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The Hidden Costs of Overseas Bank Transfers: Why Currency Brokers Are a Smarter Choice

Are you accustomed to using your local bank for overseas money transfers?

If so, you're likely familiar with the feeling of uncertainty that often accompanies these transactions.

While it may seem convenient, there's more to the story than meets the eye.

playing music on back of a pick up truck, happy young people

In this guide, we'll unveil the hidden costs of overseas bank transfers and demonstrate why currency brokers like Wise, XE, TorFX, and Revolut are a smarter choice.

The High Price of Convenience with Banks

1. Exchange Rate Margins:

Local Banks: Most local banks set exchange rates that include a substantial margin, often far from the mid-market rate. This means you receive less currency for your money.

Currency Brokers: Currency brokers, on the other hand, typically offer rates much closer to the mid-market rate, ensuring that you get more value for your funds.

Suppose you need to exchange £5,000 into euros. If your bank offers a rate that's 3% lower than the mid-market rate, you could lose £150 on the transaction. Using a currency broker with a rate closer to the mid-market rate could save you this substantial amount.

2. Hidden Fees:

Local Banks: Many traditional banks charge hidden fees for overseas transfers. These fees can vary widely and are often buried in the fine print, making it challenging to determine the actual cost.

Hidden Fees Include:

Wire Transfer Fees: Most banks charge a fee for sending a wire transfer to an international recipient. This fee can range from £20 to £50 per transfer, depending on the bank.

Currency Conversion Markup: Banks often apply a margin to the mid-market exchange rate when converting your money to the destination currency. This margin can be as high as 3%, meaning you receive less favourable exchange rates than the actual market rate.

Recipient Bank Fees: In some cases, the recipient's bank may charge additional fees for receiving an international transfer. These fees can vary and are typically deducted from the received amount.

Intermediary Bank Fees: If the transfer involves multiple banks to reach the final destination, each intermediary bank may deduct a fee from the transfer amount. These fees are often unpredictable.

Fixed Service Charges: Some banks charge a fixed fee for processing international transfers, regardless of the transfer amount. This fee can add up, particularly for smaller transfers.

Express or Urgent Transfer Fees: Banks may offer faster transfer options but at a higher cost. These expedited services can come with significant additional charges.

Cancellation or Amendment Fees: If you need to cancel or modify an international transfer, banks may impose fees for such changes, further increasing the overall cost.

Inactive Account Fees: If the recipient's account is inactive or rarely used, some banks may charge fees to maintain the account, and these fees can be deducted from the incoming funds.

It's essential to carefully review your bank's terms and conditions and ask about any potential hidden fees before initiating an international money transfer. These fees can significantly impact the total cost of your transaction and reduce the amount your recipient receives.

Currency Brokers: Currency exchange brokers are known for their transparent fee structures, allowing you to see exactly what you're paying for. This transparency ensures no surprises.

Let's say your bank charges a £25 hidden fee on top of the unfavourable exchange rate mentioned earlier. By switching to a currency broker with a transparent £5 fee per transfer, you instantly save £20 on each transaction.

3. Slow Processing Times:

Local Banks: Overseas bank transfers through traditional banks can take several days to process, causing delays in your transactions.

Currency Brokers: Currency brokers often offer faster transfer times, ensuring your money reaches its destination promptly.

If you need to pay an urgent bill or cover a time-sensitive expense, waiting for your bank's slow processing times can be a frustrating experience. Currency brokers can help you avoid unnecessary delays.

4. Limited Services:

Local Banks: Banks primarily focus on banking services and may not specialise in international transfers, resulting in higher costs and fewer options.

Currency Brokers: Currency exchange brokers are experts in international money transfers and offer a wide range of services designed to cater to your specific needs.

Suppose you're considering multiple international transfers for different purposes, such as purchasing property abroad and sending regular support to family members overseas. Currency brokers offer a versatile solution for all these requirements, often at a lower cost. Lets take a look at our favourite brokers.

wise money transfer


Transparent Exchange Rates: Wise offers the real mid-market exchange rate, which is the fairest rate available. There are no hidden fees or markups, ensuring that customers receive the best exchange rate possible.

Low Fees: Wise charges minimal and transparent fees, making it cost-effective for both one-off and regular overseas payments.

Multi-Currency Account: Customers can hold and manage multiple currencies in one account, hold a credit/debit card allowing them to make payments in various currencies with ease.

Borderless Account: Wise provides a borderless account, enabling users to receive payments like a local in multiple countries. This is useful for individuals supporting family members abroad.

torfx money transfer


Known for its outstanding Personalised Service: TorFX assigns dedicated account managers to assist customers with their currency exchange needs. These managers can provide expert guidance and support for regular overseas payments.

Competitive Rates: TorFX aims to offer competitive exchange rates, often beating the rates provided by banks. Customers can lock in favourable rates for future transfers.

Forward Contracts: TorFX offers forward contracts, allowing customers to secure exchange rates for future transactions, which is beneficial for individuals planning property purchases or regular support transfers.

XE money transfer


Real-Time Exchange Rates: XE provides real-time exchange rate information, helping customers make informed decisions about when to transfer money for the best rates.

XE Money Transfer: XE offers a money transfer service that allows users to send money internationally with competitive exchange rates and low fees.

Rate Alerts: Customers can set up rate alerts with XE to be notified when their desired exchange rate is reached, ensuring they can make transfers at the right time.



Multi-Currency Accounts: Revolut offers multi-currency accounts, allowing users to hold and exchange money in multiple currencies. This is useful for those who need to make regular payments in various currencies.

Low-Cost Transfers: Revolut provides low-cost international transfers with no hidden fees. Users can send money abroad without worrying about excessive charges.

Scheduled Payments: Customers can set up recurring payments with Revolut, making it convenient for sending regular support to family members or for other ongoing financial commitments.

These currency brokers offer a range of services to cater to different needs, whether it's buying property abroad, supporting family members overseas, or making regular international payments.

They often provide more favourable exchange rates and lower fees compared to traditional banks, making them an attractive choice for regular overseas transactions.

In conclusion, the hidden costs associated with overseas bank transfers can significantly impact your finances.

Currency brokers like Wise, XE, TorFX, and Revolut offer a more cost-effective and transparent alternative, ensuring that you receive the best value for your money without any unpleasant surprises.

When it comes to international money transfers, making the switch to a currency broker is a smarter choice that can lead to substantial savings and peace of mind.


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