How to send money abroad – from your bank, for less

24th May 2018
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In a global economy, sending money abroad should be simple, fast, safe, low cost and transparent. You don’t want to worry about hidden markups or unfair exchange rates – and you want to be sure that your money will safely reach wherever you’re sending it.

Starling International Payments allows you to send money abroad directly from your Starling bank account. No additional apps or sign-ups, just straightforward international bank transfers from your current account with competitive low-cost prices. The way it should be.

This feature of the app gives you the ease and peace of mind you need, especially if you:

  • own a business and are seeking to pay overseas suppliers
  • are expats living in the UK remitting payments to their home country
  • own property abroad
  • make regular international payments for a pension or mortgage in another country
  • need to make a one-off purchase overseas of up to £10,000
  • are working abroad for a defined period
  • simply want to send money as a gift to family and friends on the other side of the world

Bank to bank transfers

Sending money directly from one bank to another is usually the quickest and most secure method of making international transfers of money to and from the UK. But high street banks have traditionally added a markup to the exchange rates they advertise, which can mean you are hit by unexpected fees on the money you are moving into a different currency. It is part of the reason that banks have earned a bad reputation. We think it’s time to change that.

Starling’s International Payments service is generally cheaper than the traditional banks and highly competitive with non-bank services such as Transferwise or Revolut. And because we’re a bank, and not simply a foreign transfer service, our users have the reassurance of knowing we are regulated by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Our customers also have protection from the Financial Services Compensation Scheme on eligible deposits of up to £85,000.

Transparent and fair fees

So how do we manage all this? Other banks and international payments services often add a markup to the exchange rates they advertise. We don’t – and we never will. The exchange rate we quote you is the real market rate and we’ll use that to make the exchange into your currency of choice. The real market rate is the mid-point between the buy and sell rate on the global currency market and it fluctuates. We’ll guarantee your exchange rate for one minute, even if it changes. We think it’s only fair.

Like all sensible businesses, we want to be able to cover our costs so we can continue offering the best services to our customers. So we apply a 0.4% fee to the transaction. That works out at 40p for a £100 transaction. Compare that with flat fees of up to £25 at some high street banks.*

* See Foreign Currency Exchange at Money Saving Expert.

You can choose whether to make a quick and straightforward bank-to-bank payment with SWIFT, a global network of financial institutions, for a flat rate fee of £5.50. Or, you can opt to send your payment via our network of local partner banks – for some currencies this can take a little longer but it means we can offer transfers to you for as little as 30p per payment.

Because we want to be completely open about our fees, we deduct them before conversion. Our in-app currency calculator shows you exactly how much you’re spending.

It’s worth noting that like most of us, the global currency market takes weekends off. This means that, like many other banks, we’ll only be processing international transfers from 02.00 Monday to 22.00 Friday.

How long does it take?

When you make an international transfer via the app, we’ll give you an estimated delivery date for when your recipient can expect to receive the money. This is based on the country and currency you wish to send to and the delivery method you choose.

Priority delivery via SWIFT is the most direct option, and will take anywhere between one and three working days depending on the country and currency you’ve chosen to send to. Alternatively, if the option is available, you can transfer via a local partner network, which is always cheaper and in most cases delivered on the same day as the SWIFT transfer.

Where can I send money?

If you’re an iOS user, you can send money to 37 countries in 19 currencies; if you’re an Android user, you can send money to 39 countries in 21 currencies. For both personal and business accounts, you can transfer up to £10,000 a day.

The person or organisation you are sending the money to will need to provide you with their International Bank Account Number (IBAN), which they can get from their bank. For SWIFT payments they will also need to provide you with the Business Identifier Code (BIC) for their bank. These codes show who and where in the world banks are. It’s important you check you have these details right to avoid your payment being rejected and the possibility of any charges from the receiving bank.

We can’t currently process International payments sent from Starling to cryptocurrency accounts and so the money sent will be returned to your account.

What about receiving money from abroad?

You can receive Sterling and Euro payments from abroad straight into your Starling account. The person or organisation sending you money will need to send the payment to you using your IBAN and the BIC, which you can find and easily share with them from the Account Details section in our app.

When making the payment they might be given the choice of sending Sterling or Euros.

If the account the money is being sent from is a Euro account, the money can be converted to Sterling before the payment is made but the sender may incur a cost. To make sure you receive the amount intended, you’ll need the sender to make allowance for any fees their bank might apply.

Alternatively if they choose to send Euros, when we receive the payment in Euros, we will convert the amount received into pounds before depositing it to your account on the same day. We convert the Euros received using a rate set for the day – this is based on the global foreign exchange market but is not the real or mid-market rate. This means if you send Euros to your Starling account you will likely receive fewer pounds than you might expect based on a mid-market calculation.

We’re not currently able to receive USD payments or any other currency into your Starling account, but don’t worry – we’re working on it!

More than just an FX service

But that’s not all. When you download the Starling Banking app to send money abroad, you’ll create a free personal or business current account (or both!). You may be surprised at how many great features this will offer you, including interest paid on your mobile-only current account. We give you the digital tools to help you manage your money including real time transaction notifications to your phone, daily spend and monthly spending insights by category and merchant.

We're making it easier to send money abroad

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