Author, Andrew Gibson
If you need to transfer money from Spain to the UK, you basically have two choices:
- Use a bank
- Use a currency broker
A lot of people may automatically think of using their bank as it’s more familiar, and they have an account already.
But there are some cost and service advantages when using a currency broker.
The most important factor in an international money transfer from Spain to the UK is the exchange rate. Think of the exchange rate as like the price you are getting.
When it comes to exchange rates, banks are not your friends.
It doesn’t matter whether you are a longstanding customer or not.
The big banks know their customers are essentially a captive audience, and as a result, their exchange rates are terrible.
As a general rule, banks can charge up to 3%-4% more than a good currency broker.
If you are selling a property in Spain for say €80,000, and you want to transfer the money from Spain to a UK bank account, a bank could cost you an extra €2,400 to €3,200.
That’s hardly a trifle amount for anyone. It’s always worth getting an alternative quote to your bank.
How to Transfer Money from Spain to the UK (in 4 simple steps)
You can see below, the process can be broken down into four simple steps.
How long does a bank transfer from Spain to the UK take?
Generally speaking, it should take 2-3 working days.
It can vary because some banks are quicker than others at clearing funds into your UK bank account.
If you have sold a property in Spain and have been given a banker’s draft, that needs to be deposited first. We can help expedite this.
Also if a weekend falls in the middle of your transfer, that can add a little time too (most banks shut down over the weekend).
So there are some variables, but usually, it is fairly quick.
I have found currency brokers are normally more efficient at processing payments than the Spanish banks. Therefore a broker can be faster at getting your money to your UK bank account – sometimes by several days.
Why currency brokers are different from banks
If you don’t want to incur the high costs of using a bank, the best way to transfer money from Spain to the UK is to use a currency broker.
The big banks such as Barclays, HSBC, Natwest and Santander specialise in mortgages and saving accounts.
Foreign exchange and international money transfers are not their core products.
As a result, the exchange rates they offer are usually not competitive, and their staff are not very experienced in this area.
Currency brokers specialise in international money transfers.
For customers, it leads to lower costs and better service.
A currency broker can monitor the exchange rate and let you know when the rate moves in your favour.
Most people don’t have the time or desire to watch exchange rates all day.
You could easily miss a good rate or be unaware of risks that lie ahead.
If you have a specific rate you are aiming for, a currency broker can put in place a rate alert for you.
Should the EUR to GBP exchange rate reach that level, your broker can let you know.
For larger money transfers, even small movements in the exchange rate can make a big difference to the money you will receive.
So it may be worth your while speaking to someone who is experienced at this.
A bank, on the other hand, is not set up to offer you any kind of personalised service.
Can you imagine asking your bank to watch the exchange rate and give you a call when the time is right?
The truth about fake online exchange rates
You have probably seen exchange rates online.
There are quite a few websites now, such as XE, Oanda and DailyFX, that provide live exchange rates, charts and news.
But the bit that most people miss is that the rates shown on these are not actually available to customers.
If you look for the disclaimer (usually at the bottom), it will say something like “for information purposes only” or “not available to consumers”.
The reason is they are “interbank” rates.
As the name suggests, interbank rates are used by banks to settle trades with each other.
Not even huge corporations that trade tens of millions a day, get the interbank rate.
Online rates cause confusion and frustration for customers. Fake rates create false expectations.
I guess it’s a bit like hiring a car.
The advertised rates you see aren’t realistic or achievable.
If you want to get a real exchange rate, then I would suggest you request a quote from a bank or currency broker.
At least that way you can better budget for the future.
How to get the best exchange rate
A currency broker can help you achieve the best exchange rate possible.
As rates change continuously throughout the day, it can be a difficult decision to know when to lock in your rate.
Some currency brokers can assist you with the timing of exchange rates.
No one has a crystal ball, but currency brokers are a lot more familiar with exchange rate fluctuations and related news and events.
As an example, on a transfer of €120,000, even if you achieve a 0.5% rate improvement by trading on the back of some positive news, you would have gained an extra €600.
I should point out that not all currency brokers are the same.
These days there is a growing army of online-only operators, such as Transferwise, CurrencyFair, PayPal or Revolut.
