The best way to transfer money from the UK to the US

Tilly Michell
2 minutes
Business tipsFinance
The best way to transfer money from the UK to the US
In this article

If you’re a UK business with suppliers, employees or partners in the States, finding the best way to transfer money from the UK to the US can save you a chunk of money and help keep your business running smoothly. 

In this article, we’ll compare different ways to send money from the UK to the US, and help you decide which method is right for you. 

Transfer money via a high street bank 

If you choose to send money from the UK to the US via a high street bank, your bank will complete the transfer via the SWIFT network.  

There are lots of reasons you might choose to send money this way. Firstly, you’ve probably been with the same bank for years and you trust them. Secondly, it’s easy, and doesn’t require any additional research.

However, there are several drawbacks to this type of money transfer: 

1) The cost

SWIFT payments cost between £20 - £25. On top of this flat fee, banks charge between 2.6 - 3.5% above the interbank rate for currency exchange. That means if you send £100,000 to the US, you could be looking at a £3,525 fee before the money gets there!

2) The wait time

SWIFT payments take 1-4 working days to clear, which is frustrating if you’re on a deadline. In most instances, suppliers won't release goods until they have received payment, so slow money transfers can cause delays to your supply chain.

3) The lack of transparency

Banks aren’t always upfront about their fees, and their exchange rates can be confusing. You might not know exactly how much you’re going to be charged until after you’ve transferred your money. This lack of transparency makes it difficult to keep track of the cost of managing your money across borders.

Send money via a money transfer service

Money transfer services like Western Union, Xoom and MoneyGram were designed to help people send money abroad without using the banks. 

This type of money transfer is usually faster than the banks and marginally cheaper. For example, Western Union charges 2% above the interbank rate for international transfers.   

Money transfer services are primarily used by individuals sending money to friends and family abroad. They have an upper transfer limit of £50,000 or less, and are not the cheapest option for businesses.  

Open a multi-currency account

By far the best option for UK businesses that want to send money to the US quickly, securely and cost-effectively, is to open a multi-currency account.

With an Airwallex multi-currency account, you can make same-day transfers from the UK to the US and pay just 0.5% above the interbank rate for currency exchange. That’s 85% cheaper than high street banks and money transfer services. 

Because Airwallex uses a network of local bank accounts to transfer money, rather than the SWIFT network, we’re able to get your money where it needs to go fast and without unnecessary fees. 

The second benefit of a multi-currency account is that—as the name suggests—they allow you to hold many currencies in your account at one time. This is essential for businesses that trade across borders. 

Say your business has customers and suppliers in the US. You can collect dollars from your customers into your account without exchanging them into pounds sterling, then transfer those dollars to your US suppliers when the time comes. This type of money transfer is fast and, best of all, free!

Which option is right for you?

If your business regularly collects and sends money across borders, opening a multi-currency account is by far the best way to cut out high transfer and exchange fees and improve your profit margins. 

A recent Airwallex survey found that 77% of UK businesses want to expand their international presence in 2022. If you’re one of them, sign up for a free Airwallex account, or click below to watch a 3-minute demo video.

Related article: 6 surprising Reasons Why Your Bank Transfer Is Delayed

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Tilly Michell
Content Marketing Manager

Tilly manages the content strategy for Airwallex. She specialises in content that supports businesses in their growth trajectory.

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