large money transfer from Eurozone to UK
June 1, 2013 8:50 AM   Subscribe

I have between 80K and 100K euros in a savings account in the Netherlands. If I need to transfer this to the UK (to, say, buy property), what is the best way to do this? I am a US citizen, current EU resident, possible near-future UK resident.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike to Work & Money (13 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I suspect the OP wants to get the best euros-to-pounds exchange rate, not just transfer the money to a euro account in the UK.
posted by pete_22 at 9:24 AM on June 1, 2013

I can't speak to Dutch bank charges but most UK banks will charge you an arm and a leg to receive a Euro transfer and translate it to GBP to credit to your GBP account, they'll also charge a lot for a Euro account, especially if the sole purpose of that account is to receive one large transfer...that's because banking in the UK is generally free with most banks,i.e. they do not charge to maintain your current, savings account and to issue a debit and credit card. But they will charge extortionate fees for just about anything else. So be clear about who charges what and see if there is a way of getting the Dutch bank charge to cover any receiving bank fees. I can do that with my Swiss bank account when I transfer money to the UK. Even the higher Swiss fee is still cheaper than what my UK bank would charge me. Unfortunately there are too many variables to make specific recommendations. I'd also check if the fee structure changes for that kind of money and if there are any additional requirements because the sum is not trivial.
posted by koahiatamadl at 9:36 AM on June 1, 2013

they'll also charge a lot for a Euro account, especially if the sole purpose of that account is to receive one large transfer.

Actually in my experience a Euro account at a UK bank will probably attract a relatively modest monthly fee of £20 or so (I mean, charging any fee at all for a bank account is still a scandal, but that's another issue) – and no fee at all if the sums concerned are large enough.

Of course, you still need eventually to convert the money to sterling, so this isn't necessarily the way forward.
posted by oliverburkeman at 10:12 AM on June 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You'll lose money on the transfer if you do it as a standard transfer; we use HiFX.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:38 AM on June 1, 2013

Best answer: For the best/competitive rates try
posted by zia at 10:38 AM on June 1, 2013

Response by poster: So, it's my impression browsing the and HiFX websites that you can do this as a transfer through them as a third party; you lock in a rate, transfer money to them from the euro account, and they transfer it into the second account in sterling?
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 12:34 PM on June 1, 2013

Yes this is how xe works (haven't tried HiFX).
posted by sesquipedalian at 1:42 PM on June 1, 2013

Best answer: UKFOREX was the cheapest way I sent dollars to the US from the UK a while ago. I suspect it, or one of its kind, is still the best bet.
posted by Brian Lux at 2:39 PM on June 1, 2013

Best answer: You might also consider
posted by dirm at 3:01 PM on June 1, 2013

Philosopher Dirtbike, yes, that is how HiFx and XE work. As an example, when we did the same same transfer for the same purposes but from sterling to euros, even though neither our sending bank nor our acquiring bank charges fees, we got several thousand more euros landing in our account than we would have doing a straight bank to bank transfer via IBAN.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:52 AM on June 2, 2013

Best answer: Ha, I've just done this (albeit with a smaller five-figure sum) via Travelex - I locked into a rate when I agreed to make the deal on Friday, the euros should reach them on Monday and the pounds should reach me on Tuesday. The rate I got was pretty good, very close to the spot rate, and there are no fees (as far as I can tell, ABN AMRO -> British euro account SEPA transfer was free to me as a private accountholder, and I presume come Tuesday I'll see a regular British GBP interbank transfer, which will incur no fees). I don't know how their rates compare with HiFX and XE.

Possible gotchas:

1. If your Dutch account happens to be with ABN AMRO, you'll have to make sure you've enabled foreign transfers on the account - note that for security reasons it takes two hours for the change of status to go through.

2. When I set up the account with Travelex, they needed to confirm my address; I've been at my current address for a year and a half and apparently they were able to find independent proof of that, so I didn't have to send them any paperwork and it was all very quick. If you try to set this up in advance of moving to the UK (do you already have a British bank account?) or shortly after moving, you may have a harder time of it.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 6:05 AM on June 2, 2013

A friend of mine who has a Euro account and a UK account says that if you call up your Euro bank and ask for a "high volume transfer", you can talk to their trading desk and get a locked-in quote based on the inter-bank rate. He also said he shopped around the 3rd party companies, but it sounded like he was happy to get something close to the inter-bank rate using banks alone.
posted by knile at 9:24 AM on June 3, 2013

Just checking back in to follow up on my earlier comment: the expected sum has turned up in my UK account today, if anything a little ahead of schedule, and there have definitely been no fees incurred in the process.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 5:55 AM on June 4, 2013

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