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As you can probably imagine, I get approached by a number of currency exchange companies wishing to promote their businesses. As someone who regularly transfers money from the UK, I have always been curious as to the benefits of using these firms instead of my bank, but have stuck to what I know due to a lack of knowledge.
So when a good friend of mine put me in touch with the managing director of Currency Index, I thought it might be a good time to do an interview, ask some pertinent questions and make a cheeky enquiry as to what the Euro / Sterling exchange rate may do over the coming months. On with the interview:
How would I benefit from using a currency exchange firm to move money to Portugal, rather than my bank?
Essentially, it’s about better exchange rates and lower charges. When you use a bank to transfer funds abroad, even if they offer you a ‘commercial’ exchange rate, you will usually find that a currency broker will be able to beat the exchange rate by anything up to 4%. Needless to say, that can make a huge difference if you are transferring a large sum. In addition, a currency company will alert you when rates are good, and work with you to try to minimise your exposure to the markets; not a service that you will find banks offering.
Can I have a real world example? Say I wanted to move £10,000 from the UK, right now – what could you save me?
Banks vary so much that it is hard to say. This morning we have sold Euros at 1.2161, so £10,000 would buy you €12,161 – and checking NatWest’s commercial rate this morning which is 1.1941, the same amount of Euros would cost £10,184.24, so a saving of £184.24. Against a tourist rate, which some banks give even for larger amounts like this, the saving could be as much as £400.
Is there any benefit to using a currency exchange firm for a regular monthly transfer – say £1000-2000 per month?
Yes – although the saving on the exchange rate is obviously less for smaller volumes, the difference adds up over time. And a UK bank will charge anything up to £40 for an international transfer – that’s £500 per year in bank charges which can be eliminated or vastly reduced by using a currency company.
How do you make YOUR money?
Since Currency Index buys and sells large volumes of currency on a daily basis, we can command a wholesale rate from our counterparties. With a small margin applied, which keeps the lights on in the office, this means we can offer very good rates to our clients but still have a small margin in the transaction. Effectively, we are doing the same as a bank would when selling you currency, just at a smaller margin, so there’s no need for us to charge commission on top.
How do I get started?
Simple – you can register for a trading facility with us at www.currencyindex.co.uk. There is no cost or obligation in registering, but it will set your trading facility up so that we can offer you quotes whenever you like. If you decide to place an order, we will buy your currency at the agreed rate before you send us a penny, so you will always know what you are getting before you make a commitment. You then settle the order, and we will transfer on your Euros at your instruction. It’s safe too, as Currency Index is FSA Authorised and operates safeguarded client accounts.
What are your predictions for the sterling / euro exchange rate over the coming months?
Much will depend on 2 main themes: the recession vs recovery in the UK, and the Eurozone debt crisis. If the UK economy is in better shape than the recent GDP figures suggest, and the Eurozone crisis refuses to go away, then we could see further improvement in the GBP-EUR rate. But my feeling is that the EU will do whatever it takes to stop Spanish debt becoming an even bigger problem than Greece, which in the medium term should strengthen the Euro, and the UK’s patchy recovery is far from secured, so on balance I think the Euro is good value at the moment around 1.20. If I had to guess, I would think we could see it drop back to 1.15 again by the end of the summer – but there are no crystal balls unfortunately!
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