In an increasingly connected world, you might need to send money to friends and family across the globe. Getting a great exchange rate can make a huge difference to the amount of money that your loved ones receive when you send money abroad.
What is an exchange rate?
An exchange rate is the cost of buying one currency with another. For example, if you’re sending money to Nigeria and the exchange rate between British Pound Sterling (GBP) and Nigerian Naira (NGN) is £1 = ₦500, then £10 = ₦5000 in exchange, £100 = ₦50000 and so on.
Check the rate in real-time
Before you make a transfer, find out the real-time rate (mid-market exchange rate) on a service like Monito. High street banks and money transfer providers rarely give you the real-time exchange rate when you send money.
You are usually offered a rate that’s adjusted in their favour by as much as 10% – meaning they’ll take a slice of the total amount you send.
Online transfer companies like Azimo are fair and transparent. In fact, Azimo is up to 90% cheaper than offline providers, because our operational costs are much lower. This makes Azimo one of the cheapest ways to send money abroad.
Avoid money transfers that charge the receiver a fee
The last thing you want is for your loved ones to be charged fees when they go to pick up the funds. Always read the Ts & Cs to check that there aren’t any nasty surprises hiding in the small print. In addition, watch out for misleading exchange rates or a supposedly “commission-free” transfer.
Beware of commission-free money transfers
Some money transfers advertise “zero commission”, in that they don’t charge a fee to change the money from one currency to another. On the surface, not paying any commission seems like the logical way to get the cheapest international money transfers, right? Well, not necessarily.
Sometimes it pays to look more closely at the numbers. Commission-free providers might be hiding an unattractive exchange rate. When they give you a poor exchange rate, they pocket the difference. Read our article about the mid-market rate to understand how this works.
By doing a bit of digging, you may find that paying a commission gets you a better deal and more money for your recipient. That’s why it’s worth comparing the total cost of different providers before you send. Azimo’s pricing structure is really simple. You always get a great exchange rate and pay a single, low fee that is stated in advance.
Don’t transfer money with your bank
Banks and building societies are a great way to store money and we all need the security they provide. But when it comes to sending money abroad, using your bank can be a very costly option.
As well as being incredibly slow at processing international cash transfers, many banks charge multiple fees for transactions of this nature. For more information, read our guide on why you should avoid using your bank when sending money overseas.
Study fluctuation rates
Sometimes you’ll need to send money to your family in an emergency. However, if you transfer money back home on a regular basis, you can monitor currency fluctuations.
The value of one currency can rise and fall due to many factors, including a change in interest rates and how much money is in circulation at a particular time.
Before going ahead with a money transfer, it’s best to check the news to assess the exchange rate and whether political and economic events are affecting it. If the exchange rate is poor because of political instability and you have the luxury of waiting, it’s often better to see if the exchange rate improves over time.
A good example of political instability affecting exchange rates is the impact of Brexit negotiations on the United Kingdom. Uncertainty usually damages currencies. Stability tends to improve them.
Use a limit order to transfer money
When you need to transfer large sums of money abroad, a limit order may be the best option. A limit order lets you set the rate you want and the transfer will only happen when that rate is reached.
Imagine you want to transfer money to Poland for a house deposit. Let’s say the amount is £50,000 and the current rate is £1 = 4.85 zł (Polish Zloty), your money will fetch you 242,500 zł.
With a limit order you may, conservatively, say you only want to make the transfer when the rate is £1 = 5.25 zł. At that rate, you’ll get 262,500 zł instead – that’s roughly 20,000 zł or £4,000 more.
As you can see, using a limit order can be rewarding but you should set realistic rates if you want to benefit in the long run. Otherwise, your order may expire (they usually last up to a year) and you might miss out on other great rates.
Get a forward contract for your international transfer
If you have a forward contract (or forward exchange), in essence it means that you’re locking today’s rate away to use at a later date. It’s an agreement between you and the money transfer provider to buy currency at a later date for a price agreed today.
Forward contracts make planning and budgeting easier as you’ll know exactly how much you’ll transfer abroad. How long the rate is “locked’ depends on the agreement you have with your money transfer provider.
Another advantage of forward contracts is they can freeze the price of certain goods. That could mean buying a house later on at the price you saw it advertised for initially.
Get exchange rate alerts
Similar to a limit order, you can register with Monito’s alert rate service and receive notifications.
For example, if you’re sending money to Nigeria , you can tell Monito to contact you when £1 = ₦ 550. After that, you can simply register with Azimo or log in to your account to proceed with your transfer.
Use a price comparison tool
To find out the true cost of a money transfer, don’t just look at fee-free or mid-market rate offers. Use a price comparison tool like Monito to find out who offers the best overall price. Usually, it’s Azimo.
Azimo’s pricing page shows you just how much you can save by choosing Azimo instead of Western Union or other providers.
Register with Azimo today and you’ll get your first two transfers fee-free (five for Azimo Business customers). Download the app on iOS or Android and enjoy Azimo’s market-leading rates and low, transparent fee on international money transfers.