One of UK’s biggest banks, NatWest, offers several ways to make transfers abroad. You can choose standard or express transfers depending on how urgently you need to send the money and how much you want to pay for the service. Here’s a guide to the details and costs you face if you make an international money transfer with NatWest.
A quick example before we get started.
A theoretical online bank transfer sending £1000 from the UK to a dollar bank account in the US.
|Provider||Fee||Exchange Rate||Total Cost|
|NatWest (UK)||£22¹||exchange rate + markup||£22 + exchange rate markup + correspondent and recipient bank fees|
|TransferWise||£4.78||The real exchange rate - the same one you find on Google||£4.78|
It seems clear that NatWest’s fees are higher.
However, if the fees alone aren’t reason enough to consider an alternative, you should also take into account any exchange rate markup — on average a spread of an additional 4-6%. On top of that, there are normally 1-3 intermediary and recipient banks who also charge fees. You can pick who pays the fees, but they are still there, regardless.
Those costs start adding up. Fast.
To make sure you really know what you’re getting, before you commit, compare the exchange rate you’re being offered with an online currency converter to find out how much your international transfer is really costing you.
Here are the fees that NatWest currently says it charges for international transfers. The fees are the same whether you do it online or in person.
|NatWest international transfers||Regular fees (standard/urgent)|
|Incoming international transfer²||Up to £100: £1Above £100: £7|
|Outgoing international transfer¹||In euros, to Europe: £10Otherwise: £22|
|Additional fees may apply||See Additional Fees section below|
These are the figures NatWest currently gives, but the precise details of your account and transfer might not perfectly fit into this category. You should get in touch with them to confirm the necessary details if you’re not sure.
Whenever you make an international transfer with a bank, there’s another cost to consider alongside fixed fees. Your money will be converted to the new currency at an exchange rate set by the banks. If you make your transfer online with NatWest, they’ll give you a quote³ based on their current exchange rate, but if the rate changes, your payment cost will change too.
Whatever the exchange rate ends up being, it’s very unlikely to be as favourable to you as the mid-market exchange rate that you’ll find on Google or XE, because it’s set by the bank.
If you’re transferring outside the EEA, additional banks - not just the bank receiving your money - might be involved in the transfer. That’s standard practice with a SWIFT transfer. These other banks sometimes charge fees, but because the fees aren’t set by NatWest, it can be very tricky to find out exactly what they’ll be when you make your transfer.
For these non-EEA transfers, you can choose who pays the fees - you can split the NatWest costs and the other bank costs between yourself and the recipient, or either of you can pay the full amount. For EEA transfers, on the other hand, the recipient has to pay any fees that are charged by the foreign bank. There shouldn’t be intermediary bank fees in this case.
|NatWest international transfer||Additional fees per transfer⁴|
|Agents’ fees (intermediary bank fees)||Any non-EEA transfer might incur fees from other banks involved in the transfer.With NatWest, you can choose whether the sender pays all these costs (OUR), the beneficiary pays them all (BEN), or they’re split (SHA).|
|Providing incorrect IBAN/BIC details||If you submit the wrong payment details for an EEA transfer, NatWest might charge any additional costs to you.|
|Urgent transfer||£30 + overseas bank charge|
TransferWise offers a different way to move your money abroad. It uses the same exchange rate you’ll find online at Google, and only charges one simple, upfront fee. You’ll be shown all the figures you need before you make the transfer, meaning that you can be completely certain about both the costs and the amount that will end up in the recipient’s account.
If you often need to move money internationally or send or receive international payments, a borderless multi-currency account can help you even more. A borderless account lets you hold money in dozens of currencies, cutting back on international exchange fees and reducing the uncertainty of fluctuating exchange rates. You can also use local account details in pounds, euros, US dollars or Australian dollars, allowing you to send, receive and hold money internationally with ease. Even better, consumer debit cards are currently being introduced for TransferWise customers.
Check out TransferWise now, and see whether - and how much - you could save on your international transfers.
There are two ways to make international payments with NatWest: online³ or in person at a branch. They don’t offer the option of making an international transfer by phone.
If you want to make the transfer online, don’t forget your NatWest card and card reader, as well as your login details. Log in and look for ‘Payments and Transfers’: there’s then an option to select ‘International payments’. Choose this and follow the instructions on the screen.
If you go to a branch, you may need your bank account details. A teller will talk you through the process.
This is the info you’ll need³ about the account into which you’re transferring the money:
- The beneficiary’s SWIFT/BIC (a SWIFT/BIC finder can help you out if you haven’t been given it). You don’t need this for euro payments to other European countries
- The beneficiary’s IBAN, if they have one
- The beneficiary’s account number and national clearing code (NCC), if they don’t have an IBAN
What do I need or what should I give to the sender in order to receive an international bank transfer?
To receive payments, you need to pass on more or less the same information to the sender. It varies from bank to bank, but here’s a full list of the info you might need to supply².
- Your account name
- Your bank’s name: NatWest Plc
- For euro payments, NatWest’s SWIFT
- For euro payments, your IBAN
- For other payments, your account number and sort code
- For other payments, the address of your branch of NatWest
You have 2 main options with NatWest: a standard transfer¹ or an urgent transfer⁵. You can also send a foreign draft, which is like sending a cheque - that may take a while longer. Which method you choose will depend on how quickly you need to complete the transfer, as well as how much money you want to pay for it.
A standard transfer in euros to another European country should get there the next business day, as long as you’ve made the transfer by 4:00 pm. For any other standard transfer, NatWest says that it should take 2-4 working days.
An urgent transfer in euros to Europe will get there the same business day if you make it before 1:30 pm. Other urgent transfers will take 1-2 working days, and the cutoff point is 4:00 pm. That’s assuming the destination country has an electronic banking system.
NatWest advises against foreign cheques, warning that they might take up to 6 weeks².
- For further information, NatWest’s online support centre⁶ can help you out.
- For general queries their number is +44 3457 888 444.
- If you login, you can also chat with someone from NatWest via their website.
Whether you choose to make your international transfer with NatWest, TransferWise or another provider, make sure you know the full costs involved - both the upfront costs and the amount that the exchange rate will set you back. When your money’s at stake, it pays to be well informed.
¹ https://personal.natwest.com/personal/ways-to-bank/online-banking/do-more-with-online-banking/sending-money-abroad/standard-transfers.html, January 23rd, 2018
² https://personal.natwest.com/personal/ways-to-bank/online-banking/do-more-with-online-banking/sending-money-abroad/Receiving-funds.html, January 23rd, 2018
³ https://supportcentre.natwest.com/Nonsearch/913229732/How-do-I-make-an-international-payment-using-Online-Banking.htm, January 23rd, 2018
⁴ https://personal.natwest.com/content/dam/natwest_com/onlinebanking/downloads/NW%20IP%20Terms%20and%20Conditions.pdf, January 23rd, 2018
⁵ https://personal.natwest.com/personal/ways-to-bank/online-banking/do-more-with-online-banking/sending-money-abroad/urgent-transfers.html, January 23rd, 2018
⁶ https://personal.natwest.com/personal/support-centre/contact-us.html, January 23rd, 2018
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