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I have bought a house in France which I am slowly renovating, with the aim to retire out there in the future. What’s the best and easiest way to send money abroad regularly to pay for the restoration? I have seen several services online offering cheap rates but can I trust them? Or should I just use my bank?

Most of us will have dreamed of packing it all in and moving abroad at some point in our lives, particularly after a dreary day at work and or a good episode of Channel 4’s Escape to the Chateau. For anyone who does have the guts to follow their dream of moving to sunnier climes, the exchange rate and other costs of sending your money abroad can be a real deal breaker – now more than ever thanks to the weak pound. Typically moving abroad involves opening a local bank account. However, if you have not yet made the move full-time, chances are you will be regularly sending cash from one account to the other, or sending payments to suppliers while you restore your new property and pay for running costs. The golden rule when it comes to moving money overseas is don’t automatically use your bank. Most banks will apply a one-off fee for payments and the cost usually depends on how you request the transfer as well as how quickly you need to send the cash.

Typically the fees are higher if you make payments over the phone or request them by post, and of course if you want the money there the same day. 30 if you do it by post. On top of these upfront fees, many banks and transfer companies set their own exchange rate – which will typically be a lot worse than the actual Forex market rate charged elsewhere and eat into the sum being transferred significantly. There are however now a whole host of currency exchange specialists online, including some new companies you may never have heard of, promising eye-catching rates, convenience and fewer fees which are worth considering instead. You can find out more about these currency exchange specialists and the rates they offer here.

But are they safe and how much does it really save you to use an alternative to your bank? We spoke to Daniel Webber, the founder and chief executive of Fxcompared, a leading currency exchange comparison site, to find out. While it may be tempting to send payments via your high street bank, a variety of alternative currency providers exist to help you transfer your money overseas. Because banks offer a vast array of services to their customers, fair international exchange rates often take a low priority.

Currency providers focus only on foreign exchange rates, so you will receive a fairer exchange rate and often lower fees than a high street bank. 2,500 by using a currency specialist instead of your bank. Working with a currency provider has other benefits beyond just the exchange rates. You can automate payments for items such as your overseas mortgage, allowing you to regularly send money overseas without any hassles and often fixing the rates. Unlike a high street bank, you will also often be assigned a dedicated account manager.

Additionally, currency providers offer more sophisticated financial tools to help you save money in your transaction, such as a currency forward contract. This gives you the opportunity to lock in the current exchange rate for a future transaction. For example once you may have decided and agreed to buy the property, this could typically be three to six months until you complete the transaction. This is invaluable for planning ahead financially, and helps avoid the pitfalls of currency volatility. Some people are nervous at the prospect of using a currency provider over a bank but all the major currency providers are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK, affording you protection. They must all adhere to the strictest regulatory standards and they ensure your funds are appropriately segregated from their business funds in line with requirements.

Which are the best money transfer companies? At the time of writing, the market rate from sterling to euros is 1. Below the table you can read more about the companies themselves and why Webber recommends them. Remember, as the table below shows you need to consider both the exchange rate and any fees will determine which is the best deal. 1996 and trades in over 100 currencies.