The Best International Money Transfer Companies in the UK

If you’ve got cash to send abroad, you’ll want to make sure you’re sending it as cheaply and as safely as possible. Some companies mark up the exchange rate and slap on extra fees, while other companies are much more affordable. 

That’s why we’ve sifted through the busy market of international money transfer companies to identify the best ones. We even took some of them for a test drive, picking ten of the top companies and running an experiment involving £1,000 and a New York bank account but more on that in a second.

cartoon of two phones transferring money

What is the cheapest money transfer company?

In other words, which money transfer company has the lowest fees and the best exchange rate?

This question is pretty difficult to answer, not only because the answers can change all the time, but also because most companies don’t make their fee structures particularly obvious. 

That’s why we had to get our hands dirty and do a real experiment. We found a colleague (Duncan) who was glamorous enough to own a New York bank account (with Chase Bank). We set up ten transfers with ten of the top money transfer companies, sending £100 from each one, all within an hour of each other (14:00 to 15:00 BST) on Wednesday 8th July. 

Within that hour, the GBP-USD exchange rate was around 1.254, according to Google. 

These were the results, ordered from best exchange rate to worst exchange rate:

CompanyFeeTotal spendExchange rate% markupReceived
Transferwise£1.42£1001.25400%$123.60
OFX$15£1001.24760.5%$124.76
Xoom£1.99£101.991.24121%$124.12
Western Union£1.90£101.901.24001.1%$121.49
WorldRemit£2.99£102.991.23901.2%$123.90
XE£0£1001.23541.5%$123.53
Ria£4£1041.22942%$122.94
Moneygram (!)£1.99£101.991.21922.9%$121.92
Moneycorp (!)$15£102.401.21833%$124.76
Currencies Direct£0£1001.20983.7%$120.98

Nine of the ten transfers arrived about 24 hours after being sent, apart from the transfer with XE, which arrived just 12 hours after being sent. Well done to XE for being so nippy! 

As you can see, Transferwise performed the best in terms of having the lowest exchange rate markup (i.e. it didn’t mark it up at all). 

Transferwise was also the only company to deduct its fee from the initial £100, as opposed to adding it on. This practice is useful for people who have already decided how much they’d like to spend on an international transfer – otherwise, they may get lumped with an extra fee that they can’t afford. 

Because of this, Transferwise really only sent Duncan £98.58, as they took £1.42 as a fee (and £98.58 x 1.254 is $123.60). OFX also deducted their fee, but this deduction happened in the recipient’s bank account, which isn’t great. 

Meanwhile, you’ll notice that certain companies who offer zero fees also hike up the exchange rate considerably, such as CurrenciesDirect (3.7%) and XE (1.5%). 

 

Did anything go wrong?

Why is there an exclamation mark next to Moneygram? Because we couldn’t actually do the transfer. They don’t appear to offer bank transfers from the UK to the US – just cash pickups. And, since our man Duncan wasn’t actually in New York, we had nobody there who could actually pick up the cash. 

So, the numbers for Moneygram are just the estimates it offered us, but we didn’t actually follow through with the transfer. 

And why is there an exclamation mark next to Moneycorp? Because it wouldn’t let us determine how much money we wanted to send in pounds – we could only determine the end result, i.e. the amount in dollars. So, because OFX had just given us $124.76 for £100, we decided to put $124.76 as the end amount for the Moneycorp transfer – and they charged an extra £2.40 (so, £102.40 in total). 

Note: OFX and Moneycorp’s fees are represented in dollars because they didn’t show up until the transfer arrived in Duncan’s New York account. Both of these companies sent the money via wire transfer, which typically incurs a $15 fee in the recipient’s American bank account – and Chase Bank did indeed charge Duncan $15 for each international wire transfer. 

The other seven companies sent the money via Automated Clearing House (ACH), which is typically a bit slower than a wire transfer, but doesn’t incur any charges from the recipient bank.

