HiFX money transfer review — Fees, rates and transfer times

Wise

In this article, we’ll look at HiFX, now called XE Money Transfer and give you the information to help you decide whether it’s right for you. We’ll tell you about the key fees and limits, as well as an alternative provider you may want to consider.
Important notice: HiFX is now rebranded as XE Money Transfer. This review covers some background about HiFX and also the current fees for XE money transfer. You can find our separate XE review here.

What’s the story behind HiFX?

HiFX began in the UK in 1998, then expanded into other markets including Australia and the United States. In 2014, HiFX became part of the Euronet Worldwide group in a £145 million deal. As of 2018 it transferred about £9 million every year, making it one of the larger players in the market. In 2019, HiFX rebranded under Euronet’s XE name as XE Money Transfer, though customers could keep their existing accounts. If you set up an account now, though, you’ll do so under the XE Money Transfer brand.

How does an international transfer with HiFX / XE work? ⁴

To make a transfer, you’ll need to have an online account with XE Money Transfer. Once you’re logged in, you can enter the currencies you want to exchange and the amount of the transfer. Next, you’ll have to say who you want to send the money to. Be careful to get their name exactly right, otherwise the receiving bank may delay or decline the payment. After that, say how you’ll pay for the transfer — you can use the following methods:

  • Bank transfer
  • ACH direct debit from a local US dollar account
  • Pre-Authorized Debit from a local Canadian dollar account

If you choose bank transfer, you’ll need to tell your bank to make the payment from your account. Bear in mind that in some cases, this can mean a delay. Finally, you’ll see the exchange rate and total cost, and you’ll be able to make the final decision to go ahead with the payment.

Once XE Money Transfer has received full payment, they’ll start the actual transfer process. This can take between one and four business days, so make sure you factor that into the equation when timing your transfer.


What are the fees when you want to transfer money overseas with HiFX / XE?

Any time you want to send money abroad, it’s important to bear in mind that the amount you’re transferring is unlikely to be your total cost. One of the most important things is to pay attention to the rate, as that will determine how much foreign currency you get. Money transfer service providers and banks usually set their own rates, although the money transfer specialist Wise also offers the mid-market rate on all transactions.
Since providers set their own rates, the best way to see where the prime deal is, is to not look at the fees only, but how much money you will receive for what you pay.

In practice this means you should check who gives you the highest amount of foreign currency if you pay CAD 1,000, for example.

Here’s a run-down of XE Money Transfer’s main fees:

Fee type Amount ⁴ ⁵
Opening an account Free
Receiving money Free
Transaction fee Usually none, but charges may be applied by third-party banks
Exchange rate markup Rate is linked to live foreign exchange markets, but will not be the mid-market rate

Third party banks come into play, where money is sent abroad using an international SWIFT transfer. It’s the standard method of sending money overseas in banking and money transfer services also rely on it, when necessary. Unfortunately all banks taking part in the transaction will usually apply fees. This means a lot less of the money will reach the destination, from what you initially expected.

We’ve mentioned Wise above, who are also worth checking out, since most of their transfers are done through a local accounts network, thus cleverly avoiding SWIFT fees.

Another great thing, that might interest people with a lot of overseas transactions is the Wise borderless account, where you can hold funds in 40 currencies from around the world. There are no fees to open or maintain the account, so it’s definitely easy to give it a try. You’ll even get local bank details for major currencies such as US dollars, Australian dollars and euros, to allow people to pay you just like they would pay a local.

What are the currencies that HiFX / XE supports?

With a HiFX account, now rebranded as XE Money Transfer, you can transfer money in 60 currencies from around the world.⁴ These include major currencies such as US dollars, pounds sterling, euros and yen.⁷ They also offer transfers in many less common currencies, ranging from Hong Kong dollars to Tunisian dinars.

What is the exchange rate you get with HiFX?

It’s important to think about the total costs when you’re comparing money transfer providers, not just the headline fees. One that can really make a difference if you make a lot of international transactions is the exchange rate you get. When you check an exchange rate on Google or on XE’s free information service, you’ll see a single number. That’s what’s called the mid-market rate, and as its name suggests it means the midpoint between the buy and sell rates. Pretty simple, huh? It’s not the rate you’re likely to get, though.

