool your money — along with your friends, family, and community in the UK.