Post Office international transfer: Fees, rates and transfer time 2023
Sending money with the UK Post Office can be a convenient and fast way to get your money where you need it to be. Post Office international money transfer services are offered in partnership with Western Union and MoneyGram. That means a great global reach - but the fees can be on the higher side for some service options.
This guide tells you all you need to know about Post Office international transfers including: how much they cost, how long they take, and how to make one.
We’ll also take a look at alternative services like Wise, Remitly and OFX, to help you find the international payment provider that’s cheapest, fastest and most convenient for you. More on that coming right up.
Post Office international money transfer comparison
Post Office international money transfers can be made in 2 different ways - online or by visiting a Post Office branch in person.
The way the payment works - as well as the fees and exchange rates available - will depend on which option you select. Online payments with Post Office are powered by Western Union, while the Post Office partners with MoneyGram for payments made in branch.
We’ll look at the fees, rates and options available in more detail later. To get started let’s look at a comparison of a Post Office international payment against a few specialist providers. In this example, we’re sending an online payment of 1,000 GBP to a friend in France, to be received in euros in their bank account.
|Provider||Recipient gets||Transfer time|
|Wise||1,143.52 EUR||50% of payments are instant|
|OFX||1,136.09 EUR||1 - 2 business days|
|Post Office||1,137 EUR||Same day|
*Fees and rates correct at time of research - 8th November 2022
As you can see, in this comparison, your recipient would get the most in the end if you’re sending money to a bank account and choose Wise instead of using the Post Office. This is because the exchange rate used by Wise is better than that on offer from the Post Office. We’ll look at the typical fees and exchange rates used by the Post Office, and how they compare with specialist providers like Wise or Remitly in more detail later.
When you make a payment online with the Post Office, you’ll need to first create an account. If you previously had an account with Post Office as part of their partnership with Moneycorp you’ll need to re-register to use the Western Union services now on offer via the Post Office. This shouldn’t take long - in fact, whether you choose Western Union via the Post Office, or another specialist provider, you should be able to get everything set up online in just a few simple steps.
Post Office international transfer fees
When you make an international transfer with the Post Office the total amount you pay will vary depending on whether you send online or in person. Any payment you make could include up to 3 different charges:
Post Office transfer fee
Exchange rate markup
Third party charges
If you’re sending money online with the Post Office you’ll have a flat transfer fee for cash collection payments, and may find there’s no transfer fee at all for payments to bank accounts. In addition to this there’s a markup - an extra fee added to the exchange rate, which we’ll explore later - and also possible third party charges. Third party charges may include credit card cash advances or fees imposed by the recipient's own bank.
We’ll split out the Post Office international transfer fees in more detail in a moment - first, here are the Post Office international transfer fees you should know about:
|Transfer type||Post Office fee|
|Send payment online for cash collection||1.9 GBP flat transfer fee + exchange rate markup and any relevant third party costs|
|Send payment online to bank account||Often no transfer fee - but exchange rate markup and any relevant third party costs still apply|
|Send payment in a branch||Fees vary based on the payment type and destination|
|Receiving an international payment||It’s free to collect an eligible cash payment at a Post Office branch|
Post Office exchange rate
The Post Office international transfer exchange rate is calculated by either Western Union or MoneyGram, depending on the type of payment you make. This means the rate will include a markup - an extra fee - added to the mid-market exchange rate.
In both cases, the fact you’ll pay this extra fee is clearly stated online - when you send a payment with Western Union you’ll see the following message:
“Western Union also makes money from currency exchange”
And when you’re making a MoneyGram transfer, there’s also a note in the guidelines which confirms an exchange rate fee can apply.
These extra charges aren’t at all hidden, but because they’re rolled up into the rate you see when you set up your payment, they are tricky to pick apart. The exact markup applied will vary depending on the payment type and destination - but it’s common to find a charge of about 3% used by banks and international transfer providers. If that 3% was added to the rate that was used for your transfer, here’s the cost you’d have to add into your payment:
Sending 1,000 GBP - the exchange rate markup would add 30 GBP to the total
Sending 5,000 GBP - the exchange rate markup would add 150 GBP to the total
Sending 50,000 GBP - the exchange rate markup would add 1,500 GBP to the total
As you can see, even small changes in the exchange rates can make a big difference to the overall cost of an international transfer, making it crucial to compare a few options, and look carefully at the rates as well as the fees which will apply.
Here’s a reminder of how each of the providers we looked at earlier calculate the costs and the exchange rate they pass on to customers - in this case we are sending 1,000 GBP to a friend, to be received in EUR:
Post Office: No transfer fee, exchange rate margin + any applicable third party fees apply
Wise: 4.28 GBP transfer fee - no other costs
OFX: No transfer fee, exchange rate margin applies
Remitly: No transfer fee, exchange rate margin applies
Post Office additional fees
When you send a payment overseas with the Post Office, a bank or any other specialist payment service, it’s important to double check if any additional fees may apply.