The reason for this is that most providers will offer you a rate that’s different from the mid-market rate. This is down to the fact that they’ll often add a markup. This is pretty standard practice and the markup isn’t a fee as such, but it can still mean you pay more overall than if you’d gotten the mid-market rate or a rate with smaller mark-up. Even with smaller transactions, the rate that you get can make a big difference in how much foreign currency you or a recipients ends up getting

The HiFX service that’s now branded as XE Money Transfer is pretty typical, meaning it won’t give you the mid-market rate. The company’s website says that the exchange rate can fluctuate until the moment you confirm a transaction, though it won’t change while the markets are closed. Be careful not to confuse the rate you get from XE Money Transfer with the number shown on the free XE.com information website, which is the mid-market rate.⁴

Because of all this, it’s important to check how much you’ll pay in total for transferring a particular amount. You may want to think about looking at alternative providers, too. For example, with Wise, you’ll always get the mid-market rate for your transactions.

As always, compare the amount of money that you’ll end up getting and wherever you get the highest number — that’s the way to go.

Are there any limits to the amount you can transfer with HiFX / XE?

In the past, HiFX had a lower limit; for example, it was £50 for the UK according to moneytransfercomparison.com.⁷ The good news is that since the change to XE Money Transfer branding, this restriction has disappeared and there’s now no lower limit. There is still a maximum, which is listed in US dollars (USD) but applies across the board. The limit is USD 500,000 – be sure to check what the equivalent is in Canadian dollars (CAD) before you decide whether to go ahead with a large transfer.⁴

How long does an international transfer with HiFX / XE take?

One thing that’s crucial when you’re sending money is that it gets there speedily. You don’t want to have a recipient get in touch to ask you where their money is! XE Money Transfer says that most transfers are completed on the same day, but you’ll get a payment date confirmed while completing the transaction process. They recommend that you allow between one and four working days after your email/SMS notification for funds to reach the recipient. ⁴

How can you contact HiFX / XE?

Especially with the recent change from HiFX to XE Money Transfer branding, you may have questions you want to ask the provider. You can get in touch with them in the following ways:⁸

  • Call toll-free on 1-877-932-6640
  • Call a local number on 1-416-642-6590
  • Send an email to transfers@xe.com

Remember that even toll-free numbers may charge if you use a cellphone to make your call, so check your phone plan first.


The XE Money Transfer service continues to offer much the same features that it did under the HiFX brand. Probably the biggest draw is that there are no fees to pay. You won’t need to pay to open an account, there are no maintenance fees, plus they also offer zero transaction charges. With all of that you want to keep in mind the exchange rate you get for each transaction.

The most important thing to look at is how much you’ll actually receive for a particular transaction. If you pay CAD 1,000 in total, how much foreign currency will that give you? Compare the total costs of each service, including exchange rates, since “no fees” doesn’t always mean the best deal overall.

With that in mind, it’s good to consider all your options before you decide on a money transfer provider. Make sure you check the latest terms and conditions, as well as the features and fees each provider offers.

One alternative we’ve recommended is Wise, which also offers the ability to pay in dozens of global currencies with no monthly fee, but where you will get the mid-market rate whenever you send money. You’ll also get local bank details for a number of the most popular currencies, ranging from US dollars to euros. As ever, spending a little time comparing your options can really pay off.


Sources:

  1. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/banksandfinance/10689420/Money-transfer-company-HiFX-sold-for-145m.html 18 July 2019
  2. https://www.transferguides.com/hifx-review/ 11 July 2019
  3. https://www.hifx.com/ 11 July 2019
  4. https://www.xe.com/xemoneytransfer/ca/faq.php 11,13 July 2019
  5. https://www.xe.com/xemoneytransfer/ca/#greatratesnofees 13 July 2019
  6. https://www.xe.com/xemoneytransfer/ca/#currencies 11 July 2019
  7. https://moneytransfercomparison.com/hifx/ 13 July 2019
  8. https://www.xe.com/contact.php 11 July 2019

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This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

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