There’s no getting away from it… When you transfer money to or from Dubai (or any country in the world), it’s going to cost you. But rather than dwelling on that unhappy fact, what the savvy expat (or holidaymaker) should look for is the cheapest method of making those transfers.
Whilst there are many services available offering international money transfers, trawling through all of them can take a long (long!) time. So, using our own personal experience, we’ve put together this guide to help you discover what we believe to be the cheapest and safest currency exchange options open to you.
What to consider before making an international transfer
There are many ways of making international money transfers – either from your home currency into AED (Arab Emirates Dirham), or from AED back to your own home bank account.
However – this is where it really does pay to think ‘buyer beware’. Because in many cases, the transfer can cost you a whole lot more than you bargained for. And the biggest surprise might be that banks are NOT the best option. Let’s discover the reasons why:
Because they charge – and they charge a lot! On the surface it can look to be the easiest way to make transfers. However, not only do they make charges, but the exchange rate they use is likely to be far less favourable than that offered by FX (foreign exchange) brokers.
In addition to this, if your bank uses another bank during the process (common practice), then this bank is likely to charge fees as well. And guess who gets to pay them? Yep – it’s you.
This can mean that in reality you end up paying charges of between 3-5% (or more) on your transaction.
And if that wasn’t enough to put you off, using your bank to make a transfer is slow! Standard transfer from one bank to another can take from 4-6 days. And if you want it faster, then you’re going to have to pay extra.
So what’s the alternative?
Thankfully there is an alternative to allowing the banks to get their hands on your hard earned cash. And these are known as FX brokers.
These are companies who deal directly with the currency markets. In short, they buy and sell currencies. And because they deal direct it means they can offer exchange rates that way out perform that on offer by your bank. And in general, they also offer this service for free. What this boils down to is less fees paid by you for your exchange – typically between 3-5%. And when you’re talking multiple conversions – and larger sums – this can add up to an awful lot of money.
Now, there are loads of these FX brokers out there. But we’ve compiled a list of those that we know offer consistently good rates, have a solid history going back years and are simple and safe to use.
TransferWise was launched in 2011 by the people who built Skype – and Richard Branson is one of their investors. The company is authorized by the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), and their HQ is based in London.
Things we love about TransferWise:
- Simple to use. Simply set up a free account (either with an email or via Facebook or Google), add your ‘to and from’ bank details and away you go.
- Total transparency regarding exchange rate and fees. The first thing you see when checking out a transfer is exactly how much you’ll receive in AED (or from AED to whatever other currency you choose).
- Easy to track the status of your transfer.
- Multiple currencies are supported
Torfx have been offering an international money exchange service for over a decade, and boast 5 star reviews on TrustPilot for doing so. The company has won many awards, including the ‘Consumer Moneyfacts Best Customer Service’ and the ‘International Money Transfer Provider of the Year’.
Things we love about Torfx:
- Easy to set up – either online or by phone (free either way).
- The choice of finding out the rate either online or through your personal Account Manager.
- Transfers can be made online 24/7.
- Safe and secure – authorised by the FCA as a Payments Institution, transacting over £3 billion per year.
- Exchange rates can be fixed for up to two years in advance.
Things we love about FC Exchange:
- They’ve secured exchange rates well into the future, guaranteeing you the best conversion, even if rates fall.
- Excellent customer service with friendly, knowledgeable staff.
- The ability to organise regular payments.
- A simple and obligation free account set up.
Things we love about Currency Solutions:
- Super fast transfers with updates every step of the way.
- The ability to fix a rate for future transfers – and only pay when the time arrives.
- Send small or large amounts at rates far superior to those offered by the banks.
- Regular transfers can be made at a set exchange rate, so you always know the exact amount.
Formerly known as UK Forex, OFX have been in the currency exchange game for 17 years. They exchange 55 currencies and most transfers take place the same day.
What we love about OFX:
- Download their mobile app to track your currency from anywhere.
- Arrange money exchange via the app, online or over the phone
- They have a 24/7 customer support team just a phone call away.
- A simple registration set up that takes only minutes.
Here are our recommendations again: