Currencies Direct is a great way to save money on fees compared to the expensive old school banking system.
But here’s the deal:
No money transfer company is perfect for everyone and I am going to uncover both situations where Currencies Direct IS and may NOT be your best option.
We also dig deep on real Currencies Direct reviews, particularly the negative ones. Here we uncover what is important to ensure money transfers are easy and without any worries.
Here is the good, the bad and even the ugly, so that you can decide.
Disclosure: This post may contain offers and affiliate links to save you money and it also helps us to keep providing the best information. For more information, see my disclosures here.
Look for “Things to Know” at the end of each point!
1. When it Works and When it Doesn’t
1.1 When it Works
- In USA, UK, Europe, Canada, India, South Africa, Spain, and Portugal
Based on our own experience and backed up by others which we uncover in our Currencies Direct Reviews (section below) we found that Currencies Direct is the most customer focused service in the business.
This focus on customer service is particularly comforting for larger amounts (over $7000 USD) where regulations can make things potentially more challenging.
Currencies Direct have offices in the USA and Europe supporting transfers from many countries including Europe, USA, Canada, India, and South Africa.
They have offices in these countries and are optimized to make large transfers (over $7000 USD, £4000 GBP, €4500 EUR) – easy, fast, and affordable to 120 countries in 60 currencies.
In Australia, Asia and New Zealand? TorFX (review) is owned by the same people and have a very similar service (with high scores in the reviews) which focuses on residents of Australia, Asia and New Zealand with offices in UK, Australia and Singapore.
- Personal and/or business transfers
Both individuals and small businesses can sign up for Currencies Direct starting with getting a current quote from Currencies Direct.
As an individual, it’s the personalised service which stands out. This means apart from the basics like securing a great exchange rate you can work with you account mananger. For example, if you have regular amounts you want to transfer or a large amount you can discuss with them the best way to do that.
As a small business, you can do things like make regular transfers, pay your overseas employees or contractors and even automate recurring payments.
Essentially you can create a custom solution for your business needs.
- You need advice and support for smooth transfers
Currencies Direct can help you set up your transfer, advise on transfer timing, arrange special rates (based on volume), and help you save big in the long term.
- You want to send large amounts
Currencies Direct is designed to handle large transfers over $7000 USD, £4000 GBP, €4500 EUR.
While they can transfer smaller amounts too, their services and fee structure becomes most competitive with larger amounts.
For example, their fees go down (in percentage terms) as the transfer amount increases, which makes is important for larger transfers (See “The Real Transfer Costs” below).
- Flexible transfer options
Currencies Direct offers three unique services so you can get the best rates for your transfers.
- Spot Contracts: If you’re planning to transfer money immediately, Currencies Direct will offer you a rate that’ll stand till the transfer goes through, regardless of market fluctuations.
- Forward Contracts: You also have the option to lock in a favourable rate for up to a year with forward contracts. This is great if you’re planning a large payment as an individual or want to pay for goods or services in the future as a small business.
- Limit Orders: Want to transfer money at a specific exchange rate? Speak to your Personal Account Manager at Currencies Direct and they’ll lock in this rate. Once the market hits that rate, your transfer will be processed.
1.2 When it Doesn’t
- You want to send small amounts
In general, we have found money transfer providers tend to focus on different segments of the market which can roughly be divided into three areas.
Main areas providers tend to focus:
- Cash transfers (usually a few hundred dollars or so, usually to family and friends at home) These are often called remittance companies or remitters.
- Bank-to-bank small transfers (Below about $7000 USD, £4000, €4500)
- Bank-to-bank large transfers (Above about $7000 USD, £4000, €4500)
Currencies Direct is great at (3) Bank-to-bank large transfers but can also do (2) Bank-to-bank small transfers.
One service – great at everything?
