Currency brokers can save you money when converting and transferring large amounts of money abroad for property purchases or business because they offer better exchange rates than banks and advice on when to convert currency. In our guide, we review some of the best currency brokers and explain how to get the best price, execute transactions properly and prepare for sending or receiving large amounts of money to or from abroad.
What's in this guide to the best currency brokers?
Best Currency Brokers 2022
Our picks for the best currency broker accounts are based on over 7,000 votes in our annual awards, our own experiences testing the accounts as well as an in-depth comparison of the features that make them stand out compared to alternatives.
Key Currency: Best currency broker 2022
Key currency is one of the cheapest currency brokers we feature and also won “best currency broker” in our 2022 awards because of their discounted rates. You can send money in 42 currencies around the world, and as well as very large transfers you can send as little as £1,000, and you can lock in an exchange rate for up to a year in advance.
- Excellent exchange rates
- Personal service
- Advice and strategy help
- No currency options
OFX: Best for zero transaction fees
OFX does not charge any fees on top of the exchange rate you get. Exchange rates are of course bank-beating and are based on size, so the larger your transaction the better the rate you will receive.
- Bank beating exchange rates
- Lots of currency available
- Good app and analysis
- No currency options
Global Reach Partners: Best for complicated currency transfers
Global Reach allows individuals and companies to make currency transfers in a wide range of leading currencies as well as a selection of exotics. Using their expert dealing team, you can handle important transfers overseas.
- Expert advice
- Currency options
- Discounted exchange rates
- High minimum transfer
- Part of a large group
- Good exchange rates
- 24 month currency forards
- No currency options
Currencies Direct: Best for customer service
Currencies Direct has a network of 22 offices around the world and serves more than 325,000 personal, business and online selling clients. You can transfer money online, through the company’s app, in one of its branches or over the phone with the help of an account manager. In our 2020 currency broker awards Currencies Direct won best overall currency broker. This was based on the feedback of clients asked to rank currency brokers relative to their peers. Clients voted on ease of use, speed and reliability of transactions, and extra features like mobile apps, customer service and added value.
- Personal service
- Negotiable exchange rates
- Part of a large group
- No currency options
Which currency broker offers the most currencies?
OFX offer over 55 different currencies for large money transfer.
This is another point where currency brokers differ. Some currency brokers can only send money to major destinations, whilst others offer a more comprehensive service and you can send currency to almost anywhere.
It’s important to note that the more obscure the currency or destination, the higher costs and the length of time the currency transfer takes will be.
Major currency routes like euros to Europe of Dollars to American will be cheaper and quicker than sending large amounts of funds to India or China, for example. The banking networks are different and there are additional anti-money laundering rules for different regions.
Which currency broker has the smallest minimum and maximum transfer?
Currencies Direct and TorFX with both let you send as little as £100 abroad. However, it is important to note that if you will only be doing small money transfers you will be better off with a money transfer app. Currency brokers speicalise in transfers above £10,000 so for small deals there may be a fee, some will treat small transfers as a loss leader for larger conversions.
Currency brokers do not have a maximum amount you can send, although the maximum you can convert in one go will depend on the liquidity of the currency pair.
Which currency brokers offers the furthest currency forward contracts?
Global Reach Partners and TorFX will let you do a currency forward contract up to two years into the future. The majority of other currency brokers offer currency forwards up to one year. If you are using currency forwards as part of your overall currency hedging strategy, Global Reach would be the better choice because they also offer currency options.
Which currency broker offers currency options?
Global Reach is the best currency broker we feature that also offers currency options alongside large money transfers for business and individuals.
Which is the most established currency broker?
OFX is the most established currency broker we feature having been founded in 1998
Established currency brokers offers are a little more expensive than start-ups because new providers come to market to undercut the established companies. As such, overall prices are driven down, which is good for the consumer. However, currency brokers that charge so little that they do not make any profit present more of a risk than established currency brokers who operate on health margins and are well capitalised. When choosing a currency broker based on how well established they are, you may find that you pay a premium for security versus opportunistic fintech start-ups. Start-ups also tend to either be heavily focussed on technology, which makes the process very quick and cheap, but offers little personal service. Or, a new currency broker may focus only on personal service with commission-based salespeople. However, personal service comes at a cost, as commission-driven currency brokers may not be the cheapest option.
Which currency broker transfers the most money abroad?
Global Reach sends the most amount of money abroad as an individual entity due to its high net worth and business client base.
Which currency broker has the most customers?
OFX is the largest currency broker by client base with over 1 million customers worldwide. Coming second with around 350,000 clients are TorFX and Currencies Direct (which are both part of the same group).
Compare Currency Brokers
The two key aspects to compare when comparing currency brokers are price and trustworthiness.
- Price – this is the comparison of exchange rates offered by different currency brokers.
