Ulster Bank international transfer: Fees, rates and transfer time

9 minute read

Sending or receiving money from abroad to Ireland doesn’t have to be too much of a headache - but it’s a good idea to understand a bit about how international money transfers work. That way, you can be sure that you’ll minimise the fees involved in moving your money, and get it to the right place, quickly and securely.

The big thing that makes a difference in international money transfers, is where you want to transfer it too. Where your money is going to, and in what currency, will dictate how much your transfer will cost, and also how long it’ll take. Likely, instead of using your bank, you could save a lot by using a transfer provider like TransferWise. But more on that later.

A quick example before we get started.

A theoretical bank transfer sending €1000 from Ireland to a pound sterling bank account in the UK.

Though at first glance it looks like a transfer through Ulster Bank is a good deal, 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.

Not only that, but Ulster Bank notes that there can be additional fees from other banks, which will be paid by your recipient. Which means this transfer isn’t free after all.

ProviderFeeExchange RateTotal Cost
Ulster Bank (Ireland)€0 + 1% commision (min of €0.32, max of €2.54)Exchange rate + markup of 6% (max of 3% either side)€0 + 1% commision (min of €0.32, max of €2.54) + exchange rate markup of 6% (max of 3% either side) + applicable fees from both intermediary and recipient banks
TransferWise€4.98The real exchange rate - the same one you find on Google€4.98

(Source 1, source 2, 15/02/2018)

Now that you know a little more about the true cost of sending money overseas, here’s all you need to know about making an international transfer with Ulster Bank - so you can send your money safely and with no unwelcome surprises.

What are the fees for an international transfer with Ulster Bank in Ireland?

Ulster Bank standard international money transfer rates are detailed below - but it’s worth checking the specific terms of your account in case there are variances.

Ulster Bank International transfer fees table

Before you start, it’s a good plan to understand the fees involved when making an international transfer with Ulster Bank, as these may vary depending on your account type, and where you’re sending money.

Ulster Bank Bank TransactionFee
Incoming international transferPayments made in euro are charged a €2 handling feeFees for other currencies vary according to the currency used - check with the bank directly before agreeing to the transaction
Outgoing international transferPayments made to a SEPA destination in euro, are fee freePayments made in any currency other than euro to a non-SEPA destination don’t have a fixed fee, but you will be charged a commision for the conversion of 1% (min €0.32 and max €2.54)Payments made in euro to a non-SEPA destination cost €0.51
Additional fees may applySee additional fees section

(Source 1, Source 2, Source 3, 22 January 2018)

Ulster Bank exchange rates

When you send or receive cash and there’s a currency conversion involved, it’s not only the flat fees which are important. You also need to know if the exchange rate used is fair. Ulster Bank publishes their exchange rates online, but as rates change with the market, the rate for your currency conversion could have changed by the time you place your transaction.

Ulster Bank also publishes the list of currency spreads which are approved by the central bank. This is the difference to the mid-market rate that the bank is allowed to charge. Here is a sample of some popular currencies and their spread:

British PoundsUp to 6% (max of 3% either side)
Australian dollarUp to 6% (max of 3% either side)
Indian rupeeUp to 10% (max of 5% either side)
Japanese YenUp to 6% (max of 3% either side)
Swiss francUp to 6% (max of 3% either side)
US dollarUp to 6% (max of 3% either side)

But what is a spread, and what do those percentages even mean?

The spread is the difference between the buy and sell price of a currency. So when you buy a currency, for instance you want to exchange euro’s for pounds, you will get a different rate as you would when you change those same pounds back to euro’s. The mid-market rate is the rate that lies between these 2, and this is often the rate that banks use to trade between themselves. Let’s take a closer look at it with an example in GBP and EUR:

If the buy rate is: EUR 1 → GBP 0.9141

And the sell rate is: GBP 0.8643 → EUR 1

That would make the mid-market exchange rate, in this example: GBP 0.8892 → EUR 1

Ulster says on their website that the spread they charge on GBP is up to 6% (max of 3% either side). In this example the difference between the buy and sell rate is 5.76%, which is the total spread and indeed doesn’t exceed 6%. The difference between the mid-market rate and the buy rate is 2.8%, and between the mid-market rate and the sell rate the difference is 2.8% as well. So, on either side of the mid market rate, the spread also doesn’t exceed 3%.

(Source 1, Source 2, 15/02/2018)

You should also know that it might not even be Ulster Bank that sets the exchange rate for your transaction. An intermediary bank might choose the exchange rate to apply, and they don’t always use great exchange rates. Instead, they can mark up the exchange rate even more, and keep the difference - you’re not their customer, after all. This means that the exchange rate offered may vary quite a bit from the exchange rate given on Google.

