Large Currency Transfers

When you’re transferring large sums of money internationally, choosing the right provider is particularly important because put simply, the more money you’re sending, the higher the risk. This is particularly true if you’re wanting to send cash.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the various options available for exchanging large amounts of currency, and we’ll recommend what we believe to be the best.

We’ll start by defining what we consider to be a ‘large currency transfer’, and run through the most important factors to help you whittle down your options.

What is considered a large sum of money?

large sum of money

 

The answer to this question is, of course, relative to the individual, so the exact figure will vary depending on which website or publication you’re reading. Seeing as we’re a site that focuses on travel money and a large part of our audience are holiday goers, we will consider a large currency transfer to be anything above £5,000.

So, popular examples of why someone would make a large currency transfer might include a long-duration trip, the importing of art, or even purchasing an overseas holiday home. Those considering a very large overseas purchase will naturally wonder what the upper limits are for transferring money out of the UK.

How much money can you transfer internationally?

Fortunately, the UK government does not impose any limits on the maximum amount that you can send abroad, but you’ll need to choose your provider carefully, as many companies set their own transfer limits for various reasons.

Some firms have surprisingly low maximum send limits that can create obstacles, or rule them out all together as a potential route for sending your funds abroad.

For example, it might seem like an obvious choice to use your bank, however several major UK banks have international transfer limits as low as £10,000 per day for personal customers, ruling them out for many as a potential option.

What options are there to exchange large sums of currency?

Before looking at the various options for transferring large sums of money internationally, it’s helpful to define a criteria that can be used to compare various providers. There’s a vast amount of metrics that can be used to do this, but for simplicity, we’ll focus on what we deem as the three most important which are: cost, speed, and safety.

The total cost of your transfer is critical, seeing as for any large overseas purchase, you’re likely working to some sort of budget. Even though no international transfer is completely free, you’ll still want to get the best deal as you’ll need to factor these costs into your purchase or transfer. The total cost of the transfer is made up of the fx margin applied to the exchange rate, plus any other transfer fees.

The importance of transfer speed will vary based on personal circumstance, but knowing your chosen provider can complete your transaction quickly is always advantageous.

For example, knowing that your transfer can be delivered swiftly, might allow you to hold off transferring your funds to capitalise on a favourable currency swing and secure a better rate.

The importance of safety is fairly self explanatory but is of particular importance when you exchange large amounts of currency. For some, a large currency transfer could represent their life savings, so working with a trusted and reliable provider is non-negotiable.

So with this criteria in mind, let’s take a look at the various options available for sending your money overseas.

Cash

Whichever way you choose to send cash abroad, it’s either risky, very expensive, or sometimes both.

If you’re considering posting the cash, or travelling with it in hand, UK customs has restrictions in place for anything exceeding £10,000, and even for large transfers under this amount, carrying or posting this much cash is considered high-risk.

You could consider taking the maximum £10,000 restriction-free allowance and withdraw more cash overseas using one of our top 5 multi-currency cards.

Your other option is working with a remittance provider, who can transfer cash that you’ve deposited at an agent location, allowing yourself or a beneficiary to collect the funds in the destination country.

This is normally a very fast option, but it’s extremely costly. Remittance providers apply on average a 2-4% fx markup to their exchange rates, plus a fixed or variable transfer fee in many cases.

Mobile wallets

Choosing a mobile wallet like PayPal is certainly a less riskier option than using cash, but unfortunately it’s no cheaper. In fact, it’s often the most expensive option available.

PayPal adds a 4% fx margin to all currency exchanges, plus a fee, so the convenience and safety of sending your money via PayPal will cost you hundreds if not thousands of pounds.

Banks

UK banks are an extremely safe choice for sending funds overseas, and can also offer convenience if you’re able to use your existing bank, thereby forgoing a new registration process.

However, despite being a slightly cheaper option than PayPal, UK banks simply can’t compete with leading alternatives when it comes to cost. Major UK banks offer very poor exchange rates, alongside an often obscure fee structure.

Several leading banks also have restricting limits in place, in some cases as low as £10,000, making them unsuitable for many large currency transfers.

Digital money transfer companies

Providers that are exclusively online, such as Wise who we’ve already mentioned, present a great option for large currency transfers, as they score highly in all 3 of our key metrics.

They’re considerably cheaper than all of the options we’ve already listed, and they can transfer your funds both safely and extremely quickly.

We break this down in more detail below where we evaluate the best options for transferring large sums of money internationally.

Currency brokers

Alongside digital money transfer companies, currency brokers are one of your best choices, presenting a great alternative to transfer a large amount of money between banks. They too, tick all three boxes in regards to cost, safety, and speed, but they’re particularly well suited to very large currency transfers, seeing as that’s what they specialise in.

So having whittled down the options to what is essentially a two horse race, you’ll no doubt want to know ‘what is the best way?’.

Let’s take a look at how they compare.

