International Money Transfers
December 27, 2005 7:04 AM   Subscribe

What is the best way to do international transfers in order to get the best currency exchange rates and avoid excessive bank transfer fees? Transferring from the UK to Canada is costing me £20/transfer.
posted by srboisvert to Work & Money (13 answers total)
If you send money regularly to the same person, then open a Nationwide Flex account. Post the ATM card across and phone the PIN number to the recipient.

The Flex account does not incurr withdrawal charges and the exchange rate is competitive.
posted by the cuban at 7:15 AM on December 27, 2005

Response by poster: Sorry. I didn't provide enough detail. The transfers are to my own Canadian account (student loan joy). I would rather not have other people involved in my finances so I am looking for a way to do account to account electronic transfers (cheques in the mail would be too slow).
posted by srboisvert at 7:37 AM on December 27, 2005

posted by essexjan at 8:13 AM on December 27, 2005

" a Nationwide Flex account. Post the ATM card across and phone the PIN number to the recipient."

If anyone's thinking of doing this, then the other person with the card/PIN must be an 'authorised user' on the account and be issued with their own card/PIN, otherwise any misuse of the card/PIN will be down to the account holder.

Even in a case of genuine fraud where a third party has carried out the transactions without the knowledge or consent of the account holder, if that third party came by the card and PIN because the account holder had given them to someone to use on his behalf and the card/PIN were lost by or stolen from that person, the bank is unlikely to pay up.

It is always "gross negligence" under both the UK Banking Code and the card issuer's terms and conditions to disclose the PIN to another person, even if you give them permission to use your account.
posted by essexjan at 8:19 AM on December 27, 2005

Checks/cheques work fine for international money transfer, and they are cheap. (If they aren't cheap, this is your bank screwing you. Metafilter can't help you there - switch banks.)

Get ahead on your payments. Send checks about five weeks in advance of when you need the money in the account.

Wire transfers are always going to be expensive.
posted by jellicle at 8:32 AM on December 27, 2005

When I emigrated from the UK to the US in 2004 I opened an offshore account with Lloyds TSB. The account is linked to two currencies (in my case GBP and USD) and transferring money betwen the two accounts is as simple (and cheap) as a phonecall to the offshore centre in the Isle of Man.

When I receive money in the UK, I have it deposited into my GBP Lloyds account, wait for it to clear, then transfer it to my USD account.

Each account comes with its own Visa debit card, so you can use it as normal when shopping (though I usually find that I have to select "Credit" not "Debit" on the automated card swipe thingies at checkouts).

Opening our account cost us the grand total of £50, and there's a £50 per year fee. Definitely worth it for me, who still has money trickling in from the UK.

So would this work for you? Well you say you want the money to go to your own Canadian account. I'm assuming this is to pay existing bills like your student loans. You could do one of two things with the solution I mention:

1. Manually (or automatically) transfer the money one more time from your CAD Lloyds account to your existing account. (This method incurs a fee - you'll have to find out the specifics, I can't remember what I pay)

2. Have your Canadian bills debit directly from your Lloyds CAD account.

If you need any more info, use the email address in my profile and I'll get the missus (who's wayyyy more involved in the finances than myself) to reply.
posted by Ridge at 8:52 AM on December 27, 2005

Well duh Ridge. A link'd be handy...

Lloyds TSB Offshore
posted by Ridge at 8:56 AM on December 27, 2005

I have a similar problem with wire transfering between an HSBC account in the UK and a small bank in the US. Every time I have to pay a fee.

I tried PayPal, but you can only transfer from a US bank account :(
posted by k8t at 9:18 AM on December 27, 2005

What is the original source of this money? If it's your paycheck, and you get direct deposit, then your company should have no problem routing $X to Canada, and $(Paycheck - X) to UK.

Also, what's the hard requirement for the Canada account? Can't you just pay your student loan payments from your UK account?
posted by mkultra at 9:26 AM on December 27, 2005

If you have a local (british) credit card you can use it to make a payment to your canadian account. I've done this a few times, and as far as I know there are no special fees associated with doing it this way. What I do is call the bank with the account I want to deposit to and give them my credit card number and the amount I want to deposit, voila.
posted by blueyellow at 10:13 AM on December 27, 2005

Some Canadian banks have relationships with UK banks that allow you to withdraw money at their machines with no fee. When I'm in the UK if I use a Barclay's machine with my Bank of Nova Scotia debit card I get the current exchange rate with no fees and no extra % charge. I undertand it works the same way in reverse for Barclay's customers in Canada.

This may not help you if you're not actually in the country where you want to receive the money, but that's why I find it's useful to have a parent or SO on my account as well for emergency access purposes.
posted by tiamat at 11:16 AM on December 27, 2005

When I lived in London and my US student loans came due, I went to Citibank and got a dual US$/UK£ checking account. Then I could pay my loans with a check. Didn't cost much.

Of course, then I moved to Australia and that isn't an option and the Wells Fargo bastards won't take credit cards so I'm stuck paying $20 every time I do a telegraphic transfer. I just try to pay a few months at a time. That's pretty much your worst case scenario.
posted by web-goddess at 12:33 PM on December 27, 2005

I just recently heard that Lloyds TSB Isle of Man is no longer accepting new accounts. This is likely a valid statement, it came from my partner and we have our own such account. Pity.

Other similar banks may be available in similar locations (Jersey, Gurnsey, Isle of Man).
posted by Goofyy at 11:13 PM on December 27, 2005

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