Currencies Direct is a specialist currency broker that can help you send large amounts of money abroad. They were founded in 1996 and are no part of a group that processes around £9.5bn in international money transfers per year.
In this review we:
- Give our ratings based on their nearest peers
- Tell you what we think of them after testing them thoroughly
- Highlight the key costs, facts and figures of their accounts
Currencies Direct Ratings
Research & Analysis
A well-established and competitive currency broker for sending large amounts of money abroad at bank-beating exchange rates.
- Great for large currency transfers
- Get a dedicated account executive to help with transfers
- You can send money over the phone or do transfers online
- Better for large transfers
Currencies Direct Expert Review
A friend recently sent me a WhatsApp asking me what I thought of Currencies Direct. He even included a link to our old review, so clearly, it’s time for an updated version.
Instead of long-winded musings on the currency transfer industry, I thought I’d do this review as a series of FAQs about Currencies Direct to provide short and relevant answers to potential questions people who are considering using them may ask. Why you ask? Well, I’ve been in the currency markets for about 20 years, as both a wholesale currency prime broker and a private client currency broker and these are the questions that people generally asked…
What does Currencies Direct do?
It helps you transfer large amounts of money from one currency and country to another.
What about small amounts of money, is it only for large transfers?
You can send small amounts of money, but to be honest, Currencies Direct is more for larger foreign exchange transactions. A typical customer may be someone buying a holiday home with a couple of large currency transfers for the purchase and then a few recurring smaller transfers aftwards for bills etc.
But can I still send smaller amounts?
Yes, but if you are only sending smaller amounts, you are better off with a money transfer app.
Why is it better for large amounts then?
When you send large amounts of money abroad, you need to think about two things. What the exchange rate will be, and when to send it. Currencies Direct will give you better exchange rates than a bank, and you get more control over when you do the conversion.
You get better exchange rates because the “spread” or “mark up” Currencies Direct charge is better than the banks. Sometimes by about 4%.
If you send £100,000 with your bank, the exchange rate markup can be up to 4% so it will cost you about £4,000 in fees. With Currencies Direct, it should be around £250.
My bank told me there were no fees for sending money abroad.
Well yes, there are no fees charged to you as commission, but they are included in the spread.
Do Currencies Direct charge a fee?
They don’t charge additional fees. They make their money on the exchange rate spread.
What’s the spread?
The spread is the difference between where a currency broker buys the currency and where you buy the currency.
So they mark my price up rather than charge fees?
Yes, take a look at our guide on how to compare exchange rates and come back?
Ok, fine, I’m up to date. But how do I know they are going to give me the best exchange rate?
Just ask them – say verbatim “how far as a percentage will my price be from the mid-market?”. They should give you an answer as a percentage. The more money you want to transfer the lower the percentage will be.
Whatever they come back with, ask for less – remember everything is negotiable.
If they can’t give you a straight answer, just look for another currency broker that can.
No, I mean, how do I know this is the best time to convert money at the current exchange rate?
You don’t, nobody knows where exchange rates will be in the future.
What about currency forecasts and predictions?
They have educated guesses at best. When it comes to foreign exchange it’s very easy to protect yourself from losing money, but very difficult to make money from trying to predict exchange rates.
Ok, fine, but I’m buying a villa in Spain at the moment and I need to pay for it in 6 months and I think now is a good time to buy Euros. Can they help me lock in the currency exchange rate?
Yes, that’s very good question and bravo for thinking of hedging your upcoming currency exposure?
Sorry, yes you can buy Euros now with a currency forward contract. You can lock in the current Euro exchange rate for up to 12 months with Currencies Direct.
Great – but, there is a bit of a snag, I am selling a UK property that won’t complete for a couple of month so can’t afford all the Euros just yet.
That’s fine, when you use a currency forward you only need to put down a small deposit on the full amount you buy. Usually around 10%.
But is my money safe with Currencies Direct?
Yes, Currencies Direct are authorised by the FCA, so they have to keep client funds separate from their money. These accounts are segregated and the money is protected if they or their bankers go bust. But unlike banks and investment accounts there is no FSCS protection.
Is it a big company then?
Yes, Currencies Direct was founded in 1996, they have over 500 employees, and processed about 550,000 payments last year, totalling £7.5bn. Blackrock also invested £150m in Currencies Direct.
They are a massive private equity firm that invests in all sorts of things, they have about $10 trillion of investments.
Ok, fine. But how does Currencies Direct work?
You open an account here by requesting a quote through their website or registering online. Then they will assign someone to look after your account who will help you with the transfer.
Do I have to transfer money over the phone or can I do it online?
You can do up to £25k online, but, one of the main benefits of using a currency broker like Currencies Direct is that you get someone to actually talk to. Most people find this helpful when transferring large amounts of money abroad.
Currencies Direct Facts & Figures
|Transfers||£7.5 billion a year|
|Currency Forwards||12 months|
Currencies Direct FAQ:
If you need to transfer a large amount of money abroad Currencies Direct works like this:
- Request a quote for the transfer
- Open an account via the online application form
- Do the conversion online or over the phone
- Transfer your money to Currencies Direct
- Currencies Direct will send your converted foreign currency abroad
In theory you can transfer as much as you like. The only limitation is on how much liquidity is in the market for the FX conversion you want to do. For most currency pairs this is in the tens of millions so for individuals you should always be able to send as much as you like.
Currencies Direct do not charge fees on top of the exchange rate. They make their money by marking up the exchange rate from the mid-market (which is their fee).
Further reading: How to compare exchange rates.
No. Currencies Direct is a currency broker. When you send money to Currencies Direct they will aim to send it on to a beneficiary as soon as possible.