 

What now?

If for whatever reason you need to send money abroad, we recommend you plump for our champion here: Transferwise. We explain in the next section how Transferwise scored above all the rest.

a cartoon of two people transferring money

The best international money transfer companies

Here’s our rundown of the ten top money transfer companies for sending money from the UK. To learn more about our methodology behind these ratings, head further down to the bottom of the page.

Disclaimer: all information about these companies has been sourced from their own websites, along with Trustpilot and the App Store.

CompanyScore (out of 12.5)Rating
Transferwise9.75A+
WorldRemit8.65A
Western Union8.10A
Xoom7.85B
XE7.75B
Moneygram7.30B
Ria5.95C
OFX5.35C
Currencies Direct4.80C
Moneycorp4.50C

1st: Transferwise

transferwise logoThis trendy startup was founded by two Estonians in 2011, who were working between Tallinn and London. It’s based on the clever concept of ‘money without borders’, whereby most of the transfers sent through Transferwise don’t actually cause money to be sent abroad. 

For example, if someone is sending GBP to the US, they will deposit pounds into Transferwise’s UK account, and then Transferwise will send the recipient money from their own stash of US dollars located in America. It’s all based on the concept of having big pools of each major currency. 

Of course, if Transferwise is running low on a certain currency, it will transfer the sender’s actual money across the globe (for a higher fee). Then again, most common currencies do not have this problem. Start sending money with Transferwise today

FeatureInfo
Minimum transferNone
Maximum transfer£1 million per transfer
Fees?Yes
Exchange rate markup?No
Offers cash pickups?No
Accepts credit card?Yes
Other payment optionsDirect debit, bank transfer, debit card, Android/Apple Pay
Currencies supported54
Countries you can send to59
How long a transfer takesUp to 2 business days
FCA authorised?Yes
Trustpilot score4.6 stars, 91,000 reviews
Customer support telephone lineAvailable Mon-Fri, 8am-8pm GMT
App Store score4.8 stars, 37,000 reviews
Referral schemeEvery friend you invite gets a discount on their first transfer. Invite three friends who all make £200 transfers, and you’ll get £75

2nd: WorldRemit

WorldRemit was founded in 2010 by Dr Ismail Ahmed, who was studying at London Business School at the time (they clearly taught him a thing or two). He was having a pretty frustrating time sending money back to his relatives in Somaliland, so WorldRemit was his solution. 

The company has broken new ground by offering cash home deliveries, although this service is currently only available if your recipient is in Vietnam. A long way to go, but a solid start.

FeatureInfo
Minimum transferNone
Maximum transfer£50,000 per transfer
Fees?Yes
Exchange rate markup?Yes
Offers cash pickups?Yes
Accepts credit card?Yes
Other payment optionsDebit card, bank transfer, direct debit, cash
Currencies supported90
Countries you can send to150+
How long a transfer takesCash pickup is instant, bank transfers can take up to 2 business days
FCA authorised?Yes
Trustpilot score4.5 stars, 40,500 reviews
Customer support telephone lineAvailable 24/7
App Store score4.8 stars, 44,000 reviews
Referral schemeRefer unlimited friends – once a friend sends at least £100, you both get a £20 reward voucher

3rd: Western Union

Certainly the oldest company on our list, Western Union began business back in 1851 as a telegram service. Crazily, it only stopped delivering telegrams as recently as 2006. 

It’s headquartered in Denver, Colorado and has more than 500,000 agent locations around the world, meaning you can pay in cash and your recipient can collect the money in cash. However, Western Union’s cash pickups come with higher fees than its bank transfers.

