Transferring Money to Spain
“Money makes the world go round,” as the old adage goes. But sometimes you want money to go round the world instead.
There are any number of reasons to transfer money to another country. You might travel often between the two, you might have a child studying in one while you’re in the other, or you might even be moving.
If you find yourself in any of these cases, you might be looking for the best of many ways to transfer money. If you’re in the UK looking to transfer to Spain, this is the article for you!
What's on this page?
01 | How to transfer money to Spain
02 | How much do they cost?
03 | How long do they take?
04 | Minimum and maximum limits
05 | What keeps my money safe?
06 | What next?
How to transfer money to Spain
There are a lot of methods when transferring money internationally. So many that it can be a daunting task. Let’s look at the three main ways you can transfer money between countries, and help you find the best.
All of this could be yours! Provided that you send the correct equivalent from a UK bank account
Transferring money with a bank
This is the traditional choice. You can send an international wire transfer from one bank to another along the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) network. The SWIFT network comprises over 10,000 banks in 200+ countries, so it’s pretty comprehensive.
While it’s very easy to see that they thought of the word “swift” first and decided what it stood for after, it does live up to the name.
However, it’s also quite an expensive choice. There are usually several fees associated with SWIFT transfers, such as those charged by the sender and recipient banks, along with any charged by the intermediary banks. Unless the sender and recipient banks have a strong relationship with one another, there can be up to three intermediary banks involved.
Plus, banks typically apply a mark-up to the exchange rate, which is usually around 4-6% above the mid-market rate (the one you see on Google).
If you're an expat based in Spain, it might be worth setting up your own Spanish bank account.
Transferring money with a P2P currency exchange platform
In the past decade, the arrival of internet-based peer-to-peer foreign currency exchange platforms has really shaken up the market.
These platforms are generally much cheaper than the service offered by banks, mainly because they use the real, mid-market exchange rate, and charge very low fees. In 2019, the UK’s Daily Telegraph reported that the exchange rates used by P2P platforms were on average 4% cheaper than those used by banks.
Importantly, these companies also offer a strong level of security, with every responsible P2P platform operating in the UK being authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
These services are called ‘peer to peer’ because they literally match you with someone else around the world. For example, if you’re looking to send $100 to the UK, a company like will find someone who’s looking to send £100 (or thereabouts) to the US, and use this pairing to fulfil the exchange.
These two are dancing with joy – clearly their money transfer just came in!
If they can’t find anyone to match your transfer request, P2P platforms will simply buy the currency from the usual interbank markets – although this can then make the transfer more expensive.
That’s why exchanges in very common currency (e.g. dollars, pounds, euros, and yen) are very cheap on P2P platforms, because there’s always demand on both sides. Users literally trade between themselves without any dealers getting involved.
Transferring money with a foreign exchange broker
Foreign exchange (FX) brokers are useful if you’re sending very large sums of money abroad, i.e. over $4,000. They charge fees for their services, but will typically waive (or reduce) these fees for larger transfers. FX brokers also add a mark-up to the exchange rate, but this is usually much smaller than the mark-up typically applied by banks.
Their most unique attribute is the ability to set up a future transfer with the current exchange rate. This is called a forward contract, and can be a fun little investment game.
For example, if you’re an economist with great foresight, you can lock in a transfer from the UK to Spain when the pound is at a high. Then a few months later, after the UK has been devastated by an unforeseen meteor strike and the pound is weaker than ever, you’ll still be able to cash out your Euros at the solid rate it was before the apocalypse.
Best way to transfer money to Spain
So which of these three main methods is the best? Well it depends on what you’re looking for in your transfer service. If you had to transfer money like your life depended on it, you would find all of these methods suitable, but we have to give the crown to P2P platforms.
Generally speaking, they're faster and cheaper, and are still protected by security measures. Specifically, the number one prize goes to Wise (formerly TransferWise). They’re the best P2P platform in our opinion – the cream of the crop. Transfer your money today.
The bulls of the Spanish fields have little use for money
How much does it cost to send money to Spain?
It depends on what service you’re using, how much money you’re sending, and how you’re paying for it.
If you use banks to send an international wire transfer, you’ll be dealing with a marked up exchange rate and a sending fee, while your recipient will have to pay a receiving fee.
Meanwhile, on average, banks add a 4% mark-up to the mid-market exchange rate.
In contrast, a P2P currency exchange platform like Wise charges a flat fee of $1.02 for sending dollars to the UK. On top of this, there’s a 0.45% fee for transfers up to $135,000, and a 0.35% fee for transfers of over $135,000.
It also depends on how you pay for the transfer. For example, using a debit card with Wise incurs a 1.25% fee, while a credit card incurs a 3.8% fee.
How long does it take to transfer money to Spain?
Again, there’s a bunch of variables at play which can affect the length of time it takes to send pounds to Spain. These include:
- The service you’re using
- The number of banks involved (SWIFT transfers can involve up to three intermediary banks)
- Whether the transfer falls on a weekend / a public holiday
In general, the standard length of time for any international money transfer is between 0-5 business days, with banks generally taking longer than P2P platforms.
For example, if you send money internationally with HSBC, the funds typically won’t be available to the recipient before around 4 business days.
In contrast, sending money abroad via P2P exchange platforms like Wise is typically much quicker. For example, in some instances, sending $100 from the UK to Spain via Wise takes just “a few seconds”.
If you change your Wise payment method from a debit card to a wire transfer, “a few seconds” becomes “24 hours”. If you increase £100 to £5,000, “24 hours” becomes “two days”. However, it rarely takes as long as an international wire transfer, because there are no intermediary banks involved.
Minimum and maximum limits for Spain money transfers
The minimum and maximum amounts all depend on the service you use. For example, Wise allows transfers of amounts as small as a pound (we can vouch for this), but puts a cap on you sending too much. Similar P2P platforms also have low or no minimum amounts.
Bank transfers are recommended for larger sums of cash, both because there’s no maximum cap, and because their higher costs can make using them for small amounts a bit self-defeating.
What keeps my money safe when I send it to Spain?
There are governing bodies in the UK and Spain who have a job to ensure that every bank and P2P currency exchange platform is operating responsibly, so that every customer’s money is protected.
One the Spanish side, they’ve been receiving British money for years. There’s a massive network of British expats in Spain, so all kinds of solicitors and firms have been set up for just this purpose.
Money transfer safety measures in the UK
Meanwhile, any P2P currency exchange firms with registered offices in the UK are administered by HMRC, so they’re obliged to follow all UK Money Laundering Regulations.
Plus, as ‘payment institutions’, all money transfer firms are monitored by the Financial Conduct Authority. Before sending your money with any currency exchange company, you should check to see if they’re on the FCA register.
Whatever you decide to go with, know that your money is secure. You’ll have to talk to your bank about initiating a bank transfer, but if you’re interested in a P2P platform, we recommend Wise. They can help you with fast, cheap, and reliable money transfers.
Interested in more Spanish fun? Check out these articles to become an expert on all things Spanish!