- Trustworthiness – currency brokers are not covered by the FSCS so you need to ensure that any currency broker you use can be trusted with your funds
|Currency Broker||Number of Currencies||Min Transfer||Forward Contracts||Same Day||Currency Options||Year Founded||Annual Transfers||Amount of Customers||Get A Quote|
|Key Currency||42||£1,000||12 months||✔️||❌||2015||£2bn||50,000+||Request Quote|
|OFX||55+||£250||12 months||✔️||❌||1998||£2.4bn||1,000,000||Request Quote|
|Global Reach||30+||£3,000||24 months||✔️||✔️||2001||£6bn||30,000+||Request Quote|
|TorFX||40||£100||24 months||✔️||❌||2004||£7.5bn||325,000||Request Quote|
|Currencies Direct||40||£100||12 months||✔️||❌||1996||£7.5bn||325,000||Request Quote|
There is a plethora of currency brokers in the UK and they all essentially do the same thing, and that is; provide access to better exchange rates and faster international money transfers than banks. So how do you choose between them?
What will the service be like?
Personal service from a currency broker is one of the most important factors. Some may say even more so than pricing.
Large foreign exchange transactions can seem very daunting and as a client, you need to make sure that the firm has experienced dealers who understand the process and markets.
It’s obvious that every transaction is very important and that some cases, such as foreign property purchases, can be the largest single transaction for an individual.
Therefore, having someone to talk to directly before a large foreign exchange trade is helpful, and one thing that currency brokers are particularly good at.
After all, not correctly timing and executing a foreign exchange transaction are arguably the largest costs.
Compare exchange rates
Currency brokers are far cheaper than banks for foreign exchange and international money transfers. A bank can charge an exchange rate mark up of up to 5%, while most established currency brokers aim to charge up to 1%.
However, most currency brokers only display exchange rates on their website rather than the mark-up.
There should also be no additional fees for conversions as everything is included in the exchange rate.
Do they offer currency forwards?
Most banks don’t offer currency forwards and they are perhaps the easiest way to reduce risk and protect your money in the foreign exchange markets.
Using a currency broker for a currency forward means you can lock in the current rate for up to one year in advance. You will need to put down a small deposit, but some currencies can move up to 10% a year, so locking in an exchange rate is a very effective way of budgeting.
Check how long transfers take
Banks can take a few days, whereas most currency brokers can transfer funds internationally on the same day.
So if you do a conversion in the morning, a currency broker can send the money and have it in your international beneficiaries account that afternoon.
Sometimes, this can take a little longer due to the procedures of the receiving bank and country; they generally aim to get funds sent from your account as soon as possible.
Can you convert and send funds online?
Some customers, especially corporate foreign exchange clients, are quite happy to convert and transfer currency online. So make sure that your broker can provide you with an online platform for desktop and on mobile so you can check exchange rates, execute conversions and track payments wherever you are, 24/7.
Check they are FCA registered
All financial service businesses in the UK have to be regulated by the FCA, and currency brokers are no different. You can check to see if a currency broker is regulated on the FCA register here.
Being regulated by the FCA means that the broker has been vetted and adheres to certain compliance and client fund safety rules.
Never open a currency brokerage account (or any other financial services account) with a firm that is not FCA registered.
What is a Currency Broker?
A currency broker converts large amounts of money into foreign currency and transfers it abroad. Currency brokers enable customers to save money on foreign exchange transfers, especially when compared to standard bank accounts.
Specialist currency brokers also offer added value services such as same-day international transfers, forward contracts to lock in a currency exchange rate for a transaction in the future, and advice on how and when to convert currency at the best price.
Why use a currency broker instead of your bank?
In this currency broker interview, we discuss what a currency broker does and why it is cheaper to use a specialist compared to sending currency abroad with your bank.
What does a currency broker do?
As well as a currency broker being able to give you much better exchange rates, here, we highlight ten reasons why you should use a currency broker compared to your bank.
- Better exchange rates on large transfers: You’ll get a better exchange rate with a currency broker than your bank.
- Risk management: Banks generally don’t offer forward contracts to lock in an exchange rate.
- Personal Service: A currency broker will offer phone support from an account manager to hold your hand through the process.
- Advice: You can call up a currency broker almost any time to ask for advice and progress reports.
- Timing: With a currency broker, you have more control over the timing of a transaction.
- Price: You can use limit orders and stop-loss orders to get a better price with a currency broker.
- Hedging: Currency brokers offer a variety of ways to protect your foreign exchange exposure with hedging.
- Options: Some currency brokers offer OTC FX options for buying and selling currency.
- Receiving foreign currency: If you receive a foreign currency into a UK bank, they will generally convert it automatically, giving you no control over costs and pricing.
