RBS International Transfer: Fees and Exchange Rates

Planning to transfer money abroad with Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS)? This guide covers everything you should know about how much it costs, how long it takes, and how to make your first RBS international bank transfer.

RBS serves 3.3 million UK personal customers, but they might not be the best option for your international payment. Specialist services like Wise, OFX and Western Union are convenient to use and could help you make your transfer cheaper and faster.

RBS international money transfer comparison

The most important thing when it comes to choosing an international transfer provider is to look at the total cost involved. You’d think this would be pretty easy - but in fact there are several potential fees used by providers, some of which are tricky to spot. Depending on the service you choose you could pay:

  • 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 out these costs one by one in just a moment. Let’s start with a comparison of the costs and delivery times involved when sending an international transfer with RBS 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.

ProviderTotal costTransfer time
RBSNo 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

There are a couple of different options when you arrange an RBS international money transfer. If you’re not in a hurry you can send a standard transfer with no transfer fee - or opt for an urgent service for 15 GBP. However, even when you choose the RBS urgent service, your money might arrive quicker with an alternative provider.

When you send your international payment with RBS you’ll see the actual or indicative exchange rate before you confirm the transfer. RBS international transfer exchange rates may include a markup, which is a percentage added to the mid-market exchange rate. In many banks this can be around 3%, which pushes up the total costs of your payment. If your payment is processed through the SWIFT network, there may also be intermediary or recipient bank fees, which aren’t paid to RBS but which will be deducted from your payment as it’s being processed.

Depending on the payment, you might be able to get a lower overall fee and a faster delivery with a specialist money transfer service. Some, like Wise for example, pass on the mid-market rate to customers with no markups at all, making it far easier to see the true cost of your transfer in advance. International money transfer services are secure and simple to use, and you can usually transact 24/7 online and through mobile apps.

RBS international transfer fees

The RBS international transfer fee you’ll pay will vary based on the currency, the way you arrange your payment, and how fast you need it to arrive. Different accounts may have slightly different fees, so it’s worth checking your own account terms and conditions before you get started. Here’s a rundown:

Transfer typeRBS international transfer fee
Standard transfer online or mobile
Free
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

RBS exchange rate

You’ll see the RBS international transfer exchange rate available for your payment when you set it up. However, if you’re arranging a transfer out of hours, the rate you see will be an indicative rate only. The final exchange rate for the transaction will be the live RBS rate at the point the payment is processed. Here’s how the process is explained in the RBS account terms and conditions:

“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”

RBS exchange rates may include a markup on the mid-market exchange rate. The mid-market rate is the one you’ll see with a Google search or when you use an online currency converter. It’s usually chosen as a benchmark because it’s the rate banks get when they buy currencies themselves. However, it’s common to add a markup - an extra fee - to the mid-market rate to calculate the customer exchange rate for transfers.

This markup can be around 3%, which doesn’t sound like much, but does push up the costs significantly. Here’s how the fee would stack up with a 3% margin used for 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

To see if any markup has been added to the rate you’re offered for your RBS international bank transfer, you’ll need to compare it to the mid-market exchange rate for your currency. If it’s different that’s probably because a markup has been used.

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 set up your payment online and want your recipient to end up with 1,000 EUR in their account in the end:

  • RBS: 0 - 15 GBP transfer fee + exchange rate margin + relevant intermediary bank fees
  • Wise: 80% of payments arrive in 24 hours
  • Western Union: 0 - 2.90 GBP transfer fee, exchange rate margin applies
  • OFX: No transfer fee, exchange rate margin applies

RBS additional fees

The final international transfer fee to understand may not be paid to RBS at all. If RBS processes your transfer through the SWIFT network, you may also need to pay fees to intermediary banks involved in the SWIFT payment process. Your recipient’s bank could also charge a receiving fee. In both cases, the fees are likely to be deducted as the payment is processed - which means you may not know in advance how much they’ll be.

