Barclays UK customers can send international payments online, using the app, by phone or in branch¹. There’s a pretty long list of options, with different fees and processes for each. This guide walks through all you need to know to get the best value for your transfer.
And to help you compare the features and fees of Barclays against an alternative, we’ll also introduce Wise for low cost international transfers with the real mid-market exchange rate.
To get started, let’s compare Barclays to Wise - an alternative provider which offers fast, safe online transfers with the mid-market exchange rate.
In this case we’re sending a payment to a friend in Germany. As it’s a euro denominated payment, it’ll be sent using the SEPA system by Barclays. That means there’s no upfront cost - but that doesn’t mean your payment is free. After all, Barclays still has to make a profit somewhere. The full costs of international payments can include:
- Upfront transfer fees
- Exchange rate markups
- Third party fees
We’ll look at all these different costs in more detail in a moment. When it comes to Barclays you’ll want to check out a couple of things - the exchange rate and the third party fees.
Exchange rates are tricky because they move around all the time. However, the easiest way to keep up with the exchange rate is to use a reputable online currency converter.
Compare the rate you get here with the one Barclays offers you, to see if there’s a fee being added here. This extra charge is called an exchange rate markup, and is commonly used by banks when making foreign currency transactions for retail customers. More on that later.
The second - and possibly even more pricey fee - is third party costs. Third party costs usually creep in when payments are sent using the SWIFT system and can be paid by the sender, recipient, or both, depending on the payment type. They’re deducted as the payment passes through the system, so if you’re not aware of them, they can mean your recipient gets less than you expect.
Not all international transfer providers send money in the same way. Modern alternatives like Wise have found smart ways to send payments which avoid many of the pitfalls of traditional banks. Here’s what we mean:
|Provider||Fee||Exchange rate||Total cost|
|Barclays||No upfront fee for SEPA transfers||Barclays exchange rate + markup||Exchange rate markup + third party fees|
|Wise||£3.69||The real exchange rate - the same one you find on Google||£3.69|
You can get the Barclays reference exchange rate online for a broad range of global currencies². However, this isn’t necessarily the rate you’ll get when you process your transaction. Here’s what Barclays states on its foreign exchange webpage:
“The foreign exchange rate for a specific transaction amount is calculated by applying an FX margin to the reference exchange rate.”
So what does this mean? Well, banks and currency exchange services buy foreign currencies using the mid-market exchange rate - the one you’ll find with a Google search or when you use an online currency converter.
However, this rate isn’t often passed on to customers. Instead, banks and money transfer providers may add a mark-up to the rates they use, which is an extra fee. This makes it tricky to work out the true cost of your international payment.
Compare the exchange rate offered to you by any bank or transfer provider against the mid-market exchange rate to see the markup that’s been added. Or, if you’re looking for an easier way - choose an international transfer provider like Wise which uses the real exchange rate every time, with no markups and no hidden fees.
Wise customers can send and exchange currency without worrying about exchange rate markups or fees that are tricky to find. You’ll get the mid-market exchange rate every time, with low transparent fees you can see - and compare - before you confirm your payment. No sneaky extra costs and no dodgy rates - see how much you can save with Wise today.
Barclays international transfer fees depend on the type of payment you’re making. They’re also split between upfront costs, exchange rate fees and third party charges. Here’s what you need to know.
|Barclays UK international transfer||Standard fee³|
|Receiving an international transfer||SEPA and euro payments from the EEA are free to receive; 6 GBP fee applies to all other transfers|
|Sending an international transfer||SEPA credit transfers - free; International payments arranged in-app or online - free; International payments arranged by phone or in a branch - 25 GBP; International payments sent to USD accounts may have a 3 GBP cover charge|
There are a few other important costs to know about - particularly the intermediary or third party costs which can come as an unwelcome surprise.
|Barclays UK international transfer||Additional fees|
|Third party charges||Depending on how you structure your payment you may pay intermediary bank fees - more detail below|
|Cancelling a payment order||20 GBP|
|Tracing, cancelling, recalling or changing a payment||20 GBP|
Intermediary fees are hard to spot but can make a big difference to your transfer cost. They’re usually applied when payments are sent through the SWIFT system. In this case, up to 3 partner banks - intermediaries - pass your payment along until it lands in the correct account. Each intermediary can charge a fee.
Depending on where you’re sending money to, you may get the choice to pay these fees yourself, share them with the recipient, or have the beneficiary pick up the whole bill in the end.
The easiest way to send money abroad with Barclays UK is using the online banking system. Here’s how⁴:
- Log into Barclays online banking
- Click on Move Money and choose International Payment from the menu
- Follow the on screen instructions to enter the transfer details
- Complete the verification step for security
- Check and confirm your transfer and you’re done
The exact details you need to send an international payment vary by destination country. That’s simply because different countries have different banking protocols - so you’ll need to double check the full details for the country you’re sending to before you get started. Here are the details you’ll need to send to some of the most popular destinations from the UK.
To make a SEPA payment in euros, or an international payment in other currencies, to a country in Europe, you’ll need to confirm:
- The transfer amount
- The full name and address of the person or business you’re sending the money to
- The recipient’s IBAN - calculate and Barcleys IBAN number here.
- The recipient bank’s SWIFT/BIC code
Making a payment to someone in the USA? You need the following information:
- The transfer amount
- The full name and address of the person or business you’re sending the money to
- The recipient’s IBAN
To receive an international payment into your Barclays UK account you’ll need to give the sender:
- Your IBAN
- Your Barclays SWIFT/BIC code
You’ll find your IBAN on any bank statement, or you can use this helpful tool to find, or check your SWIFT/BIC code. Don’t forget, sending money with incomplete or incorrect details can result in delays - or even mean your money goes to the wrong place entirely. Double check all your details before the payment is sent.
The length of time your international bank transfer will take depends on where you’re sending to, how you arrange your payment, and whether or not you can meet the daily cut-off time. Place your transfer after the cut-off and it may not be processed until the following business day.
You can get a full rundown of the delivery times - as well as the costs - involved when sending money to popular destination countries on the Barclays website⁵.
Get started online for free with no minimum balance and no monthly fee to pay - you can hold 54 currencies in your account, send to 80 countries, and use your linked international debit card in 200+ countries around the world. Best of all, you’ll never get hit by hidden fees or sneaky markups when you need to switch currencies.
You can also get paid in 10 global currencies fee free using your own receiving account details just like a local - and switch to the currency you need with the real mid-market exchange rate whenever you want to. Simple, secure, and low cost currency exchange at your fingertips.
If you need help with your transfer, you can call Barclays on 0345 734 5345. However, there are also some other ways to get help which may work out quicker⁷:
- Use Barclays social media
- Try Apple Business Chat
- Log into the Barclays app to chat 24/7
- Head to your nearest branch for face to face support
Whenever you send an international payment it pays to be aware of all the fees that may apply. They’re not always obvious, so doing a bit of homework - and comparing a few options - may mean you save money in the end.
Compare the costs of sending money with Barclays against the low fees and convenience of the Wise multi-currency account - the smart and easy way to manage your money across borders for less.
Sources used for this article:
- Barclays - international payments
- FX rates - foreign exchange rates
- Barclays - tariff for personal customers
- Barclays - send money
- Barclays - international payments, most popular countries
- Barclays - contact
Sources checked on 16-September-2021
This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
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