FeatureInfo
Minimum transfer£1
Maximum transfer£50,000 per transfer
Fees?Yes
Exchange rate markup?Yes
Offers cash pickups?Yes
Accepts credit card?Yes
Other payment optionsDebit card, bank transfer, direct debit, cash
Currencies supported130+
Countries you can send to50+ for bank transfers, 200+ for cash transfers
How long a transfer takesCash transfer is instant, bank transfers can take up to 2 business days
FCA authorised?Yes
Trustpilot score3.7 stars, 17,400 reviews
Customer support telephone lineAvailable 24/7
App Store score4.5 stars, 7,000 reviews
Referral schemeRefer a friend – if they send at least £50, you both get £10

4th: Xoom

xoom logoThis isn’t the online video chat platform that has given rise to weekly family lockdown quizzes, although it is pronounced the same way. 

Xoom was founded in 2001 in San Francisco, California, so it’s pretty glamorous. In 2015, PayPal acquired Xoom for the princely sum of around $1.09 billion, so the money transfer platform now has the backing of a Silicon Valley giant.

The company not only offers cash pickups worldwide, but also offers home deliveries, which is great for sending cash to your elderly relatives living abroad. Xoom also insists on a rather bizarre minimum transfer of £8, so make of that what you will.

FeatureInfo
Minimum transfer£8
Maximum transfer€25,000 (or currency equivalent) per day from Europe
Fees?Yes
Exchange rate markup?Yes
Offers cash pickups?Yes
Accepts credit card?Yes
Other payment optionsBank transfer, direct debit, debit card, cash
Currencies supported25
Countries you can send to100
How long a transfer takes“A few days”
FCA authorised?Yes
Trustpilot score4.6 stars, 21,500 reviews
Customer support telephone lineAvailable 24/7
App Store score4.7 stars, 3,500 reviews
Referral schemeIts referral programme has been on pause since 14th January

5th: XE

Starting in 1993 as a computer consulting service called Xenon Laboratories, XE began life sounding a lot like a villainous corporation from a film. It launched an online currency converter in 1995, and by 2001 it had entered the world of money transfers, whittling down its name to ‘XE’. It’s headquartered in Newmarket, Ontario. 

XE allows you to set up forward contracts that last as long as three whole years, which is very impressive. Forward contracts allow you to agree on a fixed exchange rate for an extended period, and then make your transfer at a later date. However, this option is only available to businesses, and you have to pick up the phone to set one up.

FeatureInfo
Minimum transfer£1
Maximum transfer$500,000 (or currency equivalent) for online transfers, no limit via telephone
Fees?Yes
Exchange rate markup?Yes
Offers cash pickups?No
Accepts credit card?Yes
Other payment optionsBank transfers, direct debit, debit card
Currencies supported60
Countries you can send to130+
How long a transfer takes1-2 business days
FCA authorised?Yes
Trustpilot score4.7 stars, 38,000 reviews
Customer support telephone lineAvailable Mon-Fri 9am-5pm EST
App Store score4.5 stars, 2,200 reviews
Referral schemeRefer a friend – once they send over £1,000, you both get a £25 Amazon voucher. There's no limit to the number of referrals you can make.

6th: MoneyGram

moneygram logoThe story behind MoneyGram is rather long and complicated, involving all sorts of mergers, acquisitions, and subsidiaries. In short, the roots of MoneyGram were planted in 1940, and the company is now headquartered in Dallas, Texas. 

MoneyGram offers cash pickups, with more than 350,000 agent locations worldwide, and no fewer than 8,000 in the UK. So, if you need to send cash to someone abroad and you want to do it in person, you shouldn’t have to travel very far to do it.

Unfortunately, MoneyGram’s online bank transfer service isn’t quite so extensive. As discussed earlier, when we tried to send money to a New York bank account via Moneygram, the only option it gave us was a cash pickup.

