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Posted December 12th, 2012 by Charles Purdy

How a currency specialist can save you money at Christmas

Whatever your plans are for Christmas, you will no doubt be thinking about presents, a tradition that takes more organising and costs a bit more if you have relatives that live abroad, or if you yourself live outside of the UK. When you have to pay to package and send gifts to another country, cost soon escalate.

There is an alternative of course, one that more and more expats are opting for, and that is to send money to your loved ones. The benefits are obvious – there’s nothing to wrap, the beneficiary can spend it on something they want and when you make the transfer from the UK, you know when the money will arrive in the beneficiary’s foreign bank account and you can track its progress. But here’s another money-saving tip, the same “gift” you send overseas will cost you less depending on who you ask to send it.

Here’s why. If you ask your bank to send money direct from your Sterling account to a relative’s foreign currency account, the likelihood is you’ll receive a poor exchange rate and have to pay hefty transfer fees. However, make the same transfer through a currency exchange specialist like Smart Currency Exchange, and you’ll not only receive a far more competitive exchange rate than that offered by your bank, typically 2-4 per cent, but the fees you pay will be much less – and fixed, unlike some foreign banks whose transfer fees are a percentage of the value of transaction.

Many people aren’t aware that currency exchange specialists can make lower value transfers, assuming they can only assist with larger value transfers, such as those associated with property purchases or repatriations. Currency exchange specialists will happily save you money on smaller value transfers too. For that matter, if you live abroad and are heading back to the UK for Christmas and need to send some spending money there, you could save money by asking a currency exchange specialist to transfer your foreign currency into a Sterling account in the UK.

Using a currency exchange specialist is so easy too. Much like a bank, you start by opening an account with one – this can be done on-line or over the phone and can take a matter of minutes. When you’re ready to send money back to the UK or vice versa, you simply call your account manager, agree a competitive exchange rate, transfer the required amount of Sterling or foreign currency to the firm’s segregated client account and provide details of the beneficiary account abroad or in the UK where your currency needs to be deposited.

Transfers with a currency exchange specialist typically take just 48 hours to show in the beneficiary account, compared to 4-5 days with a bank. And because there is no minimum amount, once you’ve opened an account you could use the firm to save you money on regular payments, such as having your pension transferred from the UK to a foreign bank account each month. Another useful solution is a forward contract. By paying a small deposit, this allows you to secure an agreed amount of Sterling, or vice versa euros, at a fixed exchange rate, with a year to buy the outstanding balance.

So as a final thought, spending five minutes talking to a currency exchange specialist and opening an account could make your Christmas that little bit cheaper, leaving you some welcome cash to treat yourself to something special in the New Year, perhaps something in the January sales…

For more information on how Smart Currency Exchange could save you money when sending money between your UK bank and a foreign bank, regardless of the value of the transaction, download their free report here.

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