When is the best time to make an international money transfer?

This is probably the most popular question we get asked so you’re definitely not alone in asking this.  Most people want to know whether there is a time of the day, week or year when exchange rates are better than other times so they can wait until then to make their transfer.

So, does the "best time" to send money overseas actually exist?

Generally we would say ‘No.’

Unfortunately, there isn’t a single period of the year where anyone can guarantee that rates may be higher than others - not even Christmas spirit can boost exchange rates at the end of the year!

But good timing is everything if you’re sending money internationally and whilst we can’t tell you when the rates will be in your favour, we have got two pointers to help you get the timing right for you…

Understand the impact of currency movements for your specific payment

Make sure you’re aware of the impact that currency movements could have on the sum of money you are looking to send.

On a smaller sum, a moving decimal figure may not make much of a difference to the amount of currency you send or receive. At this point weigh up how valuable the time you spend watching the markets is against saving you a few pence.

On the other hand if you're moving larger sums of money (for example when buying property abroad), that moving decimal figure can literally cost you hundreds (or even thousands) of pounds or euros if it moves in the wrong direction.

For larger transfers see the section below on: Reserving a rate in advance.

Consider how much time you have to make your payment

It’s always good to understand in your own mind, how you define ‘best time.’ If you’re sending money to pay bills or complete a purchase, you will have a deadline for completing your money transfer. Is hanging on for a better rate worth the risk of a delayed payment? At this point your key focus becomes ‘on time’ rather than ‘best time.’ 

So, what can you do to help get the best exchange rate on offer, with the time that you have left?
Know how long your provider takes to deliver your payment, how long the funds take to clear with the receiving party and remember to consider how large your payment is against the risk of extra costs due to delayed payments.

The section below on ‘Staying on top of the markets’ has some comments on this.

What services are available when sending money?

Between the banks and the specialist money transfer providers, there are numerous options available online, by phone or even in person. 
So how do you know which one to choose?

Make sure you understand your priorities and remember to think about your future requirements as well. 

If you’re still using your high street bank in the UK to send funds to France, we would certainly suggest that you cross-check rates, fees and even the range of services offered with some of the specialist service providers, such as the Britline International Payments Service.

It’s important that you consider both rates and any transfer fees that may be applied, to give you a clear overall understanding of how competitive each transfer option may be.
Once you have identified the best options for making your transfer, then you need to think about the exchange rate itself! 

Staying on top of the markets

It's essential to pay attention to daily exchange rate movements but doing this day in, day out can become time consuming and onerous.

Certain specialist currency services, such as the Britline International Payments Service, provide a Rate Alert service. Here you can set exchange-rate notifications that bring you up-to-date information about the currencies you are interested in, so you’ll know the moment your ideal market rate has been reached. 

This can help you stay ahead of market motion and tell you when it’s a good time to transfer without the need to spend your days checking the currency markets. 

Reserving a rate in advance

If you do need to transfer a larger sum of money, there is always the option to schedule your money transfer in advance. If you know you’ll need to make a payment in the coming weeks or months and you like the rates now, you can schedule a ‘forward contract’ that will save the current rate for a transfer in the future.

Transferring more regularly

For those of you that may need to send payments on a more regularly basis, such as mortgage or rental payments or even pension payments, trying to find the ‘best’ rate every month could easily turn into a full time job. 

Again, there are specialist services that will enable you to reserve your ‘best rate’ for all your payment needs in the months ahead. Have a look at the Regular Transfer service offered by the International Payments Service to find out more or speak to your currency specialist about this sort of service. 

What affects the exchange rate?

There’s no way to predict how exchange rates fluctuate because it depends on international market movements and there are a number of factors to consider. To finish off with and for those of you who are interested, here are few explanations regarding the factors that influence the market: 

  1. A country’s interest rate: if it goes up, so does the currency’s value. 
  2. Inflation: when the inflation rate in a country is low, the value of its currency increases. 
  3. Imports and exports: if a country spends more money to import goods than what it makes from exports, its currency’s value decreases. 
  4. The mid-market rate: this is the exchange rate used by banks to trade foreign currency between each other. It changes depending on the currency, the market, the bank, and even the time of day. 
  5. Political events: political stability and instability affect the value of a country’s currency. 
  6. Global economic trends: major worldwide events—like global recessions — affect the rise and fall of currency values.

Please get in touch to discuss in further detail your requirements.


Image used is provided by Getty Images.
First published: 20th September 2022