Best UK accounts to use abroad
Useful for when you first arrive in a new country
- Norwich and Peterborough Gold Classic Current Account – no fees and uses the mid-market rate, meaning if you withdraw cash or use the debit card abroad, you are getting the maximum value for your pounds. Used it in SE Asia, still using it now in Malta. Update: Norwich & Peterborough were acquired by Chelsea Building Society and will cease to operate in 2018, so this is no longer a viable option.
- WeSwap – prepaid card, online based. You load it up with funds via bank transfer or debit card, and convert it to whichever currency you need. Capable of holding multiple currencies at once, it converts at the mid-market rate and takes a fee which varies in size depending how quickly you want it converted (1-1.7%). Full disclosure: as with Transferwise, if you use my link I get a small referral bonus.
- Halifax Clarity Credit Card – like the N&P card above, except it’s a credit card. Never used it so I won’t link it here, but comes highly recommended by MoneySavingExpert and a friend of mine. No cash withdrawal fee either, which is unusual for a credit card.
Transferring money abroad
Useful for paying deposits and transferring money between accounts in different countries.
Skip to conclusion
Author’s note: if you have bank accounts in both the currencies you are converting, then Transferwise is almost definitely your best option – see for yourself:
Online money transfer service – highly recommended by yours truly. I love its simplicity, it has a solid app and uses the actual currency rate as opposed to most banks who use their own rates which results in them keeping more of your money. They make their profits by charging a 1% fee regardless of the amount you transfer.
New online money transfer service inspired by Transferwise. No experience using it but their app has great reviews and they seem to only charge a very small fee. The exchange rate is not as good as Transferwise, but it looks like it works in a lot more countries.
Very well-established, and by far the best to use if you need the money right now and don’t mind paying for the privilege.
“The world’s local bank” seems like the appropriate choice for this comparison.
At the time of writing,and of finding all of these quotes, the XE mid-market rate was:
1.00 GBP = 1.31480 EUR
Mid-market rates: 2016-01-31 16:31 UTC
Transferring £100 into Euros
Winner: Transferwise (€130.19)
2nd: Azimo (€130.11)
Transferring £1000 into Euros
Winner: Transferwise (€1308.55)
2nd: Azimo (€1301.06 from £1001 narrowly beating WU with €1301.99 from £1004.90)
Best Way To Send Money Abroad
Based on what I’ve seen, if they serve the country you’re sending to, Transferwise ought to give you the most bang for your buck. Should you decide to use them, I would be much obliged if you used this link, which gives you your first transfer for free and helps me towards getting a referral bonus:
However, Azimo are a very credible alternative, will give you a decent rate and will almost definitely serve the country you’re sending to if Transerwise don’t. Western Union are a solid third choice. HSBC are miles off the competition before even taking their fees into consideration (which are up to £20 even on their paid accounts such as Premier and Advance), and I would expect most banks to be the same.