If you are working in the UK and want to send money to another country, how do you know you’re not paying more then you need to for the service.
This can be a confusing issue, especially if you are new to Britain and not fully conversant with the financial services on offer. Alternatively, if you employ migrant workers you may want to advise them on how to send money overseas.
If you are living and working in the UK, even for a relatively short period, you may need to use a money transfer service. But what questions should you be asking?
Basic Bank Accounts
You may not yet have set up a basic bank account – it can be complicated and time-consuming dealing with high street banks. You may be working as part of the contingent labour force and be uncertain of whether you are able to set up an account in this country.
In any case, banks may not be the best or cheapest choice when it comes to sending payments abroad. And that also applies to British citizens transferring money out of the country for things such as mortgage payments for overseas properties, tuition fees for relatives studying abroad or purchasing certain items.
Currency Exchange Companies
When you are looking at a specialist currency exchange companies, pay attention to the exchange rates and transfer fees, because some services charge more than others. And watch out for ‘fee-free rates’, you may well end up paying more on the exchange rate.
It is important to make the transfer at the right time. For instance, the uncertainty surrounding the Greek debt crisis has seen sterling’s value soar against the euro, so it is currently a good time to exchange currency. You could even plan ahead by securing a rate of exchange now for future use.
Note that any large firm trading over £2.4 million a day must be authorized by the Financial Conduct Authority and ringfence customers’ money away from the company’s own funds so if the firm gets into trouble while holding your money your cash should be safe. If a smaller transfer company goes bust while holding funds there’s no guarantee you’ll get it back.
Firms such as Moneycorp, Currencies Direct and UKForex charge reasonable fees which often become lower the more you transfer and the transaction is usually complete within a few days.
If time is of the essence, companies such as Moneygram or Western Union offer instant cash transfers to thousands of overseas locations but you will pay much more for the privilege. You can make payments in branches (in post offices, newsagents or online) and your recipient picks up the money at an agency where they are using either ID or a code to verify the transfer.
Alternative Banking with Suits Me
Suits Me is a membership scheme for temporary workers, from Britain or from overseas, who do not have a basic bank account. It gives members a prepaid Mastercard® debit card which can be used to make payments online or in stores and can make the whole business of transferring money easier and safer than dealing in cash.
A Suits Me card, which can be arranged through your employment agency, also gives workers cashback in high street stores.