Help a UK company pay me!
September 7, 2008 1:15 PM   Subscribe

Freelance-to-perm work for a UK company -- how can I get paid for the least amount of fees and hassle?

More background: I have been offered a guest editorship at a UK-based magazine, which will likely turn into a FT position. I am in the US. The company is very small, so no HR people to handle questions like these.

I know my bank charges at least $20 for incoming wire transfers (which I imagine would be the only way to do a direct deposit from there, assuming no additional expense of changing currency along the way). Using PayPal -- which the company does for other transactions -- would probably take at least three times that out of each month's salary in fees. Are there other options?

Might it be in my favor to open an account with a UK-based bank or US bank/financial institution with a presence in the UK and just use the credit/debit card associated with the account instead of putting it straight into my US bank account? (I would count brokerage firm accounts here -- I used to have an account with Smith Barney that had checkwriting and debit card privileges, and their parent company Citigroup has a presence abroad)

Any other ideas? Thank you!
posted by to Work & Money (7 answers total)
Paypal should work for this. Have you looked into that in detail?
posted by yoz420 at 3:39 PM on September 7, 2008

Response by poster: Yes, yoz420, but with fees averaging around 2%, that's a hefty chunk of change when you're dealing with full time paycheck-sized amounts. If it was $100 here, $100 there, PayPal would be fine. But I'd rather not give up 2% of my salary right off the bat to those fees, as easy as it would be to use PayPal.
posted by at 3:44 PM on September 7, 2008

Response by poster: And, after a friend showed me, it seems I would lose close to $2500 a year in PayPal fees and currency conversions alone... which makes PayPal pretty much a last resort. Ugh.
posted by at 4:47 PM on September 7, 2008

Best answer: I'm pretty sure Citibank and HSBC allow multi-currency accounts, which I think should allow you to be paid in the UK.

Another option - offshore Isle of Man accounts, e.g. LloydsTSB. You'll have to pay about £5-10/month in fees for the account, but I don't think you would have problems with residence requirements.

I've used XETrade to move money between the UK and the US, but I think you need a standard bank account in each country to use them.
posted by Nice Guy Mike at 7:45 PM on September 7, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks, Nice Guy Mike! I checked out the Lloyd's site earlier and it seems like it might be ok. My question with those types of accounts is -- if you have a Visa- or MasterCard-affiliated bankcard attached to the account and you use it to buy something here at home in the US -- are you going to get hit with currency conversion fees, etc each time? Seems no solution is perfect...
posted by at 7:48 PM on September 7, 2008

Best answer: Agreed, no solution is perfect.

Fees and exchange rates vary between banks - I had a standard LloydsTSB UK account and the attached Debit/Bank card was positively painful to use overseas - I think it was something like 2.5% on top of the exchange rate (plus a minimum charge) - which will be the daily tourist rate. I don't know about the Offshore account and whether the terms and conditions are the same, but I became somewhat disillusioned with LloydsTSB and their continuous penny-pinching, increasing fees and decreasing savings rates - I can't say I'd honestly recommend them to anyone at this point.

Compare and contrast with another account from Nationwide Building Society - their Flexaccount current account (and credit card, I believe) charges no additional fees on overseas transactions, and charges at the commercial rate - usually much better than the tourist rate. Of course, the problem is you would need to be a UK resident to open an account with them.

They do have an offshore arm (I say, having just googled them 15 seconds ago :-) ): Nationwide International, but they seem to be savings rather than checking-type accounts - see their "Instant Access" account.
posted by Nice Guy Mike at 4:42 PM on September 8, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks again -- I'll have a look!
posted by at 6:12 PM on September 8, 2008

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