(Source 1, Source 2, 22 January 2018)

Additional fees from Ulster Bank

International transfers with Ulster BankAdditional fees
Intermediary bank feesIf you’re arranging an international transfer then it’s good to understand that banks other than Ulster Bank also add flat fees. That’s because there are often several banks involved when your transfer is processed. These banks are known as agent or intermediary banks - and they can take a cut as a fee for helping to process the transaction. Usually, Ulster Bank says that these fees will be passed to the recipient, apart from in urgent transfers, where you can share the costs if you prefer.
Recipient fee for outgoing transfersIn standard transfers, any additional costs are paid by the recipient of the international transfer. However, if you’re arranging an urgent transfer, then you might be asked if you want to pick up the recipient fee which is added by the receiving bank and deducted from the amount transferred. This can be a percentage or a fixed cost, depending on the recipient bank’s policy.
Recipient fee for incoming transfersIf you’re receiving an international transfer which has been sent in a currency other than euros, you’ll be charged a fee which will vary according to the currency and bank making the transfer. You might not be able to find out what the fee will be until the transfer lands in your account.

(Source 1, Source 2, Source 3, 22 January 2018)

A cheap and transparent alternative: TransferWise

Between poor exchange rates and additional fees from intermediaries, international money transfers can work out pretty costly. You might find that you’re better off if you use a specialist in international money transfers like TransferWise. You can move your money quickly and safely with TransferWise, using the real exchange rate and with only a small transparent cost per transaction.

Another great alternative if you need to move money internationally often, is to get yourself a TransferWise Borderless multi-currency account. This new type of account lets you hold your money in different currencies, so you can convert it using the best available rates whenever you need it. And if you work remotely and get paid in the EU, the UK, Australia or the US but live elsewhere, a borderless account allows you to get paid locally using local bank details. That means you’re not getting paid using an international transfer, and there are no extra, hidden fees to worry about.

See for yourself if you can get a better deal with TransferWise.

How do you make an international bank transfer with Ulster Bank?

Ulster Bank allows customers to make international money transfers online or by visiting a branch. If you log into your online banking, you can see all the details of how you might send money abroad, including the timescales and costs involved.

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

To arrange your 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 the account
  • The recipient’s IBAN or bank account number and sort code, or bank code, if transferring outside of the EU
  • The SWIFT/BIC code, or routing code if you’re transferring to the USA
  • Recipient’s bank name and address

(Source 22 January 2018)

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 Ulster Bank:

  • Your full name and address, and that of your bank
  • Your IBAN for euro payments, for non-euro payments your branch sort code and account number or identifier
  • The correct SWIFT/BIC code
  • The amount being transferred - and the currency to be used. Don’t forget to take into account any charges when you agree on the amount.

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

(Source 22 January 2018)

How long does an international bank transfer with Ulster Bank take?

How long it’ll take to process your international money transfer with Ulster Bank depends on where your money is going. However, you also need to note the cut off time for payments, which is usually 3:00 pm.

If you’re sending a euro amount, to a SEPA location, and place the transaction before 3:00 pm on a working day, it’ll arrive by the end of the next business day. If you’re sending a currency other than euro, to a SEPA destination, the transaction will take 2 to 4 working days. The timescales are the same if you’re sending any payment in any currency to an account based outside the SEPA system. These processing times apply for any standard international transfer. It’s also possible to do a bank transfer using a foreign draft in the branch, but this will take longer to process - up to 5 business days.

(Source 22 January 2018)

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

If you’re in a hurry, you can request an urgent transfer for a higher fee. If you’re sending a euro amount, to a SEPA location, and place the transaction before 1:30 pm on a working day, it’ll arrive by the end of the day, with a fee of €18.38.

If you’re sending a currency other than euro, to a SEPA destination, an urgent transfer will arrive in 1 to 2 working days, at a cost of €12.70. The cut off time is 4:00 pm.

If you’re sending any payment in any currency to an account based outside the SEPA system, it’ll take 1 to 2 business days. Processing a transfer worth under €5000 will cost €19.05, while amounts greater than this will cost €24.50.

(Source 22 January 2018)

Contact / Help - More questions around your transfer?

If you have specific questions about your transfer, you can talk to the advisors at Ulster Bank:

Whatever your reason for making an international money transfer, it’s a good idea to do your research in advance, to make sure you get the best deal available. That way you can avoid the common pitfalls, save yourself some cash, and relax while your transfer is processed.

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.

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