Not all services use the SWIFT network. Although it’s secure and reliable, it’s also slow and expensive. To get around that some specialist international money transfer services have created their own payment networks which are more efficient and don’t rely on intermediaries. This cuts costs and makes payments faster.

How long does a RBS 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 money transfer services could get your money where it needs to be faster than the RBS standard transfer service - and in some cases, even faster than their urgent payment option. Here’s a reminder of the delivery times for international transfers from RBS and a few other providers:

  • RBS: 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 RBS

Pros:

  • Send payments online, through the app, in branch, by phone, by post or by fax
  • Secure and familiar service
  • No transfer fee for standard transfers arranged online or in the mobile app
  • In branch euro transfers have no upfront fee

Cons:

  • Exchange rate markups may apply
  • Long delivery times for standard payments
  • High fees for some in branch payments
  • If you’re arranging a payment after the cut-off times, you won’t be sure of the rate until after the transaction is complete

How to make an international transfer with RBS

Make your RBS international bank transfer online, in the mobile app, by phone, in a branch, or by post or fax.

Here’s how to make a payment online through the RBS online banking service:

  1. Select Payments and transfers from the menu, followed by International payments and Make a Payment
  2. Click on Get a quote for paying someone new, and Next to enter the details of the payment you want to make
  3. You’ll get a quote in GBP of how much it will cost in total, click Next if you’re happy with it
  4. Enter your recipient’s details, following the on screen prompts
  5. 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
  6. Check the summary, and authorise the payment with your card reader

What information do you need to make an international transfer with RBS?

To make an international transfer with RBS you’ll need:

  • Your recipient’s full name
  • Your recipient’s IBAN or bank account number
  • Receiving bank’s SWIFT/BIC code or NCC number

You might also need to add some country specific information, such as a routing number or CLABE code - you’ll be prompted online to enter the details which are required for your destination country.

If you’re making your payment online you’ll need to take an additional security step using your card-reader and debit card, too. Keep these handy when you’re getting your transfer set up.

Transfer limits and available countries

You can send money with RBS to a range of countries, and in a selection of popular currencies. There may be limits to the amount you can send, which could be dictated by local laws in the destination country, or the transfer limits set on your specific account. Some accounts allow you to adjust the payment limits if you need to.

There are also specific limits in place when sending payments online and in the RBS mobile app:

Payment typeRBS 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 RBS

For most RBS 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 RBS account from overseas, you’ll need to give the sender:

  • Your full name as shown on your account
  • Your IBAN
  • The SWIFT/BIC code for your account

RBS SWIFT code

The RBS SWIFT code is RBOSGB2L. If your recipient needs an 11 digit SWIFT code, you can simply add XXX on the end to create the SWIFT code RBOSGB2LXXX.

SWIFT/BIC codes are unique identifiers given to banks and financial institutions around the world. They’re used to make sure international payments go to the right receiving bank, like a postcode on a postal address.

Conclusion

Sending an international payment with your normal bank might be an obvious choice - but it may not be the cheapest or fastest way to move your money. RBS standard international money transfers can take up to 4 working days to arrive - and if you want a faster service, you’ll have to pay a fee. Exchange rate markups and intermediary costs can push up the total price still further.

Instead, check out international money transfer specialists to see if you can get a better deal for your payment. You’ll usually be able to set up your payment online or in an app, with low transfer fees, and a bank beating exchange rate - and your money may arrive quicker, too.

Interested in making international transfers with banks? Read our guides on Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds, Santander, NatWest, Nationwide, and Halifax.

RBS international bank transfer FAQs

How much does a RBS international transfer cost?

Standard RBS international transfers are free to arrange online or in the RBS app - urgent transfers cost 15 GBP. If you’re setting up your payment by phone, in a branch, by mail or fax, different fees may apply.

How long does a RBS international money transfer take?

Urgent transfers arrive in 1 - 2 working days, while standard transfers take 2 - 4 working days to arrive.

How to transfer money internationally with RBS?

The easiest way to send money is through the RBS online or mobile banking service. You can also arrange your transfer in a branch, by phone, by fax or by post - but the fees may be higher compared with digital services.