Foreign exchange: Transferwise

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martyn94
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Foreign exchange: Transferwise

Post by martyn94 » Tue 04 Feb 2014 04:34

I have to make transfers in and out of euros, like many people here I guess. I have long used an online broker rather than my banks, and been happy enough. But I recently came across transferwise.com, who claim to transfer using middle-market rates plus an explicit, and extremely competitive, fee.

The good news, on my limited experience, is that their rate is as good as they say, and the fee is as low. What I did not realise, because it is not quite spelt out upfront, is that they achieve this by matching their transactions: your transfer from £ to €, say, is not completed until they have accumulated enough transfers from € to £ to balance it. My first transaction from £ into AUD went through immediately (presumably they had a backlog in the other direction): my second, around £5000 into €, was done on Monday, early, and is predicted (but not guaranteed) to be completed on Thurs. This is based on their projection from past transaction flows.

This is not, as it happens, particularly important in my case but obviously it could be tricky for bigger or more time-critical transfers. You can pay extra and have them buy the money in the market to complete the transaction immediately, at the cost of a significantly higher fee (though purely from memory, a significantly lower one than that implicit in the rates used by other fx brokers).

To sum up, it is outstandingly cheap for non-time-critical transfers, and I will continue to use it to make transfers between my own bank accounts. But it has cons as well as pros. If anyone else uses it, I would be interested in feedback on just how long it takes, and particularly on how the costs compare if you use their faster, higher-cost service.

I have, needless to say, no connection except as a customer. If I refer you to them, there is a small perk for both of us, but on balance I think I'd rather do without.

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Kate
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Post by Kate » Tue 04 Feb 2014 09:47

How does that compare to Currencies Direct, Moneycorps etc? is it similar?

martyn94
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Post by martyn94 » Tue 04 Feb 2014 10:29

Kate wrote:How does that compare to Currencies Direct, Moneycorps etc? is it similar?
The story is on their website. But I think they are significantly different: in the ordinary way, they simply match your desired transaction from £ to €, say, with other customers' desired transactions from € to £. Both parties get the same middle-market exchange rate and they charge a small fee. The result seems to be very much cheaper than banks, and quite a lot cheaper than conventional brokers like those you name. But you can only tell by seeing what they offer for real transactions. That is why I posted: I am happy with my transactions so far (subject to the possible delays that I mentionned), but I would be interested to know how others fare if they care to try.

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Post by Kate » Tue 04 Feb 2014 12:29

I''ve just transferred some money with one of the above mentioned companies and I admit to having been underwhelmed. They pushed me to sell just before NY when I had been told by friends to wait, then I watched it go up a full two points. Got the feeling they just wanted me to get it out of the way so they could get their com and run, rather than be actually interested in getting me a the highest reasonable rate - tho I am aware they can't know how it's going to go.....but should maybe have had a better idea and advice than that. On the other hand I admit useless with money and just wanted to get it and spend it!! :twisted:

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Post by martyn94 » Tue 04 Feb 2014 23:57

Just to bring my first post up to date: my transaction was completed yesterday in the event. A bit more than one working day, at a rate of 1.2064 and a fee of £23 (for changing about €6600). I queried their customer service about the scope for delay and it seems that they guarantee completion within 48 hours: if that is on their website, it is very well hidden, so to that degree they are underselling themselves.

The rate they gave me seems to be a very fair reflection of actual middle-markets over the last few days, and the fee is less than my bank would charge just for moving the money, quite apart from the generous margin built into their exchange rate. My customary fx dealer (caxton fx) would currently be costing about £60 for the same transaction.

All in all, warmly recommended. It is of course execution-only: they do not purport to give advice on when to transfer or how rates will move in future. But worrying about that seems to be pretty much a mug's game for us civilians.

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Post by martyn94 » Fri 07 Mar 2014 17:42

Another update: I just transferred about £45000 to pay a builders' bill. The rate they gave me was dead on the middle-market rate at the time of the transfer. They charged about £220 explicitly: the charge implicit in the rate quoted by my previous FX dealer (within about 15 minutes) was around £500. So I remain a happy bunny.

Any more savings that big and I will be bust. Happily the future bills should be smaller.

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Post by Sue » Tue 25 Mar 2014 15:04

Transferwise charge 0.5% on large sums of money, does anyone know what Currencies Direct and Money Corps charge.
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Post by opas » Tue 25 Mar 2014 15:47

fed ex and money corp I think are free on ammounts over £3000
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Post by martyn94 » Tue 25 Mar 2014 15:56

They may not make an explicit charge on large transfers: most of the cost is built into the rates they quote (ie compared to the middle-market rate used by transferwise). My own previous supplier (Caxton FX) is currently quoting a rate which costs very close to 1% on £10,000.

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Post by martyn94 » Tue 25 Mar 2014 16:10

opas wrote:fed ex and money corp I think are free on ammounts over £3000
Whether they make an explicit charge or not is only the beginning: you also need to consider how good their rate is compared to the middle-market rate (which you can find on eg xe.com).

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Post by Allan » Wed 26 Mar 2014 00:53

I have always used World First who have always had the edge over Moneycorp and others, certainly on the amounts that I change.

They were previously quoting rates about 0.75% less that the mid market rate.

Thanks to Martyn's posts about Transferwise, I renegotiated and now get the same rate as him, I.e. 0.5% below the mid-market rate.

