Best Ways to Transfer Large Sums of Money Internationally

Claire Millard
Ileana Ionescu
Last updated
7 July 2023

Transferring large sums of money internationally can be scary. Especially if you need to send larger amounts of money abroad for inheritance, to buy property, returning back from expatriate work or financially helping family or friends. We aim to show you fast, safe and cost saving ways to transfer your money. In this article we cover:

1. Use a Money Transfer Service

Money transfer services have been operating for the past 40 years and are a very fast and secure way to send large amounts of money overseas. TorFX, Currencies Direct and OFX are great examples of money transfer services who are always cheaper than a high street bank when sending large amounts of money overseas.

All of the money transfers can be done online including signing up, verification process, selecting payment and tracking your international payment. They are safe to use, have very stringent guidelines and are regulated by Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to send money from the UK.

The time it takes to send money is very quick. Usually between 0 to 3 days.

Why it’s cheaper:

Buying and selling foreign currency is their specialist area of expertise. They have lower overall costs than banks because they don't have as many physical offices to maintain. They have very low transaction fees, normally under £5 or they offer free transfers. They offer their customers better foreign exchange rates, which are closer to the mid market rate you see on google because they want to attract your business.

2. Bank to Bank Transfer

A bank transfer allows you to send foreign currency from your local bank to another bank account abroad. Banks charge high transfer fees and you need to cover any overseas delivery (receiving bank) charges as well. A large international money transfer can be organised online, over the phone or in person.

Why and when to use:

Most people choose their bank to transfer funds abroad because they are familiar with their bank, they feel secure, prepared to pay the extra costs and wait the extra days. But is it worth paying an extra $1,500 US dollars to Barclays bank for a £50,000 transfer to the United States, when a money transfer company like Wise (formerly TransferWise) would give that money to you?

3. Peer to Peer Transfer (P2P)

P2P transfers work a little bit differently. Instead of wiring money overseas through a bank, companies that make these types of transfers match people buying currency in one country with people who are selling it in another. Wise (formerly TransferWise) and CurrencyFair are two of the biggest companies that offer P2P transfers and send large transfers this way.

Often a P2P transfer can be quicker because there are less banks involved. It can also reduce or eliminate a common hidden fee called a correspondent bank fee. Which again makes the transfer cheaper. Win-win!

Why and when to use:

P2P transfers are often a good option when you're transferring up to $10,000. They are usually very transparent which makes it easier to calculate the cost of your large money transfer. Sometimes, companies like this charge a percentage based fee. So you need to be careful of this if you're making large transfers because the cost can add up.

4. Cash Remitters (for smaller regular amounts under £2,000

According to the World Bank, international remittances totalled 585 billion dollars in 2017. Now thanks to increased competition from money remitters, the cost of these transfers is being brought down. If you want to transfer smaller amounts of money frequently or for cash pick-up abroad, cash remitters are a great option. The more popular remitters include Remitly and WorldRemit.

Why and when to use:

Money remitters specialise in smaller payments. They can be a much cheaper option for transfers under £2,000, because their fee structure and exchange rates are usually much better. This is particularly true to less common destinations in Asia, Africa and South America. These companies rarely have a minimum transfer amount, but often have a maximum transfer limit.

5. Bitcoin

You can use Bitcoin to send money overseas, but be aware that it can be quite complicated. Especially if you are not familiar with using a digital currency. To do it, you’ll have to set up a wallet with a Bitcoin company, like Coinjar, then fund your online wallet with British pounds. This will then need to be converted to Bitcoin and sent to the person you are paying overseas. They also need to have a Bitcoin wallet and can then convert it to their local currency.

Why and when to use:

Bitcoin can be cheap and fast for most transfer sizes. You just need to make sure you and your recipient are comfortable using digital currency. Also remember, that there can be more risk using a cryptocurrency than the other options we have discussed.

How to Transfer a Large Amount of Money from your UK Bank Account

Transferring a large amount of money overseas from your UK bank account is simple once you know how to do it, but you might be short on time to figure it out. We’ve put together this step-by-step guide to show you what you need to do.

  1. Register your details To transfer money abroad, you'll need to register first. Make sure you have valid government issued ID like your passport or driver's license.

  2. Provide international money transfer details Advise the money transfer company how much currency you wish to send and the account or person you’re sending money to. Pay by bank transfer, credit card or debit card.

  3. Delivery of money Choose how you want to pay for the transfer. Your money transfer service will then convert the money, send it overseas and keep you informed of when your money arrives

How much money can I send from my UK bank account?

The maximum limits set by the money transfer companies are usually very large. They also depend on which currencies you send to and from and how you pay.

For example, to send money from the UK to Australia the maximum limit for Wise is GBP £1,000,000 or AUD $1,500,000. Wise allow you to send more than their limits, but you need to set up more than one transfer.

On the other hand, some money transfer companies have minimum transfer amounts like TorFX (£2,000).

How do I keep my money online safe?

Safety is very important and all of the online companies above take their legal responsibilities very seriously. They take extreme measures to protect the sensitive data you provide them like your personal details and identification. However, it's still better to be safe than sorry. Here are some additional ways you can transfer funds safely:

  • Double check privacy policies and tracking process for your money transfer provider
  • Use a strong, long and unique password with a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols when you set-up your account
  • Ensure your money transfer service provides two-factor authentication, including SMS or email-based security code


How do I complete an international money transfer online?

Making an international money transfer using your app is just as easy as going online and using your laptop.

First step is for you to visit the provider's website. You can do this from our comparison tool or the links in this article. Almost all of the providers have dedicated apps available for both Apple and Android devices.

Here is a summary of the key steps to making an international money transfer using digital means:

Visit the provider’s website or download their smartphone app. Set up an account with the provider. Create a transfer to the recipient. Pay for the transfer and wait for your money to be converted and sent overseas.

What is a wire transfer (telegraphic transfer) and how does it work?

A wire transfer is where you transfer money electronically, typically between financial institutions like international banks or credit unions. Wire transfers generally take 1 to 3 business days, and they are safe and secure.

For international telegraphic transfers, you will need the relevant details of the recipient’s account information, like a SWIFT or IBAN. Some banks do charge a fee to send or receive money using a wire transfer, so if you’re using this to send money overseas or fund a currency exchange, make sure you know how much you’ll pay.