If there is a service that is best at transferring large and small amounts and cash, we haven't found it. However understanding how they work can be really helpful in keeping costs low and also getting the best service while avoiding issues like frozen funds. The reason transfer services can be great at serving some types of transfers and not others to do with the way they are set up and regulations. Obviously when cash is involved, physical kiosks or third party agents are required - this increases the costs and ways people interact to send and receive funds. While there is a lot of convenience in this generally these services are expensive. Fortunately a handful of very good services (like WorldRemit (review) and Remitly (review)) are making it their mission to reduce costs through technology and working with established 3rd parties like post offices, pawn shops and even banks to help to keep costs low. These services are often referred to as remittance companies. For bank-to-bank transfers, costs tend to be much lower than remittance companies. The big difference here is in the regulation of funds flowing across boarders. As the amounts grow, things like sign-up and how much your bank is willing to send in a 24 hour period can make transfers more complex - unless you are with the right service. What this means in practical terms is that great online services (like Wise (review) and CurrencyFair (review)) who have easy sign-ups, low fees for smaller amounts and excellent online customer service keeps costs low. As the amounts grow, another group of services rises to the top with a sign-up process that assumes you are transferring larger amounts, a fee structure designed to reduce as amounts grow and the ability to speak to someone if required. What this means to you is very low fees, and confident transfers. So while Currencies Direct can do small bank-to-bank transfers (with a $100 USD/ 75 GBP minimum) because of their customer service orientation and fee structure we think their sweet spot is in amounts above $7000 USD, £4000 GBP, €4500 EUR. Related: Currencies Direct Vs Wise
- You want to send exotic currencies
Right now Currencies Direct supports 60 currencies for international transfers, which covers most of the major currencies.
Currencies supported include:
AUD, BHD, BWP, CAD, CHF, CNY, CRC, CZK, DKK, EUR, GBP, HKD, HRK, HUF, ILS, JPY, KES, KWD, LKR, MUR, MXN, NOK, NZD, OMR, PHP, PLN, QAR, RON, RUB, SAR, SEK, SGD, SVC, THB, TRY, TTD, UGX, USD, XCD, ZAR
Thing to know #1: Currencies Direct offer a exchange rate guarantee. This is an awesome way to save a lot of money (or at least ensure you are getting a good deal), you simply need to “provide evidence of a more competitive quote”. The trouble with this is most services will not give their quote until you become a customer. However, there is one service that does provide the competitive quotes without signing up and we also recommend them for as our top pick for smaller amounts.
How to do this:
If you can save some money, take a screenshot.
Honestly though, when you are transferring large amounts, the premium personalized service we discuss below in What Reviews Really Say (Inc. Negative Ones) is worth paying extra for.
2. The Real Transfer Costs
Currencies Direct doesn’t charge any fixed transfer fees. See (2) Transfer Fee in Image A.
So how do they make money and pass on significant savings to you?
Essentially, Currencies Direct buys currencies at the wholesale rate (the rate at which banks buy or the interbank rate), adds a margin to it when processing your transfers, and makes its money from the difference between their buy and sell rates. See (3) Exchange Rate Offered in Image A.
Typically, this means that the total fee range from 0.5% – 2% of the amount being transferred, and this does change based on which currencies you are transferring and reduces as the amount grows.
Compare this to the total fees charged by many banks (3% – 7%), and you can see why huge savings can be made.
The (1) Sending Fee and (4) Receiving Fee included in Image A are often charged by two banks are either end of the transaction. These fees vary significantly based on the countries, but the can be as high as $50 USD. If you are sending small amounts these fees can be significant but for larger amounts they become only a fraction of the total fees. Also Currencies Direct can sometimes help to reduce and even eliminate these through the use of local bank accounts.
Sometimes your debit card provider may charge fees if you choose to fund the transfer this way.
Other fees to watch out for include taxes imposed by some countries or when transferring exotic currencies.
Thing to know #2: Because the bank you use, the method of payment and amount you are sending all contribute to the total fees: Talking to your Personal Account Manager can be a great way to figure out how to minimize fees.
3. How to Make Currencies Direct Work Best
Currencies Direct lets you set up transfers easily via phone, on their website or their mobile app (which also gives you rate alerts, hold multiple currencies, and transfer funds securely).
3.1 To get started
You can simply create and account here with Currencies Direct.
However, our preferred option is to check the Currencies Direct exchange rate from desktop or mobile here.
Simply start by selecting from the drop downs, starting with the type of customer you may be: Personal or Business.
We found this takes you through a short four step process and sets up the basics needed to open your account.
Next you get a call from Currencies Direct so they can understand your needs (very promptly in our experience, but this likely depends on the day and your timezone because they maintain office hours).
3.2 Talk to your account manager
And not about the weather.
The call you will receive is designed to get an idea of the amounts you are sending and how often. From this, they can figure out the exchange rate for your transaction and also anything else that can help with the process.
This is also a great opportunity to ask any questions you may have.
Can’t think of any questions? Here are some:
- How long will the transfer take including the banks? (Also see below)
- What are the total fees?
- Is there anyway to reduce them?
After the call you will often get an email to complete the account verification process. By this point, you will likely feel a lot more confident in the whole process.
Now you can can arrange transfers though your Account Manager by phone or even email.
Alternately you can always log in to your account and transfer online or their app.