One slight difference is that my rate is fixed at the time of the deal.

I don't use Transferwise but their rates do seem to be the cheapest quoted by any of the principle players and way better than a high street bank.

If you don't want to change currency broker, at least use their rates to get a better deal.

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Post by Sue » Wed 26 Mar 2014 07:31

Thanks all for your replies. What I am trying to find out is how the commission charge varies between each company.
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Post by martyn94 » Wed 26 Mar 2014 08:13

Sue wrote:Thanks all for your replies. What I am trying to find out is how the commission charge varies between each company.
The only way you will find out is by sticking your proposed transaction into the different websites and seeing what they offer: most charge no separate commission, but offer a less-good exchange rate.

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Post by martyn94 » Wed 26 Mar 2014 08:24

Allan wrote:I have always used World First who have always had the edge over Moneycorp and others, certainly on the amounts that I change.

They were previously quoting rates about 0.75% less that the mid market rate.

Thanks to Martyn's posts about Transferwise, I renegotiated and now get the same rate as him, I.e. 0.5% below the mid-market rate.

One slight difference is that my rate is fixed at the time of the deal.

I don't use Transferwise but their rates do seem to be the cheapest quoted by any of the principle players and way better than a high street bank.

If you don't want to change currency broker, at least use their rates to get a better deal.
Another difference with using Transferwise (and not negotiating each deal) is that you can just do it all online. I am in the middle of paying a lot of bills - different payees, "funny" amounts - and this is a major advantage.

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Post by Allan » Wed 26 Mar 2014 08:33

Sue wrote:Thanks all for your replies. What I am trying to find out is how the commission charge varies between each company.
I'm not sure that such a comparison is possible. All the main players that I have dealt with are all prepared to match each other's rates.

Forget about commission charges or rates, the only number that matters is how much money you end up with after the trade.

There are comparison websites but they survive by taking a commission from the companies they recommend so they can only be considered a rough guide.

I now have an agreed fee structure with World First so trade online but I used to email for a rate and then phone and haggle.

Another major factor is the amount of the trade, generally the larger the amount, the more you end up with. Even the major banks are much more competitive for large sums if you can get past their call centres. Normally you need to be a private or business client to do this.

Each person's needs are different, I'd depends very much on how much you are transferring and how often.

What I do know is that I have discovered a sure fire way to manipulate exchange rates, they always improve just after I make a transfer

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Post by Sue » Sat 12 Apr 2014 19:29

I would like to thank Allan for all the help he gave us recently with regard to the transfer of money. With his help we used World First to transfer monies from the UK to France and must say they were a pleasure to deal with. Our own Bank in the UK couldn't have been less helpful. It was a stressful time for us as my mother in law passed away in the middle of the transfer of funds but World First were so understanding that we cant thank them and Allan enough.
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Post by montgolfiere » Tue 23 Sep 2014 09:00

Just made my first Transaction with Transferwise. I got a net rate of £1.00 = 1.267€ (which included the £4.98 'fee'.) It was reasonably 'simple', (after i had got through my own UK Banks Security Systems!!), and it took less than 48hrs. and was a much better deal than Paypal or my own bank / Cash machines etc.....

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Post by martyn94 » Tue 23 Sep 2014 09:48

I have done a number of transfers since I first posted. The rates are still as good as Montgolfiere says, and the ipad app is much improved. You can pull up your existing payees or add new ones, and send a precise amount in the target currency. I sent eg €1234.56 to a builder at 2100 last night sitting at a cafe table, which is as convenient as such a process can reasonably be.

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Post by Pighunter » Tue 23 Sep 2014 12:21

I always use a friend of mine Mike Paterson who gives good rates, advice and daily updates of what is going on in the currency world.

Worth contacting him for a quote Mike <mike@mspfx.co.uk>

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Post by martyn94 » Wed 01 Oct 2014 14:01

Pighunter wrote:I always use a friend of mine Mike Paterson who gives good rates, advice and daily updates of what is going on in the currency world.

Worth contacting him for a quote Mike <mike@mspfx.co.uk>
That's fine if you are happy, and even better if you get "mate's rates". The problem for most of us is that you can only tell how good a rate you are quoted by a conventional FX dealer by comparing it with the middle-market rate at (roughly) the time you got your quote.

The advantage of Transferwise for me, apart from the fact that you can transact online, very easily, 24/7, is that their "cut" is completely transparent: they give you the middle-market rate and charge 0.5% explicitly (a bit more for small transactions).

As before, I have no connection beyond being a satisfied customer. I'm sceptical, for myself, about the value you might get from advice about the markets. If you have worthwhile insights on that, you can make your living sitting by a pool in Marbella, without dealing FX for other people in Tunbridge Wells

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Post by Pighunter » Wed 01 Oct 2014 19:31

Yeah well, skeptical you may be, I would suggest cynical - I only suggested that you get a quote from him, if you don't want to don't bother.

And by the way I don't get mates rates but he has always given me excellent advice and service which counts over a few quid saved in my book.

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Post by martyn94 » Wed 01 Oct 2014 21:54

Not cynical so much as lazy. I don't want to do my head in by worrying whether to convert today or next week, even if I had the choice. If a bill has to be paid, it has to be paid: I don't need advice about that. In those circs, I just want a cheap quick transfer at a good rate.

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