They are effectively ‘do-it-yourself’ platforms or apps.
It suits some people, but not others.
If you have a problem or query, the customer support is via email or webchat.
That’s not going to be a good option for someone with a lot of money at stake.
I have found that for larger money transfers, most people want the peace of mind of being able to speak to someone.
I’ve been there myself. I’ve sent a large chunk of my money abroad.
There was no way I was going to tap in all the details myself and hope for the best.
I wanted another human to check things over, let me know when my money had arrived, and when it was sent out.
Why add stress and worry by trying to do everything yourself?
Watch out for Spanish banker’s draft fees!
If you are sending money from Spain to the UK, the Spanish banks can charge a lot of nasty fees.
One of the worst is on Banker’s Drafts.
Take the common situation of a British ex-pat who is selling a property in Spain…
Upon completion, the seller will receive a Banker’s Draft in Euros from the Notary.
This is still the most commonly used way in Spain for the seller to receive their proceeds.
Now you would think a Spanish bank would allow you to deposit your Bankers Draft for free, right?
No, no, no. Unfortunately, that is not the case.
The major Spanish banks such as Santander, Caixa, Bilbao and Sabadell typically charge you a percentage of your Banker’s Draft simply to deposit it into your own Spanish bank account.
Our research found that the typical fee charged by the big Spanish banks ranged from 0.5% to 1.0%.
Using an example of a €100,000 Spanish property sale, the fee just to cash your Banker’s Draft could be anywhere between €500 and €1,000.
And that’s before you’ve even converted your Euros into Pounds. It’s a rip-off.
Fortunately, we have a solution.
As one of the only currency brokers with operations in Spain, our customers can cash Banker’s Drafts for free.
It a simple way to save money on such an important transaction.
This is not something that is readily available elsewhere as most brokers have no physical presence in Spain.
On the move? … Here’s a 3 minute video summary
Can you avoid international transfer fees? (answer:YES)
When you transfer money from Spain to England, Scotland or Wales, almost all banks (and even some currency brokers) will charge you international transfer fees.
These are generally flat fees charged on every international transfer.
I guess the banks would describe it as a type of ‘admin fee’.
But bear in mind almost all banking is done electronically these days, so the idea that they add on more fees for something that has caused no real cost to them is annoying to say the very least.
International transfer fees tend are normally in the region of €15 to €20 per money transfer.
While not significant, for a customer it’s a bit like rubbing salt into the wounds.
Be aware that some banks charge you twice. A fee for the sending bank, and a fee for the receiving bank.
Currency brokers have different views on this subject.
Many just copy the banks and charge transfer fees too.
At Key Currency, we are one of the only currency brokers that won’t charge you any fees to send money from Spain to the UK.
How safe is it using a currency broker?
New customers often ask is it safe using a currency broker?
Fair enough too. We often deal with life-changing sums.
The key is to make sure you use a currency broker that is Authorised and Regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority
A company Authorised by the FCA has a regulatory obligation to segregate customer money from their own.
What does that mean?
Your money will be held in a separate, safeguarded bank account designated only for client transactions.
- To transfer money from Spain to the UK, you can use a bank or a currency broker.
- You could be up to 3%-4% worse off using a bank.
- It generally take 2 to 3 working days.
- Look out for international transfer and bankers draft fees – they can be hefty.
- Make sure you use a regulated company as they will segregate customer money.
Who are we?
Key Currency is an independent currency exchange broker.
Our rates are highly competitive, and we don’t charge any fees.
We specialise in money transfers from Spain to the UK, particularly on property transactions where costs and timing can make a big difference.
Our rates are highly competitive, and we don’t charge any fees.
From a personal perspective, before I do business with a company, I like to know who I’m dealing with, so here’s some information about us.
I am one of the Directors of Key Currency.
Along with my other Directors, we 100% own-and-operate the company.
All the names, faces and backgrounds of our people are shown on our website. Most currency brokers hide behind a logo, app or mission statement.
Key Currency is Authorised by the FCA (No. 753989) and Registered with HMRC (No.12888761).
We also have a 5-star customer rating on Trustpilot, which is the result of over 900 customer reviews.
If you feel our service could be of use to you, simply request a free quote.