FeatureInfo
Minimum transferNone
Maximum transfer$10,000 (or currency equivalent) per transfer
Fees?Yes
Exchange rate markup?Yes
Offers cash pickups?Yes
Accepts credit card?Yes
Other payment optionsBank transfer, debit card, direct debit, cash
Currencies supported47
Countries you can send to200+
How long a transfer takes1-2 business days
FCA authorised?Yes
Trustpilot score1.6 stars, 130 reviews
Customer support telephone lineAvailable 24/7
App Store score4.8 stars, 10,000 reviews
Referral schemeRefer a friend and they’ll pay no fees on their first transaction, and you’ll get 50% off your next one

7th: Ria Money Transfer

ria logoRia began life in 1987 with one beautiful goal: to help people in New York City send money back to their loved ones abroad. Given that Ria is still going strong, we can safely assume it nailed its original goal. The company has grown considerably, now headquartered in Buena Park, California, and setting up a big Walmart-2-Walmart money transfer service in 2015.

Ria’s cash pickup network includes more than 402,000 agent locations worldwide, although its maximum money transfer is a little low compared to most of its competitors. You can get around this, however it just requires a phone call.

FeatureInfo
Minimum transfer£1
Maximum transfer£4,999 per transfer, or phone Ria to go over this limit
Fees?Yes
Exchange rate markup?Yes
Offers cash pickups?Yes
Accepts credit card?Yes
Other payment optionsBank transfer, debit card, direct debit, cash
Currencies supported60+
Countries you can send to160+
How long a transfer takes1-4 business days
FCA authorised?Yes
Trustpilot score4.3 stars, 4,400 reviews
Customer support telephone lineAvailable Mon-Sat, 9am-7pm
App Store score2.8 stars, 5 reviews
Referral schemeRefer a friend – if they make a transfer, you get a £20 gift card. There's no limit to the number of referrals you can make.

8th: OFX

ofx logoHeadquartered in Sydney, Australia, OFX began life as OzForex in 1998. It actually multiplied into a whole array of services, like CanadianForex, ClearFX, USForex, NZForex, even Tranzfers, before deciding to calm down and settle on something more contained.

With OFX, it really helps to transfer big – they charge $15 for any transfers under $10,000 (or currency equivalent), but waive the fee for any transfers over $10,000 (or currency equivalent).

FeatureInfo
Minimum transfer£100
Maximum transferNone
Fees?Yes
Exchange rate markup?Yes
Offers cash pickups?No
Accepts credit card?No
Other payment optionsBank transfer, debit card, direct debit
Currencies supported55+
Countries you can send to197
How long a transfer takes1-4 business days
FCA authorised?Yes
Trustpilot score4.2 stars, 3,900 reviews
Customer support telephone line24/7
App Store score4.8 stars, 636 reviews
Referral schemeAvailable to businesses only

9th: CurrenciesDirect

currenciesdirect logoYou can’t actually get much information online about CurrenciesDirect’s background story. It was founded in London in 1996 and has since grown pretty quickly, but it’s tricky to get a handle on the details of their journey. What we do know is that they employ “more than 500 happy, smiley people throughout the world”.

CurrenciesDirect do offer forward contracts, but you have to arrange it over the phone.

FeatureInfo
Minimum transfer£100
Maximum transfer£25,000
Fees?Mostly no (around 90% of their transfers are fee-free)
Exchange rate markup?Yes
Offers cash pickups?No
Accepts credit card?No
Other payment optionsBank transfer, debit card, direct debit
Currencies supported40+
Countries you can send to200+
How long a transfer takes1-2 business days
FCA authorised?Yes
Trustpilot score4.8 stars, 4,500 reviews
Customer support telephone lineAvailable Mon-Fri 8am-8pm, Sat-Sun 9am-2pm
App Store score3.7 stars, 57 reviews
Referral scheme£50 Amazon voucher for you and a friend, once your friend has transferred £5,000 or more. No limit to the number of friends you can refer.

10th: Moneycorp

One of the older London companies in this list, Moneycorp was founded in 1962 as David Leslie Jewellers (Oxford Street) Limited. After 15 years, the company got involved in high street currency dealing, and by 1993 it went for something much more pithy – TTT Moneycorp Limited. By 2008, it had even lost the ‘TTT’.

