NatWest International Transfer: Fees and Exchange Rate
Thinking of sending a NatWest international bank transfer? This guide covers all you need to know including how much it costs to transfer money abroad with NatWest, how long it takes, and how to get started.
Despite the fact that Natwest serves 19 million people and businesses in the UK and Ireland, they may not be the best option for sending an international payment. Alternative services like Wise, Western Union and OFX are often cheaper, faster and easier to use.
NatWest international money transfer comparison
When you’re sending an international transfer, there are several different fees you may pay, depending on the provider you choose:
- Transfer fee - this is often the easiest to spot and can be low, or even free
- Exchange rate markup
- this can be the highest fee, but it’s often hard to see
- Intermediary bank fees
- you may not know about these in advance so your recipient gets less than they expect
We’ll break down the potential fees one by one in a moment. First, let’s start with a comparison of the total costs and delivery times involved when sending an international transfer with NatWest compared to some specialist providers.
Here we’ll use the fees that would apply for a payment to a friend in France, assuming we want the end amount received to be 1,000 EUR.
|Provider||Total cost||Transfer time|
|NatWest||No transfer fee for a standard payment Intermediary fees and exchange rate margin may apply||2 - 4 working days|
|Wise||3.14 GBP||80% of payments arrive in 24 hours|
|Western Union||7.11 GBP fee included in the exchange rate used||Up to 2 days|
|OFX||21.11 GBP fee included in the exchange rate used||1 - 2 business days|
*Fees and exchange rates correct at time of research - 24th November 2021
You’ll see the NatWest exchange rate when you get a quote for your payment online or in the mobile app. It’s helpful to know that the rate you’re offered may include a markup - and bank markups can be around 3% on top of the mid-market exchange rate. Specialist money transfer services can often offer better exchange rates than banks - some, like Wise for example, pass on the mid-market rate to customers with no markups at all.
When it comes to transfer fees, Natwest offers 2 options - a standard payment which has no upfront transfer fee, or an urgent service for 15 GBP for online and mobile payments. The standard service can take up to 4 days to arrive, and even the urgent option may take 2 days - the specialist providers we picked for our comparison will often beat these delivery times, as well as offering a lower overall cost.
International money transfer services like Wise, Western Union and OFX are specialists in getting your payments where they need to be, fast and for a low cost. Getting started is usually easy, and in most cases you can transact online and in provider apps 24/7 for convenience.
NatWest international transfer fees
Here are the different NatWest international bank transfer fees by transfer type. However you’ll also need to check your specific account terms and conditions before you start, as some accounts may have slightly different fees, and some don’t allow international transfers at all.
|Transfer type||NatWest international transfer fee|
Standard transfer online or mobile
|Urgent transfer online or mobile||15 GBP|
|Standard transfer by phone, post, or in branch||Euro payments - no fee Non-euro payments - 22GBP|
|Urgent transfer by phone, post, or in branch||Euro payments - 23 GBP Non-euro payments - 30 GBP|
|Receiving an international payment||No fee to receive euros - for other currencies: Under 100 GBP value - 1 GBP fee Over 100 GBP value - 7 GBP fee|
NatWest exchange rate
You’ll always see the live NatWest international transfer exchange rate for your currency when you get a quote for your payment. If the exact rate isn’t available before you make your payment you’ll only know the details after your transfer has been processed. Here’s what the NatWest terms and conditions says:
“Before you make a foreign currency payment, you can ask us for the exchange rate that will be applied to the payment and we’ll provide that rate if we can. If we’re unable to tell you the actual exchange rate before the payment is processed, we’ll provide it to you as soon as we can afterwards.”
The rate you’re offered by NatWest may not be the same as the exchange rate you’ll find if you use a currency converter tool, or a Google search. That’s because, while currency converters show the mid-market exchange rate for a currency, banks usually add a margin or markup to their rates to cover their costs and generate a profit. Bank markups normally vary by currency, but can be in the region of 3% on top of the mid-market exchange rate.
3% doesn’t sound like a lot - but it makes a big difference. Exchange rate markups are often the most expensive fee you’ll pay when you send money internationally - and they’re the hardest to see. Here’s what a 3% markup would mean in fees for a few different transfer values:
- Sending 1,000 GBP - the exchange rate markup adds 30 GBP to the total
- Sending 5,000 GBP - the exchange rate markup adds 150 GBP to the total
- Sending 50,000 GBP - the exchange rate markup adds 1,500 GBP to the total
As you can see, even a small change to the exchange rate can mean a much higher overall fee. Here’s a reminder of the total costs - including exchange rate markups - from the providers we looked at earlier. This is what you’ll pay with each if you want your recipient to end up with 1,000 EUR in their account in the end:
- NatWest: 0 - 15 GBP transfer fee + exchange rate margin + relevant intermediary bank fees
- Wise: 3.18 GBP
- Western Union: 0 - 2.90 GBP transfer fee, exchange rate margin applies
- OFX: No transfer fee, exchange rate margin applies
NatWest additional fees
The final thing to watch out for when sending an international bank transfer is extra fees deducted by other banks involved in the payment.