- Transparency: Currency brokers can give you a fixed percentage mark-up on your conversions.
Of course, there are sometimes occasions when a currency broker is not better than your bank. Here are a few reasons why a bank may be more appropriate than a currency broker.
- Small transactions: Sometimes currency brokers will only convert £1,000 upwards, you are better off using a money transfer app for those.
- Convenience: You’ll need to open an account with a currency broker, but you will already have one with your bank.
- Pricing: It will be more expensive to send money through your bank, but if it is just a one-off small amount, the price may not matter, versus the time it takes to open a currency broker account.
- FSCS protection: Currency brokers are not covered by the FSCS (Financial Services Compensation Scheme), so your money is safer at the bank as they have enhanced protection on customer balances.
Currency broker services:
The key services that currency brokers offer are:
- Better exchange rates than bank accounts
- Same day international payments for sending money abroad
- Lock in exchange rates with currency forward contracts
- Personal service and advice on market timing
Better exchange rates
Currency brokers offer better exchange rates than banks because they buy and sell currency on their client’s behalf closer to the live interbank rate. Fees for converting currency are built into the exchange rate and can be worked out as a percentage from the mid-market. For example, if the GBP EUR exchange rate is 1.20000, a high street bank may let clients sell GBPEUR 4% below the mid-market at 1.1520 and let them buy it at 4% above the exchange rate at 1.248. However, a currency broker may offer rates 0.3% from the mid-market, which is exchange rates selling at 1.1964 and buying at 1.2036.
A currency broker will buy and sell currency through banks, however, as they exclusively deal in currency transfers and executive significant volume, they can negotiate better rates for themselves and their clients than if they were an individual conducting a single transaction.
Same-day international payments
Currency brokers can convert currency and send it abroad the same day. Depending on the receiving country and banking system, this means that funds can arrive in foreign bank accounts on the same day they were converted. This is a particular benefit because foreign exchange transactions settle the next day. If you transfer funds internationally with your bank account, it can take several days for the transaction to settle into the foreign currency and then another few days for the funds to be sent and received abroad. Using a currency broker significantly speeds up the transaction cycle of international payments.
Currency forward contracts
Currency brokers can lock in the current exchange rate for transactions that do not need to be done for some time in the future. Most currency brokers offer currency forwards up to a year in advance, but some specialists offer forwards for two to three years. A good example of the use of a currency forward contract is buying a holiday home abroad. If a couple knows they will need to buy EUR 500,000 in six months time and do not want to risk the exchange rate moving against them, they can buy the euros at today’s exchange rate but not have to pay for them until the currency forward settles after six months.
Currency brokers offer account executives to help with the actual conversion, the process of sending funds abroad and advice on market timing. One of the major concerns clients have when transferring money abroad is the safety of their funds and that they will arrive at the destination. Unlike banks like NatWest or money transfer companies like TransferWise, which almost entirely operate online and have no point of contact to discuss transactions with, personal account executives are available to discuss all aspects of a transaction. Account executives can also help explain the best time to buy and sell a currency, if a currency forward may be appropriate, and how to get the best exchange rate when sending large amounts of currency abroad.
Getting the best exchange rate from a currency broker
Follow these steps to ensure you get the best exchange rate and service when transferring money abroad through a currency broker:
Compare currency brokers. The currency brokerage market is very competitive, and currency brokers will try and offer the best exchange rates and service to try and win your business.
Check exchange rate prices. Currency broker fees are built into the exchange rate and can be calculated as a percentage from the mid-market. Prices can vary depending on the size, currency pair, and frequency of conversions. You can use our currency broker comparison table to see the standard costs of each provider and what you can expect to pay. It is also worth noting that all prices are negotiable, so it is worth asking if they can reduce their standard exchange rates for you when comparing brokers.
The cheapest isn’t always the best. Large currency transfers can be very costly if not done effectively. Some currency brokers offer an online-only service with very cheap fees, however, there is value to be placed on having someone to call to ensure your conversion is timed well and that funds arrive at the destination on time. Also, it can take time to open a currency brokerage account, so make sure you choose a currency broker that offers all the services you need. For example, many of the cheapest currency brokers do not offer a personal service or currency forward contracts.
Faster transfers can cost more. For smaller international money transfers, it can cost more for funds to arrive quicker. These can be additional banking fees rather than costs from a currency broker. A currency broker will consolidate all their fees into the exchange rate they offer their clients, and should not charge more for larger transactions. However, if you are only sending small amounts of foreign currency abroad and want it done quickly, the currency broker will have to pay the banking charges, which may not be covered by the fees they charge built into the exchange rate. These fees may then be passed on to the client. When converting smaller amounts of money, it is worth considering if you need it sent quickly or if you are happy to pay a bit more for a faster transfer. A cost-effective option is to use a money transfer provider for small transactions and a currency broker for larger, more complex conversions.
