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Best Way to Transfer Money From the US to the UK

Updated on May 09, 2022 11:03 am
GBP money and USD money

Moving money across international borders is easier and efficient in today's hyperconnected world of mobile apps, social media, and evermore advancing technology.

There are banks, money transfer companies, payment apps, and foreign exchange brokers that will easily transfer your money abroad without much hassle. Although there are differences in terms of costs, exchange rates, speed, complexity, and other factors with the various transfer methods. 

We will discuss the options to help you decide the best way to transfer money from the U.S. to the U.K.

Sending Money To The U.K. From The U.S. Through A Bank

Before the emergence of numerous third-parties money transfer service providers, banks predominantly used to transfer money domestically and internationally. 

International money transfers between banks rely on the SWIFT system.

The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) network provides secure financial messaging through a system of international banks to carry out international wire transfers from one to another. The network spans across 200+ countries and territories and comprises more than 11,000 banks around the world. 

Essentially, two banks exchange money transfer information via the SWIFT network. If the two banks don't have a relationship, an intermediary bank facilitates the communication process to make the transfer. 

Read more on Banks Vs Online Money Transfer Companies.

Banks Fees To Transfer Money To The U.K. From The U.S.

SWIFT is an expensive option. There are several fees associated with this method such as those charged by the sender and recipient banks and additional fees charged by the intermediary banks. 

International wire fees charged by four major US banks:

Bank of America $45
JP Morgan Chase $45 branch, $40 online
Citibank $25
Wells Fargo$30-$45


The fees can add up if you are transferring money regularly or need to send a large sum over several payments. Also, sending a small sum via banks can be uneconomical because of their sizable fees. There are money transfer companies best suited for small transfers.

For example, London-based online money transfer company Wise charges a small flat fee of 4.77 USD + 0.43% of the amount converted. The fees can vary depending on how you pay for the transfer. Payment via debit card or credit card has a slightly higher fee than payment via bank account. But it is always cheaper than banks.

Exchange Rates 

Banks and most money transfer companies set their exchange rates. 

The exchange rate margin charged by banks is usually around 4-6% above the mid-market rate (the real exchange rates on Google).

Money transfer specialists tend to offer better exchange rates than banks. This comes as no surprise as banks have more operating costs and will find it harder to compete with dedicated money transfer specialists. 

Also, many online money transfer providers such as Wise do not apply any markup to the mid-market rate. Wise is marketed to be 8x cheaper than most high-street banks.

Being able to secure a USD to GBP or GBP to the USD exchange rate at a desirable level before you make your transfer from the U.S. to the U.K. is an advantage. The GBP to USD or USD to GBP rate, though not a fee, can be the most cost of your transfer. 

For very large amounts to transfer money to the U.K. at regular intervals, using a foreign exchange broker will fetch you the best exchange rates.

To get the best exchange rates, look for competitive rates by comparing rates offered by service providers and then time your transfer when the USD to GBP rates are at a favorable level. Set alerts for USD to GBP or GBP to USD rates.

Transfer Speed

Banks typically take 3-5 business days to deliver the money to your recipient. Things like daily working hours, weekends, public holidays, and different time zones can impact the overall transfer speed.

In contrast, money transfer companies offer faster delivery services. It can be almost instant, same-day delivery, and within 24 hours depending on the payment method and how the money is received. It rarely takes as long as banks, mainly because there are no middlemen with these specialists. 

Transfer Money To the U.K. With An Online Money Transfer Company

There are plenty of money transfer companies to choose from to send money from the U.S. to the U.K. 

These online money transfer companies also leverage mobile technology by developing their money transfer apps with various features that are easy-to-use, equally reliable, making the money transfer process faster, more transparent, cheaper, super convenient and accessible anywhere and anytime. 

With so many choices, it can sometimes be overwhelming to narrow down to one choice. To help you decide, we have put together the top money transfer companies on the market to send money from the U.S. to the U.K.

XE

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XE money transfer offers a quick, cost-effective way to securely send money to the U.K. from the U.S.A. It is rated 4.4/5 stars with over 50,000 reviews on Trustpilot. 

Currently, it offers money transfers to 130+ countries in 60+ currencies for individuals and businesses.

The service is accessible on the Xe site and XE mobile app. With the app, you can check live currency rates, currency charts, U.K. money transfer tracking, set notifications, and set alerts for any chosen currency pairs. 

They also offer tools such as forward contracts, market orders, and currency data APIs. 

XE wire transfers are great for large bank-to-bank transfers and are completed within 1-4 business days, though most transfers arrive within 24 hours. There is no minimum transfer. You can pay by direct debit, bank transfer, credit card, or debit card. 

You can transfer up to $500,000 (or your currency equivalent) online. For larger transfers than this, reach out to the Xe currency expert to help you set up the transfer. 

Revolut

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It is safe to send money with Revolut, the popular digital-only bank based in London. Banking services are offered by Metropolitan Commercial Bank, Member FDIC. 

