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Don't use a high street bank for transfers

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Don't use a high street bank for transfers

The world has become a much smaller place in the last few years, so both businesses and individuals are routinely transferring money to far-off destinations all the time.

But since there are so many options available to people who want to move funds around the world, it is now very important they research the market thoroughly and find out exactly what is on offer.

A cursory look at the many organisations that handle international currency transfers can throw up some interesting differences between them, which could ultimately determine which one a person would like to take on the job of moving their money.

Consumers are probably used to dealing with their high street bank first and foremost when they are managing their finances. After all, they can be a one-stop shop for all sorts of services.

However, banks tend to add a number of charges to foreign currency transfers, such as commission fees, while the cost of moving money varies depending on which country it is being sent to.

People who are looking to transfer money abroad might therefore prefer working with an organisation that specialises in foreign exchange services, as they can offer a far more competitive service. For instance, consumers can pay a flat rate regardless of which destination they are moving funds to and avoid commission charges completely.

This means that much more of a person's money will actually be transferred to their chosen destination, rather than spent on covering various charges.

For those who are transferring money from the UK to other countries on a regular basis, this could potentially help them save a great deal. Some people have to make international currency transfers frequently to cover the costs of an overseas mortgage, or to pay utility bills or make pension contributions.

Consumers cannot always afford to make these necessary expenses more costly than they need to be, so looking beyond high street banks and towards foreign exchange specialists can be a very wise move.

Another reason to go with the experts is the sheer quality of the service a person is likely to receive. Banks will be more interested in transferring money quickly and efficiently than in maximising its value.

By contrast, foreign exchange specialists will be keeping a beady eye on the financial markets all day every day, so they can time a transaction or movement of funds perfectly to make the most of favourable rates. This ultimately means that a person ends up with more money in their pocket.

Even if people have extensive interests in countries outside the UK, they do not necessarily have the time to devote to monitoring foreign exchange rates. But this is the bread and butter of specialist brokers, for whom getting a great deal for their client is in their best interests.

With the continuing global financial crisis ensuring the financial markets remain quite volatile, getting the timing of a money transfer right can be vital if people want to avoid losing out as a result of currency fluctuations around the world.

Banks may offer speed and convenience, but this is not necessarily what a person wants or needs if they are moving large sums of cash internationally. They want to be given a bespoke service tailored to their specific requirements and be able to access expert advice and opinions at all times. Brokers are far better placed to meet these requirements than banks.

According to figures from Currencies Direct, the cost of a regular transfer can be up to £30 at HBOS and £20 at Lloyds TSB, while people can expect a fee of up to £27 from NatWest. By contrast, Currencies Direct does not charge any fee at all, while Moneycorp charges just £4.

Currencies Direct has been among the organisations urging Britons to research the market when they want to make international payments.

Mark O'Sullivan, spokesman for the company, called on consumers to "look beyond the perceived sanctity of their banks" and "wake up to the benefits of shopping around". This, he said, can help them save hundreds of pounds on transfer fees and even more on exchange rates.

Mr O'Sullivan stated that banks simply cannot compete with specialists when it comes to providing foreign exchange services, partly because they do not have access to wholesale exchange rates. Indeed, he said the rates on offer at high street outlets are "uncompetitive" and can lead to people losing a "significant chunk of their cash".

Furthermore, he stated that banks have hiked up transfer fees in the last few years even though transferring money around the world does not bring with it any "real cost" for these companies.

While the majority of international money transfers do take place at high street banks, it does appear as if more and more people in the UK are waking up to the fact that other organisations can provide a much better and far more personalised service.

According to Mr O'Sullivan, a growing number of overseas property buyers in particular are "embracing" opportunities to make the most of their money by looking towards foreign exchange specialists.

"The high street banks should not be the first port of call for anyone making an international money transfer," he added.

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