Transferring money abroad used to be a slow and costly process. Waiting several days for a wire transfer to go through whilst paying 4% margin plus fixed fees was the norm. Surprisingly, it still is for some, but it won’t take longer before the world of cheap remittance fintech firms becomes a household norm.
FX brokers have been around for decades, and some have offered online transfers for as long as the internet has been around. However, we can safely put down Wise (formerly TransferWise) as the poster company for money transfer companies. Even though they’re only 11 years old, the backstory of why it came about, along with being a rare unicorn that’s now worth £10 billion, makes them a strong candidate.
We can put down most of the pre-TransferWise services as being somewhat outdated and sluggish. It was a matter of either speaking on the phone, taking a long time to sign up, or waiting days for an adequately priced FX transfer to go through. Today, it’s a 10 second, one-tap experience to exchange money between multiple free virtual currency accounts and sending money overseas.
However, just because TransferWise is a good milestone of evolution within the industry, they’re far from the only company. Many would argue they’re far from the best, though it depends on the needs of the customer. So, instead of settling for the poster boy firm, let’s explore the top 10 transfer abroad systems to ensure you get the right service and experience for your needs.
Top 10 money transfer services:
Often dubbed to be the firm favourite amongst its loyal users, Currencies Direct is a firm dating back to 1996 that has a strong catalogue of customer testaments. This is a firm that is geared towards large transfers, with a minimum send of $/£/€ 100, along with a direct broker and no wire fees.
Currencies Direct are placing the emphasis on oversea property purchases, among other reasons to send large amounts, and thus deliver on low rates and expert guidance when executing a transfer abroad. It’s a large firm, regulated by FCA and FinCen, among others, and handles 39 currencies. When looking to transfer large amounts of money abroad from the UK, this is a popular choice.
Wise (formerly TransferWise), as described earlier, is an 11-year old unicorn company that has blown up and into the mainstream. For most currency routes, it has a fixed 0.5% FX margin/fee – and nothing else. This consistency and transparency are what is appealing to many customers, something that the industry lacked for generations.
This is quite the opposite use case to Currencies Direct, as Wise is all about the app experience. Users can open free accounts from all over the world in seconds to receive money into, for example, but cannot speak over the phone to a dedicated dealer. There’s no hedging, no business solutions, and no bespoke service. There is, however, a slick and affordable experience for frequent and small transfers.
MoneyCorp are very much the veterans in this list. Unlike some veterans (i.e. Western Union), MoneyCorp were able to adapt and innovate along with the fast-changing times. Founded in 1979, MoneyCorp has had a lot of time to build up a reputation of credibility and reliability.
With a £/$/€ 50 minimum transfer and decent online experience, yet offers a dedicated dealer, they lie somewhere in between Wise and Currencies Direct. They’re a great all-rounder with good business support and an impressive 120 supported currencies. The firm offers good guidance and professionalism, and competitive rates, making them ideal for someone who wants a reliable firm to send transfers of medium size.
OFX is a highly professional Australian company founded in the late 1990s. They’re a money transfer giant, but are a little more specialist than MoneyCorp. Generally, they’re a common choice to transfer money overseas for investments. The support offered is fantastic, be it for a business or for hedging products, and the dedicated dealers are very helpful.
This does lead to some trades requiring a phone call, but this isn’t a bad thing for some people. It’s certainly no replacement for Wise, but it is a company that will offer very good exchange rates for larger transfers, and there will never be any fees.
Revolut is a company you have most likely heard about – and for good reason. These are somewhat in direct competition with Wise, and not just because it’s also a London-based startup. Revolut is the freemium version of Wise; they offer the interbank rate for small transfers providing it’s when the market is open and under the monthly cap. This makes it cheaper than Wise up to a point, but it also makes it a little less certain.
Revolut has decided to differentiate based on other services too. Their monthly subscription will let customers raise the limits to free transfers on their account, but they can also trade crypto, stocks, and treat the account as a current account regarding its functionality. This makes it a good one-stop-shop for digital nomads and the like.
World First is a global remittance platform that generally offers spreads under 0.5%, though it depends on the transfer amount. Being authorized by 6 global regulators and being in 2004, they’re a very reputable and reliable firm.
There’s a very high minimum transfer ($/£/€ 1000) and it’s unavailable in the US, but besides that, World First performs well on multiple fronts. They are generally considered to be the ideal pick for those dealing with Asian currency, or are an eCommerce business, of which World First has specialist expertise. This is ideal for firms looking for sophisticated solutions to hedging and large transfers.
Spartan FX is a very recent startup, having been founded in 2018. The firm supports 40 currencies and has a high £1,000 minimum transfer amount. It’s yet to have offices outside the UK and has very few customer reviews, so use with caution. However, it’s looking like a promising prospect.
The firm has great client reviews, with a lot of praise for its friendly customer service. Being service-orientated, this is ideal for customers who have low confidence or wish for advice in their transfers. Besides its expert management team, there are no fees for transfers and exchange rates are pre-agreed.
Halo is a remittance firm with over a decade of experience. Although it’s a UK-only office setup, Halo’s strong point is it’s incredibly slick and swift online platform. This makes it a joy to use, and if you do speak to the staff, they are equally helpful and professional.
Rates are considered to be good, but transfers under £5,000 incur a £15 fee. This isn’t ideal, but can be avoided when sending larger amounts. There are hedging products, a dedicated dealer, and accept worldwide clients.
If you were to go by TrustPilot reviews, Currency Solutions may well be your number one pick. They’re very highly rated among customers due to their personable staff and responsiveness to complaints. There are no fees for transfers over £3,000, and there’s a dedicated dealer with over 34 currencies supported.
However, the firm is somewhat limited by having no mobile app and isn’t available to US clients. Furthermore, there is a hefty minimum transfer of £1,000, making them removed from the equation for many customers.
Finally, TorFX is another strong competitor with 59 currencies supported and almost a 20-year history. This is another firm that is geared towards larger transfers, though the minimum transfer amount is a moderate £/$/€ 100. There are no fees and low FX spreads. This makes it a strong competitor given the high amount of currencies supported, along with a dedicated dealer, hedging, and business solutions.
This is one of the strongest all-rounders, and is only limited by its lack of globalised presence and average mobile app functionality.
As we can see from the long list of great services, choosing the right platform is very much dependent on the customers’ needs. Some platforms will be easily ruled out due to their high minimum transfer amounts, lack of hedging possibilities, or absence of a mobile app. One thing is for certain, though, which is that the 10 companies above will reliably deliver better exchange rates and lower fees than high street banks – so anything is an improvement on that.
It’s also worth noting that signing up is part of the inherent advantage fintech (nonbanks) have. It’s all digital, and often takes no more than five minutes. Thus, we can use multiple platforms and see which one we prefer ourselves, or compare the same transfer between platforms to see which offers the better rate (you’ll likely be splitting hairs here, though).
If forced to give two names, it would be Wise and Currencies Direct. The former for your everyday cash and spending, and the latter for investments, bespoke guidance, and to transfer large amounts of money to the UK.