Sending money home

If you’re one of the many Commonwealth Service men and women working in the British Armed Forces, there are several ways to send money home and no shortage of firms competing for your business. Stay MoneyFit and choose the right one to meet your needs.

Sending money from your pay

You can choose to have a portion of your pay sent to a bank account at home every month for the essential welfare of your immediate family or other dependants – speak to your Unit HR.  The MOD will either transfer funds directly into your nominated bank account or reimburse reasonable costs where you have to arrange the transfer of funds separately.

Banks, money transfer firms and foreign exchange (FX) brokers can all help you get your money home to your family. Here’s an overview of how they work and how you’re protected, to help you choose what’s best for you. 

Choosing how to exchange your money

The best way to send money overseas depends on a number of factors including:

Money fitness tip

The cheapest and easiest way to send money overseas is likely to be through your bank especially if they have a branch abroad. 

  • How much you’re sending
  • How much it is going to cost
  • How often you are sending it
  • How the person wants to receive it
  • How quickly the money needs to get there  

Follow these steps to help you get a good deal that is right for you:

Step 1 – Look at your options

There are three main options for sending money:

As a general rule - banks are safe and convenient for regular payments. 

Money transfer firms are very fast, but can be more expensive if sending smaller amounts. 

FX brokers are normally the best option if you're sending larger amounts, usually over £3,000.

Step 2 – How much will it cost?

Find out how the total amount of foreign currency your pounds will buy, after all costs.

How much it's going to cost you to transfer money abroad is obviously important. The costs fall into three parts.

  • Foreign exchange rates - these will change throughout the day so if you’re comparing different offers, try and do it within a short space of time
  • Sending fees - what the firm will charge you for transferring the money
  • Receiving fees - charges the receiver might have to cover to receive the money but you can ask to cover these at your end

Fees can vary depending on how much you decide to send, for example some exchanges offer better rates if you send more than £5,000.

An easy way to start is to get a quote from you bank to compare to others you get and using FX brokers using a site like FX Compared.

Money fitness tip

Always check you money transfer firm is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Step 3 – Confirm all the details

Once you have found the best value option, you will need to confirm the company can handle the amount you want to transfer and in the time frame you want. If possible, make sure you get this in writing (either by post or email).

You might also want to check if your money transfer firm or FX broker is Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) authorised. If you’re sending a lot of money, it’s good to know you’re protected.

Make sure you keep all the paperwork and receipts in case something goes wrong.

Money fitness tip

Keep your receipts safe until you are certain the person you've sent the money to has got all the money they were expecting in full, just in case something goes wrong

How to check whether a firm is authorised

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) keeps a list of all authorised and registered firms. Search for a firm on the Financial Services Register.

If a firm isn’t on the register it’s not necessarily bad news. It might be because the firm is based in another EU country instead of the UK.

Check the firm’s paperwork – it should give the details of which country has authorised the firm.

Or, you can check on EU authorisation through the Financial Conduct Authority’s consumer helpline on 0800 111 6768.

If a firm isn’t registered with the FCA – or another EU regulator – you should avoid it, as it might be operating illegally.

Sending money safely - get it in writing

A safe and legal money transfer firm or broker should give you plenty of information – in writing – before and after you make a payment. You should get documents that tell you:

  • what exchange rate will be used
  • what charges and fees to expect
  • a reference number for completed transfers
  • how the person you’re sending money to can collect it
  • confirmation of the transaction details, including the final cost and exchange rate and how long it will take for the money to be transferred.

What to do if things go wrong

If a firm loses your money – or you have another complaint – the first step is to get in touch with them and give them the chance to make things right.

If they can’t sort your problem out, you can bring your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

They’ll investigate and if they find the firm has been unfair, the Ombudsman has the power to order them to repay you the money you have lost.

Alternatives to sending money overseas

For many purchases and payments – like online shopping from overseas stores – a credit or debit card is a convenient alternative to money transfers.

Avoid sending a foreign bank draft (similar to a UK cheque) overseas. It’s going to be slow and expensive, because you’ll have to pay foreign bank charges (and possibly UK bank handling charges).

Last reviewed: 09/11/2018