The co-operative bank international transfer: Fees, rates and transfer time

06.03.18
9 minute read
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If you live or work abroad, and need to send money to a UK-based account, or if you have a UK-based co-operative bank account and simply want to transfer some money to someone based overseas, you need to know a little about how international money transfers work.

The co-operative bank processes international money transfers using different methods, so you’ll see payments referred to as:

  • SWIFT
  • SEPA
  • Real-time euro payment
  • US structured payments

It’ll be a different system sending money to an EU-based bank account, for example, compared to a transfer headed to America. As well as complexities in the process, the costs involved in moving money abroad are often quite hard to calculate, and how long it’ll take depends on where you’re sending money too. In addition, there are alternative money transfer providers like TransferWise that could save you money. But more on that later.

Regardless, it’s a good idea to do some research in advance so there are no surprises.


A quick example before we get started.

A theoretical online bank transfer sending £1000 from the UK to a euro bank account in Germany.

Provider Fee Exchange Rate Total Cost
co-operative bank (UK) £13 Exchange rate + likely markup £13 + exchange rate markup + fees from both intermediary and recipient banks
TransferWise £4.29 The real exchange rate - the same one you find on Google £4.29

(Source 1, Source 2 17 January 2018)

While the price difference on fees may not seem worth the switch, it isn’t just the stated fees you need to pay attention to.

What isn’t often mentioned is that, on average, banks and money transfer providers often mark up an exchange rate by 4-6% to make money on converting your currency. Which means it’s a good idea to compare the exchange rate you’re offered with an online currency converter to find out how much your international transfer is really costing you.

In addition, nearly all transfers sent internationally are sent via SWIFT. Which means there are often 1-3 intermediary banks in addition to the recipient bank that may levy fees of their own. Whether it’s you or the recipient that pays these fees, they do cost.


Now that you know a bit more about what an international transfer really costs, here’s all you need to know about making an international transfer with the co-operative bank.

(Source 17 January 2018)

What are the fees for a SWIFT international payment with co-operative bank in the UK?

The exact fees you’ll be charged depend on the transfer details. The co-operative bank says that they choose the most economical method of processing international money transfers, in the case that several options exist. However, it’s worth checking which method they actually use, to be sure you’re getting the best deal.

co-operative bank international transfer fees table

Before you start, it’s a good plan to understand the fees involved when making an international transfer with the co-operative bank.

co-operative bank Transaction Regular Fee
Incoming international transfer There are no specific recipient fees to pay the co-operative bank, although the sender can request that their charges are covered in part or in full, by the recipient
Outgoing international transfer SWIFT Payments 0.25% of transfer amount, minimum £13, maximum £35SEPA payments £8Structured US Dollar Payments £8Real-Time Euro Payments (TARGET) £25
Additional fees may apply See Additional Fees section below

(Source 17 January 2018)

co-operative bank exchange rates

Making an international money transfer is fairly complicated from the administrative perspective. It takes a bit of time, and it’s possible under some circumstances that the exchange rate will have changed by the time the transaction has actually been processed.

When it comes to exchange rates, here’s how the co-operative bank terms and conditions explain their approach:

If you want to make a payment in a currency other than sterling, we’ll first convert the amount to be paid into the currency you tell us.

The rate we use will be:
(a) the standard rate of exchange (if you ask us the exchange rate before we make the payment, the rate we actually use may be different if the exchange rate has changed);

or
(b) a fixed exchange rate we agree with you. If we agree a fixed exchange rate, you must make sure there is available money in your account 48 hours before the payment is due to be made.

This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

Under some circumstances, it’s also possible that an agent or correspondent bank, or the recipient’s bank, will choose the exchange rate to apply. As these intermediary banks don’t need to worry about keeping their customers happy, they generally don’t offer a great deal. This means that the exchange rate offered may vary quite a bit from the exchange rate offered on Google.

(Source 17 January 2018)

Additional fees from co-operative bank

You might also be asked if you want to pick up the recipient fee if you’re transferring money to someone overseas. This can be a percentage or a fixed cost and can be pretty costly depending on the amount being transferred and the recipient bank’s policy.

