There are lots of reasons you might need to send money abroad. Whether you're transferring just a few pounds or a whole lot more, you need to know a little about how international money transfers work.
Halifax processes international money transfers differently depending on where you’re sending your money. They might use a different system to send money to an EU-based bank account, for example, than for a transfer headed to America.
This means that costs, cut off times, and the standard processing times vary too. In addition, it’s likely that you could save money by using a service like TransferWise. But more on that later. Because the timescales - and costs - involved in moving money abroad are often quite hard to calculate, it’s a good plan 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|
|Halifax (UK)||£9.50 + £20 correspondent bank fee||Exchange rate + likely markup||£29.50 + exchange rate markup + likely fee from recipient bank|
|TransferWise||£4.29||The real exchange rate - the same one you find on Google||£4.29|
While the price difference on fees may show, 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, you’ll get the option of choosing to pay the correspondent bank fee or have your recipient pay it. And on top of that, the recipient bank will likely levy a charge as well. This is normal for transfers sent via SWIFT. Regardless, though, whether it’s you or the recipient that pays these fees, they do cost.
Now that you know a little more about the true cost of sending money abroad, here’s all you need to know about making an international transfer with Halifax.
Halifax advertises a flat fee of £9.50 for sending money abroad for every currency and for any amount of money. However, as the fee structures can be complicated by the fact that the recipient’s bank and any intermediary banks involved might also add their own fee, it's well worth checking the likely cost in your particular circumstances.
Some basic bank accounts from Halifax have slightly different terms and conditions when it comes to international money transfers, so check out the details for your specific account, too.
(Source 19 January 2018)
Before you start, it’s a good plan to understand the fees involved when making an international transfer with Halifax.
|Halifax Bank Transaction||Regular Fee|
|Incoming international transfer||SEPA payments are free of chargeOutside of the SEPA zone, recipient fees cost £2 for transfers under £100 and £7 for transfers above this amount|
|Outgoing international transfer||£9.50 regardless of the amount and the currency usedYou may also have to cover the correspondent bank fees - £12 for transfers to Zone 1 (USA, Canada and Europe (non-EEA)), and £20 for the rest of the world|
|Additional fees may apply||See Additional Fees section below|
(Source 16 January 2018)
Don't forget that as well as any flat fees applied, you need to know if the exchange rate used is fair. Halifax says you should call them to find out the day's exchange rate, although the small print clarifies this could have changed by the time the transaction is actually processed. The bank states that there’s a difference between their standard exchange rate, and the wholesale exchange rate, which varies depending on the amount of money you’re transferring, but can be up to 3.2%. Well worth checking out before you commit. The terms and conditions for the Halifax Basic Account read as follows:
> You can find out our current standard exchange rate for the payment by calling us (see ‘How to contact us’). Please note that the rate may change by the time we receive the payment.
The following information is also published for guidance on the Halifax website:
|Payment Value in GBP||Maximum current difference between Halifax’s standard exchange rate and the wholesale rate|
|0 - £25,000||3.20%|
|£25,000.01 - £75,000||2.40%|
|£75,000.01 - £250,000||2.00%|
|£250,000.01 and above||1.50%|
You might also find that it's not Halifax that sets the exchange rate for your transaction. An agent or correspondent bank, or sometimes the recipient bank, might choose the exchange rate to apply. To make sure they profit on the deal, they can mark up the exchange rate, and keep the difference. This means that the exchange rate offered may vary quite a bit from the exchange rate offered on Google.
Because there are fees added by both the bank sending the money abroad, and the bank which receives it, you might also be asked if you want to pick up the recipient fee if you’re transferring money to someone overseas.
|Halifax international transfer||Additional fees|
|Sending/recipient bank and/or intermediary bank(s)||If your transfer is processed using the SWIFT system, you’ll find that there are often several banks involved in the process, and there may also be fees levied by the recipient bank, or correspondent banks. In some cases, you can choose to pay all, none, or a share of these fees, and have the recipient pay the remainder. The correspondent bank fees for transfers to Zone 1 (USA, Canada, Europe (non-EEA)) - £12 Correspondent bank fees for transfers to the rest of the world - £20|
|Cancellation of international payment||Halifax Terms and Conditions state the following: “If you ask us to cancel a payment instruction we may charge you our reasonable costs for trying to cancel it, whether or not we succeed. We will tell you the amount of our charges for this at the time you ask to cancel, but this will never be higher than our reasonable costs.”|
(Source 16 January 2018)
If you want to send or receive money from abroad, you could get a better deal with TransferWise. Unlike most traditional banks, TransferWise specializes in international money transfers. That means you can move your money quickly and safely with TransferWise, using the real exchange rate and only a small transparent cost per transaction.
If you live or work overseas and need to move money internationally often - or if you’re one of the many freelancers working across different regions, you might also benefit from a TransferWise borderless multi-currency account.
With a borderless account, you're able to manage and move your money around the world at the touch of a button. 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 elsewhere, a borderless account will let you get paid locally using 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.
Halifax allows customers to make international money transfers online, by visiting a branch, or by phone if you prefer.
In general, it's easiest and quickest to organise your transfer online. You can even find a demo video and step by step instructions on making an international payment online with Halifax if you need a little help the first time.
If you're planning on making an international transfer on the phone, it's worth remembering that there’s a daily transaction limit of £5,000. That limit rises to £100,000 a day for online transfers. If you need to transfer a large amount of money, it's worth talking to a Halifax advisor in advance to agree how best to process the transaction.
Whether you want to send or receive money through an international bank transfer, you're going to need a few key details:
- The transfer amount
- The full name of the person you’re sending the money to, as written on their bank account
- The recipient’s IBAN or international account number
- The SWIFT/BIC code, or routing code if you’re transferring to the USA
What do I need or what should I give to the sender in order to receive an international bank transfer?
You’ll need to give the sender the following to receive an international money transfer with Halifax:
- Your full name and address, and that of your bank
- Your IBAN number
- 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 helpful tool to find, or check your SWIFT/BIC code.
Payments in euros to EU accounts should arrive no later than the next working day, payment in other European currencies within Europe can take up to 4 working days.
For other currencies, you have to ask about the likely timescale when you make the transfer - bear in mind, it could be up to 14 working days. However, more common currencies being sent to large markets like North America, Canada, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and the Middle or Far East will make it there in just 4 days.
(Source 16 January 2018)
Payments are processed using the SWIFT system, or within Europe, you'll find Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) payments are used. The length of time that payments take is more related to the currency being transferred and the destination, than the payment method - although SEPA payments should be quickest most of the time.
The bank doesn’t offer a way to speed up payments - it's also very important to note the cut off times for payments, which vary based on the destination. This is usually 3:00 pm, but can be 2:00 pm for some payments in euros being made in branch or on the phone.
If you have specific questions about your transfer, there are several different ways you can talk to the advisors at Halifax:
- Log in to online banking for frequently asked questions and to chat with an advisor
- Use the Halifax branch finder to get help in person
- Halifax phone number - 0345 720 3040 in the UK, or +44 113 242 1984 from outside the UK. Lines are open 24/7.
Unfortunately, there are a few pitfalls and hidden fees when it comes to making international money transfers with standard money transfer providers, 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.
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