If NatWest processes your transfer using the SWIFT system, your payment can involve several partner banks, which work together to get your money where it needs to be. These partner banks - known as intermediaries or agents - can also deduct a fee for their service. The recipient’s own bank might charge a fee to receive the payment, too. This all means your recipient could get less in the end than you’re expecting.
Specialist providers are less likely than banks to use the SWIFT payment network. To move money faster and cheaper some specialist services have adopted their own payment networks which are just as secure as SWIFT, but cut out the intermediaries. This reduces the overall cost of transferring money, allowing these services to lower the price customers pay whilst still making a profit themselves.
How long does a NatWest international money transfer take?
When you schedule your payment you’ll be able to choose whether you’d rather a free standard service, or a fee paid urgent payment service. Delivery times vary:
- Urgent payments - 1 -2 working days
- Standard payments - 2 - 4 working days
Specialist providers often use different payment processing approaches to move money faster than banks. This means that, compared to the alternative services we profiled earlier, even NatWest’s urgent service doesn’t really look all that speedy:
- NatWest: 2 - 4 working days for standard transfers, 1 - 2 working days for urgent payments
- Wise: 80% of payments arrive in 24 hours
- Western Union: Up to 2 days
- OFX: 1 - 2 business days
Pros and cons of transferring money abroad with NatWest
- Familiar and secure service
- Make payments online or in the NatWest app for convenience
- Choose different payment delivery times according to your needs
- No transfer fee for standard NatWest international transfers
- Exchange rate markups can apply, which pushes up the overall cost
- Slow delivery times, particularly for standard transfers
- Relatively low daily limits apply to online and mobile payments
- Higher fees may apply to arrange a payment in a branch or by phone
How to make an international transfer with NatWest
You can make a NatWest international bank transfer online, in the mobile app, by phone, in a branch, or by post or fax. Fees are higher for non-euro payments when you’re sending money in a branch, by phone or by post.
Here’s how to make a payment online through the NatWest online banking service:
- Select Payments and transfers from the menu, followed by International payments and Make a Payment
- Click on Get a quote for paying someone new, and Next to enter the details of the payment you want to make
- You’ll get a quote in GBP of how much it will cost in total, click Next if you’re happy with it
- Enter your recipient’s details, following the on screen prompts
- Add a payment reference and confirm the account you want it to leave from, and the date you want it to be sent. Click Next
- Check the summary, and authorise the payment with your card reader
What information do you need to make an international transfer with NatWest?
To make an international payment with NatWest you’ll need the following information:
- Your recipient’s full name
- Your recipient’s IBAN or bank account number
- Receiving bank’s SWIFT/BIC code or NCC number
- Any country specific information, such as a routing number or CLABE code
To complete the security steps required when paying someone for the first time, you’ll also need to have your debit card and enabled card-reader to hand.
Transfer limits and available countries
You can send payments to a broad range of countries and currencies with NatWest - start to set up your payment online or in the app to see if your destination is covered. Limits may apply to different payment types:
|Payment type||NatWest international transfer limit|
|Mobile payments||Payments to a new recipient: Maximum of 5 payments, totalling 1,000 GBP per day Payments to existing recipient: 10,000 GBP/day|
|Online payments||10,000 GBP/day|
Receiving money from abroad with NatWest
For most NatWest current account, there’s no fee to receive a payment in euros, but a charge for receiving other currencies:
- Payments under 100 GBP in value - 1 GBP charge
- Payments over 100 GBP in value - 7 GBP charge
If you’re expecting a payment into your NatWest account from overseas, you’ll need to give the sender:
- Your full name as shown on your account
- Your IBAN
- The NatWest SWIFT/BIC code for your account
NatWest SWIFT code
To make sure your payment arrives safely you’ll need to provide your recipient with the correct NatWest SWIFT/BIC code for your account. SWIFT codes are used to guide international transfers to the right place - much like using a postcode on a letter.
For most accounts, the NatWest SWIFT code is: NWBKGB2L. You can also check your SWIFT code in the View/Share account details section of your online banking service, or on any account statement.
Your normal bank might be the first thing that comes to mind when you’re sending an international payment, but it may not be the cheapest or fastest option. Many alternative specialist services like Wise, OFX and Western Union offer online and mobile payments with bank-beating exchange rates and low fees. Delivery times can be significantly better than using NatWest, and you may be able to cut the overall cost of making your payment significantly.
NatWest international bank transfer FAQs
The cost of your NatWest international transfer will vary depending on the currency you’re sending, how you arrange the payment, and how fast you want it to arrive. For online and mobile payments there’s a free standard service, or a faster urgent option which costs 15 GBP.
Urgent transfers arrive in 1 - 2 working days, while standard transfers take 2 - 4 working days to arrive.
Send a NatWest international money transfer online, in the mobile app, in a branch, by phone, by fax or by post.