Running a villa: money transfers

Beware: retail banks charge a fortune

So, the first dilemma is how to get money efficiently from the UK to the USA without paying large and unreasonable charges from my local Natwest bank.  This isn’t a big problem for a small amount, but for frequent and large amounts then it’s time to look elsewhere to keep your running costs low.

A renter, buyer, or general eBay purchaser should never use their bank for FX transfers – they are a bordering on a scam.


Small money transfers

After lots of searches and research I came up with a few solutions.  The first is TransferWise, which charges a low percentage and uses the interbank spot rate.  Up to £300 is only a £1 fee, and higher amounts rise to less than 0.5% fee.  Much better than a bank that charges a fee and also uses a spot rate thats up to 3% lower.

I’ve transferred using Transferwise around 20 times now, and it’s fast and secure every time.  Here’s my personal link so you can get a free transfer of up to £500: Transferwise.

Large money transfers

The second solution is to use somewhere like Frontierpay (The FX Firm), Moneycorp or UXForex.  These usually charge no fee for large amounts, and offer a fairly good spot rate, but not as good as TransferWise.

It turns out TransferWise want around £600 to move large amounts of money from the UK to the USA via FX transfers – because it’s a percentage fee and not capped.  Whilst they are good for values of up to £3000 it soon falls apart after that.

Hence my search for FX transfers continues, but not too far.  I found Frontierpay (formally The FX Firm) offer the best rates at the moment, but it’s close to UK Forex and Moneycorp.  Hopefully I can get a good rate for the transfer of GBP to USD – silly really because the sellers are UK based so the money is wiring around the world purely for USA tax purposes!

Lesson One – don’t gamble with FX rates

Today I learnt a lesson in FX trading. Don’t try your luck. I’d been holding out to see if the rate will increase over the last few days. It did. But when do you stop holding out? Reading the news suggests one thing, the market does another. I put a nice buy point in at which to book a trade, missed by about 0.001, and then the market has slipped continually since. So I waited and rebooked at a much lower rate, only to miss out by an equally small amount as the GBP USD fell again.


I ended up simply ringing the broker and booking it, fed up of gambling and guessing. This is a house purchase after all.

Total difference in the rates and the amount I was transferring came to about 1,500 dollars.

Consider this a lesson learnt, Mr FX. Ouch.


GBP strong against USD

As we wait for the villa survey to complete, inspecting for pesky woodworm, rogue pests, and various structural problems, I can’t help notice that the GBP is nice and strong against the USD. Of course, now that I have written this it will plummet.  Once the survey says “yes you have bought a wonderful house that will last for years and has an indestructible self cleaning pool” then I can look forward to booking a trade with the FX Firm close to the 1.62 point. Strangely, the cash will fly over all the way to the USA only to come wheeling back a month later. The middle men won’t complain.

At least the banks with their huge markup (FX spread) won’t get their grubby hands on my hard earned (read remortgaged) money. 1.55 is a good rate? That would lose me over 9,000 USD!