In delightfully old fashioned style, you can pay for your transfers via cheque, and you can also exceed Moneycorp’s £100,000 online transfer limit by making your transfer over the phone.

While Moneycorp don’t officially charge any fees, they do send money via wire transfer, which typically incurs a fee for the recipient. For instance, in our New York experiment, Chase Bank charged Duncan $15 for receiving the wire transfer from Moneycorp.

FeatureInfo
Minimum transfer£50
Maximum transfer£100,000 online, no limit via telephone
Fees?No (but their wire transfers typically incur a fee for the recipient)
Exchange rate markup?Yes
Offers cash pickups?No
Accepts credit card?No
Other payment optionsDebit card, bank transfer, direct debit, cheque
Currencies supported120+
Countries you can send to190+
How long a transfer takes1-3 business days
FCA authorised?Yes
Trustpilot score4.4 stars, 4,200 reviews
Customer support telephone lineAvailable Mon-Fri 7:30am-7:30pm
App Store score2.3 stars, 76 ratings
Referral schemeRefer a friend – if they send £2,500 within 3 months, you both earn £75. No limit to the number of referrals.

Our methodology: how we compare money transfer companies

Before we could reliably and sensibly tell each of these companies apart, we had to decide what we’d actually be assessing them on. So, we picked fifteen key factors, and used these to see how each company stacked up against the next one. Here’s what we focussed on:

Fees – does the company charge any fees for each money transfer and, if so, how much? We had to use the specific fees from our London-New York experiment (see above) for this one, as most companies are fairly hazy about their fee structure. 

Exchange rate – does the company apply a markup to its exchange rate, or does it use the real one? 

Payment options – what variety of payment options does the company accept and, crucially, does it accept credit cards? 

Cash – does the company have physical agent locations across the world that allow for cash pickups? 

Minimum transfer limits – what’s the smallest amount of money that the company lets you send? 

Maximum transfer limits – what’s the largest amount of money that the company lets you send? 

Number of recipient countries – how many different countries can you send GBP to? 

Trust – does the company perform strongly on Trustpilot? 

Proof of trust – how many reviews does the company have on Trustpilot?

Customer support – does the company offer telephone-based customer support for people who need help? 

Working hours – is the customer service number available 24/7? 

Livechat – does the company have a livechat option if the customer is unable to make contact via telephone? 

App quality – does the company’s app perform strongly on the App Store?

Proof of app’s quality – how many reviews are backing up the rating?

 

How important was each factor?

Of course, some of these factors are more important than others, so we weighted them accordingly. Consequently, most of the factors were each worth 1, while a handful of them were worth 0.5, meaning the total score for each company was out of 12.5. 

With certain factors, it was simply a case of asking ‘does the company have this or not?’, and then assigning them a score of 1 or 0. For example, if a company accepted credit cards and cash pickups, it would receive a score of 1 for each, while companies that didn’t accept them would receive a score of 0 for each. 

However, with other factors, we would have to score companies on a range between 0 and 1 (or 0 and 0.5, depending on the factor’s importance). For example, in the case of minimum/maximum transfer limits and number of countries available, it wasn’t a black-and-white ‘yes or no’ situation. As a result, some companies would get 0 or 1, some would get 0.3, some would get 0.6, some would get 0.75 etc., depending on the relative strength of their offering. 

Once we had each company’s score, we assigned grades using this system:

ScoreGrade
9.75+A+
8 - 9.74A
6 - 8B
4 - 6C
2 - 4D
0 - 2E

Next steps

So there’s our rundown. Hopefully we’ve made the busy world of money transfer companies seem a bit simpler for you. It’s important to go with a company that you feel you can trust with your money, and a company that’s completely transparent about what it’s charging. You don’t want any nasty surprises at the other end, after all. 

As is pretty clear, we think Transferwise is the best pick of the bunch. If you’re ready to start sending money abroad, join more than 7 million people and start using Transferwise today.