When sending an international transfer, banks generally use the SWIFT system. You should be aware that if your co-operative bank transfer is carried out via SWIFT, there’s a possibility that up to 3 intermediary banks will be involved, and they can charge a flat fee that may range from $20-$50. The co-operative bank may not be able to provide you with the exact fees intermediary banks will charge, nor the markup that they may add to an exchange rate before you place the transfer.

co-operative bank international transfer Additional fees
Sending/recipient bank and/or intermediary bank(s) The co-operative bank terms and conditions clarify: “Payments outside the European Economic Area and USA require the use of an agent/correspondent bank to forward the funds onto the recipient's bank. This charge can vary depending on the destination, currency and complexity of the transfer. The additional charging options allow you to specify who pays the two sets of charges.”
Enquiry, amendment or cancellation of an international payment £20

(Source 17 January 2018)

A cheap and transparent alternative: TransferWise

Whatever your reason for needing to send or receive money from abroad, you could get a better deal with TransferWise. TransferWise doesn’t work the same way as banks do. As specialists in international money transfers, you can use Transferwise to move your money quickly and safely, using the real exchange rate and with only a small transparent cost per transaction.

If you need to move money internationally often - for example, if you live or work overseas or if you’re a freelancer working across different regions - you might also benefit from a TransferWise borderless multi-currency account.

The beauty of borderless accounts is that they allow you to manage and move your money around the world at the touch of a button. You can hold your money in different currencies, and convert it using the best available rates when you need it the most. And if you get paid in the EU, the UK, Australia or the US but live somewhere else, the borderless account will let you get paid locally by allowing you to generate local bank details - cutting out international transfers entirely. Even better, there are no intermediary banks involved, so no extra fees to worry about.

See for yourself if you can get a better deal with TransferWise by finding out how much your recipient will actually receive when you make your transfer.

How do you make an international bank transfer (SWIFT, SEPA, Real-time euro payment, US structured payment) with the co-operative bank?

The co-operative bank recommends that you make international money transfers online, by visiting the foreign transfer section of their website. However, you’ll also be able to get your transaction sorted by visiting a branch, or by phone if you prefer.

What do I need in order to make an international money transfer?

You’ll need the following to make an international money transfer with the co-operative bank:

  • The card reader which is linked to your account, and valid debit card (if processing a transaction online)
  • The transfer amount
  • The full name of the person you’re sending the money to, as written on the account
  • The recipient’s IBAN
  • The relevant SWIFT/BIC code, or routing code if you’re transferring to the USA

When you’re making a payment you should also think about how the costs of the transfer are split between you and the recipient. These costs can be added by your bank, the recipient’s bank, and even ‘intermediary’ banks involved elsewhere in the transfer process - and they can quickly add up.

The standard is to split the costs so you pay the ‘sender’ costs, and the recipient pays any fees levied by their bank. However, this can be altered under some circumstances, if you need to have the costs covered in a different way.

(Source 17 January 2018)

What do I need or what should I give to the sender in order to receive an international bank transfer?

To make sure you get your money safely, the sender needs a few key details:

  • Your full name and address, and that of your bank
  • Your IBAN
  • The correct SWIFT/BIC code
  • The amount being transferred - and the currency to be used. Don’t forget to take into account any charges you’re liable for.

You’ll find your IBAN on any bank statement, and you can use this handy tool to find, or check your SWIFT/BIC code.

(Source 17 January 2018)

How long does an international bank transfer with the co-operative bank take?

It can take a few days to make your transfer, depending on where you’re sending money to. Euro payments will be processed within a working day, but non-EE/EEA payments can take up to 5 days. Within the EU, payments made in currencies other than euro (to sterling for example), will take 3 working days.

(Source 17 January 2018)

What are the different payment methods and how long do those take?

Payments made using the SWIFT system take 1 to 4 business days, while payments to the USA usually take up to 5 days.

Within Europe, SEPA Payments are usually received by the end of the next working day.

(Source 17 January 2018)

Is there any way to make a faster transfer for an extra fee?

The fastest way to arrange a co-operative bank international money transfer is online. The bank doesn’t offer a way to speed up payments to the US or elsewhere outside of Europe. However, if you need a payment being made in Europe to be quicker, you can arrange a Real Time Euro Payment (TARGET) for £25, which can be received on the same day if processed by 2 pm. This cost is compared to the standard £8 for a SEPA payment.

(Source 17 January 2018)

Contact / Help - More questions around your transfer?

If you have specific questions about your transfer, there are several different ways you can talk to the advisors at co-operative bank:

In most cases, sending money overseas should be relatively straightforward.However, there are a few pitfalls and hidden fees which can make it expensive and lead to nasty surprises. Wherever you’re transferring your money to, it’s smart to do your research in advance, to make sure you get the best deal for your situation.

This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

TransferWise is the smart, new way to send money abroad.

Find out more