3.3 Opt for larger transfers (ideally)
Currencies Direct’s margin on the exchange rate decreases as the amount goes up. Understandably for your first transfer you might want to make a smaller transfer (which we would encourage to build confidence) but just keep in mind you will get a better rate for larger amounts.
3.4 Save big with flexible transfer options
Currencies Direct has 3 options (as discussed above in When it Works) so you can save big on your transfer and send money without worrying about market fluctuations.
So, whether you need to send money immediately, planning a large transfer in the future, or want to transfer funds only when the exchange rate is favourable, Currencies Direct can help.
Thing to know #3: Having an open conversation with the Currencies Direct account manager about your future plans and amounts may uncover some ways to make it easier and cheaper to send money.
4. How Fast is Currencies Direct?
Typically, most transfers are completed in 24-48 hours. However, the transfer speed usually depends on:
- How fast you fund the transfer after you lock in a favourable rate
- The time it takes for banks at either end to transact
- Your target currency and destination country
The most popular destination countries are Canada, USA, Sweden, Japan, Spain, South Africa, and Australia.
If you’re sending to an exotic destination, your transfer may take 3-5 days to go through mostly due to the banks at eitehr end.
Thing to know #4: Funding your transfer within banking hours or on weekdays to speed up the transfer.
5. What Reviews Really Say (Inc. Negative Ones)
Currencies Direct is rated 4.9/5 on Trustpilot with over 6000 reviews, which is unheard of anywhere else in the industry.
88% of the reviewers had an “excellent” experience transferring money with Currencies Direct. They loved the exceptional customer service and the competitive exchange rates.
However 3% of customers reported a negative experience with the service, and we were keen to find out why.
The top concerns we uncovered after going through hundreds of reviews include:
Confused by terms:
While their phone support is excellent, Currency Direct requires you to enter a spot contract on the phone to help you secure the best rates.
Many users didn’t realize this was a legally binding contract, ended up transferring money with another provider, and were later contacted by Currency Direct to fulfill the contract and send them the promised amount.
So, unless you’re ready to transfer immediately or at least in the near future, avoid saying “yes” to any proposal or rate quotation on the phone.
Extensive verification process:
Some users were annoyed by the extensive verification process which required submitting more documents after the initial ID and bank details were submitted.
Since Currencies Direct are licensed financial service providers who mostly handle large transfers, they need to be extra careful about who uses their services and for what purpose. That’s why they audit transfers regularly to keep your money safe and prevent the misuse of their platform.
In reality, this is a benefit for most people because there are far fewer potential for issues later on.
Thing to know #5: Be aware that if you agree on the phone to a money transfer this is a legally binding contract.
6. Is Your Money Safe with Currencies Direct?
Currencies Direct has been operating since 1996, and is regulated in multiple countries. This means they have to meet some pretty tough guidelines from multiple regulators which is good for the safety and security of your funds.
Currencies Direct Ltd is licensed and regulated in all the sending countries including the US as a Money Services Business FinCEN. In addition Currencies Direct is licensed as a Money Transmitter in most states regulatory agencies in the US.
They’re also regulated by the FCA in the UK, the Bank of Spain in the EU, FINTRAC in Canada and South Africa through an Authorised Dealer Bank in South Africa in accordance with South African Reserve Bank (SARB) Exchange Control Rules and Regulations.
They also hold a Level 1 credit rating by Dun & Bradstreet, which is extremely rare. Lastly, their website and app are encrypted with industry-leading encryption protocols to keep your funds and data safe.
So rest assured (as far as it is reasonable to determine) Currencies Direct is safe to use.
If you are in the US, UK, Canada (except Quebec), Europe (especially Spain and Portugal) or South Africa and planning on sending mostly large amounts over $7000 USD you will find it hard to find a more customer focused service.
Get a quote on the exchange rate for the amount you want to send.
Want the absolute best rate? See Thing to know #1 above.
Currencies Direct lead the industry when is comes to telephone support and focusing on solutions to your money transfer needs.
But none are perfect in all situations, as we saw from the negative reviews.
If you have mostly smaller amounts and/or simply prefer to do most things online you can do better.
Ultimately it depends on:
- Where you’re located
- How much you want to send
- Currencies you want to transact
Supported currencies include: AUD, BHD, BWP, CAD, CHF, CNY, CRC, CZK, DKK, EUR, GBP, HKD, HRK, HUF, ILS, JPY, KES, KWD, LKR, MUR, MXN, NOK, NZD, OMR, PHP, PLN, QAR, RON, RUB, SAR, SEK, SGD, SVC, THB, TRY, TTD, UGX, USD, XCD, ZAR