The Post Office confirms that some credit card providers may charge a fee if you use your card to pay for an online or in person payment. This fee doesn’t go to the Post Office itself, but it does push up your costs overall.
The other potential third party fees you may run into come down to the SWIFT system - the most commonly used network for sending money to bank accounts internationally. In this system, several banks can work together to process a payment, and each one may levy a service fee which is deducted from the amount being transferred as it passes along the line. If these fees apply, you may discover your recipient gets less than you expected in the end.
How long does a Post Office international money transfer take?
How long a Post Office international bank transfer takes to arrive depends on the way you set up your payment. Transfers which are paid for by card or in cash can often be available on the same day, or even almost instantly. Payments made from a bank account may arrive on the same day or up to 3 days later - the ultimate delivery time will vary based on where you’re sending money to.
Let’s see how the Post Office international transfer delivery times measure up against the other providers we looked at earlier:
Post Office: Same day or up to 3 working days, depending on destination
Wise: 90% of payments arrive in 24 hours
OFX: 1 - 2 business days
Remitly: Express payments can be instant, Economy payments may take several days
Pros and cons of transferring money abroad with the Post Office
Send online or in person by visiting a Post Office branch
Some online payments have no or low transfer fees
Great global coverage thanks to Post Office’s partnerships with Western Union and MoneyGram
Exchange rate markups are likely to apply to all payments
Not all services are available in all destination countries
Compared to the Post Office, some other specialist international transfer services may have more transparent fees and a better exchange rate on offer. This can drive down the costs overall, while still delivering a fast and convenient service. Before you set up your payment it’s worth comparing a few options online, to make sure you’re picking the right one for your payment type.
How to make an international transfer with the Post Office
You’ll be able to make an international transfer with the Post Office by heading to a branch which offers this service - you can use the Post Office branch locator tool to find a location near you - or online. If you’re sending a payment in person make sure you take along your government issued ID document as this may be required when you transfer money.
To send a payment online through the Post Office and Western Union you’ll need to take the following steps.
Go to the Post Office desktop site
Select Banking and bills, then Bills and payments
Look for the option for Western Union international money transfer
Enter the amount you want to send and the currency, to generate a fee and rate quote
Click Get started and you’ll be redirected to the Western Union website
Review the payment details and tap Continue
Log into Western Union, or register a new account following the onscreen prompts
You may need to complete a verification step, depending on the payment details
Fund your payment by bank transfer or card, and your money is on the way
What information do you need to make an international transfer with the Post Office?
If you’re sending a payment to a bank account directly you’ll usually need to have:
Recipient’s full name and address
Recipient’s IBAN or account number
Recipient’s SWIFT/BIC code
Name and address of the recipient’s bank
If you’re sending money for cash collection you’ll usually only need to provide the recipient’s full name as shown on their government issued ID document.
Transfer limits and available countries
You can send Post Office international money transfers to pretty much every country in the world, in a broad range of currencies.
If you’re sending money online you can make transfers worth up to 799.99 GBP in a 5 day period with an unverified account. For higher value amounts you’ll need to complete a verification step by uploading proof of identity and address. Verified account holders can send up to 4,000 GBP online every 3 days.
Higher limits may be available if you’re sending to a bank account - up to 50,000 GBP per day, depending on the country involved.
Receiving money from abroad with Post Office
You can receive an international payment at an eligible Post Office branch, in cash, if someone sends you money through MoneyGram. Not all Post Office locations offer this service, so you’ll need to make sure you’re headed to a branch which can help you before you leave home.
The Post Office offers convenient ways to send payments overseas online and in person, through partnerships with Western Union and MoneyGram.
If you need to make a payment and pay in cash you can pop into a Post Office to get your transfer arranged - and if you want your transfer to be collected in cash at the other end, this can also be sorted via the Post Office. However, for transfers to and from bank accounts, the Post Office may not be the cheapest or fastest option available.
Specialist online and mobile international money transfer services use modern approaches to cross-border payments which can cut down the costs and improve delivery times. Check out a few options before you get started with your international payment to make sure you get the best possible deal.
Post Office transfers arranged online for cash collection cost 1.9 GBP, and there’s often no transfer fee for bank transfer payments. You’ll also pay an exchange rate markup - an additional fee rolled into the exchange rate - and may be liable for third party charges, depending on how you set up the transfer.
Cash collection payments may be available in minutes. Transfers to banks can take a few days to be deposited, depending on the destination.
Send a Post Office international bank transfer online, or in a branch.