Best way to transfer large sums of money internationally

Best way to transfer large sums of money internationally

When comparing and assessing the pros and cons of choosing a digital money transfer company or currency broker, we can use the same key metrics as we have previously.

Cost

As we’ve already established, either way you’ll be saving a significant amount versus alternative options like your bank, but there is no clear winner between the two in regards to cost, as it depends on the transfer amount and the frequency of international transfers.

If you choose a currency broker and you have a need to regularly transfer large sums, you’ll be able to negotiate a better rate over time, potentially securing you the best possible rate.

However, if you’re looking at making a one off or irregular large currency transfer, then there’s a chance your best available rate might be with the likes of ‘Wise’.

Wise does not apply an fx margin, offering all currency transfers at the mid-market rate. Instead they charge a small variable fee that works out at a smaller percentage of the total based on the more you transfer. If you opt for a Wise card, you get the same great rates when you spend with your card abroad, or make an overseas ATM withdrawal.

Safety

Which option offers the most safety? There isn’t much in it providing you’re only looking at the leading providers in each category.

You’d always want to ensure that any provider you’re trusting with your funds is appropriately regulated and has a reputation for being trustworthy.

Thankfully the UK is known for its stringent regulatory body, the FCA, and you’ll find a wide range of leading providers in both categories that are all well established and highly regulated, both in the UK and other international territories.

Speed

This is one area where a leading digital provider may prove to have the edge. Many of the top brokers can deliver your money fast, but not even the best currency brokers can boast a payment delivery record equal to Wise.

When looking at all Wise transactions, 93% are completed within a day, 76% in less than one hour, and more than 55% of all transfers are instant!

Bear in mind that this accounts for all transactions, big and small, so given this article focuses on large transfers, you should be prepared that your transfer may be subject to you having to provide some additional details or documentation.

So what’s the Verdict?

With both options coming out fairly similarly in these key areas, it’s best to look at how they differ to help you make your decision.

The biggest differentiating factor between brokers and digital only money transfer companies, is that most leading brokers offer a dedicated dealer, who will act as your account manager to help instruct you on how to transfer a large amount of money.

This will include guidance on whether or not you should consider hedging your funds, and what tools are available to do so. This type of service will of course increase overheads, which is why a digital only provider such as Wise will often work out slightly cheaper.

Therefore the best option will come down to your own personal preference.

If you’re seeking additional guidance, and are happy to potentially forego a small percentage of savings, then you’ll find value in choosing a leading currency broker.

But if you’re comfortable managing the transfer process yourself, and you’re not concerned with securing a rate for the future, then choose an online provider like Wise who will offer some of the best available rates.

Consider also that Wise makes a great travel money companion (they have one of the best multi-currency cards available on the market) and they really are your one-stop shop solution for all of your foreign currency needs. With a customisable card limit, that you can change in-app to a maximum of £30,000 per transaction, it’s also a great option for large overseas purchases like house items, ornaments and art.

How to send large amount of money to someone

Assuming you’re not looking to send cash, then the general process for transferring money abroad electronically is similar, which we’ve outlined below: 

  • Register and verify your account 

Once you’ve chosen your provider, you’ll need a government ID to complete your registration process. For larger currency transfers, you’ll also likely need to provide additional details about where this money has come from and how you obtained it.

  • Enter your transfer details 

Regardless of whether or not you have an account manager to guide you, ultimately, it’s your own responsibility to ensure all recipient details are correct. Be sure to also carefully check the offered exchange rate and be aware of any other fees.

  • Pay for your transfer and lock in your trade

Once you’re happy with all the details, you’ll need to select your payment method and confirm the trade to secure your exchange rate. Providers like Wise will usually guarantee that rate for a set period (often 24 hours) while you arrange payment.

  • Track your transfer and wait for your funds to arrive

Once your funds are en-route, most providers will offer some sort of reference you can use to track the status of your transfer until your funds arrive at their destination.

What about receiving large amounts of money from overseas?

Whilst this article has focused mostly on how to send a large amount of money to someone, your best options for receiving large amounts of money from overseas are the same.

Currency brokers can offer value for receiving transfers by guiding you on market conditions and potential currency swings, which might help you to make greater savings if you’re in a position to have your sender hold off on sending funds immediately.

Digital providers like Wise are also a great option for receiving funds from abroad, as its multi-currency solution allows you to receive, convert and hold 40+ different foreign currencies. Using the Wise card, you can even spend from your account balances around the globe, wherever Visa is accepted.

Summing up

By now, you should clearly understand the importance of choosing your provider carefully for all large currency transfers. In short, online money transfer companies and currency brokers are far superior to banks, mobile wallets or using cash, as they offer the best combination of security, speed, and cost effectiveness.

Depending on your unique requirements, you might decide your best option is seeking additional guidance from a dedicated manager service offered by a currency broker.

However, for many, using a leading digital provider such as Wise to manage their own large currency transfers, will prove to be the most cost-effective option whilst still providing ample security.