Currency brokers are not free. When you transfer money with a currency broker, all fees should be included in the exchange rate. Included in this will be banking charges, the difference between where a currency broker buys and sells currency, and the costs the currency broker has of running a business.
Currency forward for hedging. If you have an upcoming large currency conversion or transfer, then using a currency forward can potentially save a lot of money. By locking in the current rate for a future transfer, you can protect yourself from the currency exchange rate moving against you and will not have to pay more than you budgeted for your foreign currency.
Currency broker FAQs:
Almost anywhere. Check our currency broker tables to see which currency broker offers the most currency pairs.
In theory, £1, but a currency broker will expect clients to transfer a minimum of £10,000 at some point to make their services cost-effective.
Yes, you can convert and transfer funds over the phone with a currency broker. Dealing online is easier, faster and safer than ever, but you may find having a broker at the end of the phone beneficial, especially for larger currency transfers. However, this may cost you a little more. Pricing is the same as fixed-rate brokers. There are many advantages to doing large currency transfers online, as you can keep an eye on the exchange rate and do the conversion at the exact second the price is right for you. However, for one-off, large, personal transactions, having a dealer taking all the risk or making a mistake on the other end of the phone can make life a lot easier. You can see which brokers offer telephone support in our comparison table above.
Tax is a complex issue and you will need to discuss this directly with your currency broker and financial advisor based on where you are sending currency and what it is for.
Yes, currency brokers will let you transfer and convert money in any currency they offer. So, for example, you can convert GBP to EUR, then EUR to USD, and then USD to JPY.
In most circumstances, it is possible to open a currency broker account online and be ready to transfer funds that day. However, in some cases, it can take longer.
When transferring large amounts of money abroad, currency brokers have to conduct anti-money laundering checks before any transfer can be made. This usually takes place when you open your account, where a currency broker will ask what type of transfers you will be making, what they are for, and where the funds are from and going to. This may seem intrusive but it is very important to provide any information you are asked for promptly. If you do not, it may cause a delay in your account being opened and your ability to transfer funds abroad.
If you have a particularly complex transaction to an exotic destination, the process can take some time whilst checks are being made. This is one of the rare occasions when you must decide if your bank can make the transfer on time, at a higher cost, or if you can wait for your currency account to be in place and take advantage of their reduced fees.
The best way to ensure that your international money transfer arrives on time is to open a currency brokerage account before you need it and be absolutely upfront about what the transfer is for and provide all the necessary supporting documentation beforehand.
Our guide on preparing for a large currency transfer goes into more details about the process.
Currency brokers make money by widening the spread between the price at which they buy currency and the price you buy it from. Banks can charge a spread of up to 4% for currency transfers. Currency brokers charge around 0.5% for transactions above £10,000. Currency brokers will charge a smaller spread margin for larger currency conversions.
In the past, currency brokers would charge a commission on top of the fees included in the exchange rate. However, as the market has become more competitive, this is no longer commonplace.
When you use a currency broker, your funds are not protected by the FSCS, which guarantees a certain amount of a customer’s account balance, should an investment or savings account provider go into liquidation. When choosing a currency broker, you should ensure that your funds are held in a ring-fenced, segregated account that is separate from the firm’s operational activities. This offers more protection than if your funds were mixed with the brokers, but does not guarantee complete protection. Make sure your money goes in and out of the currency broker as quickly as possible.
Currency brokers are not the same as forex brokers. Forex trading brokers are used for speculating on the price of currency markets and can be used to hedge currency exposure with derivative contracts like futures, options and swaps. Currency brokers are different because they do not offer speculative services; currency brokers only provide currency conversion for buying and selling foreign currency for international payments. Currency brokers can offer hedging facilities through currency forward contracts, but currency forward transactions settle on a specific date to reduce risk, rather than speculate for profit.
Currency brokers versus money transfer apps
Currency brokers are often confused with money transfer companies, foreign exchange brokers and currency exchange specialists. The key differences between the different types of service are:
- Currency brokers – large international transfers
- Money transfer firms – small international transfers
- Foreign exchange brokers – speculation on currency movements
- Currency exchange specialists – converting physical cash currency
Money transfer providers are generally better for small regular transfers and currency brokers for large currency conversions. Some currency brokers will offer the facility for their clients to make small regular currency transfers as part of their overall service, but would not generally accept clients that only do small transactions.
Often, the minimum transfer a currency broker would expect a client to do would be upwards of £10,000. This is because it is not cost-effective for them to onboard clients that would not generate enough revenue to cover the cost of maintaining the account. On the contrary, money transfer providers can provide quicker onboarding and lower fees for small transfers because as the amounts transferred are generally less than £10,000, they do not have to conduct such stringent anti-money laundering checks.