Exchange rates at my local bureaus de change, interbank rates and money transfer specialists, what’s the difference?
Getting a favourable exchange rate can save you thousands of pounds on a money transfer overseas. Interbank rates are wholesale rates that banks use, you wont get these rates but your aim is to get as close to that interbank rate as possible at the time when you book your money transfer.
If possible negotiate a fixed margin or number of points away from the interbank rate. The difference between these two rates, the margin rate, is how currency transfer providers make their money.
Exchange rates at your local bureaus de change are Ok if you are exchanging smaller amounts of money into another currency to spend whilst abroad.
Who offers the best currency exchange rates?
It’s always a good idea to shop around, but as a rule of thumb a specialist money transfer broker will offer the best rates, beating high street banks by several percentage points. They do it by keeping their margin rate low and tend to have lower overheads than banks and they specialise only in currency exchange, meaning you get a better deal for your money.
Constantly changing exchange rates make it difficult for consumers to compare exchange rates offered by competing providers. If comparisons are not done within minutes of each other one provider may look better than the other when it’s the fluctuation in the exchange rate that has made the difference. Also some providers will quote an aggressive exchange rate initially to get you in only to quote you a far less competitive rate when the time comes to lock in the rate.
What is an exchange rate margin?
Exchange rate margin is the amount the bank, currency transfer broker or foreign exchange bureau adds onto the interbank exchange rate when they quote the rate for a money transfer. The smaller the margin rate, the less it will cost you.
Any drawbacks to using a money transfer specialist?
Most currency transfer brokers have rules about the minimum amount of money you can convert, often in the region of £300, however in can vary from company to company. Some brokers may charge a small handling fee for amounts less than about £500.
After the money has been sent, how long does it usually take to arrive?
Up to 7 days for electronic money transfers from most high street banks and between 1 to 3 days using a specialist money transfer broker (instant money transfers for most major currencies).
Achieving the best currency transfer deal
Getting the best deal on your money transfer is as simple as making a phone call to your local bank, and then compare the deal to what you would exchange by using a specialist currency transfer broker.
Try and negotiate a fixed margin from the interbank rate with specialist currency transfer brokers, as generally, high street banks are unlikely to offer this type of agreement unless you are a corporate customer making regular money transfers abroad.