You can save money with Revolut when sending money abroad. Revolut offers great exchange rates and low fees. Transfer to a bank account or another Revolut customer is free. Payment methods can affect the delivery time. Payments to other Revolut users and card payments are instant. 

Depending on the country of the recipient, the international money transfer can take up to 3-to-5 business days.

Send money with Revolut in 30+ currencies to 100+ countries. The fees are low and always upfront. You can get 10 free international transfers every month. 

Download the Revolut app on your Android or iPhone mobile device and sign up. Then add money into your account using your card or a bank account. Choose your transfer amount, your currency, and the destination country. Add the recipient details- phone number, full name, bank account number, and BIC/SWIFT number. 

Wise

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Wise is one of the cheapest ways to transfer money to the U.K. There are no hidden fees and the money is converted using the mid-market rate. So, the fees are low, transparent, and fair with your every transfer. 

It is available in 59 countries and allows money transfer to more than 80 currencies. The Wise multi-currency account lets you hold 50+ currencies. 

Wise has 12 million users and counting worldwide. And a Trustpilot rating of 4.6/5 stars. Wise is regulated by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) in the U.S.A. So, your money is completely safe with Wise. 

Send money to the U.K. via the Wise site or Wise app and pay in USD with your debit card or credit card or with your bank account. The money gets delivered within 24 hours or on the same day or even within minutes, depending on how you pay for the transfer.

Funding by bank account is the cheapest while it is slower than debit card or credit card payments. 

Skrill

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Skrill allows U.S. customers to make international money transfers to 18 different countries. The great thing about Skrill is that you can use your Skrill's digital wallet to send money to a bank account overseas for free. 

Skrill offers international money transfers to over 180 countries in 40 currencies to a bank account, mobile wallet, email address, and phone number.

Knect, the Skrill Loyalty Program lets you earn points with nearly all your transactions. You can redeem those points with rewards and more. 

Signing up for a Skrill account is free. You can do it on the Skrill website or on the app. You can fund your transfer from your personal bank account or a debit or credit card, or local payments. 

For expats looking for low-cost digital money transfer services, Skrill Money Transfer is an alternative solution to other expensive options.

Instarem

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Instarem is one of the low-cost international money transfer service providers to send money from the U.S.A. to the UK.

Like Wise, the exchange rates are sourced from Google. The fees are upfront and there are no hidden charges. The exchange rates are very competitive. They apply a small margin on the rates and a nominal fee. 

Check Instarem's rates and fees anytime on their website calculator. Enter the transfer amount and select the send and receive countries to see the exchange rates and fees for the chosen pair of currency, in this case, USD to GBP.

You can pay with a bank account, wire transfer, or debit/credit card.

Sign up online or on the app using your email address or your Facebook or Google account and earn InstaPoints instantly.  You also can earn InstaPoints with every transfer and redeem these points in your next transfer.

PandaRemit

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PandaRemit is an online money transfer service based in Hong Kong. It has now expanded to international markets including North America, Asia, and Europe, and offers remittance services to over 30 countries now.

PandaRemit and its subsidiaries are regulated by the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Center (AUSTRAC).

Your first transfer comes with zero fees and the recipient has the option to receive the money in multiple ways- a digital wallet, bank cards, or cash pick-up. The money is delivered as fast as 2 minutes. 

There are no hidden fees and exchange rates are competitive. They also offer a 100% money transfer guarantee or get your money back. You can fund your transfer via bank transfer or card payments. Bank transfers carry no charge. 

Sign up using your phone number or email address online or on the app to start sending money.

Paysend

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Paysend is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority in the U.K. So your money is safe and protected. Paysend delivers money to 150+ countries worldwide. 

Paysend is the first Fintech company to introduce global cards to card transfers connecting 12 billion cards issued by Mastercard, Visa, China Union Pay, and local card schemes. Paysend provides 40+ payment methods for online SMEs and serves 17,000 SMEs

One of the best ways to send money to the U.K from the U.S. is using Paysend which is offering fee-free transfers to bank accounts until June 1, 2022. 

You can transfer online to Visa, Mastercard, or bank accounts. The fee for sending GBP directly to Visa or Mastercard cards is just $2. There is no fee for direct transfers to bank accounts till June 1. The money is transferred on the same day.

The exchange rates are shown upfront before you make your transfer. 

Sign up online or get the Paysend app on the App Store, Google Play, or AppGallery to send money today. 

Conclusion

As you can see, there are multiple options at your disposal when sending money from the U.S. to the U.K. Selecting a money transfer company to send money abroad requires research and comparing the service providers to find the best way to send money to the U.K. based on your transfer needs.

International money transfer continues to evolve with new emerging technologies. The newest innovation is the bitcoin or cryptocurrencies that have the potential to change the money transfer landscape in the coming future once adopted on a large scale.

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