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Best way to make international payments to pay suppliers?

Hi all!  I'm looking at how to make international payments to pay suppliers and it seems the banks are neither particularly helpful nor cost effective for this.  I wonder if anyone can suggest a good, low cost solution for a start-up.  Here are my issues in more detail:

I want to make US Dollar payments online, in one of three ways:

(1) pay USD straight from GBP account at spot rate when payment is due in future

(2) convert GBP to USD (using a USD account) at spot rate today, then pay supplier later in USD from USD account - this reduces risk of exchange rate deteriorating

(3) even better is to agree a forward contract so I secure a USD rate today for a payment to be made in the future

Option (3) is the safest, but HSBC told me that forward contracts are not available to the travel industry because it's greater risk for them. They can do option (1) at £17 per transaction but option (2) incurs a £4-5 per month fee for having a USD account and then £30 per transaction to pay from my USD account (which is only possible in branch!!).

I think Nat West can offer option (3) through "Bankline", which costs £28/month plus £12 per transaction.  A USD account is free with them, but currency transfers must be done over the phone which is annoying.  They seem to be better than HSBC anyway.

If anyone can recommend a better bank, or another institution for the above, I would be delighted to hear about it!

Many thanks,


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You should be able to do currency transfers with NatWest online. Also on fax (need to set up fax authorisation on accounts separately).

Another system you may want to look at Travelex. One of the features is the ability to buy dollars at a certain rate and keep on hold for up to 90 days.

I quite like Amex forex, very easy to use website etc but doesn't have that option.

Have the same issues as you here.

I have used two services, American Express FXIP and Oanda FX trade.

American Express FXIP has a good online system and an efficient direct debit setup (so they just pull the money from your account) when you instruct a payment. They have a good net rate (when taking into account spread and fees) for small transactions (less than £1000), mainly because they have a low transaction fee (£1). However the spread is not always that competitive (think around the 2-3% off interbank rates). One thing to remember about their service is you will always get a better rate by calling up rather than on their online service. Fairly sure they have forward contracts but you will have to check.

Oanda FXglobaltransfer offers incredibly competitive rates, I've managed to get a net rate of less than 1% from interbank with them. Their transaction fee is higher (circa $20), but the rate is pretty much interbank. So I usually use them for anything over £1000. The pain in their service is that you need to transfer money to the account first, wait a week for it to arrive, before instructing the payment.  I haven't seen anything about forward contracts on their site, but think it should be possible to execute your option (2).

Would love to hear if anyone else has found better. I hear HSBC are pretty good with international banking, keep meaning to investigate that option.

Ben, have you tried the Travelex system which allows you to buy and hold dollars?

Will have to try it. How do you find the rates on Travelex?

Problem with shopping around is that it takes ages signing up for the services, and actually sending a payment before you find out exactly what the spread on the interbank rate is going to be. And this can make a huge difference. If you are sending even only $5000, then the difference between a spread of 1% and a spread of 3% is $100 which puts transaction fees of $15 - $30 into perspective.

Afraid I don't know. It was fairly easy to set up but there was some faff with setting up security certificates & I set up on one computer but I work across 3.

But I know someone who uses it for this reason quite regularly (and been doing so for about 2 years).  He keeps an eye on the rates and whenever better than other days, he'll buy a load of dollars and keep them till he needs them. 

We use EasyFX, provided by a company called Voltrex, although I think they have just rebranded as VFX (the website is and it's a great service.

The fees are basically non-existent, and the rates you get are typically about a point or point-and-a-half off the interbank rates.

I've only ever used it to make immediate payments rather than forwards, etc, so not sure exactly what the deal is in terms of getting a rate now and settling in the future, but it's a fairly robust system so I'm sure you can use it more efficiently than the way I do it.

Everything is done online, so you just book the rate whenever it suits you and then transfer funds from your bank to their account (it's a UK based company, so just a straightforward internet transfer). Once the funds have cleared into their account, then they transfer the payment in whatever currency to the payee that you specify. So I suppose you could book a trade today, wait for payment from the customer and then make the payment to the supplier, if that is what you are trying to achieve with option 3.

Hope this helps, but if you have any questions then just shout.

Just as a follow up, I mentioned to my broker there that I had recommended him and he said he would be happy for people to contact him directly, so if you want to call John-Paul Georgiou at VFX on 0207 959 6851 then he will be happy to talk you through the process.

Thanks for the info above, I'm looking into the options.

Dermot - I just had a look at VFX and they say they charge up to £15 per transaction which doesn't sound very competitve, unless I'm missing something? -

Hi Pete.

Spoke to John Paul about this and he explained that while they do retain the ability to impose charges, in practice they very rarely do. They tend to reserve it for people who have particularly complicated arrangements.

I've been with them for about 3 years and never had to pay a charge.

It's definitely worth giving him a bell, though, to talk through the issues and the way you would be trading and he can give you a definitive answer. But he said that of his whole list of hundreds of clients, maybe 2 of them pay charges, so it's very much the exception to the rule.

Hi Pete,

I don't know if it can help you, but for service payments (Flat fee payments via PayPal) further than for project productivity, scheduling terms of deliveries, draft invoices etc. I suggest to try this helpful production tool.

:-) Hope you'll enjoy it!


Hi All,

well, I am sure we have all suffer the same. I have tried all in the past. I am literally giving away what cost me months of investigations and trial and error.

I would recommend Moneycorp or Baydonhill. You will pay £7 or £10 for an interarnational payment regardless of the type of currency including Sterling. If dollars or euros or whatever needs to be boughts they also offer the best rates in the market. You can pay from your account online and you can do forwards of as little or as much as you want: you will be a business, not a number for them! :)

Do try other companies like this but never the banks!

Incidentally, we do Cuba holidays ( and whoever works with Cuba would know how difficult is to pay. I will create another post about this with more info

hope this helps ...




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