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Very good value foreign currency transfers with Azimo

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I was sent some information on Azimo, a super-low-cost money transfer service, last week, and it made me realise that I have never looked at currency transfer services before.  I thought it would be good to review Azimo and the other different options.

A lot of Head for Points readers may find themselves transferring money to another country if they have a house or family there, or if they need to pay for a holiday home rental.  You may even need to pay off a foreign credit card bill if you are using cards not issued in the country where you are living.

The knee jerk reaction in such cases is to use your existing bank – many will even let you make such transfers via your existing online banking service.  You are unlikely to be getting a good deal on the exchange rate, however.  A number of companies such as Caxton and Hi-Fx have sprung up in recent years to compete, offering the same service at a far lower cost.

Azimo positions itself slightly differently.  Whilst it is more than happy to send payments to Europe, the USA etc, they are also able to make Western Union-style transfers to developing countries.  It therefore offers a good deal for migrants who want to send money home.

It can handle payments to 190 countries, so literally pretty much everywhere.  In some countries, such as Ghana, the recipient can pick up the money in cash from selected locations if they do not have a bank account.

What is impressive about Azimo is that they will give you a quote without you having to even register.  Via their home page you can run through various scenarios.

The transaction fee varies from nothing to £10.  European transactions are just £1.  Transfers can be made via their website or by using their mobile app.

The exchange rate used is VERY close to the spot rate.  On Sunday, when I wrote this, they were quoting €1.183 to France vs a spot rate of €1.196.  For something more exotic, like Thailand, the rate was 52.9  vs a spot rate of 53.7.  You won’t get anything nearly as good from your bank.

For comparison, I also looked at HiFX as I have an existing account with them.  For Euros, they were offering an exchange rate of €1.15 and a £9 fee, noticeably worse than Azimo.  For Thai Baht, HiFX quoted 51.6 THB to the £1 plus a £9 fee – again, worse than Azimo by over 2%.

Azimo is UK-based and fully licensed, and is backed by a group of well-respected private equity and venture capital investors, most of whom I am familiar with from my previous career.

If you currently use Caxton or HiFX, Azimo is worth a look next time you make a transfer.  If you are currently using your normal bank to make large currency transfers, then you should bang your head against your desk and then take a look at all three of these companies.

Comments (27)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Gabbai says:

    Make sure the service you think of using is properly licensed and it is also worth speaking to them to get a feel of how professional the set up is. I did that with Transferwise and I have make several large transactions through them. The rate is great and the speed of completion is also excellent. They are also UK-based and fully UK licensed.

  • Yozza77 says:

    When I was doing relatively large transfers to the USA, I checked out a few sites including transfer wise and found currencyfair to be cheapest.

  • Enda says:

    The situation when Azimo really comes into its own is when transferring to countries with artificial currency exchange rates. You can bypass Argentina’s tourist charge on currency and get the current “blue market” rate through a much safer means than haggling with illegal money-traders on the backstreets.

    Currently Azimo offers 16 pesos to the pound whereas the spot rate is only 13. A superb offer and I’ve used it with success on two occasions to pick up pesos in Buenos Aires.

  • Gabriel says:

    We need to regularley transfer money in Europe, so we keep a current account with Citibank for this purpose. The transfer is free, and the £/€ exchange rate is very good (€1.193 this morning vs the €1.194 spot rate). There are also some other advantages in using a Citibank card (you can attach it in minutes to a pounds, euros or dollars account, in order to avoid exchange fees while travelling, etc.). Please note that in order to get the best rate you need to transfer money into the euro account from another bank, and not from the Citibank £ account, which is plain stupid and annoying – luckily you can do the transfers through their internet banking.

    • Enda says:

      Can you explain this more – it may be of particular interest to me…?
      Is the citibank account you have the citigold current account?
      Are you transferring to another citibank account or to any account?

      • Gabriel says:

        I am surprised to see that they don’t advertise it anymore, but the Citibank Plus Current Account (which is free if you have £1800 coming in and 2 Direct Debits paid out per month) allows you to send money free using SEPA transfers, to any account, not just other Citibank accounts. You can also open an Euro and an USD account for free if you hold the Plus Current Account, and you need to transfer Euro / USD to/from these in order to get the best exchange rates.
        I hope it helps.

        • Gabriel says:

          “SEPA Funds Transfers enable you to transfer funds in Euros from your Citibank UK account to a bank account within the Single European Payment Area (SEPA) by the end of the next banking day (subject to cut off times). There are currently over 30 European countries in the SEPA. Please note that there is currently no fee for making a SEPA transfer. However Citibank exchange rate will apply if you request a SEPA Funds Transfer (in Euros) from a non-Euro account.”

  • Koshka says:

    Transferwise has been good for me as well. A couple of villa rental payments in Euros and a family transfer for Swedish Kr.

  • barca99 says:

    slightly OT but is there a site whereby one can send GBP to a friend’s bank account, funded by a credit card? paypal allows this but effectively costs about 3.5%

    • Rob says:

      No, no real alternative. You could try something like iZettle or SumUp but you need to buy the hardware and they will close you down very quickly when they realise you aren’t a real business.

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