Financial advice for expats: Bank transaction charges costing British expats millions

More than half of all British expats worldwide are incurring bank charges which are costing them millions each year when they transfer funds from the UK.
A survey of seven banks conducted by independence researchers for the Post Office International Payments revealed that, on average, expats would typically be charged at least £9 by their bank provider for a transfer of £500.
However, this can shoot up to £25 per every transfer of £500 depending on which bank they’re with and it is amounting to annual losses worth hundreds of pounds per customer when bank charges are added to exchange rates.
It means approximately 1.5 million British Expats are collectively wasting £228 million, and so the advice is for them to perhaps look at using a fee-free international payments provider.
The survey found that more than a third of expats interviewed said they transferred funds as regularly as on a monthly basis, with one in five revealing their transfers amount to at least £5,000 each time.
Therefore, when you take into account the incursion charges for transfers of £500, it’s not difficult to see where the money is going when so many expats transfer a sum much greater than that.
This is compounded by the fact that none of the seven banks researched offered customers improved exchange rates when they decide to go ahead with higher value transfers – in fact two banks were found to increase their incursion charges in these instances.
The best advice for expats wishing to save money by avoiding these bank charges is to do their research beforehand. There are a host of websites available which will compare different companies and their fees (if any) making it easy to identify cheaper alternatives than using a bank.
The Post Office can also offer expats free-of-charge transactions when they wish to transfer money from their UK accounts.
Annually, it could save expats anything from £178 in extra costs up to £470 for a Euro transaction of £5,000 – depending on who you bank with.
Of course, these charges are relative to the sum of money of any given transfer. The smaller the sum, the smaller the charge; the larger the sum, the more expensive the charge. However, either way there are savings to be made for expats who are willing to do their homework.
Another astute piece of advice is to try not to be drawn into slogans that appear too good to be true, such as “we offer zero per cent commission”, because the chances are it is too good to be true.
These are typically marketing ploys aimed at reeling you in so the sales people can dazzle you with their charm – of course failing to mention the hidden charges until the transaction is almost signed, sealed and delivered, whereby many expats will probably too exhausted to be bothered to walk out and begin looking elsewhere again.
You’ve got to consider it similar to booking a flight. You wouldn’t do that without doing your homework, shopping around for the best deals and being weary of those hidden charges you only find out about at the last minute, so why do it when you want to transfer money?
This post was written by David Johns works for, a multi-language Spanish property portal showcasing properties for sale, long term rentals, holiday lets, commercial businesses for sale and more.

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