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£30 to £3,000: how to get the best value for your money transfer

Finding the cheapest way to send money abroad isn't always straightforward. Should you choose a broker, bank or money transfer agency? Will you be charged a flat fee or a percentage? And how do you know you're getting the best exchange rate? Often, finding the best deal depends on how much you're transferring.

£30

Because this amount is below most brokers' minimum transfer, the cheapest way to transfer small sums abroad is by using an e-wallet, and PayPal offers the best deal. Its cross-border fees vary depending on where you are and which country you're sending money to. The cheapest is just 0.3%, or 9p for £30, while the most expensive is 3.3% and comes to 99p for £30.

Most banks charge a flat fee, usually around £10, which cuts the value of your £30 transfer by a third. HSBC's fee is by far the lowest at £4. Some banks do offer free solutions. For example, international transfers are fee-free provided that they're between two HSBC accounts, and Barclays' Pingit mobile payment service offers free transfers to selected countries. Specialist credit cards like Halifax Clarity charge no transfer fees, but standard credit card interest rates apply.

£300

When making transfers of this value, it's best to do some research first. Depending on the circumstances, banks, brokers and e-wallet systems all offer competitive rates. Percentage-based fees start to creep up in value here: while PayPal's lowest fee is still a very affordable 90p for £300, the more expensive 3.3.% charge now comes to almost £10. With this is mind, HSBC's £4 fee begins to look appealing.

Some brokers will often charge no fee for transfers of £300. Others do, but their exchange rates may be better. To be sure you're getting the best deal, compare their rates on our website before you buy.

£3,000

For larger sums, brokers invariably offer the best value. On average, their exchange rates are 4% better than high street banks, and there are rarely fees added to transfers of this size. Because they transfer large sums regularly, they're able to negotiate the most competitive rates. And with tools like forward contracts and spot trades, you can lock in prices for a fixed term and take advantage of market fluctuations.

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Richard Wilson, London

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When buying a villa in Spain, The Money Cloud saved us over £5,000 in comparison to the quote from our bank.
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